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Praise God For His Majesty Revealed

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Transcendental Moment

In the spring of 1996, I was getting ready to graduate high school. It was April in Western Wisconsin. The ice had thawed on the lakes and rivers. The snow was gone. It was still cool at night, but the days were sunny and hovered around 72 degrees. It was perfect fishing weather.
One day I grabbed my pole and jumped in my 1969 Ford 150 and headed to Thompson Lake. I put my line in the water, sat next to a tree, and embraced a moment of tranquility. I remember seeing the sun glare off the water, reflecting the shadows of the few clouds that were passing overhead. There was a light breeze shifting through the trees and the bushes. The smell of pollen and pine would grab my attention every now and then. Birds were singing, squirrels were moving about, and the occasional deer would come to the shoreline across the lake.
It was a surreal moment for me. It was what Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau would call a transcendental moment, where one becomes one with nature. In the thinking of transcendentalism, God, or at least divinity is found in nature. You can worship and experience God by being in nature because nature in itself is divine. At that moment that is how my eighteen year old heart interpreted what I was experiencing as I fished on Thompson Lake. I was wrong.
What I was really experiencing was what David experienced in Psalm 8 as he mediated one evening on creation. Creation has a divine beauty to it because God’s divine creativity is all over it. And when you take a moment to think about the massive size and power and awesomeness of creation your heart is humbled, your weakness and compounded, and you are compelled to praise. My pagan heart praised creation itself. David shows me my praise should be directed at God.
This morning God will show us through Psalm 8 three majestic revelations about him and his creation that deserve his praise.

Praise God for His majesty revealed in his sovereign sufficient name (Psalm 8:1,9)

Psalm 8:1 ESV
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
The opening phrase “O Lord, our Lord” sets the tone of praise for the Psalm. David invokes the covenant name YHWH in the first Lord. God’s personal name, YHWH , derives from Exodus 3:14, which God revealed to Moses “I am who I am” at the burning bush. God’s name YHWH reveals he is a sufficient God who needs no one or nothing to sustain him. That is the point of the burning bush. The bush was on fire, but the flames were not burning the wood or leaves for fuel. The fire existed without the burning the bush. That is God, a self-existent being who is not served by human hands as if he needs anything (Acts 17:25). The name YHWH invokes the notion that God is absolutely sufficient.
The second Lord is Adoni, which is master. The idea here is that God is a ruler, a sovereign King. Some commentators suggest translating “Adoni” as governor, or ruler. What does God rule over? He rules over all creation, which includes the earth and the heavens.
God has established two realms of glory, the heavens and the earth. When you look at the heavens, David says, you see the glory of God. He says this in Psalm 19:1-5
Psalm 19:1–5 ESV
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
What is the glory of God that is declared by the heavens? First, his enormous power and strength. The opening chapter of Genesis reveals that the power of God’s spoken word made something out of nothing. When you look at the heavens and you are overwhelmed by is size and its power, it makes you feel like a speck of dirt looking up at Mount Everest.
Just think for a second about our galaxy. Earth resides in the Milky Way. The Milky Way is made up of approximately 100 to 400 billion stars. NASA estimates there are ten billion planets with as many moons in the Milky Way Galaxy. There are just about 2 million astroids that are 1 kilometer in diameter in the Milky Way. Let’s bring it closer to home.
The earth spins at 1,000 miles per hour. It travels through space, orbiting around the sun at 66, 627 miles per hour covering 1.6 miles of space a day, never leaving its orbit. The moon orbits the earth like clockwork at 27.322 days. It does not rotate, but remains perfectly still as it orbits. The moon’s gravity pulls at the earth creating predictable rises and falls of sea levels, which are called tides. If we lost the moon, sea levels would fall, the weather would change, the night would become darker, and the length of days would alter.
With just a tiny sliver of a picture of the Milky Way, do you see the glory of our galaxy? Do you marvel at how amazing it works at such speeds and magnitude? Do you marvel at its beauty? It’s strength and beauty that causes your heart to marvel is God’s glory. He made it with his words. He sustains with the Word. And God set his glory above the heavens for us to marvel and magnify him and say Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. You have st your glory above the heavens that display your power and beauty. How can my eyes behold such strength and awesome might?
David says, “Your name is majestic in all the earth and you have set your glory above the heavens.” In other words, “Yahweh, our sovereign self-sufficient King, you rule over all the earth. Even the heavens obey your commands. There is no one, person, animal, or being, who can compete with your rule. There is none like you. You are special. That makes your name special. Your name is majestic, it is glorious, it should be praised.” Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth and the heavens!

Praise God for His majesty revealed in defeating his enemies through the weak (Psalm 8:2)

The first verse reveals God’s majesty through his sovereign sufficient name. God is mighty in power and strength. The heavens declare to some degree the magnitude of God’s might. With that in mind David then says in verse 2
Psalm 8:2 ESV
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
This is mind boggling to me. God’s power, strength might, is displayed in the heavens and earth he created. This tells me that if God can shape the universe with his words, meaning, if God can shape and control and command the chaotic forces in all of creation, what enemy can stand before him? And yet God chooses to use the weak to dispel and defeat his enemies. Isn’t that what verse 2 is saying?
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established your strength. Let’s take a look at that for a moment. Hebrew scholar Mark Futato says this phrase can be rendered “you have founded strength.” Or you can say, “you have established the praise of your strength” from babies and infants. Dr. Duane Garret sums up the point well when he says, “God put’s his enemies to shame by infants.” In other words, even though God has infinite might and strength, he uses the weak, the most vulnerable, to shame and defeat his enemies.
God can snap his fingers and remove every being who opposes him in an instant. That is powerful. But it is not as glorious as being able to defeat his enemies with the same outcome using weak and vulnerable human beings.
I help coach the JFL football league for 5/6 graders. We have a couple of girls on the team. At one practice, a girl who was maybe 85 pounds soaking wet, form tackled our three back who was a sixth grade boy. The tackle drew the ahs and praises of the other boys, who in turn started poking fun at the three back. He got upset and ran off the practice field.
Had our sixth grade linebacker, who is a decent athlete, and a boy, tackled that kid, it would have been a good hit, but an expected tackle. The three back would have probably drew sympathy from his teammates. What made the tackle by the girl so humiliating was that she was a girl. She was also much smaller then he and not a better athlete. She was bay far weaker than him. To get defeated by such a smaller opponent was humiliating for him, but glorious for her. In the same vein, God glorifies his strength in power not by wielding as much as he could, but using the weak to defeat his enemies.
The world would say this is foolish. The weak cannot win. It would be foolish to use all your weak out of shape untrained soldiers who have no idea what they are doing to fight in a battle to defend the United States. And yet, these weak solders, in the wisdom and hands of God, can do that very thing.
God using the weak to is not uncommon in the Bible. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, explains how the cross appeared to be foolishness to the world, but salvation to those who are saved by it. He says
1 Corinthians 1:18–25 ESV
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Paul is picking up David’s point. The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men, and Paul says the cross is the best illustration of this. The Jews saw Jesus as weak and unable to save. They killed him like a criminal. He breathed his last breathe on a cross and was buried in a tomb. In Jewish thinking, and everyone else in the world, God dying on a cross is not possible nor profitable. But little does the world know that God used the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the God man, to save weak and unworthy human beings. Praise God for revealing his majesty by using the weak to destroy his enemies.

Praise God for his majesty revealed in ruling the universe through the unworthy (Psalm 8:3-8)

I said in the beginning that David was likely meditating at night. David is gazing up at the heavens. He sees the glory and beauty of God displayed by the stars and the moon and it provokes him to think about Genesis 1-2. He’s overwhelmed by God’s awesomeness. In that moment, in is his reflection, he asks,
Psalm 8:4 ESV
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
With all your power and beauty and glory, what is it about man that you should even give him a second look? You don’t need us. The vast beauty and glory of the heavens appear to be of much greater us to you than us. We cannot add anything to you. You are self-sufficient. You are sovereign over all the earth. You are so wise and powerful that the weak overcome the strong in your hands. Mankind is tiny and insignificant compared to the heavens. Why do you even care for us?
Christians throughout history have looked upon this verse and paused to reflect with David. William Plumer thoughtfully said,
Man is so feeble, so frail, and compared with God, so insignificant that it fills me with wonder that thou regardest him in any way, either to govern or to judge, to bless or to curse him. I marvel that thou leavest him not as an atom too small to be accounted of at all. The pious John Newton tells us that at one stage of his religious experience he was greatly distressed, not with a fear of being punished for his sins so much as with an apprehension that God would entirely overlook him.” William Plumer
Man tends to think very highly of himself. We boast in our intellect, our advances in technology and medicine, and progressive ideas as if God has nothing to do with it, as if he does not exist. We glory in the universe itself, in its vastness and complexity, but say in our hearts there is no God. For years we have been telling our children they need more self-esteem. We do not have a self-esteem problem. We have a God esteem problem, and a few moments reflecting on the heavens reveals that. Now David is perplexed. If we are so insignificant and insolent toward you God, why do you care about us?
David says the reason is the imago dei.
Psalm 8:5 ESV
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
God has made us lower than angels or other heavenly beings, but has crowned man with glory and honor. The glory and honor in man is that God made man in his own image: imago dei. David is likely reflecting on Genesis 1:26-27.
Genesis 1:26–27 ESV
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Referring to the image of God, Dr. Gregg Allison says,
God created human beings in his image, making them of all created things the most like him, and endowing them with dignity and significance.” Gregg Allison
What does it mean to be made in his image?
Old Testament scholar Dr. Peter Gentry says that
The image of God must characterize the whole man, not simply his mind or spirit on the one hand or his body on the other hand.” Dr. Peter Gentry
What he is saying is that man is made in the likeness of God as an entire being, body and all.
The apostle Paul seems to affirm this idea when he says that man is the image and glory of God, not just a characterization of God.
1 Corinthians 11:7 ESV
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.
The imago dei reveals that mankind is made as a being like God in his reason, his emotions, his physical activity, and his relational community. Man is not God. He is not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. But mankind reasons with his mind like not other being but God. Mankind, is able to rule over and steward the earth like no other being but God. Mankind desires and maintains relationships like no other being but God. We are holistically made in the image of God, and because of this God gives us special significance and dominion. We have a special status and are commissioned with a special task that separates us from all other beings in creation.
What is our task?
Psalm 8:6–8 ESV
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
Man is made to have dominion over all the earth. God has given us the authority to be his vice regents or servant kings. As servant Kings we have the right to steward the earth for God’s glory and our pleasure. We have the right too tame the wild and work the land. We have the authority and ability to invent new technology, create cures for sicknesses, explore the depths of the ocean the vastness of space. Science is not our enemy. The scientific method is a means for creation to reveal more of God’s glory to us. All of this is done not apart from God but in communion with Him.
What makes David marvel at God’s glory and honor revealed in mankind is that God chooses to use fallen unworthy man to govern his creation.
Man is broken because of the fall of man by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The earth is cursed by sin because of our actions. Our rebellion against God does not bode well for creation or for mankind. We abuse our authority of servants kings of earth. We exploit the earth, the animals, and each other for personal gain. We murder, lie and steal to get what we want. We kill babies through abortion out of convenience. We are a hot mess.
But God has chosen to not leave us or forsake us. He has chosen to fix his image bearers and one day restore all the earth back to its perfect goodness, like it was before the curse of sin. Until then, he chooses to use the weak and unworthy to govern his creation.

Praise God for His majesty revealed in the crucified Messiah ( Matthew 21)

We’ve already seen that God’s majesty is revealed by using the weak and vulnerable to defeat his enemies. That’s makes sense when you are talking about broken mankind. How does it relate to Jesus?
When Jesus came into the earth he became weak and vulnerable. He took on flesh, became and image bearer, like us. He personally knew our weaknesses, our temptations, and our fears. Paul describes Jesus’s human nature in
Philippians 2:6–8 ESV
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The writer of Hebrews says
Hebrews 4:15 ESV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Paul speaks of Jesus becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. That is where Matthew 21 comes to play.
In verse Matthew 21:1, Jesus is drawing near to Jerusalem. His hour has come. He’s asked for a donkey, a humble animal for a king fulfilling Zechariah 9:9. He mounts the donkey and rides into town to a crowd chanting “Hosanna” which means salvation. In verse 12, he cleanses the temple and in verse 14, he heals the blind and the lame.
The chief priests see all of this and confront Jesus.
Matthew 21:15 ESV
But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,
The children are calling Jesus the Messiah, the King of Israel. The children recognize Jesus is the one the prophets spoke about long ago, the one God promises would come and restore the earth. At this point the Chief Priests are livid. To them, this is absolute nonsense, blasphemy and must be stopped.
Matthew 21:16 ESV
and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “ ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
At the rebuke of the chief priests, Jesus responds by quoting Psalm 8. Jesus is agreeing with the children. He’s saying the priests, you who are the strong, the educated, the law-keepers, the protectors of the temple, you are wrong about me. Theses weak foolish children can see and understand much better than you. What do the children see?
They see that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the Son of David. God is being praised by children while his chief priests are scoffing at him. God fulfilled Psalm 8:2 in Matthew 21:15-16. Out of the mouth of babes God established praise. But how is he going to defeat his enemies?
The triumphal entry is about Jesus going to Jerusalem to face the cross. He’s praised by children as the Messiah, and he will die at the hands of his own people as the Suffering Servant. Again, God uses the weak to destroy his enemies. The cross illustrates perfectly how God uses what is foolish in the world, what is weak in the world, to overcome the strong and mighty. Remember what Paul said
1 Corinthians 1:25 ESV
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
It does not make sense to the common man that God would die on a cross. As John Piper says,
“Christ crucified looks foolish and weak. But all of Scripture aims to teach us that “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). If you would have a strong Savior, embrace the crucified and risen Christ.” John Piper
If I could go back to my eighteen year old self at Thompson Lake. I would think differently. I would think, “In comparison to creation, I am insignificant, I am weak, and I am unworthy. God, what is Jason that you would be mindful of him?” God says, “But Jason, I have given you honor and glory by creating you in my image. I have given you dominion over all my creation. Enjoy the beauty of it. Reap the fruit of it. Steward it with wisdom and care. And glorify me as you do so.” How? How can I do this? I am broken and corrupt and weak. God says, “I use the broken and weak to rule over my world. I make the corrupt righteous and the unclean clean through the crucifixion of my Son, whom I sent to be just like you so you can be like him. Receive him. Receive his death and resurrection by faith and I will reconcile you to me and your fellow man. I will restore you thorough His redemption.
Oh Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have revealed the majesty of your sovereign sufficient name. You have revealed your majesty be defeating your enemies through the weak. You have revealed your majesty by using the unworthy to rule over your earth. You have revealed your majesty by showing us your foolishness is wiser than men, and your weakness is stronger than men in the crucifixion of your Son Jesus Christ.
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