Scripture seems very comfortable with placing contrasting ideas right next to each other. For me, the opening verse of Psalm 8 is one of those places: ‘O Lord, Our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth’ (v1).
‘O Lord’ points me to the magnitude, magnificence, wonder and otherness of God, while right next to it, ‘Our Lord’ reminds me of the personal, intimate, loving closeness of His interactions with me. Throughout the psalm David seems to be able to hold these two thoughts together. He simultaneously extols God for His greatness and sovereignty, while recognising the uniqueness of man’s place in His plans.
God’s majesty and man’s dignity. Two thoughts nestled side by side. A contrasting, complementary pair.
In verse 3 the psalmist takes us outside at night to view the cosmos: ‘When I look at the heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon…’ – shrouded in mystery as it seems to grow and shrink, shine and fade as the days pass by – ‘..and the stars…’ – small twinkling specks to the naked eye, delighting and intriguing children but actually vast balls of fiery gas, too distant to measure and too numerous to count. The Creator in action! Majesty!
And once the magnitude of creation and therefore of the Creator is seen, the spotlight falls on mankind. The question falls from the lips of the psalmist: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?’ (v4). In the face of the awe-inspiring richness and variety of the universe who, indeed, is mankind? In the light of the glory of the sovereign Lord, how is mankind even noticed?
But He does notice! In verses 5-8 we see mankind appointed as caretaker of this world. Humanity is given dominion and authority over this world. We are made partners with the sovereign Lord of all. The One to whom all honour and glory is due reaches out and bestows honour on us. The smallness and brokenness of man is somehow superseded by the stretch of His infinite hand of love. The One who reigns from everlasting to everlasting pours out grace on His finite children. The One who is rightly addressed as ‘O Lord’ allows us to draw near and claim, ‘Our Lord’. Dignity!
Infinite and finite. Creator and created. God and man. Majesty and dignity.
‘O Lord, Our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!’ (v9)