psalm-8

Genesis 8, Ezra 8, Psalm 8

Today we’re scheduled to read Genesis 8, Ezra 8, and Psalm 8.

This devotional is about Psalm 8, specifically verses 3-9.

We look back at people who lived in Old Testament times and think they were primitive. They didn’t have electricity, indoor plumbing, or climate controls. The tools they had were crude and they spent an inordinate amount of time just trying to stay alive by providing for each day’s needs for themselves and their families.

Secular people think they were even more crude than this. They think these people didn’t understand mathematics or natural laws like gravity. They think that David and his contemporaries didn’t even know what the sun and moon were and some people in this time even worshipped those heavenly bodies as if they were gods.

Here in Psalm 8, we see that David had a much better understanding of the physical world than we might expect. He knew that the sky he looked at in the night was showing him the “heavens” (v. 3a) and that the lights he saw in those heavens were celestial bodies in the heavens just as the earth was. In other words, he saw that the earth was not like the set of a movie with everything above being an illusion or a prop. He knew that God had created a vast universe of which the earth was just one planet.

Now that we have telescopes and satellites, we see how vast the universe really is and how small we really are in comparison. But David had a sense of it which is why he marveled, “...what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” With so much stuff in the material universe, why would God care about humanity as a group, much less the individuals in it?

I just googled the earth’s population and it is estimated at 7.6 billion people. I can’t even begin to visualize that number, much less think about knowing each person’s name, story, thoughts, and so on. Yet God knows it all and cares about each of us individually. That’s why David concluded this Psalm with, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Nobody comes anywhere near his majesty.

Psalms 8-10

Let’s prepare for the Lord’s Day by reading Psalms 8-10 today.

And what a great group of Psalms to read to prepare our hearts for worship. Each one of them calls us to think deeply about the greatness of God. Please read them all for the good of your own soul, but I’m going to write about Psalm 8, specifically verses 3-9. In this passage, David laid on his back in the countryside around Bethlehem and turned his eyes toward the sky. With his sheep gathered in the pasture around him, he looked up into the clear dark sky. There were no city lights on earth to impair his view and no clouds to hide what was beyond our atmosphere. And what did he see? Stars. A vast, black canopy in every direction punctuated by points of light scattered everywhere. As he thought about those dots of light, small but intensely bright, he must have known that each of those stars was like our sun. But think about how far away you would have to be for our sun to look like the North Star, for instance, looks to us. So he realized that beyond the earth was an enormous place full of suns like ours so far away he couldn’t even imagine the distance.

We don’t know if David wrote this when he was a shepherd or if he wrote it while he was king, perhaps unable to sleep some night or just remembering the peacefulness of his shepherding days. One thing we can conclude, however, is that David reflected on the vastness of space and the glory of the heavenly bodies far beyond us. If the created universe is that big, that magnificent, then even the greatest king on earth is like a gnat in comparison to God’s creation and, of course, compared to God himself. So in awe and worship David cried out in verse 4, “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” He then went on to meditate on how much God has entrusted to us. As weak and insignificant as we are compared to God and his universe, God made us kings over his earthly creation (vv. 6-8) so that we could master and enjoy it all as his gracious provision to us. This gives us a glimpse of the majesty and kindness of God. His majesty is seen in the greatness of his creation; his kindness is seen in how he has exalted us and provided for us through that creation.

In addition to all that God has done for us in Christ, our role in this world calls us to worship the Lord and wonder at his greatness. It also gives us a hint of what awaits for us when we see him and live finally and fully redeemed on the new earth. Let these truths encourage your heart and prepare you to worship as we gather together for worship this morning.

Leviticus 7, Psalms 7–8, Proverbs 22, 1 Thessalonians 1

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Leviticus 7, Psalms 7–8, Proverbs 22, 1 Thessalonians 1. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Psalm 8.

Psalm 8 is one of the songs of David that is just a joy to read. It is uplifting in its tone: “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (vv. 1, 9). It is also deeply humbling: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Think of a cloudless night with the moon shining full in it’s brightness and the stars accenting the sky with their light. David must have spent a thousand nights like this when he was a shepherd, wondering why the moon glowed and how far away those stars were. The universe must have seemed like a vast expanse whose distance he could not even begin to measure, much less understand. And what he knew of the universe was incredibly modest compared to what any American middle schooler knows of it. Yet he understood that underneath that massive majestic blanket of darkness was humanity. We are tiny compared to the size of the moon, weak compared to the brightness of the north star, insignificant compared to the size of the universe. Yet God cares about us!

And, more than that, he has given honor to humanity, putting us just one rung below angels in the rank of living beings:  “You have made them a little lower than the angels” (v. 5a) yet “crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet…” (vv. 5-6). This is the extraordinary grace of God even in creation. Compared to God, we are less significant than ants are to us, yet God honored us by making us lords over this planet where we live. And, even though we sinned against him, he has not turned his back on us in rejection but instead he cares for us (v. 4). Let these truths encourage your heart today but also let them turn your heart to God in worship. He is far above us, vastly more powerful than we can begin to imagine, yet he loves us and honors us! Since we know him by faith, let’s love and honor him in how we act and treat others today.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.