A Lection Reflection on Psalm 8
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.
Years ago, Tom Fettke wrote a wonderful anthem based on Psalm 8 entitled “The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.” It quotes the Psalm, then moves into praise of God for all God’s glory and blessings, pretty much like the Psalm itself.
I love the song — it’s one of my favorite anthems. But I think if I were writing a musical piece about this psalm, I’d stop after verse 6 and do a rap with the refrain “What, what, what, were You thinking?”
I mean, let’s look at this rationally. The Psalmist starts out on the right track — “When I look at the heavens, I have to ask, God, why would you even think about us humans? And even if you did THINK of us, why would you CARE about us at all?” Yep, that’s pretty much what I would ask, too. Tell the truth — if you were writing this story, and you had a god that could make all THAT, wouldn’t that god be both distant and diffident?
But NO, to quote Steve Martin. The Psalmist says God has made humankind a little lower than God. Whoa — really? Lower I can get, but just a little lower?
I mean, look around. Do these people you hang with every day strike you as being just a little lower than God? Honestly? How about that fat guy coming out of Thornton’s, munching a doughnut while swigging a giant Mountain Dew? Or that teenager who cut you off on the Waterson while talking on her cell phone?
How about the CEO who laid off a bunch of your friends so his stock options would increase? Or that person at work who does just enough to get by? Or that homeless addict? Or that fanatic from the other political party? Or your inlaws?
And just to finish making it personal — how about the person in the mirror?
I think either the Psalmist has lost his mind, or God has lost God’s mind. There is NO WAY all those people are just a little lower than God.
But … today’s lection says they are. All of them. And you too.
And that’s the way God made it.
Every one of us, from the most noble to the most ignoble, is special to God in a way that we can’t fathom. Every one of us has gifts and abilities that are reflections, or miniature versions, of some of God’s gifts and abilities. Every human means something to God — so they’d better mean something to us, as well.
God made it that way. The Psalmist saw it, and wrote about it.
It’s up to us to see it, and tell it, and live it.
By God’s grace.
Perhaps humans are only a little lower than God. When he gave life and creation, also free will was bestowed upon humanity. One human is equal to another as they have been created, it is the choice of the individual human to pursue happiness in whatever form they please. The critical flaw in humanity is that they perceive, in their individuality, that the choice of an individual is subject to the dominion of another human.
Nathaniel — first of all, thanks for stopping by and reading, and especially for taking the time to comment! I like your last sentence — yes, many times we allow our own lives and choices to be subordinated unnecessarily to another. If we are aware of the choice, though, sometimes it can itself be an act of individual control and care for the other person. It is truly a balancing act.
Again, thanks for reading and sharing!
Maybe “just a little below God” is relative compared to things God has made that we have yet to see. Provocative thinking though. Glad I stopped by! 🙂
The basic truth that we are all made in the image of God has always stuck with me. No matter how insignificant or trivial we might think another person might be, in God’s eyes we are the same. It kinda levels the playing field a bit huh? I believe each one of us has an equally important part to play in God’s eyes.
Thanks, all, for the comments. Makes it easier to keep writing when you know someone is reading. Glad you found the reflection helpful!