Prayers for Today from Psalms
1. Praying for a New Perspective
God is king and worthy of our praise! How great is our God! Our order of service will be different today. We’ll begin with the preaching, then move to praising and end with praying. Don’t worry, this is not the new normal. It’s OK if you don’t like it because we’ll probably not do it again…at least for a while. Here are 4 reasons we’re changing it up. 1. When the order is too predictable we can get passive. 2. Every element in the service is an expression of worship. Preaching, praying, praising and participating in the offering all make up our corporate worship. Even our announcements, properly understood, are avenues to adoration. 3. The Bible gives us flexibility in the forms of worship. In other words, there’s no one right way to order our worship gatherings. 4. When we properly understand the greatness and majesty of God, we’ll want to give Him praise. Our worship through praising will flow out of our worship through preaching today.
We’re kicking off a brand new series, “Prayers for Today from Psalms.” In order to catapult us into deeper prayer, both individually and as a church, we’re going to spend the next weeks exercising our faith as we “work out” in the Word by praying through the Psalms.
Here are some distinctives of the Book of Psalms… · The Psalms are the only section of Scripture addressed to God Himself. · The Psalms is a holy book made up of songs and prayers to God. · The Psalms are intended to stir up our emotions…and to shape them. While the Bible speaks to us, the Psalms speak for us. · The Psalms are real and raw. Psalm 10, which we will study next week, begins this way: “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?” Here are just some of the themes you’ll find: loneliness, love, loss, sorrow, discouragement, delight, anger, misery, peace, grief, failure, work, forgiveness and hope.
I picture David, the author of this psalm, gazing up into the heavens, when these words started flowing out of his mouth. Please close your eyes and imagine that you’re looking up into the sky as I read -
We can outline this Psalm very simply - 1. Our majestic God matters more than anything. 2. You matter to our majestic God.
1. Our Majestic God Matters More Than Anything v. 1 - 3
This psalm would have triggered readers to remember the Feast of Tabernacles, which was a celebration of the goodness and greatness of God while Israel wandered in the wilderness. The theme of Psalm 8 is found in v. 1 and is repeated again in v. 9: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”
The first word “LORD” is the name Yahweh, which was the unspoken name of God, and means “the self-existent covenant-keeping God.” The second use of “Lord” is the name Adonai which means He is master and owner of everything. The use of “O Yahweh” focuses on God’s otherness, or separateness from us. The phrase “our Lord” helps us see that God is personally involved with us. Remember Thomas - “My Lord and my God.”
God is powerful and He is also personal. He is to be feared and I can call him friend. This is a key to understanding this psalm. God is both beyond us and right near us. If we only focus on Him as forgiving, loving and not expecting too much, we can trivialize the Almighty. Conversely, if we picture God as removed from us, we can feel like He is impossible to know. Psalm 8 calls us to revel in the paradox of God’s being – He is “other” but He is “ours.” If I know Jesus as Saviour, then God is both majestic and He is mine. God’s name is “majestic” in all the earth. This means that His name, which stands for all that He is, is excellent and famous and lofty everywhere. There is no one else like Him. He is omnipotent and incomparable. Exodus 15: 11: “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you - majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”
David concludes v. 1 by saying that God’s glory is way beyond the heavens. The word “glory” encompasses all of His attributes. Glory literally means, “heavy” and refers to God being weighty, or awesome. As David stared into the night sky he was dazzled by what He saw and yet God’s glory fills the galaxy and is “above the heavens.” Psalm 19: 1: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 113: 4: “The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!” This means His glory is even greater and beyond what we can even imagine. The highest heavens can’t contain His glorious splendour.
v. 2 takes us from the highest heavens to one of the smallest creations on earth: “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength…” We move from heavenly bodies to happy babies. I picture David’s stargazing being interrupted by a baby’s cooing or a child singing. This is really cool. God’s transcendent glory, His greatness that is far above the heavens, can be grasped and expressed by a child! Children have a way of capturing spiritual truth in ways that amaze, and even rebuke us grumpy grownups.
I love the rhythm of this psalm. It begins in v.1 focusing on the greatness and glory of God and then in v. 2 we see how small children respond in praise.
v. 3 takes us back to the heights as we consider the creation of the cosmos and then v. 4 calls to mind the care God has for mankind. We go from God’s bigness to babies; and then back to God’s majesty then mankind.
v.3: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place.” The word “look” means to meditate, or to see. As David looks at the star-spangled sky, he quickly gives testimony to God’s work. David is astonished at the greatness of a God who could create such things. It is estimated that there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the universe but I just read this is likely to increase to 200 billion as telescope technologies improve. Each one of these galaxies contain up to 100 billion stars! Just traveling across our one galaxy (the Milky Way) at the speed of light would take 100,000 years! The word “fingers” is a metaphor - God knit everything together, arranging all the planets and stars in a way that would bring Him the most glory.
These first 3 verses help us see that Our Majestic God matters more than anything. The rest of the Psalm establishes a second truth: You matter to our Majestic God. The first half focuses on the majesty of the Almighty. The second half answers the age-old questions: “What is man? How do we fit into the cosmos? What is our purpose? Why are we here?” By the way, these questions can only be answered as we come to grips with who God is. Any attempt to find out who we are apart from the One who made us is doomed to failure. We must always start with God because that’s how the whole Bible starts: “In the beginning, God…”
2. You Matter to our Majestic God v. 4 - 9
God holds the Milky Way in one hand and yet takes infinite interest in you. As David pondered the power of God while seeing the solar system, his thoughts come back to earth in v. 4: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” On this dark night, on this little pebble of a planet, why would God even care about me? Listen carefully. In God’s eyes, you are more spectacular than a supernova. The glory of the galaxy has been placed upon your head. If there is anything more marvellous than the sheer scale and splendour of the universe, it’s that in all of that vastness, you matter to the Majesty.
The word for “man” here is the word that means “weak and frail.” Our lives are like a vapour, here one moment and gone the next. Yet, God is mindful of us, meaning that He remembers us and thinks about us all the time. This is a covenant term, indicating that He is committed to us and will never forget us. Because God treasures His creation, He looks for ways to come close to us. Some of you don’t really believe that God thinks about you all the time. You have a hard time understanding how He could love you because of all the things you’ve done. While you may be unworthy, as we all are, you are not worthless!
When God thinks about you He breaks out into loud singing! You and I are the pinnacle of His creative power, the apex of His awesome plan for the cosmos. We are made lower than God but made to rule over His creation –v. 5: “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.”
Our country and our world continues to be confused about moral matters. The reason we stand up for biblical marriage between one man and one woman is because God has crowned one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage with glory and honour. God has not changed the definition and design of marriage.
We are against the sin of racism because God has crowned every human being from every race with glory and honour. As such, racial superiority is a sin and racism is repugnant to the God who crowned us.
We stand up for the preborn because every baby, from conception on, is crowned with glory and honour and worthy of protection.
We hold out hope to the suicidal because every person matters to God for they have been crowned with glory and honor. “Evolution sees man as one step above apes. Scripture sees him as one step beneath angels.” Notice how all of this is rooted in the creation account in Genesis.
v. 6 – 8 - God’s plan is that we are to care for the earth as stewards but not worship the earth as our mother. We must be careful to not deplete our resources but at the same time we have been given dominion over the works of God’s hands.
Allow Jesus to Recreate You
This Psalm should makes us feel a bit unsettled because while we can ride a horse and catch some fish, and put up bird feeders, all of God’s creation is definitely not under our feet. Earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, fires, cancer and death are stark reminders that our world is out of whack. We wonder when the next terrorist attack will come. We can heal and we can harm. We both educate and exterminate. We can overflow with humanitarian help and then explode in inhumanity to others. It certainly doesn’t seem like “all things have been put under our feet.”
The writer of the Book of Hebrews felt a similar tension when he read this Psalm. Hebrews 2: 6 - 8 - He starts by quoting from Psalm 8, then he states what we’re all thinking: “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” We can barely control our own lives, let alone have dominion over God’s creation.
Hebrews 2: 9 resolves this tension by pointing us to Jesus Christ, the ultimate fulfillment of Psalm 8: “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” We have looked for ways to subdue our planet and have headed to space, looking for other worlds to conquer. We’ve done well…or have we? There’s still one thing you don’t have dominion over. Do you know what it is? It’s you. Humans have never learned to subdue sin. It was unleashed into the human bloodstream by Adam and Eve and it continues to infect and affect lives today. That’s the root of the human dilemma. We’re image-bearers of God, we matter to Him and yet we’re marred by the magnitude of sin. Jesus became a man in order to forgive sin and destroy death for us. He did this, according to verses 14-15 in order “…that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Jesus has been given all authority and all things are under His feet! He changed water into wine, He walked on water, He calmed the wind and the waves, He rode an unbroken colt, He made the rooster crow at the exact time Peter denied Him, and He put a coin in the mouth of a fish. That sure sounds like complete and total dominion, doesn’t it? And then, right before Jesus ascended to heaven, He said these words in Matthew 28:18: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” And its in that authority that He sends us out to go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching people to obey what He has commanded.
People can only become who God made them to be by entering a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. That brings us full circle to the last verse of Psalm 8: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” Let me ask you a question. Is Jesus your Lord right now? He is majestic and you matter to Him. The psalms are by nature invitational. They urge us to move from just skimming along the surface to diving deep in our devotion to God. As our team comes up to lead us in praise I invite you to enter in to a deep time of adoration as we now move from preaching to praising.
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