As I read Psalm 8 and particularly the words of David when he says, “You have set your glory in the heavens. 3 …your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.” I thought of the fact that “3000 years later (approximately), we know a lot more about those ‘heavens…the moon and the stars’ than David could have even imagined. Through the use of powerful telescopes astronomers have discovered that the stars we can see by the naked eye are only the beginning of what seems to be an endless universe of galaxies beyond our imagination. In fact recently I read these words from a book written by an astronomer who is also a Christian.
“Astronomer’s now have plumbed the universe’s theoretically observable limits. Within those limits they see about two hundred billion medium sized and larger galaxies. These bodies and the dwarf galaxies that accompany them contain a total of about 50 to 60 billion trillion stars…All this stuff, however, constitutes only about 1 percent of the universe’s mass. The actual universe…must be significantly larger than the universe seen through our telescopes. The universe’s geometry tells us the universe…must be more than a hundred times more extensive than the universe we can observe. Thus, the actual universe must be at least a million times more massive than 50 billion trillion stars.” (Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job Baker, 2011 )
What an incredible universe our God has created! And yet, according to Solomon, even this cannot contain God! Solomon in his prayer of dedication of the temple “spread out his hands toward heaven and said: ‘O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below… But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:23, 27-28)
If we are going to live well in this world, we need to intentionally allow ourselves time to be quiet and to reflect on who this God we worship really is. To stand before God in the midst of his incredible creation, as David did, and endeavour to ‘appreciate the greatness and power of the Divine’, the One who inhabits the earth and the heavens, who in fact is “majestic…in all the earth.” And whose “glory [is] in the heavens.”
The NIV Study Bible suggests that when David wrote this Psalm it was possibly an occasion when, as he looked up at the night sky, “he erased from his [thinking] small everyday affairs [and concerns] and engaged his mind with deeper thoughts [concerning God and his creation].” Something that, in the busyness of our lives, we all need to allow ourselves to do more often than we possibly do.