10. Psalms of praise (Psalm 8:5-8)

“But David is not finished yet! He continues:

“You have made them [human beings] a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”

In Genesis 1:26 the Creator speaks and says, “Let us make mankind in our image…[to] rule over the fish…and the birds…over the livestock and all the wild animals, …[in fact] over all the creatures.”

Hugh Ross comments on this verse:

“…we humans, like God, have the capacity and responsibility to govern…[and] humanity’s role in governance is utterly unique among all Earth’s creatures, past and present.” (Hugh Ross Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job)

Brueggemann says, “the human person is acknowledged to be God’s regent in the governance of creation. Not only is creation [good and] well ordered, but the human agent occupies a crucial role in the governance of that order…humankind is authorized to have dominion over all other creatures.” (Walter Brueggemann The Message of the Psalms)

The NIV Study Bible notes continue, “Man’s rule is real…it is our [identity], our destiny…but it is not absolute or independent. It is participation, as a subordinate, in God’s rule; it is a gift, not a right.”

Sadly, we as humans have taken things into our own hands far too often, forgetting that we are stewards of all the good things God has made, and the result has too often been disastrous.  As we read this psalm we realize that “at [its centre ] is an affirmation of human power and authority. At its boundaries are affirmations of praise to God. The centre and the boundaries must be read together…Human power is always bounded and surrounded by divine praise…to use human power without the context of praise to God is to profane human regency over creation and so usurp more than has been granted. Human persons are to rule, but they are not to receive the ultimate loyalty of creation. Such loyalty must be directed only to God.”  (Walter Brueggemann The Message of the Psalms)

But wait, there’s even more in this psalm. David says,

“You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.” (8:5)

A little lower than the angels? Us, humans?  “Crowned with glory and honour?” What was David thinking? Aren’t these words, “glory and honour” only really applicable to God? Yet it is true. David here acknowledges that when God made humans, we were the very pinnacle of his creation and here David celebrates mankind as “royal personhood” in the eyes of God. Hard to take in, but “this psalm reminds us that our supremacy in the natural world did not result from our own efforts or from something inherent in nature, but from God’s deliberate choice.” (Craig C Broyles New International Biblical Commentary – Psalms)

We are not what we are due to an accident of evolution but by God’s design. Made to be like him, “crowned with glory and honour”.

”…God [has] granted to humans, and only to humans among Earth’s life, a unique capacity to think, gain understanding and discern what’s wise…[no other animal] can share the human aptitude for invention, communication, abstraction and assessment…Humans have the capacity to make judgements. We [can] discern what’s true, right and enduring. We can [also] choose to act unwisely…Humans can choose what has value and meaning and what does not. Humans can investigate the past and consider how it relates to the present and the future.” (Hugh Ross Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job)

And all these unique attributes come from God, his gifts to us to enable us to live well on the earth.  How different would the world be if we all acknowledged and returned to the truths of Psalm 8. If we saw the world and each other as God sees it and us. David could never have understood how relevant his simple yet profound psalm of praise would still be in the 21st Century.”

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