Summer Psalms – Psalm 8: Prayer for the unworthy

Psalm 8:1-9

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.

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?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b]
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

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

Few weeks ago, was one of the toughest weeks for me. My boss was away. So I was alone, and as usual, on the day when your boss is away, everybody come to the lab asking for help. There were just so many issues, that three quarter of my day was just spent that way rather than doing my own job. I was so exhausted. That was the one day when everybody wanted everything right NOW! During my lunch, I was munching my spaghetti, while four different people trying to talk to me. I got grumpy, can’t they see I was having a break?! Have you ever experienced that kinda day?

And late in the afternoon, I was hectic. And there was this lady who has been requesting this and that throughout the day, and everything for her is emergency. She asked me heaps of questions and demanded more and more. That moment, I had some sort of inner explosion. I hung up on her in the middle of the phone. For those who know me personally, I am a very typical of Asian Indonesian who wants to keep my peace with everybody, who like to be nice, polite and accommodating, avoid conflicts etc. But this time, it was just IT! I could feel my face flushing and shoulder felt so hot as I was getting upset! I am not proud of this, so please don’t follow my example. Guys, it is NOT OKAY to hang up on someone. Don’t try this at home or at work. So I went home that day pouting. It was a stressful day. I cried in my shower. Yes I was upset with everyone at work, but deep down I was even more upset with my own response. I knew as a Christians in a marketplace, I should do better, I should respond better in conflicts, lead a better example and be Christlike for others. But when I see myself, my heart, and my response, it was far from what it should be. I want to show Christ, but all came out of me is often my lacking. I often feel so weak, and not at all capable. I am no different than my work colleague who are unbelievers. In fact, I was worse than them.

Maybe for some of you, it’s not works related. It could be motherhood, marriage, ministry, relationship, or in our struggles with our sinful hearts. Whatever form that is, you know what you should be doing, but you end up doing the things you are not proud of.

By nature, all of us are trying to find our ‘names’, we are all striving to be ‘someone’ in this life, someone who is good and significant at something. But the sad reality as Timothy Keller said is that the distance between who we would like to be versus who we really are – the gap is so massive that it leaves us feeling guilty and unworthy. The tension inside of you is just inevitable. Yes you may go to church every Sunday, you may minister in your church, but deep down, when you see yourself in the mirror there is this deep well of disappointment inside of you. You feel like a hypocrite, you feel unworthy to be called Christians/ Jesus’ disciples. Have you ever felt that way before?

But the good news today, we are going to learn together from Psalm 8 – which I titled the prayer for the unworthy. First of all, this Psalm is written by David. Different with other first few Psalms, instead of cry out and lamentation, this Psalm is straight up total praise in celebrating the glory and majesty of God. We will learn 3 simple things today that have massive implications in our lives:

  • Who God is
  • Who man is
  • What it means for us


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

You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place

David starts this Psalm by calling God’s name. In the original Hebrew, the first LORD refers to YAHWEH, the God’s covenantal name to people of Israel. Remember in Exodus, God met Moses and said I AM WHO I AM. This means God is self-existence, self-sufficient, unchanging. Always I AM. He reigns over all and He builds relationship with His people so they can call him by that name. The second Lord ‘our Lord’ refers to Adonai (Hebrew), meaning my Lord/master. So David starts with this because God’s name is closely tied to Who He is and His character. Combining the two, David is saying, this God is the God who reigns over all, and He pursues a personal relationship with his people.

Then David continued with praising God through the creations. He’s saying that the stars and sky tell the glory of God! The creations reveal who God is and put Him on display.

Romans 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. The very existence of this universe, since day 1 of creation, tells us that there is a God out there. It did not happen by coincidence or evolution or big bang theory, but there is One Great Creator who has crafted the universe! Charles Spurgeon once said, that there is no place where God is not. If you go to the highest heaven or the lowest part of the earth, God is there. He reigns over it all. What Charles is saying is that, there is no place in the universe without the finger prints of the Creator Himself.

You have set your glory above the heavens. For us, heaven and earth are already the two extreme realities. Heaven is the highest, and here it says His glory is still above it. That means, there is nothing under the heaven that can fully reflect His glory and majesty. Although creations express His glory, wisdom and power, but it is only partial revelation of a surpassingly greater God behind it all. It is impossible for us to grasp the true extend of His majesty.

David says when He looked at the stars – they are the work of His very fingers. God sets them, each one of them, in their place. Not too far to the east, not too far to the west in the solar system.  Hebrew 1:3 says He upholds the universe by the word of his power. By His WORDS, He created it and runs this universe. He sustains them all. James Boice, a famous Christian author and speaker, he said that the earth, which is massive enough, is only a small planet in a relatively small solar system. There are billion other solar systems in the entire universe! Ours is JUST one of the relatively small ones! Would you imagine how big God has to be to create all that?

You know, there is this type of friends that only come to you only when they need something from you? Everybody will come across this kind of friends in their life at some point. At the end of the day, that’s human nature, right? Even we do that often with our friends without realising it. When we are happy, we forget about them. When we are in trouble, that’s when we remember because need their help.

Put that lens in our relationship with God whom David is trying to picture here. We often do that with God too! If this is the God that we are having relationship with today – do you dare to come to Him and treat Him like THAT kind of friend? God, hello.. it’s me again, I know long time no chat, but now I reeaaally need You to do this, do that. Will you do that? Of course not. If you really grasp what David saw, the true Grandeur and Majestic God who creates everything, when you get the sense of His massiveness, it changes the way we relate with Him. He has to be our absolute King, full stop. We has our full attention. He is not your assistant friend that you call only when you need him. He is not just once-in-a-while sidekick to make your life more colourful. He’s not your wing mand to get things done. He is the main and only King, to whom we tremble before and deserves our worship.

But even if this God is so big and majestic, the way He expresses His power is way different than our thoughts. Verse 2 says even little babies and infants are able to praise Him. He uses the weak and fragile to still His enemies. Our human thoughts expect big mighty things for Him to express His power, YET He graciously chooses tiny, weak creatures like human babies and infants. We are going to learn this more in the next point.

WHO MAN IS (v4-8)

4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,

7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

In the light of Who God is and what God has done in creation, David continued with “What is man?” He knew what the answer is, nothing! In comparison to this awesome glory and majesty, mankind is so small and so insignificant. David feels so small. He knows he is absolutely nothing.

If you see the vastness of this universe, say if you’re having a holiday to Alaska or North Pole for star gazing, when you look at the aurora night sky yourself, you will not say “WOW, I feel so BIG and significant!” No, you would feel so small and negligible in comparison to all that beauty. If you were to be crushed in an ice storm and die that night, nothing will change in this universe, it still runs its course, right? When you encounter that kind of glory, you will and you will experience those moments of humility. But verse 4 emphasizes that even though man is an insignificant part of this grand universe God created, God is mindful of man and cares for him, which is absolutely mind blowing!

We live in the western culture nowadays, where everyone supresses the truth that there is God. More and more people deny the existence of God. Now, think with me, if there is no God who created this world, no Creator, everything happens randomly by chance, then what’s the point of life, right? That means everything we do now won’t matter at all. Nothing counts. Nothing is going to make any difference because the universe does not care about us. Nothing’s personal. In the end we are all just going to disappear.

David felt this tension – the insignificance and worthlessness of man in comparison to the glory he saw before him. But he did not stop there. We too cannot stop there. It is not a full picture. If we do, we will grow pessimistic and live without hope. What’s more in V5-8 is that even though men are insignificant, but GOD has made them significant.

When David looked at the order of creation, God created everything in the beginning, the sky, the sea, all the animals, and then He created human – but the bible says that human is the only creation created in the image of God. Although we are just like a dust in a grand scheme of creations, God crowned us with glory and honor. Created in His image, mankind were given authority and dominion over all other creations. What does this remind us of? This bring us back to Genesis 1:26. We should know this by now, that’s Ps Sam’s favourite verse.

Humanity has been given such high status, not because of our own glory. But because God has given it to us. It is given for us to steward and to bring God the glory and honour. Now, God has done that. But the question is what have we done?

When we look at our lives today – it doesn’t look that glorious at all. Instead of becoming more like Him, being conformed to His image, humanity has gone down so far away from the image of God. God has given us His glory, but we throw it away. We rebel against God, and we reject Him. The bible says because of Adam, all mankind have sinned against God. The glory that we see in mankind has been corrupted. We are now by nature, children of wrath.  

Even for us who called ourselves Christians – we struggle living in our flesh in this broken world. Sin has become our nature, in built inside of us. Every part of our being bends towards sin. Even Paul in Romans 7 he said, 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

And especially for us who know the truth, our first thought when we see ourselves in the mirror, we see no glory and honor, but often faults and disappointments. We do not struggle alone, even Apostle Paul felt the same way too! But God did not leave us alone in our hopelessness.


4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Do you know the original language of word “mindful” means to fill someone’s mind, and the word “care” means to go out, to find, to move. If we go to the New Testament, Psalm 8 is quoted again in Hebrew 2:6-10 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?

7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;

    you have crowned him with glory and honor,[a]

8     putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

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. 9 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. 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.

This Psalm is about a God, Creator of the universe. He is above all. How majestic is His name. And in the light of who He is and what He has done, though mankind are nothing at all, He has given them significance. But then, mankind spoiled that gift. We threw that glory away! We deserve the wrath of God.

But God sent His son into the world. Jesus left His throne of glory and visited us. He became like us. Jesus came to save us from our wilful ignorance and rebellion to fulfil Psalm 8 as we have not. By the grace of God, He tasted death for everyone. Instead of coming to us in judgment like our sins deserve, He visited us in grace to rescue us! David Platt says this, “God has come to us in the person of Jesus, lived as a man amongst us with no sin. That even though he has no sin to die for, He chose to die on the cross for our sins”. He lived a life we could never live, and died the death we deserve.

Why did He do that? Because He was mindful of us (YOU!). During the last moments towards crucifixion, even when Jesus was sweating like blood, He was so scared and overwhelmed, even at that point Jesus still prayed for us. Timothy Keller says this, “We filled His mind, so much, that He was willing to set Himself apart, becoming weak and die on the cross for us.” Even until the very last minute of His life, what He had in His mind was us.

That is the beauty of the gospel – God does not leave us alone in our sins. He did not give us what we deserve. Instead, He rescued us. He did all that FOR YOU and ME. What is it, if not the ultimate proof and evidence that God does care of us?

Even though now we have yet to see everything subjected to Him, Jesus already reigns victorious over all the corruption of sins. That day is coming when He will make all things right. The bible says that everything that is true about Christ is true for those who put their trust in Him. So as we put our faith in Him, when we read Psalm 8, it comes about us, because Jesus is the fulfilment of Psalm 8 for us.

You know, I love a podcast called Daily Grace Co. One of their motto before the opening always says “The Gospel changes everything”. It may sound cliché, but it’s true. When we understand the gospel, it changes us so much, it changes EVERYthing. It changes the way we see God, the way we see ourselves, and the way we see our struggles and our entire lives. As we talked earlier today, we keep searching for our own ‘names’ but we keep messing around, we keep failing because of our brokeness. But the Gospel tells us that God has made a way to give us a new name, not as a title that we earned, but as a gift to be received by faith through Christ. The Gospel has offered hope and remedy to our brokenness.

There is no better expression of David closing this Psalm with the same sentence as the start. In Verse 9 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! It may be the same sentence, but the response is totally different. If at the start, David praises God because of the magnificence of the creation. But when David understands the nothingness of man and yet this God is mindful of man, there David stood in awe and wonder of this amazing grace. One thing is to know there is a big powerful God, but it is a whole another thing to know that this majestic, powerful God cares and is crazy about you. It becomes deeply and intimately personal, and that was what David experienced.

Two quick applications:

  • We can stop looking for our ‘names’ anywhere else

We are created in His image. Therefore, every single human being is infinitely precious. God cares and is mindful of each one. We know that we are not junk, nobody is. We can live a life of hope and purpose, because we learned today that despite of our weakness, God came and gives us grace. In the midst of our lacking, He comes and gives us a new name that we do not need to keep performing for. It is freely given for us. And because of that, we are strengthened and empowered to live out our God-given new name by remembering what He has done. It is already ours. Yes, we keep failing and keep messing up, but there is nothing going to change who we are. Our performance does not define us. Our struggles do not define us. We are who God says we are and our identity remains unchanged in Christ because we are created in His very image. Our ‘names’ are found in Christ.

But let me tell you, when stormy moments come, we will so quickly forget about this truth, and we will come back to the mentality of searching our significance by our own strength and performance, which will eventually ends up with more guilt and despair. That is why, there is no day we do not need the Gospel to be preached to our hearts. Our hearts are so prone to wander, we need the reminder of the Gospel every day to keep us clinging on to the finished work of Christ. Only then, we can stop finding our worth from something or someone else other than God, which will never satisfy our hearts. Preaching the gospel to our hearts is not only one-off thing when you received Christ for the very first time. How much even more we need it when we walk our Christian life! It requires a million repetition over and over again as long as we live. Only the truth and the hope of the Gospel can sustain us and enable us to finish our race well.  

Having to preach the gospel to ourselves, it will not only free us from our own trap, but it will free us to be real with our struggles and imperfection to others. Yes, we may not get our lives together. We may fail from time to time. It is OK to be not OK, it is OK to to struggle, it is OK to feel weak. In the end, as a Christians, we are not called to be a perfect people who get everything altogether. We are not defined by our strength/performance/perfection. We are made to strive in humble daily reliance and continuous dependence on Christ and His grace for us. Like Paul said in 2 Cor 12, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

  • We can love and embrace others

Being created in His image does not only change we see ourselves, but also the way we see others. Since we know that everyone is infinitely precious, nobody is junk, therefore we should respect and honour each other. The way we see them, no matter how/who they are, must be done through the eyes of Christ, because there is a reflection of God’s glory in each one of them. It is easy to relate this with major world issues like social justice and global racism, but it also answers our daily struggles in dealing with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

If we are honest enough, we know that even within the body of Christ, like in an entire RSI congregation, there are those that we feel more click with, there are also some others whom we don’t click so much. Maybe it is personality type, or interest, or age, or whatever difference it is. Just like when you have a huge family gathering, you have aunties that keeps hugging and kissing you, you have cousins that keep asking personal uncomfortable questions, those people we prefer to avoid if we can, you know? I completely relate to you. And that is so natural to us.

But at the same time, we cannot deny that the Gospel has welcomed us into one family and the Gospel is much bigger than that. It is so inclusive that even such differences cannot divide us and stop us from having a good relationship with one another. The Gospel makes it possible for us to live in unity and love each other well in our differences. It may not look like we are always talking 24/7, but that does not mean we stop talking or stop getting to know that person in the family of Christ, right? Loving one another is an impossible task for us to do on our own, until the gospel has sinked deep into our heart. Ruth Chou Simon recently posted on her Instagram, she says “If the gospel changes everything, it will first change these eyes through which we see everything: You and I are both divine image-bearers, and we must act accordingly”.

Today we learn again, how God dealt with us in our brokenness, despite of our smallness. In the same way we ought to do so with others. So I would like to encourage you today, yes relationships amongst sinners are hard! But just like our struggle with our weaknesses, our relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ is not measured by how perfect or smooth of a relationship it is, but how much Christ is being relied on, displayed and cherished through that relationship, including our differences, our imperfections, our weaknesses in them. Only from what Christ has done for us, we can draw a strength and hope outside ourselves to be able to love others and serve them well, even more so for those whom we find difficult to deal with.

Discussion questions:

  1. There is a gap between who we would like to be and who we really are that create a sense of unworthiness. Give examples of some of the things people do to fill that gap?
  2. Why is it important to start with who God is before we try to define who we are?
  3. Read Psalm 8:4. How is this verse both deconstruct our false self-image and reconstruct our true self-image?
  4. How does Jesus fulfil Psalm 8 and why we no longer need to pursue our own “names”.
  5. How does the gospel empower us to embrace those who are very different from us?

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