The poetic book of the Psalms in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible contains 150 beautiful songs or Psalms. They are of different kinds of Psalms. The Psalms are written by different persons, one of whom was the Prophet-King named David. He wrote at least half of the Psalms. The Psalms were written and also were collected during approximately the period of one millennium beginning with Moses and ending with Ezra, the priest. A majority of them are doxologies about God, the Almighty, omnipresent, omnipresent and Sovereign Creator, Ruler and Master and sustainer of all creation including man.
Psalm 8 is primarily a doxology or hymn of praise about God. This praises and exalts God above everything in the created order. This hymn or song begins and also concludes with the same words of praise: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” And this is composed in what is known in ancient Hebrew style as ‘Inclusio’.Man is created by God to reflect his glory. Man is God’s supreme creation in his ‘image and ‘likeness’ to manifest his glory. God’s glory is in the dignity with which he has endowed man. In relation to the vastness of all the creation of God that he created by his word (metaphorically said as by his fingers and by his hands man is so insignificant and maverick that the writer, i.e. the prophet-King David and the sweet-singer of the Israelite people marvels that God has given him such a high position that man has. God has delegated his authority and power to human beings. The Psalmist sings to the Creator God: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You have made him (man) little lower than heavenly beings ( i. e, ‘angels’) and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hand; you put everything under his feet. . .” (Verses 3-6) . Psalm 144: 3 says the same thing: “O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like fleeting shadow.’ The New Testament book of Hebrews quotes verse 4: “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Hebrews 2:6).
God is the God of limitless glory and honor and power beyond and above all the created order. Even the lips of the little children praise him. The entire creation sings his praises. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth their words, their words to the ends of the world”, the Psalmist sings in Psalm number 19. Man was created as God’s image-bearer. God endowed man with his spirituality, love, holiness, justice, righteousness, personality and free-will, etc. to represent him in all creation, to have dominion or rule on his behalf. We, human beings are part of nature, but we were given the faithful stewardship over God’s creation. Since our authority and is from God we are answerable to him for all our behavior and conduct in and with God’s creation, nature. Mankind must reckon with this truth. Otherwise we are not faithful stewards of God’s creation. We are unfaithful and waste God’s resources and wealth making human life miserable. The condition of the present world reflects human greed, lust, pride and disregard for our God-given holy mandate of loving and nurturing his creation all of which were originally meant to be good. According to the narratives of Creation in the Book of Genesis, in Chapter 1 we learn that every day after creation God declared of his creation having been “Good”. Man is God’s best of creations. But he continues to be ‘worst’ in many ways and manners! We are, in general terms, sinking down and down in relation to our human values and moral and ethical behavior. Corruption continues to be the norm in the lives of many people.
Two words in this short Psalm are very significantly used: they are God’s ‘name’ and ‘glory’. God’s name is ‘majestic’ (Verse 1) God is the Only One with infinite glory and majesty. There is none, no other entity above him and will never be. He is the Only Absolute Being or Entity. He is to be revered and worshipped and blessed. He is to be worshipped and his holy name is to be magnified above everything seen and unseen because of his greatness, He commands our loyalty and loving adoration from our hearts, minds and souls and from all our beings because of his sovereignty, his absolute holiness, his activities of mercy and grace without any of which our lives are miserable and meaningless. As God’s supreme creation human beings are to trust in God and depend on him and his goodness in grateful heart and mind; and also willingly, out of genuine love bear our responsibility that serves people and eventually bring glory and praise to God, who teaches us to love him and his creation.
Psalm 49: 12 “But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish”. Verse 20 has it to say, “a man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.’ Man is verily a special creation of the Creator. It is because of this truth God has special care and purpose for him. Without that man is no better than any other animal. Listen to what the Old Testament great saint Job said, “What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? . . .”. (Job 7:17). We may as well hear what the wise King Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Man’s fate is like that of animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so does the other. All gave same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” But the distinction of man from other animals is because of having been created in God’s image. Man has a special relationship with his maker. He has a special responsibility of stewardship of creation.
The writer is a Christian theology teacher and churchleader