Advent

Creatures of Praise

Psalm 8 

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.

I AM!

Our Lord!

How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

You have set Your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouth of babies and infants

You have established strength because of Your enemies

To still the enemy and the avenger

When I look at Your heavens

The work of Your fingers

The moon and the stars

That You set in place

What is man that You are mindful of him?

What is the son of man that You care for him?

Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

You crowned him with glory and honor

You have given him lordship over the works of Your hands

You have put all things under his feet

All sheep and oxen

The beasts of the field

The birds of the heavens

The fish of the sea

Whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

I AM!

Our Lord!

How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

(italics, versification added)

This poem balances itself on this question: What does it mean to be human? You can see David’s questions about humanity sit in the middle of his poem (I italicized them so you could easily see them in the translation). Remember, Hebrew poetry is different: it reaches its climactic moment in the middle. Like good candy and chocolates, the best part is often in the center. These central questions about humanity, however, are a big set up. It’s a set up meant to change how we think about Jesus.

Let’s look at the poem’s structure. The poet begins and ends his thoughts with praise. David is teaching us something special here…this is how we ought to think about questions like this.

Do you want to know humanity’s purpose or your own? Start and finish with the praise of God.

Do you study what humanity is in your work? Begin and end with the praise of God.

Praise is the very best way to center in on the meaning of humanity.

After opening the psalm with praise, David goes into a description of the great works of God. From the worship of little crying babies to the blue of the sky, all things were crafted by His mighty hand. How can such a great Being even think about humans? But the poet knows God thinks about us, and he draws out an answer to his question. David sees some of the glory we have in this world, and he marvels at how God exalts human beings by giving them amazing capabilities and responsibilities.

But could David have known that his poem is not just about God and man but also about Jesus, the God-man? Jesus often called Himself “the son of man” so that we would understand these poems were about Him. Jesus stands in both parts of the poem: Jesus is God, as powerful as David describes, and Jesus is a man who God exalted and crowned with glory! As David describes humanity, he also describes all that Jesus does and is. Jesus takes on our humanity so fully, He rescues it and makes it reach its glorious potential.

The apostles were stunned by these poems-by how Jesus could have been described and predicted and understood by reading these ancient hymns. His advent is God’s coming to us with love, and our advent is us (be)coming into all that God made us to be as persons. Let these poems invite you into hope, hope in all God is doing to make His name majestic in all the earth, in folks like you and me. Praise Him!

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