What is Man?

March 13, 2009



Psalm 8


This oft quoted passage is so instructive, but like most Psalms it moves beyond instruction to the point of awesome effect.  Most versions have phrases such as “the Glory of the Lord in Creation” (NKJV), or “How Majestic is your Name” (ESV) as a chapter heading.  I feel that these phrases seem to miss the mark somewhat.  If ever there was a Psalm that brings a comprehensive theology to bear, and has as its scope the whole of all creation, that is both introspective on the part of the author and challenging on the part of the reader then this Psalm is it.

 Two powerful theological truths thunder in my ears as I read this passage, and each is overwhelmingly relevant and humbling to me.  One, God is the cause of it all, He has His hand at the pen of all that is written in nature and on our hearts.  He has ordained strength (v2), ordained the moon and stars (v3), He has made man lower than the angels (v5), He has made man to have dominion and put all under his feet (v6).  God is in supreme control as ruler and maker of all and yet His glory is above all these created things. (v1)  What took Elihu 165 verses to say in the book of Job are posited here by David in nine, spoken in wisdom born out in brevity.  This declaration of God is inspiring and would be frightening in its breadth were it not for verse 4.  Which leads me to the second theological truth that is impressed on me.  In all that immensity and vast creation God is mindful of man and visits him.  David so rightly puts it in the form of a question, “What is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you visit him?”  A question is not a bold, sure statement.  It is a subtle query that elicits humility rather than pride.  David does not say, I am worthy of being mindful, or thank you for being mindful, he says “What is man..?”  As I have read this question over the past couple months, I can not help but be influenced daily by it.  When I look at the moon or the stars, or when I see creation splayed out before me, I can not help but to ask “What is man?”  What am I? not only that He is mindful of me but that HE VISITS ME.  David understood the power and privilege of the presence of God.  Long before the Savior was known to man in physical form, David saw, felt and tasted that God is good and that He comes to us in a way we can not understand apart from what we know as grace.  That we creatures created in His image have some place accorded to us by His grace, out of mercy and love inspires me to come before him in grateful confusion and say “What is man?”, “What am I?”


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