Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Psalm 8 Study: Who Am I?
When I was a kid, I was always chosen last for the team.
Kickball. Softball. Even Red Rover. My lack of athletic ability was common knowledge. I even knew myself as “Chosen, by default.”
Occasionally though, a team captain took pity on me, sized up her team, and figured out she could take the hit. They could still win, even with me on their side. So instead of standing there til the bitter end of the choosing, I was chosen a few people earlier. Not because of me, but because my captain was strong enough to bear my weakness.
A captain like that seemed to give me a new identity. “Chosen, on purpose.”
O LORD, our Lord
We are turning this week to one of the most majestic of the Psalms. In contrast to the previous two psalms where David looks around and cries out for help, in this psalm he looks up and cries out in praise. Majesty! Glory! Strength! In fact this Lord is so strong he can take drooling babies and crawling infants onto his team and still defeat his foe. Whatever your circumstance this week, take a break from petition. Take time to look up and see your mighty Captain. It will change your prayers to praise, and change how you pray afterward.
It will also change our answer to the question, “Who am I?” I’m not just defined by my failure, my weakness, my sin. I’m defined by my Captain.
From Creation to Redemption
Not only will this Psalm give you a big picture of God, it will also give you a poetic summary of the entire Bible. In these eight verses David goes from creation to redemption to restoration. (Though this is not obvious until you see how the New Testament interprets it). And of course it is not just a poem, but a song. Try putting it to music, or singing a musical version you already know. Then it’s automatically memorized and available for meditation no matter where you find yourself.
Here are some questions to help you learn it by heart:
First read to hear the voice of David.
- What do you think inspired this song? Read Genesis 1 for background.
- David situates the LORD “above the heavens.” Put verses 1-2 in your own words, describing God’s greatness.
- David next looks “at the heavens.” How does he describe what he sees? What question does it prompt?
- Last David looks “below the heavens.” How does he account for man’s “glory” in creation?
- How does the last verse provide a fitting end to the psalm? What if there had been no verse 8?
Second read to hear the voice of Jesus.
- How did Jesus understand and apply Psalm 8:1-2? See Matthew 11:25 for verse 1 and Matthew 21:14-16 for verse 2.
- How would Jesus have understood verses 3-4? Imagine him looking at the stars, thinking about the majesty of the Father, and how he showed his care for man.
- How did the author of Hebrews interpret verses 4-5? See Hebrews 2:6-9 and Philippians 2:5-8. Do you think Jesus might have explained this psalm to his disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection?
- How might Jesus have understood verse 8? See Philippians 2:9-11.
Third read to hear your own voice.
- How do your enemies and your weakness look in light of verses 1-2?
- Try to look at the stars at least once this week. How does this aspect of creation both dwarf you and make you feel loved?
- What area of your life feels out of control? How can this psalm encourage you to exercise your God-given dominion instead of giving up or becoming a “control freak”?
- The Jews saw this as a creation psalm. The early church used it as a redemption psalm. Use Hebrews 2:5-11 to meditate on how Jesus came down to bring us up. Let it fill your mind and heart with wonder.
Remember these questions are meant to serve as tools. If you have a hard week and can’t answer them all, just keep reading the Psalm and thinking about it. God will speak to you from his word. Respond to him as he prompts you.
Have a good week. Look to your Captain help you know yourself.