First Mennonite Church
July 3, 2016
A God Mindful of You
Text: Psalm 8
1 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
What is man—meaning, what are human beings? This question has busied the mind of philosophers and intellectuals from time immemorial. Some say, man is a thinking being or a political animal, and so on.
This question is one that confronts every human being. Down in the human heart, each and every person will have to answer this fundamental question: Who am I? Each of us has to come with an answer of our own somehow.
Another question that arise during the quest of finding our own identity is: who is God? But as we develop physically, emotionally, and intellectually we discover our own identity first and then realize the “other,” including God. When a baby cries, the only thing the baby knows is that something in the person he or she is, is wrong. It is possible that the baby needs a clean diaper, or that she is hungry, or has a tummy ache. The baby discovers first his or her identity as a person. Mom must naturally enters the view secondly and then others gradually. And the question of who God is will come along.
So again, who are you? Do you matter to someone? To whom? And How much?
The passage for today will remind us of who we are and what is our relationship to the world God created. But most importantly, this passage will help us put in perspective our identity and purpose in this world before our Creator God. You see, we can only have the right perspective on who we are as humans if we have the right perspective on who God is. The problem humans have had and continue to have is that we have tried to define who man is but apart from first considering who God is. Therefore, defining the identity and purpose of mankind apart from God has led to such skewed perspective about who we are as humans. We, therefore, come to definitions of man being the master of his own destiny, as man being the center of the universe, or as the product of time, chance, and good luck among all the living creatures.
Let us go to the passage.
Psalm 8 is the first praise song in the book of Psalms. It addresses God in the second person—with the pronouns “you” and “your.” The text of Psalm 8 is also the first Psalm to reach the moon. When Apolo 11 left for the moon in 1969, a silicon disk containing messages from 73 nations, including the Vatican which contributed the text of Psalm 8, was taken to the moon.
If we envision David when he composed this Psalm, we can imagine him lying down on the ground at night and staring into the cloudless sky. David may have been staring at the moon and countless stars, spotting the constellations Orion, the Bear, and the Pleiades as mentioned in Job 9. David did not know of planets nor did he have knowledge of how the solar system works as we do know today. What David saw was the splendor and magnificent beauty of the glittering lights above.
For a man of faith like David was, the immediate response to his observation of the astronomical bodies was to worship God. David was overwhelmed by his sense of his finitude and smallness before the Creator of such awesome world before his eyes. David saw himself like a little crawling worm before the majesty of God. He was inspired to sing a song of praise. In his song, David captures so perfectly and succinctly the majesty of God, his sovereignty over the cosmos, and the godly ordained status and assignment of humankind.
David addresses God as Lord and Sovereign. These titles belong to kings. But David acknowledges that these titles are for God whose name is majestic in all the earth. That is, the name Yahweh denotes royalty in all the earth. In the ancient Hebrew culture the name of a person is reflected in the person’s character and essence. Thus, what David is saying is that God’s character and essence were visibly witnessed throughout the earth. Everything on earth witnesses God’s power and glory. It is the same idea Paul speaks about in Romans 1. And although the pagans could right away identify who is that Creator God as David could, the created world has the power to make every human being aware of a Creator. David knew the Creator God and that his name is Yahweh, the Lord and Sovereign. But God’s sovereignty and majesty not only reaches all the corners of the earth, it is also set above the heavens.
Verse 2 makes an astonishing affirmation about the nature of God’s majesty and sovereignty set above the heavens. God’s beauty and majesty is sublime but is also found in the mouths of babies. In the words of innocent children God establishes as defense against the enemies of God. Another way to understand verse is that even babies can speak of the glory of God. However we decide to understand verse two, the message is that God is fully aware of humankind and humankind has the potential to know God through the created world. Mankind cannot avoid knowing God and God has mankind ever present in his heart.
In verse 4, David expresses his amazement at God’s thorough concern for humanity. David openly wonders how could a God who not only created the vast universe but also cares for every aspect of it could also be mindful of mere mortal beings. In other words, David asks God, O Lord, our Sovereign Lord, how much are we worth before your eyes that you should care for us? Am I worth something? This question is ever present in the human heart. And the other question is, who bothers to care for me? These questions when asked in purely materialistic and human terms they can have damaging effects on those who ask them. It is the pursuit of gaining worthiness that many have made slaves of themselves to accumulate material things. People fight and die in the effort of accumulating wealth and material possessions. People abandon or neglect their loved ones for the sake of increasing their worth. On the other hand, there many who because they have not been able to increase their worth by accumulate materials possession have fallen into deep depression. Many consider themselves as worthless or so they have been told. How much are you worth? How much am I worth? Making this question apart from the proper context, which is the context of faith can lead to misery. But when this question is asked in the context of our creatureliness (our state of being created by God), we find an encouraging answer. That is because our Creator God made us a little lower than “Elohim” says David. In many instances this word has been used to refer to God, but it can also mean angels or divine beings. God has crowned us with honor and glory. He has made us king on earth, just as God is King over all the earth and above the heavens. God has created you and given you honor and glory. So let me tell you the good news: You are worth much more than gold. God has crowned you, therefore, you are not less than a king. Furthermore, God has created us to take care of his beautiful creation. Therefore God has made us co-creators of his beautiful creation.
The good news today is that God has not forgotten you. God is mindful of you because he created somewhat of a king or queen. God knows that he not only imprinted in you his likeness and image but has also crowned you with honor and glory.
God is so mindful of us that in the words of John we read: For God so loved the world he created that he gave his only son, so that everyone who might believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life. God created us with a purpose within his creation. God created us out of love, and out of love he has given us Jesus Christ to redeem us from sin and death, which we have brought upon ourselves.
Today, let me remind you that God created you; imprinted his image in you, has crowned you with honor and glory. God is mindful of you. He cares for you. He wants only the best for you. In Jesus he offers his love and grace of salvation. Amen.
Let us pray:
O Lord, our Sovereign God, how majestic is you name in all the earth! We come to give you thanks that you created us and have crowned us with honor and glory. We give you thanks that you are mindful of each of us today. We want to accept your grace and fulfill the purpose for which you created us. In Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.