The Bible is full of questions, and this one by David is not the least of them. Listen:
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, that you care for them?
One doesn’t have to think too deeply or study too seriously the ‘heavens’ to realize just how tiny we are as compared to the vastness of the cosmos. On the earth I, as an individual human being, am already so very small and seemingly insignificant as compared to the whole planet. But then when we think about the size and position of the earth itself in the whole scheme of the cosmos, we are but the minutest speck of dust, lost in the endless universe of other planets, stars, solar systems, galaxies and whatever else there is out there.
And David only had a small glimpse of the cosmos as compared to all we know today. Let me remind you of a quote in my post on this psalm in May 2015. I wrote:
“It is approximately 3000 years since David wrote this psalm and we now know a lot more about those ‘heavens…the moon and the stars’ than David could have ever 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. The following is from a book written by a Christian astronomer.
“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)
It certainly is a bit difficult to get one’s head around such numbers, but the point being that the question David asked seems to be even more relevant than ever before.
It could be paraphrased:
3 When I consider your heavens, containing maybe more than two hundred billion medium sized and larger galaxies, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which total maybe more than 50 to 60 billion trillion, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind, so small, so temporary, so vulnerable, that you are mindful of them, that you care for them?
Now, it is one thing to suggest that mankind somehow has some small place in God’s scheme of things, but the psalmist informs us that there is even more to it than this. In fact, something much bigger and very personal. He says we are constantly on God’s mind, on his heart, and he actually takes the time and effort to care for us. Such grace! Such love! Now that is worth reflecting upon and giving thanks for!
Broyles says, “This psalm expands our perspective to the heavens to see that God has other alternatives for his attention and delight, namely the vast and well-ordered heavens…And yet it is humankind that that he is mindful of, and cares for. In the midst of innumerable possibilities – as many as the stars of the heavens – God’s interest in us remains undistracted.” (see reference # 4)
And then Kidner adds, “Mindful has a compassionately purposeful ring, since God’s remembering always implies His movement toward the object of His memory; and care…similarly implies His action as well as His concern…” (see references # 29)
No wonder Peter confidently promised, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)
Father, what an amazing creation you have made. The more we discover, the more we are awed by you handiwork. And to think that in the midst of all this beauty, which reveals your incredible beauty, you love us and consider us beautiful as well. Amen.