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(Click or hover over the above Scripture reference link to read the passage.)
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
This was one of the regular hymns I sung growing up in church. Psalm 8 exudes direct praise to our majestic God. I love simple and direct psalms like this. It’s like a one-way arrow pointing directly at God in worship.
I love psalms that point to God’s majesty on display in nature. When you’re having doubts in your faith, slow down, take a deep breath, and look to the heavens. Look to the physical moon and stars, the brilliance and warmth of the sun. Don’t let modern scientific knowledge of the physical universe drown out how awe-inspiring it still is. It’s a real disadvantage we have as modern people. We think because we can explain what something is, it somehow discredits the God who made it and makes it work.
Here’s the “Quick Take” on the Sun, from NASA’s website:
The Sun—the heart of our solar system—is a yellow dwarf star, a hot ball of glowing gases.
Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest particles of debris in its orbit. Electric currents in the Sun generate a magnetic field that is carried out through the solar system by the solar wind—a stream of electrically charged gas blowing outward from the Sun in all directions.
The connection and interactions between the Sun and Earth drive the seasons, ocean currents, weather, climate, radiation belts and aurorae. Though it is special to us, there are billions of stars like our Sun scattered across the Milky Way galaxy.
I’m not knocking science or knowledge, but it feels like in our human arrogance, if we can explain what something is, we think we control it or are somehow the master over it.
If I’m blinded when I look at the Sun… If it burns my skin when I’m out in it too long… If our planet would freeze if we were a tiny fraction of distance further away from the sun and burn up if we were a tiny fraction closer to it… And if there are billions of stars like our Sun scattered across the Milky Way galaxy (and if there are over an estimated two trillion different galaxies)… the proper response is not a yawn! After being able to breathe again, the proper response is to worship the God who made all of these galaxies and stars.
The universe is God’s foolproof plan for humans never to be able to say we know everything or can explain everything. Yet we still act like we know everything and can explain everything, with no need for God’s involvement whatsoever! This is foolishness on full display.
The psalmist shows us the three-step proper response to our awe-inspiring universe:
The first step is to realize just how small we are (verse 4). God, you made ALL THIS, I am soooo small.
The second step is to worship God for his might, power, and glory on full display (verses 1 and 9).
And the third step is to realize that this HUUUUGE God loves this soooo small human (me) soooo much, and has empowered me with incredible purpose. When we live like we are pretty hot stuff and God is no big deal, almost like we are equals, there’s not a lot of power in this relationship and certainly not a lot of gratitude and joy for the love, mercy, and grace that’s been bestowed upon us by this God. But when we realize how huge God is and how small we are, we get a picture of HOW MUCH love he shows to us every day. It fuels our worship and it fuels our gratitude for the gift of relationship he has given to us in the gospel.
The psalmist even spells out the unique purpose God has given humans on this earth, allowing us to be the rulers over the works of God’s hands (verses 6-8). God made all of this incredible stuff, and then he gave it to us. To us! He gave it to us to take care of, to enjoy, to help us, and for us to help make his name great. It’s still all his (which we desperately need to remember in our greedy and materialistic Western culture), but he lets us use it. He lets us play with it. He allows us to be responsible over it.
There are all sorts of practical applications to this. One is recycling and caring for the environment. One is finding redemption in all types of work that help people enjoy God’s complex creation… this includes work we might find routine like serving food to people or doing dishes. Another is being creators ourselves, made in the image of our God, empowered with the ability to create art, inventions, flower bouquets, and new businesses.
The psalmist wasn’t encumbered with modern scientific knowledge. He was able to see the sun, the moon, and the stars and just let his jaw drop in awe. He was able to see the obviousness of God’s existence and glory.
It is okay to feel small sometimes. We always need to remember we are significant, have value, and are incredibly loved by God. But we can experience those truths while also meditating on how small we truly all in this universe. As already mentioned, this turns us toward God in worship. But it also helps with our daily stressors and anxiety. It’s helpful to zoom out. It helps to know I am part of something way bigger than me. It helps to know that this whole operation doesn’t rise and fall on my shoulders. It helps to know God was on the throne before I was born and he will be on the throne after I am gone. It helps to know that when something feels like the end of the world… it isn’t.
This is why the psalmists are continually able to find rest, peace, shelter, and refuge from God. And we can too.
Prayer for the day: God you are so huge! You are magnificent! You are mighty! I give glory and praise to your name! I am so small before you. And yet… and yet! And yet you love me! You hold me. You’ve adopted me into your family as your son / daughter. You have saved me so that I can be with you for eternity. Please help me with my daily anxieties and stressors. Please help me to zoom out and know you are on the throne. And while these things feel so significant right now, and they are, and you care so much even about the small things of my life, remind me that I’m part of something bigger than me. Be my peace Jesus. Be my refuge. Be my comforter. Be my shelter. How majestic is your name in all the earth!
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- Psalm 14 Devotional – Darkness as the door to finding joy in our salvation - January 19, 2021
- Ep. 41: Interview with Wesley Hill on Covenant Friendships as a Biblical Path of Love for Celibate Gay Christians - January 17, 2021
- Psalm 13 Devotional – How Long Oh Lord, How Long? - January 17, 2021