His Majestic Name
Topic: English Passage: Psalm 8:1-9
The heading on this psalm reminds us that we are looking at a song. The Psalms are songs. We don’t know the melody, but we know that these were intended to be sung. That’s why there’s the instruction for the choirmaster. And, though we can’t be completely sure, the gittith may have been some kind of stringed instrument.
One of the things that makes good songs special is their ability to help us direct our gaze. They help us pause and meditate on things we might not have been focusing on before. For example, a good love song helps me pause and think about my wife and how much I love and appreciate her. In the busyness of life, that can be neglected. But a good song brings that back to my mind.
Psalm 8 is a song that helps focus us on the very foundational truths of our faith. It’s a praise reflecting back on Genesis chapter 1, the creation of this world.
God creating the world is not just the first page of the Bible, and it’s not simply some baby step in theology. It is one of the foundations of our faith. It’s a vital part to the story of human life. The story of creation is not just something we want to tell little kids and baby Christians; it needs to something we turn our attention to on a regular basis. And Psalm 8 helps us do exactly that.
Just as a summary of this psalm, its two major emphases are the majestic glory of God and the amazing privilege of man. In the first part of the psalm we see the majestic glory of God, and then in the second half, we see the amazing privilege of man.
Let’s just jump right in. The first two lines and the last two lines of this psalm are exactly the same. O Lord our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
The first “Lord” there is the name God chose to share with His covenant people. His name is Yahweh. The second “Lord” there is the word “Adonai” which means “Lord” or “Master.” So, here is David helping us recognize that our true Master, our true Lord, is Yahweh, the creator of heaven and earth.
And before we skip forward too quickly, we need to pause here and recognize that very often, we serve a different master. We give our attention and our energy to someone or something else.
For example, how early and how often are we checking our phone? How prone are we to find something to watch or to play, rather than to go to our Master for wisdom and direction?
What makes worshiping God even more difficult is that the world champions everything other than the one true God. “Spend your money here! Invest your time here! Devote yourself to this!”
How do we respond and fight back against that kind of bombardment? You don’t do it sheer willpower. God isn’t calling us to just sit back and try really hard not to give ourselves over to this world. That’s not the case.
We don’t just avoid things simply because they are wrong. God calls us to something greater, and that is to worship Him. We need to recognize that there is something much more significant and meaningful than whatever this world has to offer, and that is knowing God.
The message of Psalm 8 is not, “Focus on God, otherwise you’re a sinner!” The message is “Focus on God, because there is nothing as profound or as captivating as the infinite, almighty God. He is majestic. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth.”
Everywhere we look, we can see the glory of God because He made it. He created this world. We need to train ourselves to be amazed at how great and big God is. We need to reorient our perspective. The end of verse 1 reads “You have set your glory above the heavens.”
In other words, God is bigger than anything this planet can offer. Whatever we have here, no matter how impressive it is, points us back to God who is greater and who made it. Psalm 19 told us, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”
Now, as we think about the greatness of God, we can also think about His character. God delights to make His majesty known through the impressive and fearful components of creation, but He also delights to make His power known through the things this world considers to be insignificant.
In the case of the church, for example, First Corinthians 1 says that God deliberately focused on those who, according to the world, weren’t wise or powerful or noble. He chose what is foolish in order to shame the wise. He chose what is weak, so that no one would boast in themselves.
We see that very same idea here in verse 2. Notice how David praises the Lord—Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
You have there two groups. On the one hand, there are the enemies, the adversaries, the foes, the avengers. For the Israelites, this would have included the neighboring and attacking nations trying to destroy Israel. Outside their cities, you could imagine the sound of war drums and war cries.
And set against that, what is the sound inside Israel? That’s the second group. It’s the sound of babies and infants. This is talking about children who are still nursing. It’s a picture of absolute weakness and frailty and dependence. That’s a very vivid image, and it’s a stark contrast to the enemies outside.
It’s possible that David was using the image of babies and infants to characterize Israel as a whole. They were a small and humble nation. Like children, they were completely dependent on God. And God was pleased through the mouths of babies and infants to establish strength.
What does that mean? That’s a confusing statement. The Greek translation of this psalm says that God “establishes praise.” So, maybe what David is saying here is that while the enemy nations trust in themselves for victory, the humble Israelites praise and pray to God who will powerfully defend them and grant them victory. And that is because God delights to make Himself known. What is weak becomes powerful.
You need to let that sink into your heart. Our natural assumption is that we can only make it through this life successfully if we have enough money or enough prestige or enough firepower. But our true refuge, our true confidence is almighty God. Since He is the Creator of the world, what do we have to be afraid of?
That applies to you personally as a believer, and to your family, and in a bigger way, it also to the church of Jesus Christ. No matter what happens politically with our laws and restrictions, the church of Jesus Christ cannot be stamped out. They can’t erase us. We don’t need the government’s approval or permission or help to do what Jesus has called us to do. Jesus said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against His church.”
Even when they start putting more of us in jail and putting us to death, the church will remain like it has in every generation. We need to be confident, and we need to be faithful.
If you ever want a reminder of how powerful God is, you can look to His word, and you can look to His creation. And like the psalmist here, we should stand amazed that God would choose to use such weak instruments.
That’s how this psalm continues. There’s a wonder at the power of God, and there’s a wonder at the plan of God. Look at verses 3 and 4—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?
David was a shepherd. He knew what it was like to be outside in the middle of the night without the distractions of life and without all the city lights we have today. How many of you have ever been outside of the city looking on a moonless night looking at the stars? I’m asking seriously, because I can’t remember the last time I did that. It would have to have been some kind of camping trip.
I would imagine that for most people, if they’re outside on a dark night, they’re not looking up at thousands of stars. They’re looking down at a collection of pixels only a few inches across. Think about that contrast. As a culture, we’re so easily impressed with ourselves and with what we have made rather than with what God has wonderfully provided.
The sun is so blazing you can’t even look directly at it, nor should you. It’s about 93 million miles away, and yet it is what powers and illuminates our entire planet. The sun gives us life. Without the sun, there’d be nothing to eat. There’d be no plants, no animals.
The moon is about 240,000 miles away, and yet its gravity pulls at our oceans, making the sea level rise and fall. For thousands of years, the moon set our calendars and it guided travelers. The moon and the stars were the first nighttime GPS. God made it like that. He set them all in place. He set the pattern they would travel in the universe and across our sky. That’s how wonderful God is. It all runs like clockwork. It’s an expression of His faithfulness and His greatness. He did it all, as verse 3 says, with his fingers! He set it in place.
Now, realizing the majestic glory of God, contemplating how big God is and how impressive and amazing this world is, David’s question is: “God, why are You so focused on us? Why do we matter so much? What is man that You are care for him? Why would you give Your attention to something so weak and insignificant by comparison?”
That question is a demonstration, number 1, of humility, but also, number 2, of theology. David understands and embraces the truth God has revealed to us. Genuine humility and accurate theology are not what you are going to find in the culture today. You’re not going to get that from the scientists or the influencers.
Without humility, you get someone saying, “We’re in charge of this world. We can do whatever we want with it! Get out of my way.” And without proper theology, you get this idea: “Mankind is no different than the rest of the planet. This world, and its life, are all just the result some kind of cosmic coincidence. We are animals, just like everything else; no difference.”
What that’s your belief, instead of worshipping God, you get people worshiping creation itself, which is exactly what Romans 1 says. It says, “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!”
That is the spirit of our age, folks, and you’re going to see it more and more. “Save the planet! That’s all that matters! Mother Earth demands our allegiance!”
Just this past week, a morning show in England had, as a guest, a man known as an environmental campaigner. This guy comes on the program, and his message is that cats and dogs add to our carbon footprint. He says they’re adding to the speed at which we’re polluting the earth. So, if you don’t need a cat or a dog for health reasons, don’t get one. Or don’t replace it when it dies.
Even thought pets and cars and airplanes are really useful or enjoyable, he says, get rid of them, because, for the most part, they are doing more damage to the earth than good. That’s not some wacky, fringe idea. This is part of the spirit of our age. That’s why he was invited on to the morning show, because this kind of idea is gaining traction in the world.
What are the underlying principles to that guy’s argument? He’s basing his argument, number one, on the assumption that we, as a human race, can actually control major changes in our planet. That’s part of the lack of humility. His second assumption is that saving “mother earth” needs to be our highest priority in life. That’s the bad theology.
In response to this man’s position, one author said this: “When they say ‘Save the planet,” they are being very precise. Make no mistake. They’re not interested in saving you, just the planet.”
That’s the same philosophy behind an article that Vogue ran suggesting that having a baby now could be an act of “environmental vandalism.” In other words, the “damage” a baby brings to the world outweighs the advantage.
In the name of “science” these kinds of people want to tell the rest of the world that nothing matters more than saving this planet, even if that means purposefully rejecting one of the greatest blessings God may give you.
The Bible doesn’t say we should go around abusing this world, but it definitely helps us set our priorities. And those priorities come to us in the opening chapter of the Bible.
Now, like I said, the two main themes in this psalm are the majestic glory of God and the amazing privilege of man. And was we come to verse 5, we come to the second theme.
David understand how great God is and how wonderful creation is, but he also knows that mankind has a special place in it. Look at verses 5-8 with me.
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea.
Notice the dignity and the status in those verses. Mankind is crowned with glory and honor. He has been given dominion. For now, mankind is just below the glory of the angels. And on this planet, he has been given dominion. This world has been placed under his feet, the animals, the birds, and the sea creatures.
This is how God created and designed this world. We are not some animal. We are a distinct and special creation. According to Genesis 1, we are made in the image and likeness of God. What does that mean?
That’s a very important question and you need to know the answer. What does it mean that we were made in the image of God?
To be made in God’s image means that we were specially created to relate to God and to represent Him as we relate to one another and as we rule over the earth.
That’s a long sentence, but it’s important. This is vital and foundational theology, so, I’m going to say it again. Being made in God’s image means we were specially created to relate to God and to represent Him as we relate to one another and as we rule over the earth.
According to evolutionary theory, we’re an animal like all the rest. We might have some evolutionary advantages when compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, but there’s no essential difference between humans, pigs, and trees. We’re all just living organisms on the planet.
But that’s not what God’s word tells us. We are not just higher on the ladder of the animal kingdom. We were created in a class all by ourselves. God did not simply create another group of animals. He made us as something different, something distinct.
We interact with God. We can know Him and have a relationship with Him. None of the animals are looking into the night sky and praising God for what He has made. They don’t’ do that. Animals glorify God by their existence or by how tasty they are. But animals do not glorify God through any kind of personal relationship with Him.
Additionally, animals have not been given dominion over the earth. Animals hunt one another, but they are not responsible for ruling over all other plants and the animals. That task was given to mankind. Again, being made in God’s image means we represent Him. So, just like God rules over the universe, just like He rules over the sun and the moon and the stars, we were put here to rule over the earth on His behalf for His glory.
We have been given the amazing privilege of exercising dominion over sheep and cattle, over the birds, and over the fish. This is who God made us to be. David didn’t feel bad about leading a group of sheep around the pasture. He wasn’t asking the sheep for permission when he needed to take them somewhere. He wasn’t apologizing to the bear and the lion he killed in order to protect the sheep. He knew God had given mankind this privileged position. He also knew that mankind’s authority over the animal kingdom was analogous to God’s authority over mankind. It was a reminder to him.
Just like you wish your dog or your cat would listen to you, God wants you to listen to Him. So, in light of God’s glorious design, David ends this psalm just like he started: O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
Like I said, these are foundational truths and they have profound implications for our lives.
Genesis 1, however, is only the beginning of the story. And with the time we have remaining, what I’d like to do is trace this idea of the image of God and show you why it’s so important.
So, if you would, please turn with me to Genesis chapter 1. First page of biblical text. Genesis chapter 1, verse 26. It is day 6 of creation, we’ve got the sun and the moon and the stars. We’ve got land and seas. We’ve got plants and vegetation, and we’ve got animals in the sky, in the water, and on the land. But now it’s time for something distinct. Genesis 1:26.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God made male and female. He made man as a relational being, just like God is in Himself with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As a relational being mankind represents God as he relates to others and as he rules over the earth. Man’s dominion doesn’t mean he can do whatever he wants. It’s a delegated authority designed to showcase almighty God. Mankind was created to be God’s representative. We’re supposed to rule and relate as He would have us. Does that make sense?
When my mom and dad went out for an evening and left my older sister in charge, she wasn’t free to do whatever she wanted. She was still under the authority of my parents, but she was delegated some authority in order to make sure the house ran the way my parents wanted it to run. That’s what mankind has been given. We’ve been given a delegated authority to rule over this world in a way that showcases the glory of God.
Well, how did that work out? The first man and woman we know as Adam and Eve. Adam named the animals. He took care of the garden. But were Adam and Eve completely faithful in submitting to God and representing Him faithfully in this world? Did they love one another perfectly?
Hopefully, you know the answer. The correct answer is, “No.” Adam and Eve sinned. They said, “No, thank You, God. We are going to do things our own way. We will govern this world and treat one another as we see fit.”
As a result, sin came into the entire human race, and then came the curse of God. So, now we’ve got sicknesses and wars and disabilities and sinful hearts. These are all limitations and obstacles that keep us from perfectly representing God on the earth. We don’t rule and relate as He would have us.
If you fast forward the biblical story a little bit, you get an entire generation of people who refuse to obey God. They’re living their own life. So, God wipes out the entire planet, and He starts all over with Noah and his family. And once the flood is over, God tells Noah the same thing He told Adam. Skip over to Genesis 9 with me. I want you to see this. Genesis 9. Let’s read verses 1-7.
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. 7And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”
God gave Noah a blessing, but He also gave him some very important commands. Even though sin and the curse have come into the world, mankind is still made in God’s image. He is still expected to faithfully represent God over the whole earth.
Well, what happens after the earth repopulates? Do the people scatter? No, they don’t. That’s the story of Genesis 11. The people refuse to spread out over the earth. They stay in one place, and they build a giant tower as a testament to their own glory and probably in worship to false gods. And so, another judgment comes, and God confuses their languages forcing them to spread out.
And from then on you get nations, and when you get nations, you get wars. You get hostility. You get tension. Mankind is required to faithfully represent God on the earth, but he doesn’t do that—not as God would have it.
And what’s true in a general sense for mankind is exactly true for you today. We could ask you the same question we’re asking about mankind: Are you faithfully serving God? Are you reflecting the character of God in the way that you love one another and express your dominion over this planet?
Do you demonstrate God’s perfect love in the way you treat your husband or your wife or your children or your cat? Would God be pleased with every decision you’ve made? Are you living up to His standard?
You don’t have to answer that out loud because I already know the answer. It’s the same answer for me. It’s the same answer for all of us. The answer is, “No.” None of us here is living as God’s perfect representative in love and authority. You do not and you cannot perfectly represent God in this world.
We don’t relate to one another the way God would have us, and we don’t rule this world as His perfect representatives. This is the great tragedy of the story of the Bible. We are God’s most special creation, but we can’t live up to God’s purpose for our existence. We can’t do it.
So, how does that get fixed? How does humanity get to live up to its supreme calling in creation? We can’t fix this on our own. We’re tainted. We’re corrupted. How does that get fixed?
The answer is the image of God—not as a theological principle but as a person. Who is the image of God? It’s Jesus Christ—the one man unstained by sin. The Son of God came to this earth in human flesh, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is the one and only Man who could say, “Whatever the Father is doing, I do. If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. Jesus came to do what Adam and Noah and every other man failed to do. He perfectly represents God. He perfectly puts God on display through His power and through His love. In the fullest sense of the word, Jesus is the only true man who has ever lived. He has perfectly fulfilled God’s design for mankind. He is the image of God in human flesh. And He is worthy of our worship.
We worship Jesus, not just because of who He is, but because of what He is doing. The Bible refers to Jesus as “the second Adam.” Just like Adam brought about the sinful human race, Jesus is bringing about a redeemed human race. Jesus is taking mankind back to God’s original design, so that we can live out our calling as the image of God.
When you place your trust in Him, He forgives you of your sin and your failures before God, and He begins a transformation. He begins to make you more like Him. And one day, that process is going to be complete. Christ will rule over this world, and you, if you have trusted in Him, are going to reign with Him. That’s the story of the Bible. That’s the ending we’re waiting for. And it all depends on Jesus.
Turn with me to Hebrews chapter 2. This’ll be the last passage we look at today. It’s near the end of he Bible. I want you to see how the author of Hebrews uses Psalm 8 and ties it to Jesus Christ, and then to us as well who are united to Him. Hebrews 2, verse 5.
For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.
The point being made here is that Jesus is greater than the angels. He is going to rule the world someday, physically and visibly. Everyone will know it.
Verse 6—It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
That’s Psalm 8, right. It’s a little different because it’s quoting from the Greek translation. But what’s the point? I think the point here is that since Jesus is going to rule the world, it proves that He is not an angel, because God gave the authority of this world to mankind. In fact, 1 Corinthians 6:3 says we are going to judge angels someday. We are going to rule over them. But that is future. We don’t see it yet.
Let continue in verse 8 of Hebrews 2. We’re picking up after the psalm is quoted.
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9But 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.
He’s talking about the redemption Jesus accomplished for mankind through His death and Resurrection. He faced God’s judgment in our place. He tasted death for us. And now, He is exalted in the heavenly places. That exaltation and that redemption would not have happened if Jesus had not sacrifices Himself.
Verse 10—For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
There’s a lot here that we aren’t going to go into, but the main point is that Jesus redeemed us, and He set the pattern for His people. He will bring us to glory. In fact, He calls us His brothers. Later in verse 13, He calls us His children.
The amazing privilege of man is not something we could live up to, but Jesus does. And He will restore us, so that one day we will perfectly live out the design of Genesis 1 and Psalm 8. Animals are gonna stop attacking each other. And they’re gonna stop attacking us. And with Christ as King, we will rule with Him over the earth. That’s how the story ends. Jesus is our Lord. How majestic is His name in all the earth.