(Sort of) Psalm Saturday: Psalm 8

courtesy of free images.com

courtesy of free images.com

Today’s psalm is one of my favorites. Many of us could probably use a little cheering up, with all this bad weather and sickness going on. Thankfully, this psalm on “Divine Majesty and Human Dignity” has us covered. I know this post is a little late; I’ve been very sick and unable to work for the past few days.

Psalm 8: Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals[a] that you care for them?
5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,[b]
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is thy name in all the earth!
Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted
2 by the mouth of babes and infants,
thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which thou hast established;
4 what is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou dost care for him?
5 Yet thou hast made him little less than God,
and dost crown him with glory and honor.
6 Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the sea.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is thy name in all the earth!

Before I do anything else, please allow the footnote-loving history minor in me a moment of glee. In the RSV on the right, a footnote precedes the psalm and reads, “A magnificent hymn to the glory of God as seen in creation and reflected in man.” The footnote stole my literary thunder, but at least it validates why I love this psalm so much.

Differences… In verse one, the NRSV uses “sovereign” instead of “lord.” I suppose this was a stylistic exchange, to avoid a repeated word. I like this; sovereign is one of my favorite “pretty words” for king or ruler. And woah, a real major overhaul in the rest of verse one and two! Check out those stanzas! Whereas the RSV reads, “Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted / by the mouths of babes and infants,” the NRSV reads, “You have set your glory above the heavens / out of the mouths of babes and infants…” I’m no Hebrew expert, so I can’t tell you what this verse actually says, but I’m reminded of Christ when He said, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies / you have prepared praise for yourself’?” (Matt. 21:16)

I think it’s safe to say he was referencing this psalm, so I’m torn a little. I love the way the RSV reads in these verses, but as usual the NRSV seems to make the meaning clearer, even if it does sacrifice some linguistic pizazz. Oh, bother! I suppose we should be learning Hebrew to get that original flair.

Verse three and four showcase the NRSV’s gender-inclusivity well; thankfully we have those handy footnotes to remind us “son of man” is the actual phrasing. In verse five, the NRSV uses “lower” instead of “little.” I do really like this word; I’m always reminded here of God’s blessing to us, than He made us in His own Image and gave us a privileged place as sons and daughters, even above the angels—truly, our God, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

How incredible He is! We look around, we see all this beautiful world and the sky, sea, stars formed by His hands… but His greatest treasure is us. For all our sin and brokenness we deserved retribution and He loved us anyway.

But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.—Rm. 5:8

To be stamped with His own Image, with that incredible capacity for love, intelligence, and creativity that marks off humankind from animals. Think just how wonderful that is. That a created being gets to share in Divine Likeness. And we broke it. We threw it away when we chose selfishness over trust and obedience to His will. So Christ comes to fix it. Even though we deserve to be obliterated, He comes to save us because He loves us so much. That is the Great Mystery of Christianity, that God, knowing we could not climb the mountain to reach Him, came down, took us in His arms, and carried us up the mountain Himself. Oh Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s