What is Man - Psalm 8:
As I watched Venus transit across the face of the sun I was mesmerized by the sight. First it was the historic value of the event. The next time it happens my great-great-great grandchildren will be watching it. This was indeed a once in a lifetime event. Unless of course I live to be 183 years old which would be even more mesmerizing.
More than the timeline was the sight itself. Who of us have not seen a full moon low on the horizon and looking many times bigger than when it has climbed high into the night sky. The sheer vastness causes one to stop and just look. Now consider this. Venus is only five-percent smaller than Earth. The Earth is three times bigger than the moon; stay with me this is going somewhere. As I watched Venus make its way across the sun, I watched this planet just a bit smaller than ours look like a dot or like the period at the end of this sentence. The point? How big is our sun? It made a planet look like a period.
You look puzzled. Let’s try this. Our planet moving across the sun would look the same as Venus did. On our planet I am a speck. On the sun our planet is a speck. Thus I am a freckle on a speck compared to the sun. The point? I guess in light of that I really am a not much more than microbe on a microbe in this universe we call home. If a planet can be a dot compared to a star we call our sun, which is a small star at that, what am I. Now isn’t that encouraging? Probably not but this is:
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
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 made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
What you just read was a song written by King David. It’s simply called Psalm 8. And just as the title is a simple one, the meaning is equally as simple. Often God’s message to humanity is.
I suspect that one day David walked out and took a long look into the Judean night sky. As he did he stood amazed at what he saw. What he saw led him to consider the majesty of the Creator. The word “majestic” is easier seen than defined. It describes the vastness of the sea or the beauty of a tree. Words like excellent, glorious and mighty can be used in the place of majestic. David recognized that as awe-inspiring as creation is, especially a star-filled sky, God is even more awesome - “You have set Your glory above the heavens.” In other words, the glory of the heavens pale in comparison to God’s. He goes on to say that even a child can see that.
But this is the part that thrilled me as I watched Venus cut a path across the sun. Recognizing the power of God - He created the universe with His fingers - and His control over the movement of that creation, David celebrated. He understood that in the midst of it all God watched over him, the freckle on a speck. When he wrote, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” he was not questioning whether God was doing that but rather proclaiming that He was.
David then invited us to take a step deeper and grander in God’s relationship with us when He wrote, “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings.” Hold on, let’s back up to the last couple of words and fix them. The term “heaven beings” is a poor translation which sadly shows up in most English translations. David did not write “heavenly beings” he wrote “Elohim”. So? The word Elohim is the second most widely used name for God in the Old Testament. What David was saying here was not that God made humanity a little lower than angels but rather a little lower than Himself. God then gave man rule over this world that He created for us to live on.
The point? It may be true that size-wise any of us are a freckle on a speck when compared to the immensity of God’s creation. But, in our Creator’s eyes He places us next in order to Him. Oh, not in power or perfection or God-likeness but in His heart, His thoughts and His care. So the next time you think that nobody really cares about you, when you feel invisible, when you consider yourself the freckle on a speck know that God cares and sees and wants you close to Him. And to show humanity that He was serious about that His Son Jesus came to bring us together with the Father by dying on the cross. This opened the way that leads to Him.
I’ll never see Venus hike across the sun again. But I will see that big full moon on the horizon and when I do I hope I will remember David’s song about God’s love for us.