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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Langley Canadian Reformed Church
 Langley, B.C.
 
Title:God's majestic splendour is revealed in all creation
Text:Psalms 8 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God and our Creation
 
Preached:2007
Added:2008-01-03
Updated:2008-01-20
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 19:1-2
Hymn 47:6-8 (after the law)
Psalm 104:1-2
Psalm 8
Psalm 96:1,6,7,8

Readings: Genesis 1 and Hebrews 2
Text: Psalm 8
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of Jesus Christ,

It’s very easy to become desensitized to the presence of greatness and majesty. For instance, if you were to spend a good part of your life in Alberta, Manitoba or Ontario and then come to British Columbia and start living in a beautiful place like Smithers, I guarantee you would initially be very impressed. Hudson Bay Mountain looms over the town, the snowy peaks of the Telkwa range are there just to the south. To the north are the Skeena mountains and to the east are the Babines. The sublime beauty all around makes your jaw drop. And it does for some time. However, if you were to continue living there for some years, eventually you might be in danger of taking it for granted. You may have to work at it and constantly remind yourself that this is truly a special place.

Now if this is true of what we can see with our eyes, how much more true isn’t it of God who is invisible? At certain times in our life, we are very impressed with God and his majesty. But as time goes on, a certain dullness may set in. We become desensitized to the presence of his greatness and might. This can have various causes, one of which is the fact that God is invisible and we do find it difficult to be impressed with someone we can’t see. This is a problem because if we’re not all that impressed with God, why should we be disgusted with sin, hate it and flee from it? Why should we love a God who doesn’t impress us? And if his glory doesn’t grip us, how are we to be instruments for his glory? How are we to convince others to be impressed with God? Why should others become Christians and serve the living God, when those who are already Christians just don’t think he’s all that great?

We need to be constantly reminded that our God is great and majestic. We need to constantly remind ourselves that, even though we cannot see him, we have his Word which reveals his greatness to us and his glorious grace in Jesus Christ. His Word also directs our eyes to the world around us for more evidence of his majestic splendour. His Word is the lens through which we look at this world and see it for what it is. Psalm 8 does all these things for us today. So, I preach to you God’s Word with this theme:
God’s majestic splendour is revealed in all creation.
We’ll see that in this psalm, David:
  1. Praises God’s glory in creation
  2. Recognizes human frailty
  3. Accepts God’s dominion mandate
You may have noticed that the Psalm begins and ends in exactly the same worshipful way, “O LORD (Yahweh), our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” This puts those who sing this song in the right posture: prostrate flat before the mighty God. David exclaims that God’s name is majestic in all the earth. God is known for being magnificent and powerful.

As we conscientiously look around us on the earth, we see the evidence of his mighty majesty. The earth is his handiwork and it reflects his wisdom, creativity and power. From soaring mountain peaks to azure blue lakes we see the majesty of God. From the pancake flat prairies to the Badland hoodoos we see the splendour of Yahweh. From glaciers that go on for kilometers to spectacular green coastal fiords we see God’s greatness. The Creator is responsible for it all and here already we see not only God the Father our Creator, but also Jesus Christ – John 1:3 tells us, “Through him [the Word, Christ] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” All the beautiful things we see around us on this earth are also reflecting the glory of Christ.

And that’s not only true on the horizontal level. We can look up into the night sky and there too, we can see the glory of God being revealed in a powerful way. David develops this a bit more in verse 3, but in verse 2 he switches to something on a totally different level.

“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise…” Here David’s speaking about toddlers and newborn babies, those who can’t take care of themselves. I’m sure there are several babies in the congregation here. They can’t feed themselves, their moms and dads have to take care of them. God says that he has ordained praise from the mouth of those babies. But how can that be? Those babies can’t speak. They won’t be able to for quite a few months. But yet God says that praise is coming from their lips. From the mighty heights of the mountains and stars, David has come down to these little children who are entirely dependent on God. And it is in their dependence on God and his provision for them through their parents and others that God has ordained praise for himself. It’s not that they praise him with words, but with their actions. When they use their mouths to feed, they speak volumes about who is their God and provider.

God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the wise and powerful. God has his enemies and they belittle his ability to provide and do good for those under his rule. But the speechless mouths of babies and toddlers is more than enough to celebrate the praise of God and to silence God’s naysayers. These little ones are also God’s creation and they also reveal his majestic splendour and providential care.

In Matthew 21, the Lord Jesus was at the temple. He drove out the merchants and money changers and then began healing the blind and the lame. As he was doing this, there were children shouting in the temple precincts, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” The Jewish leaders became very angry at this. In his reply to them, the Lord Jesus quoted these words from Psalm 8. If God can ordain praise from the little ones who can’t yet speak, he can certainly also ordain and appoint that praise from the ones who can speak – and he does do that. One of the blessings that we have as a church is a whole army of young children. From newborns to toddlers to pre-teens, we have a choir of young voices who sing praises to God and to his Son Jesus Christ. We too can praise God with them and for them. How beautiful it is when these children sing with gusto – we should encourage them and praise God for them! God uses them to silence his enemies. For example, the Devil hates it when we sing with our children in church and in our homes. Satan cringes when your little ones who can read have their Book of Praise open in the church service and are eagerly singing along. All the forces of evil shudder when we teach our children their memory work from school and sing in our homes. Loved ones, carry on! Sing away! Let the praise of the little ones continue to be God’s strong arm against the devil and his forces, against the world, and our own flesh. Let the little children sing and reveal God’s majestic splendour!

With verse 3 David again lifts his eyes upward. He’s considering the heavens which God made, the moon and stars which he put in place. On a clear night, you should be able to see approximately 4000 stars with the naked eye, along with several planets. If you use binoculars or a telescope, you’ll be able to see several thousand more. On a good night, you can actually see the structure of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, as well as nebulae and other galaxies. And, of course, if you’re further north you may even be treated to the northern lights. All these things are God’s handiwork and they should impress us with the greatness of God! The universe is so huge and so beautiful – how much more majestic isn’t our God!

With all that in mind, David comes to the question of verse 4: “what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” It’s important to recognize that the first use of the word “man” here is a special Hebrew word that is often used to speak of man in his frailty and weakness. In other words, what is this weak and frail being that God should care for him? The universe is so enormous and so beautiful, but man is so puny and weak. It seems like the universe endures forever, but man is here and gone just like that. The universe, the stars and the moon, they never change – at least seldom in a way visible to the naked eye -- but man is fickle and he blows with the wind.

What is man that God should be mindful of him? What is man that God should care for him? Really what David is saying here is what is man that God should relate to him at all at any meaningful level. Surely God has more important things to do in the universe than take care of mankind. But the question is asked in such a way that it’s clear that God does in fact relate to man, God does remember us and he does care for us.

Verse 5 tells us why that it is. Even though man appears to be so insignificant, this is just the appearance of things. When God created man, he created him in his image. David says that God “made him a little lower than the heavenly beings.” God crowned him with glory and honour. When man was created, God made him to share some of his own attributes. There was something entirely special and unique about man that made him different from everything else that God had created. Though man is frail, in his grace God has an extraordinary place for him.

That extraordinary place has everything to do with the dominion mandate of Genesis 1. In verses 26 and 28 of the first chapter of the Bible, God lays out man’s responsibility in the world. Man was created to rule over everything, over all the earth and over all creatures. Man was commanded by God to fill the earth and subdue it. Those words of Genesis 1 are in the background of what David writes in verses 6-8 of our psalm.

It says that God “made him ruler.” This is important to note because it means that man’s authority on earth is not original, it doesn’t come from man himself. Instead, man’s authority is derived from God. Man is limited in what he can do with the earth, limited by God’s will and he’s also directly responsible to God. Man can’t just do whatever he wants on this earth with the works of God’s hands.

This is further emphasized when David adds, “You put everything under his feet.” Man didn’t take this authority for himself. God gave it to him. The dominion mandate is not a human invention, but a divine command. Man is not the highest ruler who answers to nobody, instead he’s a prince who has to answer to the king.

That’s the way we were designed and created to be. However, with the fall into sin man threw his own crown into the mud and tried to reach for God’s. No longer satisfied with being a prince, Adam sought to overthrow God’s rule. All Adam’s posterity followed the same trajectory. But in his grace God went after this rebel clan and promised someone who could come and dig the crown out of the mud, wash it with his own blood and put it back on the head of man.

Hebrews 2:6-8 quotes Psalm 8 with respect to the work of Jesus in his human nature. In that passage in Hebrews, what Psalm 8 says about mankind is directly applied to Christ. Jesus is made a little lower than the angels. Jesus is crowned with glory and honour. The dominion given to human beings over creation is not yet complete according to God’s original design, but we see Jesus in his suffering and death. All of this means that the original purposes of God for mankind in this world are fulfilled in Christ. Our true humanity and identity are found in him. Through his suffering and death, the Lord Jesus has come to restore God’s original purpose for us that was vandalized by sin – not only the original sin of Adam and Eve, but also our sins. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are restored to our kingly role of dominion over creation.

For us the full expression of that lays in the future. Hebrews 2:5 speaks about the world to come. Yes, for Jesus Christ, it’s already a done deal. He represents all redeemed humanity in accomplishing this dominion. But for us, we wait for the return of Jesus Christ to have the full expression of that. When Christ returns and the new heavens and new earth are inaugurated, then we will find our true destiny as human beings and rule perfectly as princes under God. However, in thankful anticipation of that day, today already we seek to live out of our union with Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit working faith in our hearts, we’ll endeavour to take care of the world that God has entrusted to us. With the Spirit enabling us to increasingly put our old nature to death, we’ll seek to rule responsibly over everything that God has put under our feet.

With verse 9, the psalm concludes in the same way it began: praise for Yahweh. But between verse 1 and verse 9, a dramatic shift has taken place. At the beginning, we praised God for being a magnificent Creator. At the end of the Psalm, we stand with minds blown at the unexpected grace of God that has lifted up human beings to unimaginable heights of glory. When we recognize that David only knew a fraction of what we know today about God’s plan for man’s restoration, these words should be on our lips with an even greater passion and enthusiasm. Yahweh’s name is truly majestic in all the earth and it will be even more majestic in the age to come!

So, let me ask: who can read or sing this Psalm, carefully consider it, and not be impressed with God? Who here is so cold-hearted that you can’t see a mighty God of splendour and grace revealed here? Loved ones, your God is revealing himself to you again this morning. Stir up your heart to see his majesty and be impressed with his works and person. In commenting on this Psalm, John Calvin said that with the words of praise at the beginning and the end, the Holy Spirit wants to wake men up from their torpor and indifference, from their drowsiness and cold-bloodedness. Calvin’s right. Wake up, open your eyes and ears to God’s revelation of himself, to what he has revealed in his Word and in Creation and give him glory, honour and praise. Be impressed with your God!
Let’s pray:
O Yahweh our Lord,

How majestic is your name in all the earth! There is truly no other like you. You created heaven and earth and everything in them. From soaring mountain heights to galaxies in the night sky, the works of your hand astound and amaze us. Teach us to be more and more impressed with you and less and less taken with earthly and sinful things. Help us to hear the praise of our little ones and to encourage it and join in with it so that your enemies would be turned back, discouraged and silenced. We praise you for the grace you’ve shown to us in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Who are we to receive such a wonderful Saviour? We thank you that he came to put crowns back on our heads after we tried to usurp your authority and rule. We earnestly pray for his return so that you will be all in all and that we may rule with Christ in the new heavens and new earth for your praise and glory. O God, please bring that day quickly! As we wait, please give us more grace with your Spirit so that we would begin to rule responsibly over all things now already. Please help us in our kingly office.

O Yahweh our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Accept our prayer and praise in Jesus Christ,

AMEN.



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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