[Lectionary readings (Psalm) October 4, 2009, Proper 22: Revised Common (Psalm 8 or 26); Roman Catholic (Psalm 128:1-6) and Episcopal (Psalm 8 or 128)]
In the night things can look very different. Pain may feel more intense. Loneliness unbearable. The problems you are facing, insurmountable. It is as if the night shrinks one’s self-image. Therefore it should not seem strange that this psalm of the night refers to human beings with a word (in the original language) relating to the concept of being weak and frail (v 4). Compare the NLT’s translation of “mere mortals”.
However, this experience of insignificance in comparison to God’s creation of stars upon stars upon stars does not send the Psalmist into the depths of despair and misery. It is indeed extraordinary that this “insignificant person” in stead celebrates the exalted position that God has given man in his creation. “Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor” (v 5 – NLT).
The secret of human’s glory and honour is that it is not a matter of comparison, but a matter of God’s appointment. As “mere human beings” each and every one of us is treasured by God. We have dignity, not because of who we are but because we have been crowned by our Creator (v 5).
Psalm 8 is first and foremost a Psalm of worship. The first and last words exalt God’s glory: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (v 1 & 9 – NIV). The amazing part of this song is that God’s glory is not at the expense of human dignity and worth. This wonderful Creator God is mindful of us and cares for us (cf v 4). Therefore the praises of children and infants silence God’s enemies (v 2).
To think about or discuss: Should the knowledge that you are treasured by God have any affect on the way you look at other people? What does Psalm 8 says about people that you experience as different from yourself?