A friend fired from his job faces months of unemployment. The pastor of a small church feels ineffective because his church isn’t growing as fast as others in his community. A woman in a nursing home feels depressed because she is unable to care for herself. A teenager with divorced parents and few friends feels unloved and unappreciated.
Like these people, do you ever feel unnoticed, unappreciated, and insignificant? Do you wonder if God even notices you?
Centuries ago King David felt the same way. Staring at the stars that pierced the darkness over the Judean hills, David—the man after God’s own heart—wondered how the Creator of the universe had it in His heart to care about him at all (Ps. 8:4).
In Psalm 8 we see his thought process. While we humans seem insignificant, we are actually quite the opposite. We are as sublime as the stars, and then some! We are as majestic as the moon and Mars, and then some!
At first glance the psalm appears strange with its mixed bag of images. The Lord, the heavens, the earth, babies, enemies, humans, animals, birds, and fish all appear. How do they tie together?
1 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
David’s opening statement reminds us that God’s name refers to His character; therefore wherever we look we see God’s majestic character. When he added, “You have set your glory above the heavens,” he affirmed that the mind-boggling immensity of the universe is slight in contrast with God’s grandeur. The glory of God the Creator obviously exceeds the glory of His vast creation.
2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
The word “praise” in verse 2 literally means “strength.” Here David moves from the greatest to the weakest, from the infinity of the heavens to the infancy of humans. After Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He healed people in the temple area, and children who saw these miracles praised Him, shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matt. 21:15). The religious leaders were indignant that children would be so disruptive. But Jesus responded by quoting Psalm 8:2. Why did He say that children “have ordained praise” (v. 16), not “have ordained strength”? Answer: When children praise the Lord, it is a great show of strength against God’s enemies. Little children who simply love and trust the Lord put scoffers to shame.
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 man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
In verses 3–4 David contemplated the constellations and planets, all of which are the work of God’s skillful fingers, and he stood amazed that the Almighty would be “mindful” of people. That is, David was stunned that God would remember people and be concerned about them.
We too may stagger at the thought of God’s love when we consider that, with the unaided eye, we can see about two thousand stars on a cloudless night. But the Milky Way includes 200 billion stars—and that’s only one of perhaps a billion galaxies! Astronomers estimate that the skies are studded with one sextillion stars, which is the figure one followed by twenty-one zeroes. Traveling at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, light takes eight minutes to reach the earth from the sun, forty-five years to reach the earth from the North Star, and 100,000 years to cross the Milky Way. With such incredible vastness and staggering dimensions, is it any wonder that we sometimes feel like mere specks in the universe?
5 You made him a little lower
than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your
hands; you put everything under his feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
The psalmist doesn’t end there, however. By contrast, verses 5–8 speak of humankind’s amazing importance in God’s scheme of things. Created beings like the angels, we stand only one rank below them. In fact God “crowned him [each human] with glory and honor.” Insignificant in one sense, but highly important in another. We, not angels, are the apex of God’s creation, the pinnacle of His creative genius.
One evidence of human dominion is that God “made him ruler” over His creation. He placed everything “under his feet,” including all of animate creation. Zoos, circuses, and aquariums all give testimony to the fact that “flocks and herds” (domestic animals), “beasts of the field” (wild animals), birds, and fish are all under our keep.
Yet our dominion is limited. Our rule is thwarted by sin, and our grandeur is tainted by our rebellion. That’s why the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him,” that is, to humanity (Heb. 2:8). However, we do “see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor” (v. 9). Made lower than the angels in His incarnation, Jesus is now seated in heaven’s glory as the Lord of creation. He now represents the glory that redeemed humans will experience in the millennium as “ruler over the works of [God’s] hands” (Ps. 8:6).
9 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your
name in all the earth!
No wonder then that David concludes Psalm 8 with the same words with which he opened the psalm. Echoing verse 1, verse 9 returns us to God’s majesty as seen in the size of the universe and the significance of the human race. While we are insignificant in contrast with God’s inanimate creation (vv. 3–4), we are highly significant in comparison with His animate creation (vv. 5–8). From that which is little, God reveals much glory.
Do you feel neglected and unimportant? Are you disturbed by your lack of a job? Or the lack of impact in your ministry? Or the absence of friends? When you feel unappreciated and insignificant, consider that you, the crown of God’s creation, are the fond object of His love and care.
So great is His love for you that He gave His Son to die on the cross. Look at the sky, and sense God’s greatness. Look at the Cross, and see God’s grace.
Dr. Roy Zuck (ThM, 1957; ThD, 1961) is editor of Dallas Seminary’s quarterly theological journal, Bibliotheca Sacra, and copy and theological editor for Kindred Spirit. He served on Dallas’s faculty for twenty-three years, including eight years as vice-president for academic affairs.