A Psalm a Day: Psalm 8

For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:

  • What is this Psalm about?
  • What does this Psalm teach about God?
  • How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.

psalm 8

Eight days in to September 2022, here’s Psalm 8:

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

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

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

What is this Psalm about?

Bracketed by a double mention of His name, ‘Lord, our Lord’, this Psalm is clearly about God – and yet subsequent to that, and forming the meat of the Psalm, is a reflection on creation and humanity, the latter as pinnacle. For the Psalmist, all of creation exists to praise God and make known his name. The structure of the Psalm is like a mountain or valley – beginning and ending at the height or foundation of God and his glory, and descending or ascending to focus on humanity (v4-6) and the role God has given us.

What does this Psalm teach about God?

This Psalm clearly teaches that God is creator of everything, and intimately involved, ‘the work of your fingers’, for example. For those of us wondering if humanity matters, this Psalm affirms both God’s special creation of humankind, and his giving of authority to us. In this, we see that Psalm 8 reveals an active, living, making and speaking God – one we can honour and worship.

How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?

I write this reflection on the day that we learned that Queen Elizabeth the Second died at the age of 96. Authority and majesty are associated with the monarchy – yet above all human principalities and powers likes God, whose name is majestic in all the earth. Psalm 8 gives comfort in the face of change, and also affirms and underlines the human vocation as stewards of creation. Verse 6 is a challenge to our human classification and stratification – not demeaning the role and work of the Queen, but radically noting that all humanity has the equal dignity of being rulers under God. I’m reminded of that wonderful quote about humanity from Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis:

You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.

A Prayer from Psalm 8

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! We thank you for the life, service and witness of Queen Elizabeth – and rejoice that her monarchy is the merest echo of your majesty and power. Thank you for your creation and choice of humanity to be your stewards – show us how, at every age, to serve you. Amen.

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