O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at 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,
and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
There are two ways to approach this sermon series on Advent. Last week Pastor Dave covered a wide array of passages from the prophets to help you see how they foretold the coming of Christ. The same could be done with the Psalms. The New Testament writers are frequently quoting from the book of Psalms. The Psalms are used to establish Jesus’ suffering, to prove his messianic claims, the show his priestly ministry, to point towards him being the Son of Man, and to tell of the coming judgement. The authors of the Psalms longed to see the day in which salvation and redemption would come. We can see that now through the incarnation of Jesus, the crucifixion he suffered, the resurrection he promised, and his ascension into heaven.
So we could cross through a litany of passages in the Psalms and see how they point to Christ. That would be going wide. I have chosen to go deep. We are going to drill down into one passage. We will spend our time in Psalm 8 and see how it points to Jesus and his incarnation.
The beginnings of this sermon will not feel like an Advent sermon, but stick with it. We will be winding up a wooded trail where the view may be blocked, but we will end at the vast overlook of the glory of Jesus Christ. As we work through Psalm 8 this morning, we will see how it lays a foundation for the incarnation of Jesus Christ that will hopefully give you greater affection and delight in the incarnation as you sit under the glory of it. Just as the shepherds sat under the glory of the Lord as a host of angels sang praises to God.
In Hebrews 2:1 we are told to pay close attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. We are in danger of being so familiar with Advent and the incarnation that our minds will drift away from it. Neglect of thinking will lead to a wayward heart that will forget the majestic truths of God. Let’s be like Mary and ponder these truths in our heart. Proper, God-exalting feelings find their roots in powerful, God-revealed truths. So let’s think and ponder majestic truths this morning, so that we would revel in the glory of the incarnation of Jesus.
That is what Psalm 8 does and that is what we are going to think about this morning. Pay close attention as we work through five things that I aim to draw your attention to. There is massive glory here. There is Advent fuel here to make your heart burn with delight in Jesus.
1. God has displayed his majesty in his creation.
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Verse one begins by using the word “Lord” twice. The first time it is used it is in all capital letters. The second time it is used it is not. The first LORD, means Jehovah. This is Israel’s personal name for God. This Psalm was written by David, king of Israel, and written as a song for the nation of Israel to sing in worship to God. It is a name that points to the covenant God made with Israel. This name reveals the glory of God in his works of creation, revelation, and redemption.
The second time Lord is used, you can see that it just has one capital letter, “L”. This name for God refers to him as king, governor and ruler over his creation. We have two names for one God. We don’t serve two gods, but one God who has kingship over not only Israel, but all nations. David starts this song by saying O LORD, our King, who made all things and gave his promises to our people, our Ruler, you reign over all things you created. You own it all. You rule over it all. How majestic is your name over all your creation!
The word “majestic” is a royal, kingly attribute. How great, how excellent, how noble is the name of God. This song is calling worshipers to come before God in specific ways. God has revealed himself to us not as just some vague idea or warm feeling. The names of God are not like wafting, changing clouds drifting across the sky. The names of God are like giant, sturdy redwood trees, with roots sunk deep into the earth, which you can bank your life on.
This Majestic, Creator, Redeeming King has set his glory across the expanse of the heavens. The earth has 196.9 million square miles of surface. The volume of the earth is 260 billion cubic miles. The highest place is Mount Everest at 29,028 feet and the lowest point is Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench at 36,200 feet.
God has set his glory in all of this. There is not a square inch of the earth that doesn’t somehow show us his glory. All of creation reflects the glory of God.
You reflect this in small ways in your home. What do you have hanging on your walls, or set on your bookshelves? You hang pictures on your wall of your family. You have pictures of nature that are pleasing to look at. You have Scripture verses or decorations or pottery or flowers or chalk art that point people in your home to glory and beauty.
These are a reflection of what God has done in creation. He hung billions of stars in the sky. I hang a few Christmas lights up on my house. He spoke a fireball into being that is 10 million degrees at the surface and 27 million degrees at its core. We light a few candles. He paints dancing northern lights across the sky and gives us flaming orange and red leaves to marvel at. We put up pictures and paintings of them on our walls. He gives us snow in October to enjoy and bitterly cold temperatures in January. He gives us spring showers, summer thunderstorms and thick July humidity to sweat in. All of it should cause our hearts to say, O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
God has displayed his majesty in all of creation! At Advent, what a gift this is to remember we have been given!
2. God has chosen the weak to overcome the evil.
Looking outward at God’s creation is not where we are to stop in seeing his majesty and glory. David has us now look inward and consider who we are, after he has shown us who God is. Look at verses 3 and 4. “When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
David is saying, “God how awesome and majestic you are. Who am I in comparison to that? Why would you every consider me. I am small. You are great.” Psalm 144 describes us as being like a breath or a passing shadow. Job asks God, “What is man that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him? (Job 7:17).” Why would God care for us?
Well the reality is that he does care for us. The God of greatness cares for a people of smallness. Because God is great, it does not mean he is remote. He is not far off. Think about Noah and his family inside the ark after the flood. There is 196.9 million square miles of this world covered in water. Noah and his family are but a speck amidst that flood. And yet, God sees them, remembers them, and provides for them.
Verse two says, “Out of the mouths of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” This is referring to Israel. They were a small, weak nation in comparison to the greater and larger nations around them. God chose them as his people to establish his covenant with them. God revealed himself and his laws through the tiny, weak, small nation of Israel. God chooses the weak to overcome the strong. He did not choose a strong and large nation. The God of greatness chose a people of smallness.
David writes in verse two that God has established strength to overcome his enemies. The word “strength” here means the strength God shows through the praise of his people. Jesus quotes this verse in Matthew 21:16 saying, “Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise.” God has ordained that the voices of his weak, small, frail people are the way in which he makes his enemies be silent. Psalm 8 and the other psalms are meant to be sung by the weak people of God to stop the advancement of sin and God’s enemies. Let that sink in.
For us Grace, when we gather and sing, we are actually doing battle against sin and Satan. There is glory in this that we can’t fully understand. When you come to gather on Sunday morning with the people of God, ask God to tune your heart in this way. Ask God to beat back sin in your heart and to help you see his majesty through your singing. Swing the sword of song with all your might and praise God’s majestic name! Silence Satan with songs on your lips that flow from a heart that revels in the majesty of God. Sing! It ought not be just words coming out of your mouth. It is a battle cry. May we as a church become a people who, when unbelievers or visitors or new people come in, look at our singing and say, “I want what they have.” In a dark world of sin, may we be a shining outpost of praise to God. So sing Grace. Sing your guts out! Sing your heart out! Swing the sword of song. Because the God of greatness has prepared his people of smallness to offer up praise as a way to defeat sin and Satan.
Martin Luther said, “I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Music drives away the Devil and makes people joyful; they forget thereby all wrath, unchastity (sexual sin), and the like. Next, after theology, I give music the highest place and the greatest honor.”
So don’t be a crank! Do battle with songs of praise. We have 150 of them given to us in this book. At Advent, what a gift this is to remember we have been given! In your weakness, with all your heart, lift your voice in praise to God. God has chosen the weak to overcome the evil. Use your phone, with all the rich music at your fingertips, to create a sharp sword to do battle against the evil one.
3. God has given humans dominion over the world.
God is majestic. We are small. Yet God is mindful of us and cares for us. In addition to this, he has given us dominion over what he has created. What a gift! We have talked about how God has set his creation on display for us to see and praise him over. God didn’t stop there. He didn’t say, you can look but you can’t touch. He created a world full of his glory and then gives us stewardship over it. He spoke it into existence and gives it to us to manage, to shape, to use, and to enjoy.
Look at verses 5-8. “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea.”
We have received a crown of glory and honor as dominion- bearers of his creation. God, the King of all creation, has given us the gift of ruling that creation. Adam and Eve were given this crown before they sinned and it was not removed from them after they sinned. God has delegated power to us to exercise control over his creation.
God did the original work with his fingers by creating the world, and now we are called to continue on in that work with our hands. He spoke. We steward. He set his glory in the heavens and the earth, and then set his dominion of it into our hands. We are entrusted with glory.
For the kids, do any of you have pets that you are responsible for taking care of at home? When you take the responsibility of feeding them, giving them water, and taking care of them, you are showing dominion over what God has created. You are doing something glorious and honorable! God has given you a great gift in taking care of his creation.
God created 196.9 million square miles of earth. I own a half acre lot in my town. God has entrusted 0.000078 of his creation to me. God created a planet that now has 7.5 billion people in it. He has entrusted you with a few of them to love and care for. As elders, he has entrusted us to shepherd the one hundred adults at Grace Church, and 5,000 children (or so it seems). Glory! When you enjoy a ham this Christmas at dinner, you are living out the glory and honor given as a human being showing dominion over God’s creation of animals for our enjoyment.
Verse 9 finishes this song with a right, repeated response that we ought to have to all this. “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
We have seen so far that God has displayed his majesty in creation. A gift. He has chosen the weak to overcome the evil. A gift. And he has given people dominion over the world he created. A gift.
4. Our dominion crown is a fragile crown.
This crown of dominion that we bear, though glorious and honorable, is still one we bear as sinful humans. We exercise dominion in a pain-filled, evil-loving, virus-infected, disaster-shattering world.
We parent out of anger and frustration. We grumble and complain in our work. We have fear and anxiety over our financial situations. We fret about whether we are safe or about what is to come in the future. We bear a glorious, yet fragile crown of dominion. We can feel dominated rather than being dominion-bearers.
The next six psalms after Psalm 8 shows the despair of humans. Nations sink into pits that they made themselves. God rebukes the nations and blots them out. Cities are uprooted. People are judged. The wicked boast of the desire of their souls. Those greedy for gain curse and renounce God. They say there is no God! People utter lies to their neighbors and speak with flattering lips and double hearts. The poor are plundered. All people have turned away from God. This is what we see in Psalms 9-14.
What are we to make of this? Let’s turn now to Hebrews 2:6-8. “It has been testified somewhere, ‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Does this sound familiar. The writer of Hebrews is quoting Psalm 8.
In verse 9 he says, “Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” The writer brings up the same question we are wrestling with here. That is, God has given us dominion over creation, but it doesn’t feel like we are. The world looks like it’s a wreck and we have no control over it.
Our dominion over this world is not yet complete. The curse that God placed on this world as a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God, has created this frail crown of glory that we now wear. We see the echoes of that first sin everywhere in creation. There’s pain in child bearing (Gen. 3:15). There’s frustration and emptiness in your work (Gen. 3:17-19).
Look around you. We see creation waiting with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. We see a creation subjected to futility. All of creation is groaning with hurricanes and tornadoes and floods and drought. Our bodies groan with cancer and dementia and diabetes and arthritis and Parkinson’s disease. Our soul’s groan with despair and sadness and longings that this world can’t satisfy.
With our frail crown of dominion we get rocked by earthquakes and tsunamis. Our lives are strained with splintered relationships and marriage problems and personal shortcomings even when we try to do our dead level best. Underneath the frail crown of our dominion, our cheeks shed tears as we groan and wait for our adoption to be complete as sons and daughters of God. We wait for our broken, decaying bodies to experience redemption.
We have been given the gift of creation. We have been given the gift of overcoming sin and Satan through the weakness of our praise to God. We have been given the gift of frail dominion in this world. Now, let us look away from this frail crown of dominion, and look to Jesus.
5. Jesus’ dominion crown is an unshakeable crown.
Verse 9 says, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
We are coming up to the overlook of glory now. Jesus left heaven, took on a human body in the incarnation, condescended to us, made himself lower than the angels, and dwelt with us in this frail, sin-stained, groaning world that we find ourselves trying to have dominion in.
Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th’ incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel
Jesus condescended to us so much, that not only did he come as a man, in a man’s body, he came in the form of an infant, laid in a manger. As we saw in Psalm 8, God had chosen the frail and small nation of Israel, to establish his strength and majesty. Out of this baby’s mouth, Israel, God revealed his glory. In the same way, God the Father, sent God the son into the world, as a baby, to show his glory and might and plan for rescuing people from their sins, and restoring to them a crown of glorious dominion. The infant Jesus would be the one to crush the head of Satan. The cries of the infant Jesus would lead to the cry of fully grown Jesus on the cross, bearing the weight of our sin on him.
So when we look into the manger, and see the Christ child, we see the Son of Man who came to set us free. Jesus’ incarnation shows that the Majestic, Creating, Redeeming God is mindful of us and cares for us. God’s bigness does not mean he overlooks our smallness. We frail sons and daughters of men look into the manger and see the unshakeable power of the Son of Man who came to set us free.
The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. He traded the presence of angels for the status of being lower than angels. He traded a throne of splendor for a feeding trough as a bed. He traded the radiant robes of heaven, for earthly strips of swaddling cloth. He traded the praise of heavenly beings, for the sounds of barn animals that welcomed him into this sin-stained world. That which was made through him and for him (John 1:3), now surrounded him as an infant. King Jesus became baby Jesus. Light had come into darkness to bring salvation to frail humans.
David, the king of Israel, that small infant nation, wrote Psalm 8. He was looking to a day in which a future king, in his lineage, would come to be their Messiah. Jesus came as an infant. His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension back to heaven was not the end, but the beginning. The incarnation of Jesus was not the culmination of the story. The infant grew to be a man. The man became the spotless slaughtered lamb. Dead and buried, he became alive and rose again. He returned to heaven and took his rightful place on the throne at right hand of God the Father. The incarnation was not the culmination. It was the dawning of what is to come.
Jesus waits for the time when he will return and bring the final chapter to sin and Satan. We who bear a frail crown of glory and honor, being dominion-bearers over this groaning creation, can look at Jesus who is now eternally crowned with glory and honor. By God’s grace, he tasted death for everyone, bearing the punishment of our sins. The happy gates of gospel grace are flung open for all who would put their trust in him and turn from sin. What a gift! What a present!
“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him…when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting for that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. (Hebrews 9:28, 10:12-13).”
May this season of advent, of waiting, bring into your heart a deepening desire for a better country, that is a heavenly one (Hebrews 11:6). May you deeply long for a city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14). A time when this earth, with all its sin and suffering, will be rolled up, and changed like a garment (Hebrews 1:12). The incarnation of Jesus is like a gift that is not fully opened. We have been given the grand gift of creation, praise and dominion over this world. We have been given the gift of salvation. One day we will experience his creation, praise his majestic name, and have dominion over a new heaven and new earth, free from the curse of sin. Right now we don’t see everything in subjection to Jesus.
The culmination will come when Jesus will return, but not as an infant. He will return as one called Faithful and True. His dominion will bring an end to sin and overthrow Satan. This is our King, Grace Church. King of kings and Lord of lords. And when he returns, his people; his frail and weak people who bear this fragile dominion crown, will enjoy fellowship with him forever, free from sin and suffering. Advent and Christmas are pointers to that day.
We have been given a great gift in creation, in singing, in dominion over this world, and in the incarnation of Jesus. But the best gifts are yet to come.