Psalm 8 Yahweh’s Excellent Adventure

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Questions: If God’s so smart, why does He entrust creation to people like us? What does it mean to dominate in His name? “Read More” to pursue answers in the Psalms.

Lord, speak to me through your Spirit and your Word, your Body and your Blood;
that I might know you as you are, and manifest the image of Christ in this world,
and the world to come. Amen.

Psalms 8:1-9

O LORD our Lord, how excellent [is] thy name in all the earth!

As with most Psalms, I am immediately reminded of the musical version, in this case by Keith Green. I am also reminded of my DiaBlogue with Alan, where I brought up the concept of “divinity” as “ultimate self-existing reality.” While David probably wouldn’t use those terms, he is also interested in the question of the character (name) of God:

who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

So, the first thing he asserts about God is that he is greater than the visible universe — no small thing!

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

Huh? This feels like a total non sequitur, aggravated by the translational conflict between KJV’s ‘strength’ and NIV’s Matthew/Septuagintinspired ‘praise.’ What’s up with that?

My best guess is that the Psalmist is claiming God’s glory is so great that He can defeat His enemies merely by empowering the weak. Let’s see if that fits in with the rest.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Hmm. Well, that fits in the idea of ‘babes and sucklings’, because in God’s eyes — compared to the vastness of the universe — we’re no more potent than that. Yet, despite all that, He has put us in charge:

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour

Specifically, we have dominion over:

* the work of Thy hands
* all things
* sheep and oxen and beasts of the field
* fowl of the air and fish of the sea, and other ocean-dwellers

Dang. That’s quite a lot of territory, especially considering that man had barely tamed bronze, never mind fossil fuels or genetics. But rather than exulting in man’s high estate, David returns all the praise to God:

O LORD our Lord, how excellent [is] thy name in all the earth!

If I were to translate this Psalm as an argument, it seems to go something like:

* God is great
* We are not
* He put us in charge anyway
* Wow, God is really great

Herein lies one of the great paradoxes of Christianity: on the one hand, we affirm that humans are in the image of God (Imago Dei), and thus the rightful rulers of creation. On the other hand, we recognize we are mere “babes and sucklings”, and totally unfit to act in God’s name. The amazing thing is that God knows all this, and chooses to use us anyway: giving us strength, and bringing forth praise.

Yow!

Prayer

God, I know that if I try to build my dominion on my own strength and wisdom, I will create a hell on earth. Yet I also know that if I deny my responsibility, that I will be letting hell win by default. Father, glorify your name! Teach me who you really are, in both your character and your power, that I may be unleashed to manifest your praise by the work of my hands, and to my tiny bit to help all creation enjoy the fulness of your image. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title is a tribute to those ‘excellent‘ philosophers, Bill & Ted.

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