I love looking out the window on takeoff. The thrill of speeding down the runway is matched by the awe of seeing the landscape quickly shrink out of view below. First, the runway disappears, allowing my eyes to stretch as I try to identify familiar landmarks before climbing into the clouds. I see mountains and rivers speckle the landscape that once imposed themselves in my limited view. It only took 35,000 feet of distance to give me the perspective I often lack; which is I am small, but God, and the glory of his creation, are not.
King David didn’t travel into the clouds but gazed up into them when he came to the same conclusion. He wrote of his insignificance and God’s glory in Psalm 8. It begins…
“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”Psalm 8:1
David was awed at creation and the character of the one who made it all. He used twin nouns to describe this Creator God. The first “O LORD” is in all caps indicating the revealed covenantal name of God as the great “I AM” or, “Yahweh” (Exodus 3:14). The second “Lord” emphasizes his sovereignty and Lordship over all things.
This “LORD, our Lord,” to whom David directs his praise, is Master and Lord over all creation. His works are majestic, but his name, and his character, are even more glorious. It’s the glory of his name that reaches beyond the highest heavens, which he made.
Out of the mouth of babes
We struggle to comprehend the vastness of the universe, and how high the heavens are, yet the Lord also receives praises from the humblest places, even out of the mouths of babes.
“Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.”Psalm 8:2
We would never think of the sweet cooing sounds of a baby as a demonstration of strength. Babies are helpless and defenseless, and this was David’s point. Just when you think you understand what strength looks like, God surprises you. It’s not just the grandeur of the heavens, but the baby resting in his mother’s arms, that offers him praise. We know God’s strength is made perfect in human weakness (2 Cor 12:9), so with a single baby’s coo, he can put down all his enemies. The heavens declare his glory and strength, as do the gurgling coos of babies.
This verse not only describes God’s manifest strength, but it prophesied the literal praise Jesus would receive from children. Matthew tells us that as Jesus was healing the blind and lame that came to him in the temple, the children (unlike the adult Pharisees) recognized this as a sign of his deity and cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matt 21:15). The Pharisees were indignant at the wonderful things that he did. Jesus said to them, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (16).
Jesus said that if his disciples, and the children, didn’t praise him as King, the stones would cry out in praise (Luke 19:40). From the highest star to the most defenseless baby, to everything in between, all of creation praises God and reveals his strength.
Who am I that you are mindful of me?
David presents these truths with unapologetic tension. God’s glory is high and it’s also low. We’re made from the dust, and yet he’s given us dominion over the earth. He created the galaxies with a flick of his fingertips, yet, his crowning achievement is mankind. Such a statement might make us swell with self-importance, but like David, we should feel flattened by it.
“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?”Psalm 8:3-4
Do you ever feel the same sense of insignificance before the Lord? Have you ever prefaced your prayers with something like, “I know you’re busy, God, taking care of the universe and all, but could you…?” David shows us that stargazing is an exercise in humility. In light of God’s astounding creation, we should see ourselves as small and insignificant, but it doesn’t end there.
“The LORD, our Lord,” the Master and Sovereign over the universe, who maintains the orbits of the sun, moon, and stars, knows you by name. On one hand, we are insignificant, and our lives are but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, but because of his great love for us, we are also eternally significant. Could anything be more wonderful? He is not too busy for you, he’s thinking of you right this very moment. The Lord cares for you and he knows the burdens of your heart. He is mindful of you.
We agree with David who said in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”
He became like us
The placement of Psalm 8 is interesting within the first fourteen psalms. Psalm 1 and 2 provide a pattern and introduction to the whole book, describing the two ways to live for both individuals and nations. In Psalm 3 through 7 recount David’s story and lament while he hides from his enemies, and Psalms 9 through 14 identify the poor and afflicted ones who are powerless against the wicked world systems. But right in the middle of those two sections, sits Psalm 8 causing us to reckon with our placement in God’s created universe. Despite the forces against us and our relative insignificance concerning the cosmos, the Lord is mindful of us and made us rule and have dominion over his creation (Psalm 8:6-8).
He, who defines strength and majesty, became weak and helpless, as a human baby (Matt 1:23). The one who made the angelic hosts, became lower than them so that he could taste death for us all (Psalm 8:5, Hebrews 2:5-9). And we who’ve been given dominion over his creation (Psalm 8:6-8), respond in praise that because of his death and resurrection, God has given him dominion over all things (1 Peter 3:22, Ephesians 1:22).
Like David, we should be astounded that he who made the distant galaxies not only knows us but cares for us. What is man that you are mindful of him? Our minds bend as we consider the majesty and meekness of our God. The best response to David’s question isn’t a philosophical one, but simply a heart of praise. David opened and closed this psalm with the same words, and it bears repeating. “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
Because he cares for us,
P.P.S. What’s your favorite Psalm? Tell me below!
P.P.S. I wrote an ebook about Psalm 23. You can use it as a week-long devotional. Grab your free copy below.