Our Magnificent Lord
Good morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church. There are times that we are our own worst critics and then there are times where our outside critics are just harsh. This is often no more evident than in the music industry. In 2002 Genesis front man Phil Collins put out an album named “Testify” that didn’t charm the music world. One critic wrote “Middle-age is no excuse for such an unforgivably bland collection of over-emoted love songs.”
Now before you check your bulletin, yes you are at Dishman Baptist Church and no, no one has body snatched your lead pastor. The reason I mention that is because we are on a whirlwind tour through the Psalter in these latter days of summer and we’re going to be looking at the 8th Psalm this morning. Last week we looked at Psalms 2 and saw what a beautiful picture it gave us not only of who God is but also who His Son Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us and how that Psalm foreshadowed Christ as the Messiah. This morning’s Psalm is going to give us a little different picture of the coming Messiah. But the intervening Psalms - Psalms 3-7 are some very depressing passages and then nine and ten follow suit. In fact every single one of them is in the category of Psalms known as lament. If these Psalms were being reviewed by a critic they would say something along the lines of “The first few songs are so depressing that I couldn’t even get to the rest of the album.”
But Psalms 8 bursts on the scene with such exuberant joy and praise that it almost seems shocking to the ear. Much like a priceless diamond set on a field of black velvet the surrounding lament passages make this Psalms shine all the greater as it presents images of the witnesses to God and His Son. Let’s look at these verses together and then carefully pull them apart to see how Christ is revealed in this passage and what it means for us today in our lives and worship. Please open your Bibles with me to Psalms 8.
For the choir director: on the Gittith. A psalm of David. Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with your majesty. From the mouths of infants and nursing babies, you have established a stronghold on account of your adversaries in order to silence the enemy and the avenger. When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him? You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all the sheep and oxen, as well as the animals in the wild, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!
What beautiful words. Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth. Just let those words wash over you for a second. Is this the God that you have come here to worship this morning? A personal Lord? The Psalmist here calls Him “our Lord”. First he refers to Him by the name that was given to Him - Yahweh. The great I AM. This name is was so holy to the Jewish people that they wouldn’t even write it out fully. This is the God who embodies holiness. Who dwells in unapproachable light.
This is also the God who is our Lord and Master. The Psalmist here uses not simply Yahweh but also the term “adonai” designating God as both Lord and Master. And yet, this God has chosen to reveal Himself to His people. This Psalm delivers three witnesses that proclaim the beauty of the name of the Lord and puts Him on display in all His splendor.
The First Witness - Creation
The First Witness - Creation
It’s been quite a week here in the Valley. Monday night Jeremiah and I took some time and hiked Iller Creek. We got a late start because he had swimming lessons but we managed to hike 4 miles through beautiful landscape just a few miles from where we are this morning. And thankfully we did that on Monday night because Tuesday night brought upon the Valley that fierce wind, rain and thunderstorm. Many of you probably lost power because of the system that blew through. Two different nights, two glorious displays of God’s handiwork and awesome power.
One of my favorite activities when I was in the Navy was to step out on the bridgewings at night and look up. Much like the Psalmist is it was incredibly humbling to realize how large the universe was and how beautiful the night sky was. He writes “You have covered the heavens with your majesty” and then later “When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place” - this is pure exaltation. The Psalmist focuses here on the night sky and the way that it proclaims the majesty of our God.
Can there be any doubt that the universe had to have a creator? Just to look at the majesty of the night sky - the beauty of the stars, the placement of the planets, the exquisite detail that is in the night sky alone cries out that there is a creator. And yet that is not our only source of witness. As we focus back from the sky to the earth how could we deny the existence of God. What joy He must have taken as His finger carved out the Grand Canyon or pushed up the Rockies to scrape the sky.
As He crafted and put to flight the eagle and observed that first majestic flight. Or built the cheetah and watched as it sped across the savannah for the first time. What magnificence He has put into the changing of the seasons. His power is such that Paul would write
For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.
Yet there are many in our day who deny the God exists or that creation points to a creator. Instead they have exchanged the God of creation for false gods, idols and worship the creation rather than the creator. And so there must be another witness. And for this purpose God has provided the highest and best of all His creations but also the most feeble and vulnerable.
The Second Witness - Mankind
The Second Witness - Mankind
The Psalmist writes
what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?
In the great, vast expanse of space, in all of His creation it is a wonder that God has bestowed so much effort on mankind. We really are the most feeble and weak of creatures. Here in the Pacific Northwest that is demonstrated as we go out to pick huckleberries and we have to carry weapons with us to protect us from bears because we’re not powerful enough to overcome them. We are the most vulnerable of creatures. And yet God has bestowed upon us the greatest of honors - that we bear His image and are His vice regents here on earth.
We are told here that
You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all the sheep and oxen, as well as the animals in the wild, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas.
This is in accordance with the first commands that God gave Adam.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”
We are to be the caretakers and overseers of the earth - but for what purpose? We are to take care of this world because all of it bears witness to Him. A part of taking care of the world is to see mankind flourish and utilizing those parts of the earth the God has put in place for that to happen. But we are to be more than just automaton caretakers of His planet - we are to proclaim the beauty of His name.
The Psalmist writes
From the mouths of infants and nursing babies, you have established a stronghold on account of your adversaries in order to silence the enemy and the avenger.
It is important to note here that it is not from the strong and learned that God establishes His stronghold - but instead it is through the mouths of infants and nursing babies. After Jesus had ridden in to Jerusalem and had been acclaimed by the crowds Matthew recounts the story of His cleansing the Temple and then closes with the scene of Jesus healing the lame and the blind in the Temple courts. Matthew tells us
The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that he did and the children shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to him, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” Jesus replied, “Yes, have you never read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of infants and nursing babies?”
Jesus refers back to our passage in reference to the children who were praising Him when His enemies sought to disparage Him. This has always been and is now the way that Christianity spreads. Paul would later write
Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something,
There is nothing more foolish than the uneducated babbling or speech of an infant or nursing baby. And yet this is often the witness that God chooses to bless and to have point to Himself the most. And it is the way that we point to God the most. It is not our intellectual prowess or our oratorical might that most points to God but the simple and humble profession that despite all the reasons against it, God has chosen to redeem me from the self-destructive, sinful lifestyle that I was living. Taking me off the road to Hell and placing me squarely within His Kingdom as a redeemed saint.
It is that truth that is the stronghold that is erected on account of His adversaries and which silences the enemies and the avenger. Notice that the stronghold is not erected on account of the enemies of the babies or the nursing infants. And the stronghold of the testimony of our God is not erected on account of our enemies today. Yes we as Christians may be among the most hated and persecuted people group or belief system in the world - but that hate isn’t really directed at us. Instead it is directed at God through us.
It is like Paul wrote in Colossians that he was making up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for us because the world could no longer inflict their attacks on Christ but could attack His followers. Yet it is a privilege to suffer on account of His name and we can recognize that should that day come for us that our future is secure and that we have a greater witness who not only proclaims our redemption to the Father but is the perfect witness of Him to the world that is attacking us.
The True and Better Witness - Christ
The True and Better Witness - Christ
Yes this Psalm points to the provision that God has made for us as humans. We truly are His vice-regents here on earth and charged with care taking and shepherding His creation. We are charged with witnessing and proclaiming the magnificence of His name. But we are the ever imperfect witnesses. We are ever the infants and nursing babes babbling incoherently about what we only grasp in part.
There is One who witnessed to Him completely because He came from Him. Because He is Him. The Psalmist writes
You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor.
In the New Testament the writer of Hebrews would look back to this verse as he would write
You made him lower than the angels for a short time; you crowned him with glory and honor and subjected everything under his feet. For in subjecting everything to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him. But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace he might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death.
Of all the witnesses that God has provided - creation both in the universe at large and on earth in particular, mankind and our imperfect proclamations of His glory and grandeur - none is so complete or so compelling as the person of His Son. Earlier in his epistle the writer of Hebrews would write
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him.
In his Gospel John wrote it this way
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
In the epistle that we just studied Paul wrote
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Christ is the greatest and truest example of God’s magnificence and His name to us. And it is this truth - not just that God redeemed me from a lifestyle of self-destructive sin that placed me under the wrath of His judgement and placed me within His Kingdom but that He did so through the shed blood of His Son that leads the Psalmist to proclaim again at the end of this Psalm
Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth!
How magnificent of a realization is this that the Son of God condescended to come to earth - not simply that He condescends to even think of us or to care for us or to take note of us - but that He actually came here to bear witness to the Father, to keep the Law and then to die in our stead as the propitiation for our sins taking upon Himself the wrath of God and imputing to us His righteousness so that we can be viewed through Him as sinless and blameless before the throne.
How can we fail to proclaim His name. How can we come here week after week and seek to focus on anything else besides the glories of this truth. How can we approach Him with anything less than transcendent awe at what He has done. He has given us His witnesses. The creation cries out to Him and for Him proclaiming His beauty. We represent Him and cry out to Him - even in the feebleness of our speech which can never adequately portray His glory and beauty - but that is capable of stopping the mouths of His enemies. But most importantly His Son proclaims His beauty as He reveals Him to us most fully and completely and then ushers us into His presence through the gateway of His cross.
Will you listen to one of these witnesses this morning? Will you notice the beauty of His creation and how it proclaims that there must be a creator? Will you hear the weak words that I offer from this pulpit to point you to the magnificence of our God? If you hear none of those - if you will listen to none of those - hear Christ, look to Christ who is the true and best witness of all as He proclaims “It is Finished” and gives witness to the Father’s love for you through His death and sacrifice.