Thursday, June 13, 2013

What is Man That You are Mindful of Him?

Today is the fourth day of our 23rd week, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  Proverbs 11-13; Romans 13; Psalm 8.

Today I want to echo the question of the psalmist:  "What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?"

Psalm 8

English Standard Version (ESV)

How Majestic Is Your Name

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith.[a] A Psalm of David.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b]
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!


  1. Psalm 8:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term
  2. Psalm 8:5 Or than God; Septuagint than the angels

Gazing into the night skies, David feels lost in the vastness of space.  He feels small and insignificant.  Perhaps you've felt that way too.  Compared to the beauty of the swirling galaxies, the depths of the oceans, the intricacies of creation--what is man (or humanity) that God is mindful of us?  David asks what significance we can have in the face of such splendor.  Then he answers his own question.

The English Standard Version (my most recent favorite) gives perhaps the best rendering I have seen when it says, "Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings (v. 5a)."  The word that the ESV translates as "heavenly beings" is Elohim.  This is the singular-plural word that is used to describe God throughout the OT.  A singular-plural word would be like "army" or "collection."  Within the singularity is a plurality.  This gives us a hint of the Trinity, though some translators lean more toward the plural than toward the singular, rendering "Elohim" as "gods."  Others lean more toward the singularity and avoid the plurality, translating it as "God."  Still others avoid even the suggestion of multiple deities and yet like the plurality--so they give us the translation "angels."  Perhaps it's best to avoid speculation and just say "heavenly beings," as the ESV has done.  The point is that God has made us a little lower than the heavenly beings.  We are not lower because they are better, but simply because we are limited by these physical, mortal bodies.  When we enter the resurrection and are no longer bound by the frailties of flesh, we will no longer be lower than they are.  In fact, we might say to the angels, "We claim kinship with the Son of God Himself."

For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you”?
Or again,
“I will be to him a father,
    and he shall be to me a son”?

And to which of the angels has he ever said,
“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:5, 13-14 ESV)
Yes, God has made us a little lower than the angels, but what glory man possesses is found in the fact that we are made in God's own image.  No angel was ever redeemed by Christ's blood, but God though so much of us that He sent His Son to die on our behalf.  God also regards humanity so much that He has entrusted us with the care of creation.  Sometimes I wonder whether God should have trusted us so much--but I think it's because God expects the best from us.  

So the next time you're feeling small, remember how much you're worth to God.  God has planned great things for you--and has given you a part in His great work!

The following video is of a choir singing "The Majesty and Glory of Your Name" by Tom Fettke, which is a musical piece that I remember singing in my church choir when I was a teenager.  Thought I'd share it with you.  (Yes, this is typical of the kind of stuff my church choir sang back in the day--thanks to Debbie Mueller, our classically trained director.)

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