Psalm 8: a joyful song
Psalm 8 For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David. (1) LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. (2) Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (3) When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, (4) what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (5) You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. (6) You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: (7) all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, (8) the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. (9) LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
In the early 1980’s, Michael W. Smith wrote a song with some of these words. Have you heard it?
“Oh Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth. Oh Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth. Oh Lord, we praise your name. Oh Lord, we magnify your name prince of peace, mighty God Oh, Lord God almighty.”
Remember it? Now it will be stuck in your head all day long. You’re welcome.
But it is a beautiful, powerful song. When the song is performed in church, the piano bangs this same chorus over and over again and the choir sings their hearts out. It is literally just those words repeated.
The song is so simple, but it’s loud and exciting and gets stuck in our heads. What a wonderful example of the meaning behind this psalm.
David is singing for JOY.
Michael W. Smith knew this and wrote a song that is so filled with joy that the piano seems like it might explode, and the choir probably will have no voice left.
The heading for Psalm 8 includes, “for the director of music, according to gittith.” Bible scholars are not certain what “gittith” refers to. But possibly “an instrument of Gath.” Gath being an ancient Philistine city.
Other scholars suggest that Obed-Edom, the Gittite (from Gath), had some special solo with this piece, or maybe that David wrote it for him.
Obed-Edom’s story is found in 2 Samuel 6:9-12.
The ark of the covenant was carried from place to place by God’s people for centuries. The ark was the place the Lord would come down and meet with His priests, the holiest of holy places to the Israelite people. And for a time, the ark of the covenant resided in Obed-Edom’s house as David sought the Lord’s will for what to do with it.
The Ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household. 2 Samuel 6:11
Obed-Edom had reason to be filled with joy. Was David singing this psalm in celebration of the blessings rained down upon this man’s family? Was David celebrating with a friend? Was David so filled with joy because the Lord was pleased?
The exact meaning of “Gittith” is not known for certain. But the word is also included in the headings of Psalm 81 and 84, both are psalms full of joy and celebration.
Whatever you are going through today- and regular life has been impacted around here- know that the Lord in heaven wants you to hear joy in this psalm.
I am 100% sure of this.
How does David express joy in this psalm? Well, it’s simple, he sings of God’s awesomeness, that God is not only the God of Israel yesterday, today, and tomorrow, but He is God of all the earth.
And . . . He is not only God of all the earth! Even the earth cannot contain His glory!
You have set your glory in the heavens. Psalm 8:1
The universe is big. Her’s a reminder of how big. NASA’s website says, “Our sun, the nearest star, is 93 million miles away. That’s why the sun, which is a million times the size of the earth, looks so small. It would take the space shuttle seven months to fly there.” (nasa.gov)
And that’s just within our galaxy, the Milky Way.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place. Psalm 8:3
Wait . . . let’s just repeat that and let it sink in a bit. Our sun (which is a million times bigger than the earth) is the work of God’s fingers.
David says God is bigger than the universe, but His glory comes from the mouths of babies, too. Did you catch that?
Remember the Old Testament story of Elijah when he fled the queen who was killing the Lord’s prophets? All of them were dead; he was the only one left. His story is recorded in 1 Kings and fits with Psalm 8.
We look to the God of the universe, in storms, disasters, and trials, in suffering and triumphs. But do we sometimes miss His voice? Sometimes He speaks through the mouths of babies . . . or a whisper in the breeze . . .
So [God] said, "Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold the LORD was passing by? And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold a voice came to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:11-13 ESV
Elijah feared for his life. In fact, he was running for his life. Just before verse 11, Elijah actually laid down to die, and the angel of the Lord told him to get up twice. The man was freaking out. He was giving up. The great prophet Elijah was panicking.
God could have roared His commands. He could have rained His expectations down with thunder and lightning upon this man having a panic attack.
But, my friends, this is such a good reminder for us . . . He did not do that.
God, who is bigger than the universe, spoke to Elijah in the calmness of a breeze. He spoke love to His prophet Elijah in his time of great need and fear.
That is our God.
Today, in our world, we’re scared. Life can be filled with uncertainty and sometimes we even fear going out. Friends, listen to God’s whisper of love in a breeze today. Maybe in the sunshine on your face. Maybe in dog or cat snuggles. Maybe in the blossoms on the cherry trees or the daffodils that are peeking through the dirt already.
Be reminded that you are loved, and you are in His hands, however uncertain the earth seems. The Lord is bigger.
Let’s leave this psalm right there, and find joy in the knowledge that our Lord, the maker of heaven and earth, is MINDFUL OF US.
Listen for His voice today.
Father in heaven, we are worried today. We are trying not to be. We are trying to do what you expect us to do. To love our families and neighbors. We are trying. God, we know you created everything, that you have been the same yesterday, today, and will be tomorrow, but sometimes we are afraid still. Help us to release that burden into your arms today. Help us to breathe out our worries as we allow the sun to shine on us. Help us to find joy. Please. Almighty God, in Jesus’s name, heal the earth of this virus. But even more so, let us lean on you. Amen.