Songs of Greatness is a sermon series on the greatness of God from the Psalms. How Majestic is Your Name — God’s work in creation and salvation shows an incomprehensible level of care for human beings. Why does God care so much about us? In the scope of the whole universe, we are tiny. But because of God’s great love, we are infinitely valuable. Recorded on July 11, 2021, on Psalm 8, by Pastor David Parks.
So last week, we started a new annual theme for our preaching ministry over the next year focused on The Greatness of God. It’s my conviction that many of the problems we face in the evangelical church today would be solved if we had a far bigger view of God. Way too many Christians have way too small of a vision of who God is in their day-to-day lives. And to kick off this annual theme, we started a new sermon series last week from the Psalms called, Songs of Greatness. The Psalms are a collection of songs/poems that the people of God have used to worship God for 1000’s of years. Throughout this series, I hope to help you have a bigger, truer perspective, and a more compelling vision of who God is. The Lord has done great things, and he is worthy of our praise. Today, we’re considering Psalm 8 and we’re confronted by a question of the psalmist. And this is a question that, I think, any thinking person would ask after considering the basic claims of the Christian faith. And here’s the question: Why does God care so much about us? Why does God, the maker of the whole universe, care, why is he so involved in the lives of human beings? Maybe you are new to the Christian faith and you’re just checking things out today. Maybe you don’t know that God cares, or maybe you’ve always assumed that God doesn’t care about you. But the great message of the gospel is that God cares about human beings, God is working to save human beings because God wants a personal relationship with human beings. But again, why does God care so much about us? And this is a very important question because it reveals to us an indication of who we are, our identity/value, but it also reveals the majesty of God, as well. If you have a Bible/app, please open it to Ps 8.
Psalm 8, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. 2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?[c] 5 You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e] and crowned them[f] with glory and honor. 6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their[g] feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, 8 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Now, this Psalm is said to be a Psalm of David, that is, King David who lived about 3,000 years ago. David was the most powerful/influential king of the ancient people of Israel. But David was also a prolific songwriter, having written almost half the Psalms in the bible. Let’s back up to v. 1. and work through this text together.
Psalm 8:1-2, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Now, right away, you might’ve noticed that this psalm begins and ends with the same line, “Lord (that is, Yahweh), our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Last week I said that there’s a literary device used in the Bible called an inclusio. And an inclusio is typically a repeated phrase that puts brackets around a section of Scripture that unites a section under a common theme. So what is this psalm all about? How majestic is the name of Yahweh God in all the earth? Well, how come? What is the evidence of the majesty of God? Let’s keep going and find out. v. 2. says, that it is through the praises of the kings and queens, King David? No. It’s through the praise of children and infants, the smallest, the lowly, that God has established a stronghold against his enemies. This is a big flex. God is not lacking in any way. God is wholly independent. He doesn’t need to strong to accomplish his purposes. He doesn’t need the smart. He doesn’t need the best of us to do his will. He doesn’t even need our work. This says these little ones will praise him when they see what God has accomplished. And what has he accomplished/done? v. 3.
Psalm 8:3-4, “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?” And here is the great question of the psalmist, David. Why does God care so much about us? When I consider your heavens — and given the context of this passage, I think it’s safe to say that David means the sky and everything in them, all the heavenly bodies. Sometimes, as in the phrase “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” the heavens mean everything above us. But sometimes, heaven refers to God’s space, just as the earth is our space. To figure out what we’re talking about, you just need to look for clues in the surrounding text. And what are the clues? The moon and the stars which God has set in place. So we’re talking about everything above here. If David wrote this today, he might say, when I look up at the night sky and I see a hundred billion galaxies, each with a hundred billion stars, each with an untold number of planets in orbit, all expanding out across 93 billion light-years of visible space…who am I that you are mindful of me, that you care for me? Have you ever looked up at the night sky and felt small? Have you ever looked up at a mountain or out across the ocean and felt like you were this tiny, fragile thing? That’s because you are. Back on July 19, 2013, when NASA’s Cassini rocket had flown almost 900 million miles away from the earth and was taking pictures of Saturn’s rings, it turned around and took this picture. And what is that tiny dot in the lower right corner? That’s us. That’s the earth. That’s our whole world, containing everything and everyone you’ve ever known, every human being who’s ever lived. That tiny dot. And this is from our own solar system, much less from across our galaxy. When I consider the heavens, who are we that you, God, would even notice us?? Oh, but, he does. The shocking story of the Scriptures is that God does notice and he does care. Really? Yes. Look at v. 5.
Psalm 8:5-9, “You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Now here, David is pointing all the way back to the creation account of Genesis chapter 1. Where God determined to make human beings in his image and likeness, men and women. And God blessed human beings saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” People are not angels. Angels are spiritual creatures, created by God. People are also creatures, but we are the dust of the earth with the breath of God, body and soul, made in the image of God. And people were made to rule. Not in the place of God but with the given authority of God. Having been made in God’s image, we were to steward the good and perfect world, and every living thing in it, with the authority and character of God himself. Who was to do this? We were to do this. And once again, we finish the psalm with “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” So this psalm about the majesty of God, the greatness of God, finds its refrain in meditating on the high position that God has given humanity in the scope of the vastness of his creation. Why does God care so much about us? In this psalm, the only thing that is clear is that from creation onward, Yahweh God absolutely does care about us. Now, before we get to answer the question of why God cares so much about us, I must give one point of application of this teaching.
The value that God gives humanity is the only logical basis for universal human rights. This statement is a mouthful, but let’s think this through. Most people believe that human rights are universal. Most modern people anyways would say that every person, everywhere deserves at least the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now, we might argue about what particular rights people should have, or even what constitutes a person, and maybe those are sermons for another day, but the vast majority of modern people would agree that people have certain rights that are inherent to being human. But if you hold that the universe is the result of only naturalistic/materialistic processes and that there is no God, no Creator, nothing transcendent or outside of time and space, then on what basis would you claim that human beings have any sort of universal human rights? If there is no God, then any rights/values that we put on a human being are simply a matter of opinion. And who’s to say our opinion won’t change? Or, who’s to say that our valuation of certain humans, perhaps the people in our family or tribe, or nation, won’t get better treatment than people who are viewed as outsiders. If rights are democratic, then the majority will always win and the minority will always lose and that will only be oppressive and unjust. But if the Bible is true, and the universe is the result of the wisdom and the will of a transcendent God who gives value and purpose to his creation, and explicitly to human beings, then universal human rights are only logical. It’s the value that God gives us that is the only logical basis for universal human rights. Why do people have objective value? Because they are created in the image of God. Why do people have inherent rights? Because God cares for them and has commanded that they be treated a certain way, with dignity, respect, and love. Any other basis for universal human value/rights is simply a matter of opinion.
And this application of creation has so many implications for our lives and how we see and treat other people. But before we’re done today, let’s see if we can answer the big question of the psalmist. Let’s get to the why. Why does God care so much about us? What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Why, in the scope of all of creation, would God make us in his image and likeness and give us the responsibility/task of ruling over his creation? And what does this have to do with the theme of this psalm which is the majesty of the name of God in all the earth? The answer is that this psalm points ahead, to one who would come, 1,000 years after the time of David, to one who would be crowned with all glory and honor, to one who would spark the praise of children and infants, and would silence the foe and the avenger. That is, to Jesus Christ. You see, one of the great failures of history was that human beings, despite being made in God’s image, had failed to live out the creative intent of God in this world. Instead of stewarding God’s good and perfect world, we grasped for power and resources and lashed out in violence and injustice toward anyone who would stand in our way. And much of the record of the OT is the corruption of the world by men and women who turned away from God in sin and death. So we have the state of the world today: men and women who are made in the image of God, with all the value that that brings. But who abuse one another and use creation for their own selfish purposes and multiply curse in the place of blessing. However, in the gospel, we see God’s heart not to punish, but to redeem. And in Jesus Christ, we see God himself come into his creation, God become man. For what purpose? To rescue and redeem the lost. To live and die and rise again from the dead to make a way out of the trap of sin and death. To restore the image of God in men and women. To make all things new. Why? Why would God do this? You know why: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The love of God is the reason God cares for us. The love of God is the great motive behind all of the work of God in the world, in creation, and in salvation. And it’s the love of God that gives us our value/worth. So how much are you worth? A few months ago, there was a news article on a small porcelain bowl that sold at a rummage sale for $35. The seller had no idea where the bowl came from and therefore had no idea what it was worth. According to the article, “Upon closer inspection, the [bowl] was found to have originated from the court of the Yongle Emperor, who ruled from 1403 to 1424 [in China] — a period noted for its distinctive and celebrated porcelain techniques. Known as a “lotus bowl,” due to its resemblance to a lotus bud, the [bowl from the rummage sale] is now valued between $300,000 and $500,000.” When you understand where you come from, you can know your value. But in the gospel, not only do we find out where we come from, but we find out what God was willing to pay to get us back. Back into a relationship with him, back into his family. On the cross, Jesus was willing to pay it all, why? so that we might be saved. Do you see? Do you see the majesty of God’s inexplicable care for human beings? Do you see the majesty of the love of God for us? May his love change our view of the men and women around us every day. May we assess their worth as God assesses their worth, as priceless. And may the gospel cause our hearts to sing, joining the praise of the children and the infants. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!