Reading through the Bible together

Thursday, August 15, 2013

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How recently, and in what context, have you felt insignificant? Can you think of a time? I can. One time as I was visiting the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., I watched the IMAX 3–D movie on the space Hubble telescope. The sheer immensity of space that I saw almost paralyzed me. As I sat there trying to take in thoughts about the immensity of the universe, my mind continued to return to the words of the psalmist: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3–4, TNIV).

The byline of Psalm 8 tells us that David composed this psalm. We don’t know the circumstances or situation in which he composed it. As we read it, though, we can imagine that it might have taken shape in his mind as a young man while minding his father’s sheep. Out in the wilderness at night, alone, gazing at the star-studded heavens must have left David with a keen sense of just how small—how insignificant—he was.

Yet, if he felt insignificant, he also felt the grandeur, the immensity, of God, and that is reflected in this psalm. It’s the first pure song of praise—the first hymn—in the book of Psalms. It is unique among other psalms of praise in that the entire psalm consists of addressing God in the second person. “You have set Your glory…You have established a stronghold…[You have] crowned them with glory and honor…You [have] put everything under their feet.” Repeatedly, the psalmist addresses God directly. In fact, it’s the only hymn in the entire Old Testament that is composed completely as a direct address to God.

Maybe one of the enduring messages of this psalm is precisely that: the more we recognize God’s grandeur, the more we understand our finitude. And the more we recognize our “littleness,” the more open we are to recognize God’s “bigness.”

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1, TNIV).

 

Randy Roberts
Senior Pastor
Loma Linda University Church