David is not having an Identity Crisis when he asks “What is Man?”
Dr. John Whitcomb said, “The 2nd leading group in America to commit suicide is university students who are searching for answers and can’t find them in secular humanism. The 1st group is psychologists who think they have the answers and do not.”
How would you answer the question, “What is man?” or “Who am I?” I am a failure,” “I am rejected,” “I am the greatest.”
David is not having an identity crisis but a worship experience! Psalm 8 is a burst of praise for who God is and what He thinks of you and me. “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1 and 9).
God is our LORD or Redeemer. God is also our Lord or Ruler. Psalm 8 does not begin and end with man, defining him. Psalm 8 begins and ends with God. Psalm 8 is not anthropology or psychology but theology. Psalm 8 is a hymn of praise to God who has redeemed us and rules over us.
We must answer the question “Who am I?” in light of “Who is God?”
1. Who Am I? I am the Focus of God’s Concern (8:1-2)
A. God is infinitely above me in 8:1. David praises God for His glory that is above the heavens. In Psalm 113:4-6, God in His greatness is above the universe like a scientist crouched over his microscope observing the universe as small drop of water.
“The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwells on high. Who humbles himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth.”
Psalm 113:7-9 leads to our next point that God is not only infinitely above us, but He is intimately involved with us: “He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes even with the princes of his people. He makes the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise you the Lord.”
B. God is intimately involved with me (8:2). God, who is atop the universe uses the weakest and frailest of human beings, infants, to silence His enemies. Christ quoted this verse to his enemies, the religious leaders, who were upset that children were praising Him as their Messiah on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:16). With this verse, He silenced them.
Another infant was born, Jesus Christ, who totally frustrated and defeated God’s enemy, Satan.
You might be saying, “God could never use me. I am too poor, too ignorant, too socially retarded.” According to 1st Cor. 1:26-29, you are the perfect candidate for God to use.
2. Who Am I? I am the Climax of God’s Creation (8:3-5a)
A. The universe reveals God’s greatness (8:3)
Charles H. Spurgeon called Psalm 8, “The song of the astronomer.” David while tending his sheep at night could see 3 to 4 thousand stars with his unaided eyes and was breathe taken at God greatness.
The astronomer’s modern giant telescopes have made some amazing discoveries since 1920. In our universe,the Milky Way, there are 100 billion stars. And then beyond our universe are billions of universes, each with 100 billion stars.
All of this, David said, was “the work of God’s fingers.” John Wesley said, “God created the heavens and the earth and did not half try.”
B. The universe reveals man’s smallness (8:4a)
“What is man?” Man is an infinitesimal speck in space in comparison to the measureless universe. According to Psalm 144:3-4, man is a microscopic dot on the timeline of eternity. I know timeline is a contradiction to eternity.
Job asked, “What is man?” in frustration in 7:17-21 against God, whom Jobs thinks is making a big fuss over nothing in his life: “What is man, that you should magnify him? And that you should set your heart upon him? And that you should visit him every morning and try him every moment? How long will you not depart from me, or let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? I have sinned; what shall I do unto you, O you preserver of men? Why have you set me as a mark against you, so that I am a burden to myself? And why do you not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? For now shall I sleep in the dust; and you shall seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.”
Job in essence said, “I am under your magnifying glass. I can’t move without your notice and punishment. When I wake up, there you are. I can’t even swallow my spit without you micromanaging me. You have placed a bull eyes on my back. If I have sinned, forgive me and let’s move on. What is man to you? Why all the fuss?
C. The universe reveals God’s grace (8:4b-5)
1. When God is “mindful” of this infinitesimal atom in God’s universe and chooses him for Himself (Ephesians 1:3-4).
2. When God “visits” weak, frail, and mortal man. God not only chooses us but He cares for us.
3. When God made man in His image in order to fellowship with him. Psalm 8:5 states this truth two different ways. First, when David writes that God created man “a little lower than the angels.”
Here is how James Montgomery Boice explains the first truth: “The most interesting aspect of Psalm 8 is the way in which it places man in what has been called ‘a mediation position’ in the universe. Thomas Aquinas was one of the first to stress this, saying that Psalm 8 places man midway between the angels, which are above him, and the beasts, which are below. Man is a spirit/body being, according to Aquinas. Angels have spirits but no bodies. Animals have bodies but no spirits. Man, however, has both a spirit and a body and so comes between” (Psalms, Vol 1, Psalms 1-41. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994, 70). We know by this description from David that David was not an atheistic evolutionist or he would have written that man was created “a little higher than the animals.”
Secondly, not only does God have “glory” that is above the universe in 8:1 but God crowned man with His glory. Both of these statements equal the statement in Genesis one that God created man in His image. As great as the universe is, God did not make stars in His image. As measureless as the universe is, Christ did not die for planets, He died for you and me. God doesn’t desire fellowship with galaxies. We alone in God’s vast universe are made in His image and have the potential and privilege to fellowship with God.
3. Who am I? I am the recipient of God’s crown (8:6-8)
A. God created man to rule the earth.
In Psalm 8:6-8, David quotes Genesis 1:26-28 which is a reference to Adam before the Fall into sin. God crowned man with “glory and honor” which are attributes of a king. When Adam sinned, he was dethroned. Today man is not a ruler, he is a rebel. Man is not the sovereign God intended for him to be, man is a sinner. Today, man temporarily is not realizing Psalm 8.
B. Because of the fall of the first Adam into sin, God sent the Last Adam, Jesus Christ.
The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, has regained all that the first Adam lost in the Fall. God intended the first Adam to reign and but he rebelled and lost his control and reign. The New Testament quotes Psalm 8:6-8 and applies it to Christ. “You have put all things in subjection under his feet….But now we see not yet all things put under his feet” (Hebrews 2:8). “In reality Christ is at the right hand of the Father and everything has been subjected under his feet, but the full exercise of that power will not be evident until his return” (Harold W. Hoehner. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002, 284).
1. Even while on earth Christ ruled the fish: a school of fish (John 21:6), a single fish (Matthew 17:27). Christ ruled the beasts: an unbroken colt (Matthew 21:2). Christ ruled the fowl (Luke 22:34). Additionally, Christ cast out demons, healed the sick, and walked on water. All of these were Old Testament prerogatives of the predicted Messiah.
2. Today, Paul says in Ephesians 1:22 that God “has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” An example of Christ reigning today is in Colossians 1:13. Every time a sinner is converted God delivers that sinner from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son over which Christ reigns.
3. The full exercise of Christ’s power and reign will happen in the future at His second coming according to 1 Corinthians 15:24-27 where Psalm 8 is quoted again. “Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he has put all things under his feet.”
Michael Moore, film director of Fahrenheit 9/11, quotes Jesus who said, “Love your enemies” to defend his position that we should not attack terrorist nations. In Revelation 19, when 1 Corinthians 15:24-27 will be fulfilled, Jesus will destroy His enemies with the sword of His mouth. We are to love our enemies. But God has said, “You shall not murder innocent people.” The penalty for murder is capital punishment. God is a God of love but He is also a God of justice. In the OT if an intruder is trying to break into your house at night you can take his life in defense your life and your family’s life because life is sacred. On 9/11, the terrorists invaded our house and we must defend ourselves and our families against future invasion.
4. Because of Jesus’ death we can reign with Him. Jesus in His incarnation was made a little lower than the angels according to Hebrews 2:9. Jesus did not become an angel in His incarnation because angels don’t die and they are spirit beings. Jesus in His incarnation became man, who does die because he has physical body, “for the suffering of death.”
On the cross, Jesus was “crowned with glory (Hebrews 2:9).” For six hours the cross was Jesus’ throne. He was ruling and reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords, conquering Death, Hell, and the Grave. Because He lives, we live. Because He reigned we shall reign with Him. Because He was crowned with “glory” on the cross in Hebrews 2:9 we shall enter the “glory” of the millennium (Hebrews 2:10) and reign with Him and finally realize Psalm 8 and God’s original purpose for us.
Revelation 1:5-6 states the same blessed truth: “From Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
This is the same place Psalm 8 ends in verse 9: “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth.” We should praise the Lord because we are the focus of His concern, the climax of His creation, and the recipient of His crown.