Today we continue our series in the life of David by looking at one of the many psalms attributed to his name. The words “A psalm of David” appear as a a superscript above our Old Testament reading this morning.
In fact, exactly half of the Psalms in the Bible are attributed to him. This great man of faith, this man with a passion for God, frequently put his feelings into poetry. The psalms provide a wonderful window into David’s heart.
Todays’ psalm, Psalm 8, may be considered David’s creation psalm. A psalm that reflects on the majesty of the natural world and mankind’s place within it.
From the very outset, Psalm 8 reminds us that this world is neither a cosmic fluke nor a chaotic accident, but the intricate Creation of an almighty God. Whatever view you take on exactly how God made the world – whatever scientific theory you subscribe to – we cannot deny the beauty, order and complexity of his universe. From the finely tuned cosmic constants – like the force of gravity – to the mystery of human minds and consciousness, this world is saturated with signs of intelligent design. This magnificent universe points beyond itself, to its magnificent Maker.
As a man of faith, David was certainly in no doubt that this amazing world was created by an awesome God. So in verse 3 our psalm David states emphatically that the Heavens are the “work of God’s fingers” – the moon and stars have been “set in place” by him.
The reminder of this psalm reminds us of our human responsibilities for the world the Lord has made. It is appropriate that we tackle this topic on Harvest Sunday, when we give thanks for the wonder of God’s creation, and for all the food God gives to nourish us.
In particular, I think today’s psalm reminds us humans that we have leadership responsibility for the world, that we have a duty of stewardship over it, and thirdly, that we are worship the God who made it.
Leadership, stewardship and worship. Let’s look at these three things in turn…
Firstly, in verses 5 and 8 of our psalm today, David tells us that God has given humans leadership responsibility over the earth. These verses tell us that humans have been given the responsibility to rule over “all flocks and herds and the beasts of the field”. And we are also responsible for “the birds of the air and the fish of the sea” and “all that swim in the paths of the sea” as well.
In short, we are to rule over everything under our feet. Psalm 8 is clear that we humans are unique, the pinnacle of his creation. We are only “a little lower than the angels” as it says in verse 5.
As God’s image bearers, we humans have been given the knowledge, power and intellect to govern his world. We are to be God’s ambassadors, his ruling representatives here on Earth. We have the permission, privilege and power to exercise responsible leadership over our world.
Humanity’s power over creation is seen in the amazing advances of science, and in the astounding modern technology that enables us to explore, engineer and enjoy the world around us. From nuclear reactors to our own home cooking and gardening, we humans have been given an amazing ability to manage and manipulate the world around us. We can cultivate crops, design computers, and send satellites into space.
These are amazing privileges, awesome rights human beings have been given by God. But with leadership comes responsibility – we are to rule the world, not wreck it! There is a huge difference between responsible rule of creation and willful neglect of it.
Theologians speak of humanity’s responsibility to exercise “stewardship” of creation. Stewardship involves sustainable living, conservation work and environmental responsibility.
There are countless practical ways in which can exercise good stewardship in our daily lives. For example:
• At home, we can do our best to recycle, reuse or renew our old or unwanted possessions.
• We can seek to adopt a simpler lifestyle, reducing our consumption of goods and services that are most damaging to the environment.
• And we may also be able to reduce our energy consumption by turning off appliances when we aren’t using them, or by installing better insulation in our homes.
Our world is a gift from God, and we are all ultimately accountable to him for how we treat it. So let’s all take our stewardship seriously, doing what we can for our environment and encouraging others to do likewise.
One third and final feature of Psalm 8 ought to capture our attention. As well as stressing our leadership responsibilities over creation, David’s psalm also includes a call to worship its Creator. Did you notice that our Psalm begins and ends with the same sentence of praise to God? Words David clearly thought worth repeating! Words of worship we too should say: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
As Christians it is our joy and privilege to praise our Creator. We should not be like those who worship nothing, who believe the world is simply a product of blind chance. Nor should we be like some New Age and pagan religions which worship the earth itself, confusing the creation with its Creator. We should joyfully praise the Lord who made heaven and earth, the same God who showed himself most fully and perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ.
So next time you take a walk in the woods, look at a beautiful landscape or tuck into a plateful of food, do give thanks and praise to the God who has graciously given them for our enjoyment!
Conclusion: Christ and creation
As I finish, I hope Psalm 8 has reminded us on this harvest morning that God has given us a beautiful world to lead and to steward. A world we should rightly worship him for.
The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us that there was one man who totally fulfilled this God-ordained role for humanity. Someone who totally fulfilled his God-given rights and responsibilities, whilst we so often fail. That man was Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Hebrews chapter 2 tells us that Jesus, above all, is the human being who is the rightful king of creation, the one person who has literally been “crowned with glory and honour” by his Father.
As Christians we should look forward to that one day when all things will be very visibly put under Christ’s feet. The day when Jesus shall reign as undisputed king of creation, when all things in heaven and earth will be ‘recycled’ and made gloriously new. The day when every knee shall bow before him.