Facebook Icon Instagram Icon Twitter Icon

Psalm 8

June 9, 2024

Psalm 8

Passage: Psalm 8:1-9
Service Type:

Psalm 8

Jun 9, 2024

Turn in your Bibles with me to Psalm 8, if you’re not there already, and we’re going to just dive straight into this, starting with the title. Almost every Psalm has one of these titles, and they are there for a reason. Sometimes they are incredibly helpful, and tell us the situation that was happening at the time – others, like this one, are a bit lost to history.

[ 002 ] For the choir director: on the Gittith. A psalm of David.

I wish I had some really cool and inspirational meaning for you on the word Gittith (Ghi-teeth), like “it means, ‘to everyone who sits on black folding chairs’, and you’d say, “hey, that’s us!” But sadly, the modern translators can only guess at what it means. I have a good friend who composes music, and sometimes he writes pieces for a specific instrument. Since the title says it’s for the choir director, or the worship leader, it could be that, like my composer friend, there was a specific musical instrument David had in mind with this one. But we don’t know.

But what we do know is the author. A psalm of David. This is the same David that killed Goliath, the shepherd boy who became king – that David. [ 003 ] And here’s how he begins: LORD, our Lord, how magnificent (How mighty, how strong, how beautiful, how powerful) is your name (Your authority, your influence, your reputation, your fame) throughout the earth!

Those first three words set the table. LORD, our Lord. If you’re new to the Bible, you may have seen that sometimes the word “LORD” is written in all capital letters. Sometimes, it has a capital L, and other times, they are all lowercase. There are two different ones here in these first three words, so what gives?

  1. [ 004-1 ] Pastor is not my name, it’s my title. Rodney is my name. The first thing you need to know is that “God” is not his name, it’s his title. Yahweh is God’s personal name. We first learn this in the book of Exodus when God introduces himself to Moses, and he says, “I AM who I AM. This is my name.” So that’s what Yahweh means – I AM who I AM, or I WILL BE what I WILL BE. This is God’s personal name, and it is attached to his promises, his covenants – it’s the name used when he communicates with his people. So when the English translators came across the word Yahweh in the text, they wrote LORD in all capital letters. So that’s the first LORD in verse 1 – it’s God’s personal name, linking us to his covenant promises.
  2. [ 004-2 ] LORD, our Lord. When David wrote this, right after using the name Yahweh, no doubt his mind was tracing all the way back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the patriarchs that God gave the covenant promises to. You are “our” Lord. You’ve been our Lord, you are our Lord, and you will always be “our” Lord. We have no one else beside you. You have been faithful throughout generations – We are your people and you are our [ 004-3 ] Lord.
  3. This second “Lord” only has a capital L. That is the title Adonai. It means master of all, the ruler who has all authority – similar to a King. There is no authority higher. He is superior in every way. So you could say that first verse like this:
  4. [ 005 ] “Yahweh, the covenant keeping God, sovereign over all things past, present and future,” how magnificent is your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with your majesty.

My family and I returned Friday from a two week vacation to the Southwestern US, and what amazed me as we stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon was just the hugeness of it. Your mind just can’t wrap around how vast and expansive that canyon is. Then, in other parks we saw the opposite. Instead of a whole in the ground, there are mountain peaks, where pictures can’t ever do justice to the sheer size of the massive cliffs and rock formations – they’re just so huge and majestic.

There is majesty here in Iowa too… when those massive thunderstorms roll up with a shelf cloud leading the way, and tornado watches, that also makes me feel so small and helpless and insignificant.

Standing next to the Canyon, or near a huge mountain, or under a huge storm, you just sense the majesty of it. The glory of it. The fear of it. But that’s all stuff that’s here at “eye level.” We all know that once we leave earth and start looking at stars and galaxies, it’s not about 12,000ft or miles anymore. We get into light years and unfathomable distances. It makes the Grand Canyon look cute.

In David’s mind, when we look up, we are looking at the majesty of God. That word “majesty” means weightiness, glory, the force or the power behind it all – all the things we say about the Canyon and mountains and oceans and storms – David says, all of those things are meant to be pointers to the majesty of God.

If we think the canyon is majestic, what about the one who made it? If you think the Rockies are majestic, you should see the one who formed it with his hands. If you think the storms that rip through the Midwest are powerful, you should meet the God who knows where the closet is where he keeps the extra snow and lightning and the wind he doesn’t need right now. If you think the universe is massive, and billions of light years are unfathomable, you should meet the God who held the tape measure for designing those galaxies, and established the foundations for it all before he breathed them into existence.

God’s majesty is everywhere. It’s in every tree. Every flower. Every hummingbird. Every river. Every mountain spring. Every baby deer. Every egg. Every eyeball and nervous system and function of the brain. Every corn stalk, every bean pod. Every Mountain. Every canyon. Every star. Every planet. Every constellation.

Every single stitch of scientific discovery reveals more and more and more of God’s majesty. [ 006 ] I read a sign beside a beautiful canyon in Zion NP that was titled, “The Master Sculptor” and I got excited because it just had to be about Yahweh. But I knew better, and I was right. All the credit for that beautiful canyon was given to the tiny river, erosion, and millions and millions of years, completely hijacking the glory that rightly belongs to Yahweh. That sign that should have Psalm 8 printed out right under it. Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

But as much creation draws David to the majesty of God, there’s still a louder voice that praises Yahweh that is not from mountains or storms or galaxies [ 007-1 ] – 2 From the mouths of infants and nursing babies, you have established a stronghold (or prepared praise) on account of your adversaries in order to silence the enemy and the avenger.

This verse is a little tricky to understand what David means by it, but thankfully Jesus helps us out on this one. In Matthew 21, Jesus is at work in the temple, giving sight to the blind, healing the lame, and the religious leaders are bent out of shape. It’s not because of the miracles, although they are certainly jealous. [ 008-1 ] But the thing that made the religious leaders furiously upset was that children in the temple were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” in the direction of Jesus. This is the same thing as calling Jesus the Promised Messiah. It’s the same thing as calling Jesus, God’s promised King. The religious leaders were furious, and went to Jesus saying, you have to shut this down. In their minds, these children had been brainwashed, they were blaspheming in their innocence, and they needed to be disciplined and brought into order. You can’t let them call you that. Tell them to stop.

And instead, [ 008-2 ] Jesus reaches back 2000 years to Psalm 8 and says to the religious leaders, “Haven’t you ever read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of infants and nursing babies?”

It appears that in Jesus’ mind, that Psalm 8:2 means that sometimes little children are the ones who get it, while us older and “wiser” ones can miss out. The more knowledgeable we become. The more sophisticated we become, the busier we become, and it becomes more and more difficult to stop and notice what’s right in front of us. The business and efficiency of an ant colony. The song of an oriole or a martin. The strength of a horse. The feel of a handful of dirt The incredible growth of a garden. The stars or the moon in the night sky. And who tends to notice all that stuff? Kids.

Our family has a few chickens in our front yard, and several times a week, our neighbor brings her 3yr old granddaughter over to look at them. No matter how many times she’s seen those same chickens, she still oohs and ahs and points her chubby little finger, and tells grandma, “this is a chicken.” Jesus’ invitation to you today is to take the posture of that little child – look for me, find me, enjoy me. Be amazed at me. Point at me. Tell grandma about me – again. Hear my voice. Follow me. Learn from me.

Back to Psalm 8, David reveals to us that it’s not only canyons and galaxies he can’t wrap his mind around. [ 009-1 ] Verse 3 When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, [ 009-2 ] 4 what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?

David raises a good question, doesn’t he? When you have access to galaxies and oceans, why would you choose to think about and look after human beings who are so small compared to the massive stuff you have made? On top of that – mountains don’t argue with you, or sin against you, or act like you don’t exist! Why would you give a second thought to any of us, who do all of those things every day!? Why would you be so pleased and passionate and joyful about 3yr olds stopping to delight in chickens?

What is a human being that you remember him – that word “remember” in our language today implies that you forgot something. Oh, I remember where I put my keys. Oh I remember that trip. Oh I remember that answer for the test. But God doesn’t forget anything, except our sin that he has already forgiven. In this sense, that word “remember” is more like the word, “commemorate.”

[ 010 ] For example, today is Jodi and I’s 23rd Anniversary. I “remembered” that because it’s in my notes. As you can see, we were both 13 at the time – had to run from the law for a couple years. Kidding. But when you remember your wedding anniversary or someone’s birthday, it’s not because you’ve forgotten - it’s that you want to celebrate it together. You actually want to prove to them that you haven’t forgotten. We’re putting that moment in time once again in a place where we are emotionally affected and invested in each other, and so we give this day significance.

[ 011 ] So, back to verse 4, David’s question to God really is – What is a human being that you treat him so significantly? Why do you look after him, pay attention to him, why do you care so much about whether or not he seeks you or not – we don’t add or take away anything from who God is no matter what we do – so why do you care what we do, and even more – why do you bother to come to us!?!

There is an idea floating around Christianity right now that is in Christian music and other places that says something along the lines of, “you may think you’re worthless, but Jesus thought you were worth dying for.” I don’t know where they come up with that, but it’s certainly not from Psalm 8!  David is mystified that God cares for humans so much. It’d be like picking our KidCity nursery to play in the NBA. He says, when I look at creation, the moon, the stars…I don’t see anything in humans that is worth your attention – much less dying for.

And what’s so mystifying to David is that instead of treating us like we deserve, or giving attention to the galaxies and mountains, when it comes to humans [ 012 ]  5 You made him a little less than God… or in some translations, a little less than the angels…and crowned him with glory and honor. Significance! Purpose! Meaning! Responsibility. Genesis 1 and 2 tell us we were made in the image of God, and given authority and responsibility and stewardship over creation, that we are crowned with glory and honor. That’s where verse 6 is headed too –

[ 013-1 ] 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;  you put everything under his feet: [ 013-2 ] 7 all the sheep and oxen, as well as the animals in the wild, 8 the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas.

So here’s David, out under the stars at night, looking up into the sky, recalling Genesis 1 and 2 where God gave Adam and Eve authority over creation, and he’s wrestling with this: if you are the God who made all of that, why in the world would you care about us and put us in charge of all of this that you have made?

Any of you ever feel like that? I do. I ask that same question when it comes to pastoring a church. If you can create the incredible things you’ve created, you could obviously lead your own people. Why do you choose someone like me? I didn’t go to seminary. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m embarrassed to tell the congregation that I have to change the sermon series because I don’t have it all figured out yet. I feel like an infant… still weak and helpless with so much to learn, so much personal growth that has to happen yet.

And yet we can take comfort from Psalm 8. God knows our shortcomings. He knew every one of our sins before we ever committed a single one, and yet he still gives us significance and cares for us.

But there’s a danger here. If we only look at Psalm 8 as if it’s written to us, or about us, we are going to miss something bigger than galaxies and canyons. If we only look at Psalm 8 as if it’s written about us, it becomes all about me, being like God – it’s about me and my authority and my significance as someone who is in charge of creation. And it’s not that those things aren’t true. But the thing we miss, if we think Psalm 8 is about me, is the gospel! Jesus told his disciples in Luke 24 that Psalm 8 (and all the Old testament) points to him.

The letter of Hebrews quotes almost all of Psalm 8. Chapter 1 of Hebrews begins like this [ 014-1 ]  – Long ago God spoke to the ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. [ 014-2 ] 2 In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him. [ 014-3 ] 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature (meaning, whatever God is, Jesus is), sustaining all things by his powerful word. [ 014-4 ] After making purification for sins (in his life, death, and resurrection), he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. [ 014-5 ] 4 So he became superior to the angels, just as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs.

And then the author of Hebrews spends the rest of chapter 1 telling us why Jesus is better than the angels. And it raises the question – why does Hebrews care so much that we think Jesus is superior to angels, and that his name is more excellent than theirs? Why is that a big deal?

The author goes on to answer that in chapter 2, where he quotes almost all of Psalm 8, and in chapter 2:9, says But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace he might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death (as part of bringing many sons and daughters to the glory of salvation!)

Now I need you to stay with me, because this is important and it’s something that is rarely talked about:

  1. [ 016-1 ] The Hebrew people understood the Law of Moses was given from God to Moses through angels. In Acts 7:53, Stephen says to the Jewish leaders, “you received the law under the direction of angels.” In Galatians 3:19 Paul says “the law was put into effect through angels…” In Deuteronomy 32, Moses talks about thousands of angels who were there on Mt Sinai with him. So, the Law came from God through angels to Moses and then to the people.
  2. [ 016-2 ] When Jesus left heaven to become human, Hebrews 2 says he was made lower than the angels. Now - we know that’s not literally true, because even as a human, angels still served Jesus and answered to his authority. This is to say that Jesus entered our world, our realm, and allowed himself to be placed under the Law of Moses (something even angels weren’t subject to) for a short time (33 years to be exact).
    1. Now why is that so important to know?  One of the main reasons Jesus became human was so that he could be under the law. It was so he would be tempted in every way that we are, but not give in where Adam had failed. He had to become human, under the law, so that he could keep it, and live a perfect life of obedience. That is the only way his death would accomplish anything. It’s the only way his dying would redeem those who were trapped by sin.

[ 016-3 ] FOR THAT REASON, because Jesus lived perfectly and died innocently under the Law, God raised Jesus from the dead, ascended Jesus to the throne of heaven, and crowned him with glory and honor – not because he overpowered the Romans and set up his kingdom, but because he kept the law even in suffering and death – becoming the curse of sin for us! And what Hebrews 2:9 and the entire book of Hebrews and all the NT authors argue for from beginning to end is that Jesus’ tasting death for us IS CALLED GRACE!

It doesn’t mean the law goes away, but we don’t earn our way to God’s good side by being good, keeping the Law, or by being better than the person next to us. We are set free from that prison of behavior, and now set free to BEHOLD and draw near! Jesus’ death isn’t a get out of jail free card: It’s an invitation! It’s a “welcome to the family”. Galatians 3 says, It’s the owner of the orphanage saying, You’ve been adopted! You’re going to have a Father now, and a huge family that loves you.

All because Psalm 8 points to Jesus, being made lower than angels – under the law – so that humans – as small and insignificant as we may feel or seem – can know the love of the Father! Now he’ll try, but the devil doesn’t get to accuse us anymore and say that God is disappointed in you because you’ve sinned too many times, or you don’t know enough, or your past is too messy. Look back at verse 2 – when small and weak and helpless and desperate people cry out to God in praise and thankfulness and desperation, the enemy has to shut up and slink away powerless.

Your significance and worth in life comes from the fact that the same God who made the universe has chosen to love you, to move toward you, to walk in your shoes, to suffer and die so that you could belong to the body of Christ. Your purpose in life is to love him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love other people sacrificially. You may feel like an infant at all of that, but I’ve got more good news for you. God has also chosen to send you his own Holy Spirit to be your helper. Your comforter. Your guide. Your teacher. Your reminder. Your strength. And to baptize you – to douse you again and again in his love, so that you can love others the way he has loved you.

I want to close by praying Psalm 8 back in my own words, with Jesus as the focus. The band can come on up as we pray – Pray with me please

“Yahweh our covenant keeping, promise-keeping Master, how incredible is everything you have done in this world. Everything you have made points to your significance and your glory and the fact that you are superior in every way. And yet, mysteriously and strangely, you chose to use humans - sometimes the weakest and most vulnerable humans – to be the ones who you pour the most significance into, and it makes your enemies cringe. They hate it when weak and helpless people cry out to you for help, because you always answer them.

Jesus, you yourself willingly became an infant. You became a nursing baby, and at your words, the enemy’s lies are silenced. He flees at the sound of your voice, because your word is a stronghold for anyone who runs to you for refuge.

Jesus, you allowed yourself – the creator of the heavens and earth – to be under the Law so that you could do what none of us can. You perfectly obeyed your Father, even when it meant enduring a painful and lonely death. As as a result of your perfect obedience, the Father raised you and crowned you with glory and honor, and set you up as the ruler over all the things you created – everything we can see, and everything we can’t see. The cross wasn’t about our worth, but was about yours, and the angels to this minute are singing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”

You, Jesus, are the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and you aren't simply “a” god – you are our God and you are our everything. Our treasure. Our prize. You have been given authority over every, single, thing, so that we, your people, the church – the ones you have purchased with your blood – aren’t just set free from our sins, but so that we are welcomed into your incredible love for us.

Teach us Jesus to endure like you did. Teach us to love and honor the Father like you. Teach us to sacrificially love and honor and serve others like you did.

9 LORD, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth! ”