“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at 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, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
A melody of praise engulfs David and he sets the scene for us to see the grandeur of God. This psalm written by David is the complete opposite of the one before it of lament. The tone here is free of any anxiety at his humble remembrance of who God is. The psalmist begins this chapter with nothing but praise. William S. Plumer in his commentary notes how some believe David wrote this song after his battle with Goliath while others disagree. Scholars do agree that it was written early on in David’s life. Young David may have been running away from Saul in a type of quarantine. Regardless, we are gifted with a beautiful tune for our hearts to sign in humble adoration of our Creator. Weather in the middle of a crisis such as having to hide in a cave for his life, or after having gloriously struck down a giant, David nonetheless turns his focus off himself and praises God for His awestriking high position. Even if David was enjoying success in life, the victory cry would only be rightly ascribed to the Lord. On the other hand, trials remind us we are not entitled to anything in this world; and certainly, we have no title to claim to heaven. Our creator holds the title to heaven and earth; and yet has seen fit to give mankind charge over the earth He created.
God displays His majesty by using that which is weak like the youth to silence the enemy. He does this to show that salvation and power is not of us but from God alone. This reality is altogether humbling for David and it should be for us too. We need to be lowly and dependent on His Spirit to bring us to a proper posture of worship. “Wholehearted worship will surely flood the believer’s heart when he realizes God’s surpassing greatness.” (Steve Lawson) David compares the greatness of God’s cosmos to the frailty of humankind, and is left amazed. The wonder of God’s love for such creatures like ourselves is not lost on David. He has the right view of humanity that is far from egocentric. God, not us, is at the center of the universe. At the same time, David rightly sees our worth as being made in His image to have dominion over the earth. It is only by His grace that He chooses to put mankind in charge of creation and make us only lower to angels.
The conclusion that David draws is not that mankind deserves a royal seat but rather that God is all the more to be continuously praised for setting such creatures made of dust to such a high calling. The high position of humanity is elevated to a whole new level when the Holy One being fully divine becomes a man to bring the human race into an incomprehensible union with Himself. This psalm is referenced in the Net Testament over and over again. In Hebrews, it is quoted to speak of Jesus the founder of our faith subjecting all things under Him. Paul also speaks of Christ’s headship and rule over the world and the church, which is also remarkably spoken of in the same chapter as the church completing Christ (1 Cor 15:27-28, Eph 1:22). Jesus’ quotes from this psalm when confronting the Pharisee’s unbelief and annoyance at children hailing Him (Mt 21:16). God will be glorified greatly by using frail and weak instruments such as you and me. For that, we have ample reason to praise Him.
Now, we live with the consequences of the fall and see its effects in the world around us, but God is redeeming mankind and the earth that He created. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). This is the most wonderful news and worthy of our praise! Like Job, we may never understand exactly why catastrophes at times are unleashed upon mankind but we do know that our Creator is bringing about His grand redemptive plan to reverse the curse of sin and death. The psalm ends with the first line it began in a shout of praise to God for His majestic name that is over all the earth. “O for grace to walk worthy of that excellent name which has been named upon us, and which we are pledged to magnify!” (Supereon) For the Christian, our heart’s song should begin and end with God. May our lives’ theme also be to tell of His greatness.
O LORD, our Lord, Your splendor is above anything on this planet, and yet You graciously set Your majestic love upon us insignificant creatures to redeem us for Your glory! May we bring praise to your glorious name and be lights to others in this dark world.