Psalm 8 Sermon From May 2012 Prayer Service
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday May 2nd 2012: Easter week four, Psalm 8. “What is man that you are mindful of him”
O LORD, 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 foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at 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,
and the Son of Man that You care for Him?
Yet you have made Him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned Him with glory and honour.
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.
O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8 ESV)
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonderconsider all the works Thy hand hath made,I see the stars; I hear the mighty thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed; Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art! How great Thou art!” Doesn’t that sound a lot like Psalm 8, “When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place,” it does doesn’t it? “How Great Thou Art” is doing what Psalm 8 does, it likewise talks of creation (as we’ve seen), but this is but one of the three things going on in Psalm 8.
Psalm 8 is a Psalm about creation, but it’s more than that, Psalm 8 is also about mankind and about Jesus, “the Son of Man.” Psalm 8, as a Psalm, is rather brief in its description of creation, while “How Great Thou Art” goes on for a whole second verse about the woods, and birds singing in the trees and mountains and the gentle breeze.” The hymn was written in a number of stages, brought together by many hands along the way; at one point an English Missionary in Russia named Stuart Hine wrote what is now the first three verses of the hymn. He was inspired to write the first verse when he was caught in a thunder storm, the second verse while he heard birds singing along the border to Romania, and the third verse when he witnessed many of the Carpathian Mountain dwellers coming to faith in Christ Jesus.
The Psalm asks a profound thing. The Psalmist understands and marvels at the exceedingly great majesty of God and the amazing nature of creation and then right in the midst of all of this, the profound question comes forth? “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the Son of Man that you care for Him?”
In the vastness of creation, sprawling out into the deepest reaches of space earth seems so small and insignificant. The will and effort needed to run a universe would be immense and here we are; and the psalmist muses, “What is man that you are mindful of him,” it’s like he asks, “why do you bother making sure my heart beats, and that I have breath and thought and motion ... when I’m so small?” Add to that, “I’m not even good; I’m a sinner, a law breaker, and trouble maker, a pest.” And yet the psalmist doesn’t directly ask “Who am I that you are mindful of me?” He asks “What is man that you are mindful of him,” You see we are all lumped in together, we are all sinners and lawbreakers and trouble makers and we all need to be rescued from this trouble and many sadly fear that they are too insignificant for God to even care if they live or die.
But God does care, and this is why He sent His Son. He sends His Son in a way that many wouldn't expect. In Jesus’ incarnation, in His Miraculous conception, His virgin birth, perfect life and innocent death, in all of this compared to His eternal Divinity, God the Father made Jesus His Son a little lower than the heavenly beings; Jesus, in obedience and in love of His Father and for the love of us, set aside aspects of His Divine Nature and took on our base creaturely human nature. This Son of God becomes the Son of Man, a deep mystery: The all-knowing all-seeing all-powerful all-present LORD of all became just a couple dividing cells in the womb of His virgin mother Mary, the Majestic Name above all names made smaller than a speck in order to save you; and while all was dark in the virgin womb, and while all was dark upon the cross, the darkness didn't last, Christ Jesus who is the light breaks through, and history and nature and man see this same Jesus, this Man God, crowned with glory and honour in His crucifixion, in a way unlike any known to man. The universe in its vastness holds its breath as the thorns of Jesus’ crown run around His brow: See it, there Jesus hung reconciling the universe to His Father, just one seemingly insignificant death among many, yet as small as this scene would look upon the canvas of time, it was there, that day, in that place that the love of God’s life blood poured out upon the wooden cross answering the Psalmists question: “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
The words of “How Great Thou Art” chime back into our ears, echoing the Psalmist question yet providing us with an answer: an answer that the Psalmist could only have dreamed of, an answer made true in Jesus: “But when I think that God, His Son not sparing,sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in—That on the cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin;”
The Good News of Psalm 8 for you is that you are saved by this Mighty God, that Jesus became as insignificant and small as you are, as you ever were, to make you as righteous and immense as He is. Being joined in the body of Christ you are made one with the one who saved you. In your baptism you are alive with Jesus. Jesus Who the Father “raised … from the dead and seated … at His right hand in the heavenly places,” Jesus Who was set, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. … [God the Father] put all things under [Jesus’] feet and gave Jesus as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”That’s how saint Paul puts it, it sounds just like the words of Psalm 8, “[Heavenly Father] you have given [Jesus] 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.” Namely all things, all of it; it’s all under the dominion of Jesus, the Christ – even you, even on the days you don’t feel like it. Psalm 8 shows the relationship between the Father and Son, between the Son Jesus and all things, and between God and us. We Christians now live in repentant joy watching for the day it will be revealed for what it is, for all to see it with their own eyes. Until then we sing in hopeful anticipation: “When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!Then I shall bow in humble adoration and there proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee, How great Thou art! How great Thou art!”
In Psalm 8 the Psalmist looks forward to the Messiah; he looks forward to the son of man’s coming, for the Christ to come and to have all things made subject to Him. To have even the righteous and the wicked subject to God in Christ Jesus: yet the Psalmist wonders, “Why would God do that for us?”
It’s a rhetorical question, a question you’re expected to know the answer for; all the same here is the answer: “Why would God do that for us?” because God made mankind, because He promised our first parents Adam and Eve that He’d save us from sin, death, the devil and even ourselves, and because God doesn’t go back on His promises, this is why He is mindful of us, of you, of me. This is why His name is majestic and worthy of praise: and all this not just because He promised it, but because He made good on it. For all of this we sing to God, “How Great Thou Art!” Amen.
Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy, Lord Have Mercy, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
LSB 801 “How Great Thou Art”
“Then Sings My Soul” Robert J. Morgan, pg 213.
And why is God mindful of the son of man? Jesus tells us this: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18 ESV) And why did Jesus do this? He did it for you, to fulfil the promise to you; to bring you life.