God’s Majesty Displayed

Psalm 8

Many things the Psalmist did not have to deal with that we do: all sorts of pollution incl. air and light; skyscrapers; instant communication that keeps us tethered and occupied; asphalt, power lines, cell phone towers, list goes on. All things that hinder or obscure our consideration of what is around us. Reverse is also true: David had no optical or radio telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, shuttle flights, International Space Station, electron microscope, radar and sonar and other technological aids to observing the very large and very small.

But he and we have important things in common: 5 senses + the Bible + time. David took his understanding of God’s Word, his senses, went outside his tent and took time to consider what he could observe. Conclusions he reached and recorded not the result of a few glances in passing, 2-minute breaks here and there. Came from extended observation and meditation, perhaps begun during times as shepherd boy, watching over his family’s flocks.

As he lay out on the Bethlehem hillside, crystal-clear night, longer he looked at stars and planets in sky above, more overwhelmed he became by their vastness. However, because of familiarity with Creation story written down by Moses, his meditation not held captive by material universe. Thoughts went beyond dimensions he could see to what is unseen – the Creator, and his relationship to his creation. Can imagine the what-if’s that raced through his mind – if the universe is this big/complex/diverse, what does that mean about God? The outcome of his meditation: a profound hymn of praise to majesty of God: in his nature as Creator, the vastness of his creation, his goodness to man.

A. in his nature as Creator v.1-2

majestic – superior, glorious over all in power and majesty with exclusive lordship

The works of creation and Providence evince and proclaim to all the world that there is an infinite Being, the fountain of all being, power, and perfection, the sovereign ruler, powerful protector, and bountiful benefactor of all the creatures. (Matthew Henry)

Yahweh Adonai – covenant God, sovereign Master: from David’s perspective, whoever is responsible is in charge

considering creation points to Creator

scope of creation –> immensity of Creator

wonder of creation –> glory of Creator

glory and majesty seen in creation is nothing inherent in it; it is presence of Creator, fingerprints of God

readiness of a child to say “Wow”

strong argument to silence God’s enemies

for God’s existence

for God’s glory, especially in creation

atheists are not born, they are made

Paul declares all mankind possesses knowledge of God (Rom. 1:18-21)

innate knowledge present from birth; although distorted, still true enough to original for all to be accountable

Reportedly the young child of an atheist couple once asked his parents, “Do you think God knows we don’t believe in Him?”

B. in the vastness of his creation v.3-4

Men are but gnats, of little stature and significance, limited to the sphere of the earth

Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” – 152x to nearest planet, 390x to nearest star

During construction of Emerson Hall at Harvard University (1900), president Charles Eliot invited psychologist and philosopher William James to suggest a suitable inscription for the stone lintel over the doors of the new home of the philosophy department.

After some reflection, James sent Eliot a line from the Greek philosopher Protagoras (fl. 5th C. BC): “Man is the measure of all things.”

James never heard back from Eliot, so his curiosity was piqued when he spotted artisans working on a scaffold hidden by a canvas. One morning, the scaffold and canvas were gone. The inscription? “WHAT IS MAN THAT THOU ARE MINDFUL OF HIM?”

Eliot had replaced James’s suggestion with words from the Psalmist. Between these two lines lies the great distance between the God-centered and the human-centered points of view. Warren Bird

The “observable” universe is HUGE

Andromeda galaxy – most distant visible with naked eye – est. 2.25 million light-years

then there’s what we need technology to view that’s beyond that – both macro and micro

and it’s all orderly – even within apparent disorder things still follow rules of operation

compare Creator to creation to man

mortal man in his frailty

hardly a flyspeck on fabric of universe, hardly worthy of Creator’s notice

just to count number of stars estimated to be in universe: 30 million years on a supercomputer

catch the wonder!

question is not “what are we?” but “why do we matter… to God?”

we do matter; God does notice

atheist/evolutionist says we don’t really matter, certainly beyond our planet, maybe not even there

notice David doesn’t answer question directly; stays in the realm of wonder and awe, overcome with God’s greatness

content to believe that since we know God, since he has revealed himself to us, since he takes care of us, we must matter

C. in his goodness to man v.5-8

We are unique, distinct from all the rest

only a little less than God, not a little more than apes

must be careful that in doctrine of man we don’t try to make him either God or animal

what gives mankind worth not what is obvious and measurable: strength, intelligence, achievement

We bear His image, created in His likeness

crowned with glory and honor

image of God that is man’s crown; true even when image is fractured and defaced – still recognizably God’s

mankind has value and dignity by virtue of his creation

nothing even close can be found in evolutionary scheme – man’s position only temporary until surpassed by next evolutionary leap

We share His dominion as vice-regents over creation

given rule and authority – responsible stewardship – neither worship nor exploitation

yet another distinctive that sets man apart from all other created things, and from God: rule is limited, is true rule

mandate to have dominion not revoked or forfeited in the Fall – ground was cursed, probably plant behavior changed as well

creatures brought under another dimension of the curse after the Flood – given for food but not left as sitting ducks: fear and dread upon all creatures (Gen. 9:2)

created order doesn’t cooperate, but man’s task is to exercise dominion to fullest extent possible

Dignity and dominion regained in Christ

all lost in Fall restored (and then some) by him and in him

all things are under authority of Christ, he has not yet subdued all things so they willingly submit to his rule (1 Cor. 15:25-28)

only in Christ will mankind be raised to position destined for children of the King

Christ did not return to glory alone – brought redeemed mankind along with him

it’s only in life, eternal life, that we will exercise dominion over creation as God designed

Only in Christ can man’s magnificent destiny be realised. “Man’s destiny as depicted in this psalm is not, and cannot be, accomplished out of Christ. He is the true Lord of all. In Him man reigns, in Him man shall yet be restored to his rightful lordship, and shall really and completely be in the new world of redemption what now he is but very imperfectly, God’s vicegerent, ruling a subject creation in peace, and harmony, and love.” — Edward Perowne, MK, 19th cent. Eng. clergyman

D. in man’s response v.9

We declare the excellence of the Creator

our Lord – what a statement

a personal God in personal (not individual) relationship with mankind – transcendence and immanence

how that personal connection increases passion and praise

from a position of gracious blessing that we give praise

can’t help worshiping God even when we don’t have proper words

speak what we can: e.g., see also Rom. 11:33 “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

his greatness and superiority

Observation of creation should result in praise to/of the Creator

seen in grandeur of creation, goodness to man

must express our adoration of Creator who transcends his creation at every opportunity

not deification of creation

not worshiping god in creation but God of creation and of re-creation

May we not only never lose (or recover if we’ve lost it) the ease with which a child is wowed by the work of the Creator and the re-Creator. There’s enough material there to last for an eternity of praise.

Between God and us the distance is infinite; and, if it were possible, our love and thankfulness should fill up that distance, and extend itself to infiniteness, saith a grave divine. Trapp

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