Summary: Sometimes we believe the whole world revolves around us. Other times, we wonder if God really cares about us. Psalm 8 gives an attitude adjustment for both. Our true self-esteem is found in God, who is great and greatly to be praised!
Keeping things in Perspective
Do you ever think that maybe Galileo and Copernicus got it wrong, that our solar system doesn’t really revolve around the sun? Because on some days it seems like the universe just revolves around you? Now let’s be honest. We all have our moments of self-centeredness, right? Or on the other hand, maybe you have times when you wonder if you really matter to God at all. Today’s psalm calls us to adjust both perspectives as we examine the worth of a human being in the eyes of God.
Psalm 8 is one of 150 psalms in the book of Psalms, the Bible’s hymnbook. These poems were often sung in worship. And one of the biggest contributors is the harpist king, David, the author of today’s passage.
David starts and ends our attitude adjustment with a bold declaration about God. The first and last verse both say: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” The phrase, “O LORD our Lord,” might sound redundant but as you read it in the Bible, you’ll notice that the two words for “Lord” are spelled differently. The first is spelled in all caps, L-O-R-D, which our English translators use to indicate the Hebrew name for God, “Yahweh.” This is the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14) and basically means, “I am who I am,” or “I will be who I will be.” God is the great “I am,” the absolutely existing one. He always has been and always will be. He never changes. He is not created. He just is. And everything else in the world is dependent upon him.
The second word for “Lord” only capitalizes the “L” and comes from the Hebrew word, “Adonai,” which means “master” or “boss” or “ruler.” So the first “Lord” is a name and the second “Lord” is a title. David is saying, “Yahweh, you are our Master.” God is over all, and as such, his name—his character, his being—deserves to be praised and worshiped across the whole earth. This is the thesis of the psalm. You want to know why you matter? Because God is great! This is so important that David bookends it at beginning and end. No matter what role we find for humanity here, everything we have and everything we are comes from God, our Master, who deserves to be praised.
Then David gives us a couple of reasons why God deserves such praise. First, he points to the glory of creation. He says, “You have set your glory above the heavens.” And he adds in verse 3, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place...” You can picture the sheep-herder David gazing at the night sky as he writes these words.
Which reminds me: Did you hear about when Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went camping? In the middle of the night, Holmes wakes up his friend and asks, “Watson, look at the sky and tell me what you see?” Watson replies, “I see millions and millions of stars.” And Holmes says, “What does that tell you?” – “Well, if there are millions of stars, and if there really are other star systems, then it is quite likely that there are some Earth-like planets out there, and if there is such a planet, there may exist life as well.” And Holmes says, “Watson, you’re an idiot. The starry sky, you can see, tells that someone has stolen our bloody tent!”
Well, David didn’t let a tent block his view of the starry sky. Indeed, the universe is an amazing creation. Consider the sheer size of it: The earth is about 8,000 miles in diameter. But imagine, for comparison sake, if the earth were the size of a grape, then our star, the sun, would be about the size of a giant beach ball. One of the largest stars in the galaxy, Canis Majoris, could hold over 2,000 beach balls, or 2,000 of our suns within it!
And how about distance? Light from the sun takes about 8 minutes to reach us. So if the Earth were a grape, the Sun would be 163 yards away (almost two football fields), the nearest star 24,000 miles away, and the nearest sister galaxy, the Great Andromeda Galaxy, one trillion miles away! That’s bigger than ... Texas!
Certainly we know a lot more about the stars today than David did. Yet, the more we know, the more we should be amazed. When we are in awe of the creation—whether it be the night sky, or a rainbow, or a beautiful sunrise, or the powerful crescendo of a waterfall—we should praise the Creator behind it all. As David poetically wrote, God’s fingers put the stars in place. Do you think this little anthropomorphism is a comment on the size of God?