What Is Man - Psalm 8

Posted by Seth Tummins on

Psalm 8 is short enough to include the whole text here, so let's read it:

1O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
5Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You know how certain words or phrases just keep bouncing around in your head? Sometimes it's for a week or two, but there is a phrase that I have rolled over in my mind for years.  It comes to me when I take in a beautiful natural landscape or when I feel crowded in the city with streets full of cars and all kinds of noise.
I feel the words rise when I get news of a tragedy - when I feel powerless.
I stand, not knowing what to say when confronted with beauty and sorrow.  Then the words come.
"What is Man?"


The words come, and I just roll them over and over.  They float before my forehead.  Am I the one asking?  Am I being asked?  

When I am struck by beauty, I have a deep feeling that it is somehow tied into the reason for our existence, that it must exist if we are to exist, but when I am struck by sorrows, I feel deeply that they are foreign, that they are enemies.

All these things float around my mind, bouncing gently.

"What is Man?"

My favorite thing is the night time sky.  I was raised in a rural area in Middle Tennessee where I could see the stars at night.  Mesmerizing.  The night sky is like  an enchantment on my soul - so many questions, so many places, the vast scale, the distance, the dreams, the visions.  Even then, I would hold words and ideas I had heard in church against that sky.  Images of impossibility were held with images of Christ.

I would weigh the ideas and bend my heart in ignorance.  I still do this.  For how do we speak to another who is in sorrow?  What language is there for real beauty?  How does antagonistic science-ism live with Christianity?  How can the planets be so far and Jesus so near?  Seeming contradictions.  I am dwarfed by my planet and the cosmos and my feelings and experiences seem to go unnoticed - like a cloud over a desert at night.  Yet, the bible teaches that God - God Himself - the Creator omnipotent, Holy Immortal - knows us, knows me, and cares.  

How can this be?  Who are we?  What are we meant for?  If there is no God, can there still be meaning?  What is Man?  The words rise and float.

Refer back to the psalm above for a second.  

"2Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength"

I feel so small when viewing the night time sky.  So insignificant.  Helpless.


Yet the Lord has used people like that from the first person and will do so until the end of time.  I may have no voice, no stage, no power, or influence, but I believe in the resurrection. Those things that make me feel like a small, lost child - the cosmos, the oceans of human suffering - I have given to the Lord.  As a child brings good things and unwanted things to their parents to make sense of them, so I give my questions, my noise, and my foggy confusion to my Father in heaven.  To him I direct my wonder and delight as a child looks up to the face of their parent to see shining smiles and loving eyes.

Notice the imagery in verse 3, "the work of your fingers..."

Consider the kinds of work done with the fingers and compare it to the kinds of work done with hands.  What a wonderful picture rises in my mind of One placing the parts of the cosmos piece by piece, all according to His delight.  

All of this - from the dust in distant galaxies to the cells of my skin are known to God.  To believe otherwise is to believe only in the power of human will.  To believe in the risen Christ is to believe in the impossible - the impossible that simply could not have been made any other way.

What is Man?

We are who the immortal God created everything else for.  We are God's "All or Nothing."  Take a single deep breath while holding that knowledge against a picture of the night time sky.  All distance fades away.  All time fades away.  Though my body will pass through normal biological cycles, I will one day see my maker, my fashioner, the One Who Calls, the only one who has ever loved us.  My eyes found his in the night sky of my youth, and his gaze is what I am searching for in every landscape, every design, every person, every circumstance.

9O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!


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