Psalm 8, Hebrews 2:5-9

God's Awful Majesty

(c) Copyright 1985 Rev. Bill Versteeg

Psalm 8: (NIV)

For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider 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, the son of man that you care for him?

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Hebrews 2 (NIV)

5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.

6 But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honour and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.

9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Why did you come to church tonight?  Why did you take out the time to make sitting in this pew a part of your life?  Why did you come tonight to sing some songs, pray a bit and listen to some young pastor preach about some part of scripture?

Maybe you did it out of habit...

Maybe your parents made you come...

Maybe you friends are here and its one place that you can get together and talk...

Maybe you came to worship...

Maybe you came to experience the awe and the wonder of being a child of your Father in heaven...

Maybe you came to experience the awe of his presence so that you week might be filled with the wonder of his majesty instead of the plot-less melodramas of destroyed lives on television.

Maybe this shallow society gives no food for your hungry souls the souls that hunger and thirst for God, not in theology, not in talk, but in experience...

The Psalmist, in Psalm 8 experienced the awe and the wonder of this great God.

He did not experience this awe and wonder by working, giving and being constantly active for God's Kingdom.   Rather he stopped, he celebrated, he listened to a creation that spoke loudly in silence.  He watched creation, the portrait of his YWH.

This Psalm calls us to stop, be receptive to God's creation and be awestruck by the wonder of His majestic name in all the earth.

If we want to experience this awe that Psalm 8 elicits, it might help us if we step into the Psalmist's shoes, picturing in our own minds what he must have seen in order to write this Psalm.

So with your imagination...

Picture yourself in the land of Israel.  It is late Autumn.  The last of the crops have just been hand cut and threshed, most of the fields are brown stubble.  In thankfulness of God, you have just been celebrating the feast of Tabernacles - the feast in which you thank God for the wonder of the Harvest, the wonder of his fruitful creation.

You've built yourself a booth, a lean too, out of sticks and branches.  Its some protection, not much, but it helps. The ground is rough, so you gleaned some left over hay from the fields so that you have something to lay upon.

The feast of the Ingathering or Tabernacles is to last for Seven days, you've now been celebrating God's good Creation for six days, it late in the evening, the sun has just set... and with your friends who have their tents built nearby, you look up in the black dark of night, above you, to the east, looms a large ivory moon.

Its not full, you can see its dark edge shadowing the glimmer of the stars behind it --- and it makes you feel small, as if you could shrink between the straws and stubble on which you are lying.

Above the whispers of the night you hear a whimper, then a wail of a child who has lost its mother's breast in sleep.  Then its still again and you know that there was something beautiful in that cry - it was dependence, it was intimacy and contentment and you know that in that child's eyes, when it wakes tomorrow there will be the amazement of a new day.  

The wonder of a world which you have long taken for granted.  It wonders at a rock which insists on falling, a piece of straw that breaks and breaks and breaks again between those persistent little fingers - those little fingers which still cannot grasp those pebbles, but try, and try and try again.

And you know, somewhere in that babe's cry, in those eyes, is an inexpressible, but wonderfully harmonious praise.

The breeze that hushes through the night pulls at a tuft of hair that has somehow become tangled with straw.  The twitch on your head pulls you back to the reality of the night and you notice how the sun's total departure has made the stars pierce through the darkness which seems to become brighter with each passing moment - more stars appearing than before until the heavens seem to be stars - stars - so many -  everyplace you look there seems to be another star.  And if you turn you eyes to the side slightly - there are still more that you did not see.

Billions of starts!

No - more likely billions of billions of stars, incredible in size, infinitely far away, yet all surrounding - protecting this earth a bulwark of impregnable defence.

Inside, you feel the surge of a quenched shout: "Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

All of these stars, so immense, so intense, God made them with his own hands.

Of all these stars, of all these possible worlds, here you lie, gazing at the infinite, the innumerable, the immeasurable, the eternal, and you feel insignificant, small, a speck of dust on a pebble planet cruising around some petty star.

You, Six feet tall, to live, maybe 80 years...

But in this infinite dark expanse, on this pebble planet, God focused on you so that he might express his love.  Out of a thousand billion billion stars, he choose this puny sun, and this tiny ball flying around that sun, and this little six foot creature...

"What is man that thou art mindful of him and the son of man that thou dost care for him?"


This speck of dust - bewildering!  This being that passes away as a flower - and he actually cars for it!  Amazing!  Man - so microscopic -  yet... Its unbelievable!

Among all those giant stars roaring at incinerant temperatures, casting their light billions of billions of miles, this little man he has chosen to be KING of his creation - crowned with glory and honour.  Somehow in your miniscule size you are bigger than the biggest star. Somehow in your 80 year life span you are more important than a nova of indefinable age. Somehow in your short span from dust to dust you have become of infinite worth. The glory of the galaxy has been place upon your head - You have been made - a little less than God, the world is yours to be ruled.   All things have been put under your feet, the sheep and the oxen, the birds and the fish, the atom and the electron, gas and water, ocean and space, sunshine and wind.

In wonder, you exclaim "LORD, our lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"  But...

Suddenly you step out of space.  The stars once again seem instantly distant.  The night air has become sweet with flowing moisture.  The late fall evening breeze has become a chill in your bones.  The child in the distance cries out again, this time, in obvious pain.  Your back aches, the stubble spears you, even through your garments, your arm throbs, it has fallen asleep as it supported your head while you were flying among the stars, and the food you ate at dusk is grumbling in your stomach

You've felt the infinite universe - but the creak of your bones drove you back to earth. You've heard a child's simple beautiful praise turn into a scream of disgruntled frustration.

For a while, you were the richest King in the Universe, totally in charge.  Now you feel the uneven dirt which is your bed, and the spearing stubble for your bed springs, and the damp chill of a near winter's night, and you want to go to sleep but the child's cry has somehow left you tense.

Your chilled bones remind you that even though you are a King, not everything is what you want it to be. The child is probably colicky.  Your bead leaves something to be desired. And your stomach is turning into knots - you're beginning to feel sick

And somehow, contrary to your feelings, you squeeze out the whisper "Lord, our Lord, how majestic is you name in all the earth!"

We can now step out of our imagination.

.This Psalm leaves us tense because we do not experience the total Kingship which it seems to claim for man. Sure we rule over the domesticated animals of the field, we can catch fish, we hunt ducks, but all of this creation is definitely not under our feet.  

What about the earthquake/volcano?  What about the tornado?  What about cancer/ death?

The writer of the Book of Hebrews also felt this tension when he red this Psalm.. Right after quoting this Psalm he writes:

"As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him."

When he says this he is referring to man.  We as rulers of this creation are still subject to death, sickness, and disasters which we cannot control.

But the writer of the Book of Hebrews also points us to the answer to this dilemma.  When he quotes Psalm 8, he no longer applies it to us because he knows of this tension.  Rather he points us to Christ who was made a little lower than the angels  "But then he was crowned with glory and honour, everything was put in subjection under his feet." - nothing is outside of his control.

The Christ child, the second Adam, the new man is the new King of the entire creation. Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam did not and now the KINGSHIP has become his.

And we his brothers, reign with him in his eternal Kingdom.  We don't experience that totality of that reign yet, but by faith we know that that experience will come.

So the writer of Hebrews exhorts us, not to look at ourselves, rather we must look to the majestic Name of our LORD in this creation once again as it was revealed in his son...

"But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, but now is crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death, and sickness and tragedy, for everyone."

We must see Jesus, the Wonderful Counsellor, a shivering baby in a cow stall.

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Jesus, the very name, the very presence of God among men!

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Jesus, through whom everything in heaven and earth was created

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Jesus, the Lamb that was worthy to take the scroll and open its seals

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Jesus, before whom every knee in heaven, on the earth and under the earth shall bow!

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Jesus, the one who has made us a kingdom of priest to our God and with him we shall reign on earth!

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!


Lord, our Lord, grant us the grace to experience your majesty in this coming week of toil, trauma, trials and tears; in our joy, play relaxation and devotion.  Help us to stop and behold your majesty in a crib.  Help us to see Jesus, with whom we riegn in this world with whom we represent your name among men.  May your name in us be true to its real majesty in all the earth ... in Christ. Amen.

(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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