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Psalm 8 – Part 1

Psalm 8 - Part 1

Sermon Transcript

Why were you born? Why are you here? What, really, is your purpose in life? Solomon, the wisest man ever born, posed this question in Ecclesiastes. With all the money at his disposal, plus full governmental power, the king searched for ultimate meaning in several all-too-familiar areas: wine, women, wealth, and work. From chapter one, he informs us upfront that none of these quests, as exciting as they are at the moment, provide only temporary, fleeting enjoyment, followed by a hollowness, a vanity where lasting life purpose is concerned. It is only when he guides the reader to the final chapter that his well-planned, well-thought-out quest provides the anticipated and coveted answer.

13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person (Eccl. 12).

Solomon’s wrap-up counsel could not be clearer We are designed by God to do two things with our lives and we shall not secure meaning until we commit ourselves to them on a continual basis. Why were you born? Why are you here? What is the purpose of your life? One, you must revere and worship the living, holy God who fashioned you, and two, you must obey His counsel and commands, not your own.

Our selfish, sinful, and rugged individualistic minds cause us to naturally pose a question: Why should I do these two things in order to find life purpose? Solomon anticipated that question, for I am sure he asked it himself many times. How did he answer this query? With a sobering, spine-stiffening statement in the following verse:

14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil (Eccl. 12).

The opening, and emphatically placed preposition, for, “kai” in Hebrew (ִכּי ), gives us the motivational reason for his statement in verse 13. All of us will give account to God whether we revered Him and served Him.

Are you ready for this day? How do you get ready? You first reverence God by coming to His Son, Jesus, the Christ, and asking Him to be your Lord and Savior. When you do this He will save you, indwell you (1 Cor. 12:13ff), and empower you to actually break free from your former enslaving sins (Rom. 6) so you can obey Him. Believe me, when all of this happens, purpose pushes the vanity and hopeless you feel right out of your heart and mind. Jesus now knocks at your heart’s door. He is calling your name and seeking entrance. Will you move toward the door in faith and open it out of reverence for the fact He died for your sin’s on Calvary’s tree (Rev. 3:20)?

Long before Solomon set out on this journey to discover why he was born into the Davidic line, his father, David, wrote about his astute analysis of man’s purpose. That purpose, which in many respects, mirrors what David’s son wrote about years later, is clearly and concisely articulated in Psalm 8. Here we come face to face with the question which is always before us as we move through a given day:

What Is My Life Purpose? (Psalm 8)

In nine short verses, David answers the question of all life questions. Read on and you will see what I mean:

1 For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; 4 What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? 5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! 6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! (Ps. 8).

As I had said before, the superscription in your English Bibles constitutes verse one in the Hebrew text. Here, David says he wrote this particular worship song for the choir director in the Temple. He adds that he wrote it for what he calls “the Gittith.” What is this? The renowned Hebrew scholars Keil and Delitzsch offer this insight, the Gittith probably was similar to “a peculiar Phoenician and Carian flute played at the festivals of Adonis, called giggras, and also an Egyptian flute and a Doric lyre.”1 The sound would have been joyous and uplifting, and rightly so because David’s words disclosed the most coveted answer to man’s earthly pilgrimage: What is my life’s purpose? David’s answer comes to us in three distinct movements of thought.

My Purpose Is To Realize Who God Is (Psalm 8:1-2, 9)
In these opening words, you can almost see in your mind’s eye a young David sitting on a moonlit hillside outside of Jerusalem tending his sheep and looking up at the glory of the heavens, and then uttering these contemplative, moving words:

1 O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease . . . 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Rhetorically, the short Psalm begins and ends with the same wording about the person of the living, loving Lord. Formally, this is called inclusio and it serves as a wonderful, beautiful bow to completely tie together the present about man’s purpose. What is our purpose on this lonely, isolated, basically insignificant planet, floating in a galaxy, which is really only one of a plethora of spectacular known galaxies?

David’s opening and closing words in Hebrew arrest our attention so we know, for sure, why we are here with our vapor-like lives (“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away,” James 4:14). Is this not the truth? When you are a teenager, life stretches out before you and you think you will live forever. Older people tell you life passes by quickly so you had better live well; however, in your arrogance, you tend to brush them off. And, then, one day you wake up and receive your first AARP mailing, and a young, strong teenage bagger at Safeway ask you if you need assistance out to your car. Really? As I told a bagger one day, “When I am standing here with a walker, and am pulling an oxygen tank, then you can ask me that question.”

In the Hebrew text, David’s opening address of God is highly emphatic.

) 8 . P s ( ְי ה ָ ֤ו ה ֲא ֹד ֗ ֵנ י נ וּ 2 “LORD, our Lord.”

Regarding these two titles, David exhuberently exclaims,

“How majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!”

Why are God’s names majestic (NIV), or excellent (NAS, NKJ) ?
LORD is the English version of the Hebrew Yahweh (ְיה ָ ֤וה ). This word, in turn, is derived

from the Hebrew verb havah, “to be” or “being.” Hence, in its base form, this particular name of God denotes His eternal self-existence. He is the One outside of time and space, the One who rightfully and logically created our cause/effect dominated dimension (as such, His ontological existence is the answer to the philosophical problem with infinite regression in relation to cause and effect, meaning there has to be an eternal One, who is not caused, to create causation), the

One who is purely actualized in relation to His creation which is only potentially actualized, the One who is Necessary in relation to His created order which is higly and perpetually dependent. Whereas God, or Elohim, denotes God as the mighty, powerful Creator, Yahweh reveals His personal, continual/eternal, and absolute unchanging existence.

This name for God first appears in Gensis 2, verse 4:

4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven (Gen. 2).

ֵ ֣א ֶלּ ה ת וֹ ְל ֧ד וֹ ת ַה ָשּׁ ַ ֛מ ִי ם ְו ָה ָ ֖א ֶר ץ ְבּ ִה ָ ֽבּ ְר ָ ֑א ם ְבּ ֗י וֹ ם ֲע ֛שׂ וֹ ת ְי ה ָ ֥ו ה ֱא � ִ ֖ה י ם ֶ ֥א ֶר ץ ְו ָשׁ ָ ֽמ ִי ם ׃

It is introduced here for it stands at the head of God’s dealings with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He is not only the Creator, who by the word of His mouth made all that exists, but He is the existent One who is moral and holy and calls man to obedience to His word and command (Gen. 2:16-17). This same motif carries over into the Torah, where God reveals himself to Moses as the great “I AM” (Ex. 3:14), who is eternally existent, and who will not only be with His chosen people, Israel, but who calls them to worship Him by obeying His law (Ex. 20). This is why His name is majestic and excellent. His people can always count on His existence and loyal to His word and covenant with them, and they, in turn, are summoned to bow before His greatness, not to be consumed with their own supposed “greatness.”

Yahweh’s name is majestic and excellent because it answers the questions science cannot, questions like, ‘Why is there something as opposed to nothing”; “Why is their order and specified complexity as opposed to disorder and chaos?”; “Why is man so different from the created order?”; “How can man say he has life purpose in a cosmos devoid of the divine One?” Yes, how can purposefulness originate from purposelessness? Indeed. Sir Peter Medawar underscores the limits of science with this helpful statement:

The existence of a limit to science is, however, made clear by its inability to answer childlike elementary questions having to do with first and last things—questions such as “How did everything begin?”, “What are we all here for?”’ “What is the point of living.”2

Arrogantly and illogically, Peter Atkins, an English chemist and fellow of Lincoln College at the University of Oxford states, “There is no reason to suppose that science cannot deal with every aspect of existence.”3 There is every reason to suppose this premise is not true because science can only analyze what is not why it is. Science can tell you that if you have COVID-19 and you purposefully cough on someone you will probably give them the virus; however, it cannot answer whether it is moral and acceptable to cough away. Answers of what man ought to do come from revelation tied to the eternal God. This is why God’s name is majestic and excellent. At the edge of science, at the limit of scientific theory and analysis stands the infinite, existent One whose ontological reality serves as the terminus for all of man’s probing and problematic questions about his purpose on planet earth.

Further, God’s name as Yahweh is majestic and excellent because it serves as the bedrock of science. Because He eternally exists there, by definition, is order, predictability and rationality. Melvin Calvin, a Nobel Prize-winner in biochemistry, looks at how he is able to study biochemical and concludes,

“As I try to discern the origin of that conviction [that science would not be possible without order], I seem to find it in a basic notion discovered 2,000 or 3,000 years ago, and enunciated first in the Western world by the ancient Hebrews: namely that the universe is governed by a single God, and is not the product of the whims of many gods, each governing his own province according to his own laws. This monotheistic view seems to be the historical foundation for modern science.”4

And he is an educated, decorated, and well-known biochemist, a thinking man. He, like David, pondered the cosmos and arrived at the conclusion that the existence of the eternal One provides the best answer to how science can actually operate. Again, no wonder God’s name as Yahweh is majestic and excellent!

Regarding God’s name as Yahweh, we, as contemplative, curious, and highly intelligent creatures can investigate the intricate, highly specified and complex cosmos He has designed and logically use our minds to conclude: There must logically be a Designer behind the design. Where irreducible complexity is concerned, biochemist Michael Behe notes,

“Irreducible complexity is just a fancy phrase I use to mean a single system which is compose of several interacting parts, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to cease functioning [Think of a car’s complex engine, for instance. Can it work without a piston, a spark plug, or a carberator? No.] An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly by numerous, successive, slight modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor system to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunction.”5

For those biochemists among us, Behe goes into great detail to explain the irreducible complexity of cilium, or hair like structures on cells lining our respiratory systems which “in synchrony” sweep mucus to the throat for eventual elimination. These highly complex structures, which are chemically powered, can only work when all the parts are present. Just their very structure within the human body points to an eternal divine Designer who knew what He was doing when He lovingly and consciously crafted them in the first man, Adam. Again, David was so right in saying that God, as Yahweh, has a name which is most majestic and excellent. More on God as Yahweh when we analyze the last half of this verse.

Next, David calls the Creator, Lord, or Adonai ( ֲא ֹדֵ֗נינוּ ) in Hebrew. This unique name underscores God’s relationship to His creation, especially man who is created in His image. The relationship is to be one between a lofty Lord and His lowly subjects, man. As such, man is called to fear and revere this Lord and to obey him. The first time this title occurs in Genesis 15, verse 2 tells us this much.

2 Abram said, "O Lord (Adonai) GOD (Elohim), what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" (Gen. 15).

As a servant who recognized the Lord as His Ultimate Master, Abraham had just given God a tithe of the spoils of battle he gained when he rescued his nephew lot (Gen. 14). In obedience, Abraham tithed to God. Then in chapter 15, Abraham, the obedient servant, asks his divine Master, how he will bless him for his obedience. The Master responds with a promise of a promised son, Isaac, to carry on the unconditional Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:1-3; Gen. 15:4-7).

Quite naturally, this title was eventually applied to Jesus. As you might expect, it contains the same motif of Master/slave, with an emphasis upon obedience. Paul uses it in this fashion in his letter to the Colossians:

6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (Col. 2).

“Walk,” here is from the present tense imperative, peripateite (περιπατεῖτε), commanding servants to constantly walk in light of the person and teachings of Jesus.

Life’s purpose, therefore, is directly related, as David denotes, to sinners recognizing who God is. When you come to drop your vain, vacuous arguments against His existence and understand that He is rightfully and logically the eternally existent One, then, and only then does your life come to full center. Then, and only then, do you find answers to your most perplexing, unnerving questions about life and living. Further, when you come to realize that you are either a servant of sin or a servant of the Lord, who loved you enough to die for your sin on Calvary’s tree, then, and only then, will you have inner peace (Rom. 5:1) coupled with the inner motivation and desire to stop trying to be Lord of your life, and to start trying to obey His life-giving principles.

I would be remiss in my calling as a shepherd of the eternal Lord if I did not ask you, “Is He your Lord?” How do you, a sinner, make Him your Lord? Paul’s counsel to the Philippian jailer is still appropriate for today’s lost sheep, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved . . .” (Acts 16:31). Believe today while the Savior knocks on your hearts door and has your undivided attention (Rev. 3:2).

To those who wonder how do we really know there is Yahweh, the eternally existent God who is also desirous of being our personal Lord (Adonai) at the moment of confession (Rom. 10:9), David adds in the second clause:

“How majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!”

“Splendor,” in Hebrew is the word, hod (הוֹד). Literally, is it used in Isaiah 30, verse 30, to denote the awesome power of heavenly thunder. Thunder, of course, causes one to look up and consider the real, raw, ominous power of God Almighty. David, therefore, rightfully applies this word to how the stars and planets above his head clearly demonstrate, by way of natural revelation, the power of the eternally existent Lord. Put differently, the starry cosmos, on any given night, points to the God above and beyond this cosmos.

How so? Yes, how can God be seen in the astral systems located above our heads? I answer:

  • Who cannot look at the clocklike work of the “movement” of stars and not conclude there is a clock designer, God?
  • Who cannot look at the waxing and waning of the moon and not conclude this predictability is established by One who is orderly?
  • Who cannot consider it would
    take light traveling at 186,282 miles per second in the vacuum of space ten hours to cross the seven billion miles of the width of our small solar system and not see the immensity of God?
  • Who cannot look up on a given night in the desert and see some 3,000 stars with the unaided eye and not conclude their brilliance must point to One who is beyond brilliance.
  • Who cannot study astronomy and understand there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, followed by an estimated 100 billion other galaxies other than our own, and not surmise there is an infinite, eternal Lord who is beyond comprehension?
  • Who cannot look at a nebula, like the Cone Nebula or the Orion Nebula, the birthplace of brilliant, magnificent stars and not logically posit that their power and glory must point to One who has ultimate power and glory? Just the Orion Nebula is thirty light years in diameter, meaning with light traveling in space at 6 trillion miles in one light year, it would take thirty of those years to just cross the width of this one, of many, star manufacturing machines. Again, how can we look up, as it were, and not say all of this immensity and power cannot just be there. It must, as David, says, point logical thinkers to consider the eternal God, Yahweh, who, fashioned it ordered complexity and now calls us to revere Him as the Lord.

God’s glory, His power, and His majesty are clearly placed above our heads on any given night. The wise man, like David, looks up and sees the evidence for Yahweh and Adonai, and then turns and worships Him. A fool looks up and sees the creation but not the Creator. I pray that you would stop for a moment and contemplate how all of this cosmic creation has the fingerprints of God all over it. Look up and see Him, and, then, turn to Him in salvation.

And man really does not have any excuse for not praising the great God known by the names, Yahweh and Adonia. David says this much in the second verse:

2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease. (Ps. 8).

Line up all of the clever, scholastic arguments devised by the godless to prove there is no God, and, according to David, they fail miserably because, as he says, little ones innately know there is a God and they praise Him. Just their simple, innocent songs are enough to show the living God that they know He is really there:

He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands

He's got the whole world in his hands he's got the whole wild world in his hands
He's got the whole wild world in his hands he's got the whole world in his hands
He's got the little bitty baby in his hands he's got the little bitty baby in his hands
He's got the little bitty baby in his hands he's got the whole world in his hands

Give Me Oil In My Lamp

Give me oil for my lamp, keep it burning
Give me oil for my lamp I pray
Give me oil for my lamp, keep it burning
Keep it burning till the light of day
Sing Hosannah, sing Hosannah
Sing Hosannah to the King of Kings
Sing Hosannah, sing Hosannah
Sing Hosannah to the King

Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus was a wee little man, A wee little man was he.
(using both hands, make it look like you are showing the size of a very small man.)
He climbed up in the sycamore tree, the Savior for to see.
(using both hands act as though you are climbing up a tree)

And when the Savior passed that way, He looked up in the tree,
(using your fingers, make it look as though someone is walking.)
And he said, "Zacchaeus, you come down from there;
For I'm going to your house today, for I'm going to your house today."
(Start clapping your hands when singing this verse.)

And Zacchaeus came down from that tree, and he said, "What a better man I'll be. I'll give my money to the poor. What a better man I'll be. What a better man I'll be."

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me! This I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! This I know
As He loved so long ago
Taking children on His knee
Saying, "Let them come to Me."

Jesus loves me still today
Walking with me on my way
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven's gate to open wide
He will wash away my sin
Let His little child come in.

Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way
Thou hast bled and died for me
I will henceforth live for Thee...

I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart, Down in my heart, Down in my heart,
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart, Down in my heart to stay

I've got the love of Jesus,
Down in my heart, Down in my heart, Down in my heart,
I've got the love of Jesus,
Down in my heart, Down in my heart to stay.

I've got peace and understanding
Down in my heart, Down in my heart, Down in my heart,
I've got peace and understanding
Down in my heart, Down in my heart to stay.

Little ones love to sing praise songs to God. Why? Because they, the most innocent among us, know one thing for sure: The eternal Lord is there and He wants to be our Lord who receives our rightful praise.

The moment you start singing with them because you, too, know that there is God up above who loves you and has a distinct purpose for your life is the moment joy and deep, abiding meaning floods into your sin-parched soul. Are you ready to sing in light of the evidence God has lovingly entrusted to your care?