Scripture Reading: Psalm 8 and 104
“O Lord our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! who hast set Thy glory above the heavens” (Psa. 8:1). The glory of God’s name fills the earth, and overflows the heavens. The majesty of God is evident in every part of His creation.
Psalm 104:24 gives some information about the scope of God’s creation – “O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.” The stunning variety in creation includes the lights in the sky, the heavens and the earth, the land and the vegetation, the brooks and rivers, the invisible microscopic forms of life, the oceans and the sea creatures, the insects and the birds, the land animals – and human beings.
Furthermore, think about how God provides food to sustain all living things. He cares for each plant and animal with an amazing attention to detail. For example, there are more than 13,000 kinds of fish living in the oceans – from the tiny “goby” (less than an inch long when full grown) to the huge whale (that reaches more than 100 feet in length). One blue whale, for example, is longer than three dump trucks, heavier than 100 mid-sized automobiles, and has a heart the size of a Volkswagen Beetle! Each whale consumes about four tons of food a day – about three million calories – all provided by our Creator God.
The writer of the 104th Psalm extols the majesty of God as seen here on earth. In the 8th Psalm, by way of contrast, David expresses awe for God in light of what he was seeing in the sky. He was impressed by the stars and planets, and the vastness of space. But the planets and stars and the vast universe give only a partial view of how great our God is.
“Out of the Mouth of Babes…”
In verse 2 of Psalm 8, David marvels at the wisdom of the Lord, especially in the sense that He uses the weak things to overthrow the mighty. This is what he says: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” The words “babes and sucklings” are more accurately (in our current language) translated “Out of the mouth of children and infants – You have ordained strength, that You might still (or silence) the enemy.”
Jehovah God has ordained that even the most feeble representatives of humanity (small children and infants) should be champions who confound (and silence) those who oppose His kingdom and deny His goodness. God uses the weak to overthrow the mighty.
Little children tend to praise God perfectly, and their example can often silence God’s enemies. Some readers will remember the poem about a little boy who was walking home from summer Bible school, and on the way, a neighbor, who had been watching him day after day, said to him:
“Going to Bible School is a fine way
For a boy to spend his time.
If you’ll tell me where God is,
I’ll give you a brand new dime.”
Quick as a flash the answer came!
Nor was the accent faint;
“I’ll give you a dollar, Mister,
If you can tell me – where God ain’t.”
Sometimes just an innocent question or a naive observation from a small child will silence a skeptic and make him think. God uses the weak things of this world to put to shame the things which are mighty, so that no flesh should glory in His presence (1 Cor. 1:27-29).
The Lord, then, is praised by huge galaxies, but also by little children! The sun, moon, and stars do testify of the majesty of God, but their testimony is without words. And so, even more precious than the testimony of huge galaxies, are the simple prayers, the words, and the songs of a little child. Thus (in verses 1-2 of Psalm 8), the excellencies of the Lord God are magnified by the marvelous creation, but also by the testimonies of little children.
The Measure of Man
In comparison with the span of the heavens and the vastness of heavenly bodies, human beings can only confess their seeming insignificance. In 8:3-4 the psalmist expresses his awe and wonder and says, “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him?....”
As a young man, David spent much of his time in God’s great outdoors – and at night, he lay on his back beside the flock. As he observed the moon and the stars which God had established, he acknowledged that they were put there by the finger of God, and then he says, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?” David pondered the majesty and greatness of God, and he was struck by the smallness of man.
The branch of science which most eloquently proclaims God’s greatness and man’s insignificance is astronomy – the study of the starry heavens. I studied astronomy in college in an attempt to learn more about the heavens. The main thing I discovered was that there are whole realms of the universe that I had never heard about before! The earth on which we live is only a small planet in a relatively small solar system toward the outer edge of the Milky Way.
Other than the sun, the nearest star to the earth (Alpha Centauri) is 25 trillion miles from the earth. Many folks remember that the sun is 93 million miles from the earth. Alpha Centauri is 276,000 times farther away from earth than the sun. Some of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy are 20,000 times farther away from the earth than the nearest star is.
And still more staggering is the fact that there are millions of additional galaxies in the universe, far beyond the Milky Way – which is just one galaxy. The Milky Way itself is so big that it would take light 100 million years to go from one end of it to the other – and light travels 186,000 miles in one second!
To gaze into the heavens at night should give us great thoughts about God. The moon and the stars are the work of His fingers. When we think of the billions of stars, and the vast distances of the universe, and the power that holds the heavenly bodies in their places – it boggles the mind.
That brings us to verse 4 of the 8th Psalm: “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that Thou visitest him?”
In light of the expanse of the universe, we human beings are pretty small pebbles on a pretty big beach, and David wonders how God can even take time to bother with us! Yet God is interested in each individual person. How wonderful! Actually, God is more interested in people than He is in planets. He is more interested in human souls than He is in massive stars.
The Psalm ends (in verse 9) with the same words with which it began: “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!” God is so great, so wise, and so powerful – yet He is our Father, our Lord, and our God. Truly, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!
Worthy of Worship
The 8th Psalm exalts the greatness of God, and the glory of His Person. What a tremendous God! How excellent is His name in all the earth! One poet says:
“Countless suns are ever circling
through the boundless realms of space;
And the God whose hand has made them,
keeps each orb in its true place;
All revolve in perfect order –
harmony complete we see,
Yet the God whose will they follow,
is the God who thinks of me.”
In Matthew 10:29, Jesus points out that two sparrows are sold for a farthing, and in Luke 12:6 He points out that five sparrows are sold for two farthings. Sparrows were commonly found in New Testament Palestine. In New Testament times, it did not cost much to purchase sparrows in the marketplace. Two of them could be bought for a penny, the smallest copper coin, and five for two pennies. And yet, Jesus points out that not one of them will fall to the ground without the Heavenly Father’s notice (Matt. 10:29), not one of them is forgotten before Him (Luke 12:6). Jesus goes on to say, “Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows” (v. 7). Jesus encouraged the disciples not to be afraid, because God is concerned about us, and He is carefully watching over us.
Our great God and Heavenly Father, the Lord God of Israel, is the God concerned even about the small, seemingly insignificant sparrow. That shows the extent of His providential care. A God who cares for sparrows will surely provide for the saints!
Certainly, we should be eager to obey His Word – and to show our love to Him who first loved us. And we must say with the psalmist of old: “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psa. 145:3).
– Adapted from Bible Helps.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon