O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens….What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:1,4-5)
One of our pastors preached on Psalm 8 recently and I remembered the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. He described the event as “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Astronaut Buzz Aldrin also brought along a tiny Communion kit. Aldrin wanted to express his faith in Christ, so on the moon he partook of the bread and cup. He read Jesus’ words from the Last Supper, spoken the night before His cross, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you…you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”1 Later, before splashdown, Aldrin also read from Psalm 8, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and 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?”2 Buzz Aldrin wrote these Scriptures on a 3X5 card that sold at auction for $180,000.
This Psalm praises God (Father, Son, and Spirit) as the wonderful Creator and Upholder of His universe. The Psalm begins and ends with a doxology. Genesis 1 tells of the Lord’s creative action in history, and in Psalm 8 David meditates on God’s beautiful work. David is amazed at the Lord’s glory reflected in planets and stars and amazed that God loves sinful people like us and gives us responsibility over His other creatures.
Psalm 8 is quoted 5 times in the New Testament. Verse 2 is quoted by Christ in Matthew 21:16 as the children praise Him. Verses 4-6 are quoted in Hebrews 2:6-8 in reference to Jesus’ incarnation (His adding on humanity without subtracting any of His deity). Verse 6 is quoted in Matt 22:44, 1 Cor 15:27, and Eph 1:22 which tell of God placing all things under Christ’s feet. Psalm 8 finds it’s ultimate meaning in Jesus’ First and Second Comings.
We Matter to God
The more we explore God’s massive universe, the more we should realize that we are only specks of dust. Physically we are insignificant, but spiritually we are very important to the Lord. We matter to Him. He loves us deeply and keeps His steadfast attention on us who come to Him through faith in Jesus. We are always on God’s mind. “For this is what the high and exalted One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’”3 Jesus says, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”4 The Lord invites us and brings us into fellowship with Him. How have you responded to His invitation?
I use Psalm 8 often in ministry to show people their dignity as God’s image-bearers and the humility we should have as we live under His watching eyes. Lots of people grew up in dysfunctional families who damaged their ability to see their own value, worth, and identity in God’s eyes. Many more have experienced rejection from other people that is very sad and painful! Psalm 139 says: “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”5 We matter to God, even if we don’t matter to other people.
New Testament Fulfillment
The New Testament completes the story told partially in Psalm 8. As our sin-bearer and mediator, Christ humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death on Calvary’s cross to save us. Then “God exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at Jesus’ name every knee should bow…and every tongue acknowledge and confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”6 Jesus has begun His conquering work in His First Coming and He will consummate it when He returns for us. The Lord’s kingdom of grace, mercy, and peace is both present and future.
Martin Luther taught us to live as if Jesus died for us yesterday, rose for us this morning, and is coming back for us tomorrow. At the end of the New Testament the Savior promised: “Yes, I am coming soon.” And we say by faith: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”7
Psalm 8 reminds us entrust our lives to God’s care, calling on Him for whatever we need. We are important our great and mighty Lord, so we need to ask Him to take charge of our lives. And we need to submit to Him, trusting and obeying His Scriptures. Psalm 8 also teaches us to treat every human being as precious to God and to us, for the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”8 We must help the weak, the poor, and people in need, remembering the Lord Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”9
Prayer: Lord help us to rescue the perishing, care for the dying, and snatch them in pity from sin and the grave. Help us to weep over the erring ones and lift up the fallen. Help us to tell them of Jesus, who is mighty to save. Amen.
Notes (various translations): 1 John 15:5. 2 Psalm 8:3-4. 3 Isa 57:15. 4 John 6:37. 5 Psalm 139:17-18 NLT. 6 Phil 2:8-11. 7 Rev 22:20. 8 Gal 5:14. 9 Acts 20:35.