The Gospel for Real Life

Songs

Christ in Psalms – 8

David sings praise to God because of His creative work and His interaction with His creatures – specifically human beings.  David reveals who He is praising.  He is praising the LORD, Yahweh, the God who redeems people.  The Redeemer is majestic.  Then he calls God, “our Lord.”  You’ll notice in your Bibles that this word, “Lord” is not all capitalized.  That is because it is a different word in the Hebrew text.  It is the word, “Adonai.”  Adonai is more of a title meaning “Master.”  This means that this powerful Creator is the Redeemer and the Master!  Notice that David does not just say, “Oh LORD, Lord, how majestic.”  David says, “our Lord.”  When those two Hebrew words are put together, it’s a formal address to the King.  Therefore, David is saying that the Redeemer is also the King.  In addition, David calls Yahweh majestic.  The term majestic is a royal attribute that means mighty.  Majestic seems to have connotations of awe in association to one’s revealed strength.  God truly defines the word majestic.  His strength made the stars, the galaxies, the earth.  And, His glory (i.e. – “name”) is majestic all over the earth.  Because of these truths, David desires to praise the Lord.

The second half of verse one further expands on the truth of God’s kingship.  David says that God has set his glory above the heavens and also revealed in all of creation.  What a beautiful picture that is!  If people saw perfectly, their eyes of faith would constantly be pointed upwards to the majestic God.

In a somewhat similar fashion to the original creation story, David moves from the broad creation to the pinnacle of creation – human beings.  Over the last several weeks, we’ve been learning about the fallenness of human beings and the difficulty that even the Psalmist has faced, and in this Psalm David directs his focus to the intent of God to silence the enemy.  Sin was not a part of garden of Eden to begin with.  Since God is still involved in this world, He is very gracious with it, and His goal is to silence the enemy.  This is going to happen someday.  We’ve read the previous Psalms which point to that glorious return of Jesus when wickedness will be wiped away.  And that is a glorious thought for the believer, but what about today?  How can we be confident today that God will wipe away sin?  Obviously God has promised it; therefore, it will happen.  But, God has displayed the glory of this promise by revealing it on this earth.  Let’s look at verse 2: “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.”[1]  What does David see as a sign of God’s faithfulness to put an end to wickedness?  Answer: The strength of future generations.  This word for “strength” has the sense of being a bulwark and also carries with it connotations of praise.  Instead of God wiping the earth completely clean, God continues to bring children into this world – revealing to us that He is working to complete His plan.

In the amazing rule and plan of God, we see the enormous and very small objects that God cares for.  David again meditates on this amazing rule of God in the heavens and declares that the heavens are the work of God’s fingers.  These huge stars in space are merely the work of His fingers – indicating the vastness of God.  It is no wonder that David quickly moves to say, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him” (v. 4).

Even the wording in verse four is very important.  David uses two phrases to describe humanity.  He says “man” and then “son of man.”  Remember, David has been meditating on the fallenness of humanity.  Psalm 8 is redirecting back to Psalm 1 and the intent of humanity.  The word “man” is a poetic word for human beings in their frail existence (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 140).  The phrase “son of man” is a special phrase that refers to man’s relationship to God Himself.  As one commentator put it, “Humans are by nature ‘earthlings,’ and yet they are the particular objects of God’s attention” (TEBC, p. 140).  If we go back to the beginning of God’s creation, before Adam and Eve sinned, why would God pay so close attention to them?  He did not need them.  He enjoyed perfect community within Himself in the Trinity for all eternity.  God’s relationship to humans provide a unique privilege.  Yet, as we’ll see in future psalms, the word “man” and “son of man” are used to display that humans have become corrupt, failing in following through on God’s mandates towards them (11:5, 14:3); however, God, in His abundant grace, is still mindful – meaning that he remembers humans.  He thinks on humans.  He “visits” or “cares for” us.  Instead of visiting Adam and Eve with judgment.  He visited them by clothing them.  Instead of visiting the human race with only wrath, He visited humanity on this earth and absorbed the wrath of God in our place.  He is continually concerned for humanity – even sinful humanity!

While human beings are broken, they still displayed a semblance of the image of God.  That image has been granted to them by God and verses 5-8 reveal this truth.  Sadly, humans tend to go to one of two extremes.  I remember reading a theology book that talked about human beings natural tendency to either think too highly or too low of themselves.  This verse makes two things clear.

  1. We are not God.  This verse says that humans have been set a little lower than “the heavenly beings.”  This could be an accurate translation of the Hebrew; however, the Hebrew word is “Elohim.”  This is also the word for “God.”  This word is used of God at the beginning of Genesis and I think in the context of this Psalm, “God” might be a better translation of this word.  We are a “little lower” than God.  This phrase “little lower” actually means to be deprived of something.  It’s not simply that we’re just a little bit under God, but it’s that we lack divinity!  That’s significant.
  2. This psalm also teaches us that we are also not animals.  All animals are under our domain.  We are not called to be violent for violence sake.  We are to use animals in such a way that displays God’s glory.  Animals help us with farming, food, companionship, and many other things.  Yet, we are over the animals.

This psalm sets things straight.  God has crowned mankind with glory and honor.  To crown is to set apart and elevate something.  The King of Creation has crowned humanity to be His Ambassadors, and we need to recognize that human beings even in their fallen state (not seeking His glory) are still crowned with some semblance of glory and honor.  They are fallen image bearers, but they are image bearers nonetheless, and they are tasked by God to fulfill the qualifications of one who is crowned by God.

What does all of this have to do with Jesus?

We’ve seen that God’s blueprint for humanity is being torn to shreds by human beings – including our own selves.  As I mentioned a moment ago, Jesus entered into the human scene.  He became a human being to visit this earth in order to fulfill and be the representative for human beings.  In order to get a fuller understanding of this psalm, let’s look at how the New Testament authors quote this psalm.

15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?”

And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read,

‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants

You have perfected praise’?

17 Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there. [2]

The Word of God was being fulfilled when Jesus was walking into Jerusalem in triumph.  Jesus’ enemies were indignant at what was taking place and yet Jesus says that the children are right in praising Him.  The children, the weak and the vulnerable, are ones who are rejoicing in the culmination of Yahweh’s rescue plan.  The chief priests and scribes, on the other hand, are proving themselves to be the enemy.  When we see these verses from a saving perspective we see all the more clearly that those who are dependent like children on the Lord find a sure refuge (Matt. 18:3).  When God’s children call out on the Lord, it also shames the enemy.

One more passage in the New Testament we must mention:

5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying:

“What is man that You are mindful of him,

        Or the son of man that You take care of him?

7      You have made him a little lower than the angels;

        You have crowned him with glory and honor,

        And set him over the works of Your hands.

8      You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. [3]

While Psalm 8 is a passage for us as humans, telling us how we ought to be and act, we know we’ve failed.  Hebrews 2 reveals to us that Jesus stepped into the cesspool of humanity and became the representative of humanity.  Philippians 2 says that Jesus humbled himself and became a human being.  And, God the Father was very mindful of Jesus.  Jesus, the Son of Man, was taken care of by God.  Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for a time, and according to verse 9 he was crowned with glory and honor because of his suffering death.  Upon His resurrection, Jesus was vindicated as the Messiah and He rules and reigns today as the Risen Lord of all – everything being subjected to Him.  He, tasting death for everyone, provides life to all who come to Him in faith.  Therefore, God is not only majestic in creation, but He is majestic in salvation!

Jesus fulfills the blueprint of humanity.  And, He is the representative of all who call out to Him!  Won’t you call out to Him?  He’s ruling over all, revealing His glory.  Jesus has appeared.  He is the perfect Mediator!  He relates to the human race and is God!  Meditate on His glorious splendor.


[1] The New King James Version. 1982 (Ps 8:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The New King James Version. 1982 (Mt 21:15–17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] The New King James Version. 1982 (Heb 2:5–9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


Just because you know your books of the Bible. . . .

Watch all the way to the end.  Pretty humorous!


It Is Not Death To Die

Over the past couple months, I’ve been hit with the reality of death because of the sudden nature of it in a couple of friend’s lives (read another post here). I’ve cried and my heart has ached for those who are left in the trenches of this earth while a family member has been taken away.

Questions like: “Why?!” or “God, couldn’t You have done things another way?” have come to my mind.  I realize that death is a part of the fall, and it causes me to ponder.  I also want to follow through on the challenge from James 1:3 to ensure that joy, in all of its fullness, is coming along side of me – even in the darker moments of life.

There are a few things that I am learning: a) death is an obvious picture of the reality and consequences of humanity’s fall into sin and b) the hope we can have in the Savior even in the face of death.  Here are a few ways in which I see a picture of humanity’s fall into sin in the face of death.

  1. It takes over – without warning.  The fall into death through sin was the same.  We know that there was process into buying into the lie of Satan, but when sin was actually committed – experiencing the taste of spiritual death – Adam and Eve were taken by surprise by the extent of what “death” meant.
  2. It takes away potential joy.  If you have lost someone you love, you realize that you now no longer have moments with them to look forward to.  The same with sin.  Sin cost humanity real, deep and abiding joy.
  3. It is painful.  Many times, death is a painful process for the person who died.  Some are graced with simply falling asleep.  Others experience much pain.  With sin, it was (and still is) a painful death.
  4. It has the power to be destructive in other’s lives.  The death of a loved one is a trial, and like all trials, we can be tempted to give up and give in (Jas. 1:12-18).  Unfortunately, families have broken because of loved one who have died.  With sin, it has a destructive nature,  working to cause people to give up and die in their relationship with God – as happened with Adam.
  5. It can produce fear and anxiety.  This relates to the previous point.  When someone dies, we can become fearful in a myriad of ways – thinking someone else will die, thinking we cannot make it through, thinking God cannot be trusted.  As a result, we do not seek to get involved in people’s lives, but instead we hide, in our fig leaves, from God and from each other.
All of these parallels can help remind us that sin is serious, and death is unforgiving, but there is hope that the Christian has even in the midst of death.  Don’t miss this inexpressible joy that is promised in the next few sentences.  Jesus conquered death – the consequence of humanity’s fall into sin through Adam.  “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. . . . When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting'” (1 Cor. 15:20-22, 54-55).  The reality is that Jesus conquered death.  Even though we still experience physical dying in this fallen world, Jesus is making all things new so that we will be resurrected like Him with imperishable bodies.  It is Jesus who has taken away the sting.  Although we sorrow, we sorrow not as those without hope (1 Thess. 4:13).  We can cast our anxieties at God’s throne because He really does care for us (1 Pet. 5:7).  It is because of Jesus that we are offered joy in Him in the midst of painful tragedy of the loss of a loved one (Jas. 1:2).  It is Jesus who grants eternal life to those who trust in Him so that people can say, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).  In the end, believers, while still experiencing sadness because of the reality of the fall, can also experience great hope because of the reality of Jesus’ death, resurrection and second coming!

Therefore, in humility, sadness and confident hope, believers can say, like the hymn below, “It is not death to die.  Jesus has conquered the grave!”

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears

(Chorus) O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI) Original words by Henri Malan (1787–1864). Translated by George Bethune (1847). Music, chorus, and alternate words by Bob Kauflin


Linger, Linger, Linger

Thank you, Tim Challies, for sharing this.  This is a wonderful reminder.  Oh Lord, help us all to meditate deeply on the wonders of Your sacrificial, steadfast love!

—————————————–

In order for Jesus to suffer and die,
He had to plan way ahead of time
because he couldn’t die.

Immortal, He didn’t have a body
And yet he wanted to die.
For you.

So, He planned the whole thing
by clothing himself with a body,
so that He could get hungry
and get weary
and have sore feet.

The incarnation of Jesus is the preparation
of nerve endings
for the nails,
the preparation of a brow
or thorns pressed through.

He needed to have a broad back
so that there was a place
for the whips.

He needed to have feet
so that there was a place
for spikes.

He needed to have a side
so that there was a place
for the sword to go in.

He needed to have fleshy cheeks
so that Judas would have a place to kiss
and there would be a place for the spit
to run down that the soldiers put on him.

He needed a brain and a spinal column
with no vinegar and no gall,
so that the exquisiteness of the pain
could be fully felt.

So I plead with you, when you’re reading the Bible and you read texts like: “He loved you and gave himself for you,” you wouldn’t go too fast over it. Linger, linger, linger, and plead with Jesus that your eyes would be opened.

The full blog post can be viewed here: http://www.challies.com/quotes/linger-linger-linger#


One of My Favorite Hymns

This is one of my favorite hymns.  The truths keep building on each other to encourage believers and display the glory of God.