God in the Psalms No.13
Psa 8:1 O LORD , our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
In the 6th of these meditations, when we considered the face of the Lord, we briefly considered the glory of the Lord. Let’s now think about that more fully. David starts this eighth psalm off by reflecting on how wonderful the Lord’s name is. He uses the covenant name for God (LORD = “I am who I am” – see Exodus 3:13-15 and footnotes) which is another way of saying “God of Eternity” or “the Eternal One”.
When he thinks of the Lord he feels His name is majestic, higher than any other, and then he gives the reason for this: the Lord, he says, has set His glory above the heavens. Now that’s an interesting way of putting it: “above” the heavens. In some old paintings the painter showed the earth and the sky above it, and then had heavenly beings above the sky. It’s like they wanted to put the heavenly world above “the heavens”, the sky, to give a fuller or more complete picture of reality.
When we look at the rest of this psalm we see David marvelling at God’s work in Creation (v.3). He then wonders at the fact of God making man and giving him all this and making him ruler over all of it (v.4-6). As he ponders on this and on the wonder of this incredible world, God’s gift to mankind, he just bursts out with, “how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (v.9). Man may have been given this world to rule over, but God Himself is the King over all things. He’s the One who created all things and therefore He’s the only one who can really claim to be King, Lord of all.
But there’s more than this, there’s this reference to the Lord’s glory. When we considered God’s glory before, we saw it as the brightness that literally shines from God’s presence, the glory that was first revealed to Israel at Sinai. It was subsequently seen at the completion and dedication of the Tabernacle (Ex40:33-35) and the completion and dedication of Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 8:10,11). Is that the glory that is being referred to here by David now? Not quite but the same sense is there in what he describes. He is saying that when you look at the wonder of God’s creation you see the wonder of the Master Craftsman, the Creator, behind it all; it isn’t just a bland piece of construction; it is a masterpiece that reflects the staggering nature of the One who brought it all into being from nothing. What it reflects is the glory or wonder of the One who made it all.
Have you ever seen it like this? Have you ever been somewhere in the world and gazed upon what you see before you – and marvelled and wondered at what is before you – the handiwork of the Master Creator? Have you ever stood on the seashore with the sun setting and marvelled? Have you ever stood on a hillside gazing on the panorama before you, and marvelled? Have you ever seen the Canadian Rockies, or any other great mountain chain, and marvelled? It would be possible to write for hours describing the incredible variety of the features of the world that are so beautiful. This is God’s world; this is what He has made. You have to be hard-hearted or blind not to see the handiwork of God in all this and remain unmoved. Paul wrote about such people, “what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen” (Rom 1:19,20). His conclusion about their blindness and refusal to respond? They have no excuse! Let’s not be like them!