At our worship service Sunday morning I preached from one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 8. David begins and ends the Psalm with the same outburst of praise:
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (vs. 1, 9)
In between these praises, as David offers reverential prayer to the Lord, he recounts various ways in which God makes his glory known.
First, God reveals his glory in creation. In addition to the Lord’s majestic name being in all the earth, the heavens above also proclaim his glory: “You have set your glory above the heavens” (v.1). Later David calls the heavens “the work of your fingers,” and includes among them “the moon and the stars” (v.3). Imagine David the young shepherd out in the fields at night with his flocks, as he gazes at the night sky above him with all its millions of lights shining out from the blackness of space. The sight filled him with praise for God, because by faith he understood that all the vast universe is the product of God’s creative power. And as such, all creation declares the goodness, wisdom, and power of God.
But David also tells us that God reveals himself in a strikingly different way. And that is through weakness, especially human weakness. “Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger” (v.2). Jesus applied this verse to himself on the day of his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, when he rebuked the chief priests and scribes for their taking offense at the children’s praises directed to him (Matthew 21:16). Through their praises of Jesus, the weak (children) were silencing the strong (the chief priests and scribes). And in that way God brought glory to himself through that which we count weak and insignificant.
Similarly, God’s power of salvation is revealed through the foolishness of the preaching of the gospel, and through the human frailty of God’s people who testify to the truth of Christ. In the ministry of the gospel through which Christ establishes his kingdom on earth, the principle of Psalm 8:2 is operative: God glorifies himself through that which the world considers weakness: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
According to David in Psalm 8, God also reveals his glory in man. David is struck by the smallness of man compared the overwhelming vastness of creation (v.4), but he proclaims that in making man in his image (Genesis 1:27), God has invested him with tremendous dignity: “… you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (v.5). All human beings have intrinsic dignity and worth because we are made in the image of God. When a society denies this basic truth about humanity, it opens the doors to a host of evils: abortion, euthanasia, the strong exploiting the weak, and so on. What a tragic degradation of human life because we cannot see the crown of “glory and honor” every human being wears by virtue of being God’s image-bearer!
At the same time, in our sin we have defaced that image of God in us. We no longer reflect God’s likeness in righteousness and holiness. But this Psalm is actually pointing us to a greater Man. According to the author of Hebrews, the Psalm is ultimately about Christ: “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor…” (Hebrews 2:9). Jesus was crowned with glory and honor when he emerged from the tomb as our Savior, having given us victory over sin and death forever. And in this way Psalm 8 is fulfilled by Christ and those who belong to Christ by faith: in him our true humanity is restored so that we now wear a new crown of honor and glory. By God’s Spirit we are being re-created in the holy likeness of the One who images God perfectly, the Lord Jesus Christ. And in this redeemed humanity, God is glorified.
So in the light of Hebrews, Psalm 8 also shows us how God glorifies himself through his grace to us in Jesus Christ.
At our evening service we continued to work our way through the Heidelberg Catechism. We considered in what sense Christ is God’s “only Son” and why we call him “our Lord,” the topics covered by Lord’s Day 13 (Q & A’s 33, 34). The Catechism is truly a goldmine of heart-stirring biblical truth. I’ve really enjoyed working through it during the evening services.
Soli Deo Gloria!