Friday, August 17, 2007

The Marvel of His Name

Psalm 8
For the choir director; on the Gittith.
A Psalm of David.

Prelude: The Marvel of His Name
1 O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,

The Majesty of God
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes
You have established strength because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

The Frailty of Man
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
4 What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?

The Greatness of Man
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,

The Service of Animals
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 through the paths of the seas.

Postlude: The Marvel of His Name
9 O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8 is a wonderful and beautiful song of praise and worship of our majestic Father. Terrien divided it into 4 stanzas with a prelude and postlude. The postlude repeats the prelude word for word, which brings the singer back to Stanza 1, and the song continues as an eternal rendering of worship to the Almighty God.

The theme of the psalm begins with a prelude, marveling at his wondrous name, his being and his divine nature. His splendour is even far above the heavens, beyond what we can imagine or comprehend. And yet from the mouths of the little ones, the weaklings, his strength is established.

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.
~ 1 Cor 1:27

Then the psalmist moves on to denounce himself as miniscule, trivial. But imagine, truth is God has made us just a little, “a grain”, “a thread” lower than God himself. We are made in his likeness, we are made for his glory. We are made for greatness. But first, we must still acknowledge our frailty.

Blaise Pascal wrote a spectacular enigmatic theme of the psalm, which helps put us in perspective: What a chimera then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy. Judge of all things, stupid worm of the earth; depositary of truth, cloaca of uncertainty and error, glory and refuse of the universe.
(The Pensées, 434)

Our greatness did not come without responsibilities. We are to care for what is put before us, we carry a responsibility to be good stewards of what we have, both the smaller world around us and the bigger world beyond.

Terrien said these words so precisely of the psalm: The psalm situates man on a precise and perilous equilibrium between angelism and bestiality. Yet he dances over emptiness.

What do you make of his statement, “yet he dances over emptiness”? That sentence truly intrigued me, and I am still thinking about what it can mean.

Picture by Liliana Aristizabal

Samuel Terrien, The Psalm, (Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 2003): 124-33


  1. Interesting! I've also recently written on this psalm as well, with more emphasis on drawing NT connections.

    No idea what "dancing over emptiness" means yet, sounds poetic, but the meaning eludes me.

  2. Good question! Dancing with the wonder or unknown meaning of His creation?

    I learned a very interesting thing about this Psalm a couple of weeks ago in vs.6, "You made him to rule over the works of Your hands." Other translations use "dominion" which comes from the root of the word which means "lower on the root of a plant", so if you have dominion, you better take care of what is beneath you, or you will die. This is how we should take care of the earth.

  3. Julia,
    That is interesting and thanks for telling me. Sometimes we have this tendency to look beyond the now towards the new heaven and new earth, and hence not caring for the dominion. God reminder to be good stewards of what we have under our feet.

  4. The psalm situates man on a precise and perilous equilibrium between angelism and bestiality. Yet he dances over emptiness.

    I think it means that even though God has so purposefully placed us where we are, to be his salt and light, yet we dance and be happy over things that are perishable, useless, empty.