Psalm 8 – What Is a Man

Bible opened to Psalm 8 with Equal Exchange mint crunch 67% cacao dark chocolate
Great, but what’s a Gittith? If only there were an easily-accessible meta-database of information sources that might direct me to an answer!

Today’s passage: Psalm 8

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Going by Brueggemann’s classification scheme, this is the first time since Psalm 1 that we’ve seen a psalm of orientation. In this psalm, God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world–or at least the things that are wrong with the world don’t merit the consideration of this particular psalm.

Much of the psalm is taken up with how strange it is that God would show favor to man. When David reflects on God giving tiny, insignificant humanity authority over his creation, he’s clearly bearing in mind the first chapter of Genesis. According to the Genesis account of creation, God’s first recorded commandment to humanity is: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Sure enough, David hits each of these beats in his song: humanity’s rule over God’s created earth, dominion over creatures of land, sky, and sea.

It’s funny: comparing one man to another, you might say, “This man is stronger, and that man is weaker.” Or as we saw yesterday in Psalm 7, “This man is in the right, and that man is in the wrong.” But when you compare any man to God, or even the whole of humanity, the gulf in greatness is so vast, all you can say is, “What is a man?” (At least if you’re David. If you’re Dracula, you might answer yourself: “A miserable little pile of secrets.” But I digress.) When you consider an entity so powerful that he brings literally everything else into being, the entire cosmos, not simply reshaping existing material but calling a universe into existence where once there was not a universe–why would an entity like that give authority over even a single planet to another thing that he created? Mystified, David can only conclude with the same phrase with which he began: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth” (1, 9).

Have a good weekend, everyone. See you Monday.


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