HE IS GOD, WE ARE NOT
Pastor Vernon Giesbrecht
Psalm 8 is a favorite of mine. As most Psalms, it is a song. Your version of the Bible probably has as a heading – “To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith”. While we don’t know exactly what “The Gittith” is, it probably was a musical or liturgical term. So, no doubt, it was sung at festivals and special religious occasions. Many, many years ago (I say many with tongue in cheek, as I celebrated another birthday this week.) a friend of ours wrote a melody using a number of the phrases in the Psalm; the tune still comes to mind when I read it. Of course, there are more modern songs that have as their lyrics the verses of Psalm 8. One or two will probably come to your mind as you read it.
1 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
Majestic – Words like royalty, awesome, exalted, glory, and out-of-this-world seem to just touch the surface of this description of our Lord. Perhaps that last one comes close, as His glory is above the heavens. He is, of course, the only true God, the sovereign Creator of the physical universe. He rules over it all. Verse 2 hints at the fact that God often uses weakness – “babies and infants” – to demonstrate His strength over enemies. We may feel weak and anxious in the face of this pandemic and an unpredictable future, this enemy. But, God still proves himself strong and victorious during these unsettling times as we acknowledge His sovereign control.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
A cloudless night sky away from the city lights brings the stars into bright relief. With one of the teams that we took to Haiti, as part of the end-of-day group devotional time, I read this Psalm and, with the words ringing in our ears, we walked outside our living quarters and viewed the dark night…NO, a night brilliant with stars! A verse of “How Great Thou Art” expressed our wonder at God’s creative power. With one word He spoke the universe into existence! At the same time, we all realized how dwarfed we felt in this massive universe. We wondered with the psalmist how this God could lavish His love on us, living on this tiny dot in the sky.
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
These verses take us back to the first chapters of Genesis when, after God created Adam and Eve, He gave them responsibility over the creation. The word “dominion” elicits thoughts of rulership. In a very real sense, with God as King, He gave the human race the role of vice-regents. Initially, these responsibilities were carried out with ease. However, when they doubted the King’s one exclusion, they disobeyed the King’s command and broke the perfect relationship that once existed. Selfish pride, or sin, has had tragic results since that time. The responsibilities as vice-regents became hard and difficult. Disobedience to God’s law has resulted in pain and suffering. Death entered the human existence.
However, humanity still has the stamp of God on it; we are created in God’s image. As such, we have the abilities to increasingly understand the intricacies of the world and how it works – exercising “dominion” over the created order. The danger? We think we are in control. So, every now and then, God attempts to get our attention, like sending a pandemic we can’t control. Interestingly, every other part of nature is continuing on as normal. But, its rulers have lost control, and are desperately working to regain it. Remember the words of Jesus when addressing anxiety? God cares for – He is in control of – the tiniest bird; will He not care for the crown of His creation? He only desires that we understand our weakness so His strength and control can be trusted. Will we continue to find Him our Rock during this unsettling time? He is God, and we are not!
9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!