Sermon: Psalm 8
Easter 7 - May 13, 2017 - Rev. Steven J. Radunzel
There are scientists who say that if you got into a spaceship and traveled directly away from the earth at the speed of light, 186,000 miles per second, that it would take you 14 billion years of travel at that enormous speed to begin to reach what they consider the outer edge of the universe. The size of the universe can only be measured in numbers incomprehensible to the human mind.
These same scientists say that in this incomprehensibly vast universe sits the earth, and life exists on this earth only because of virtually statistically impossible conditions. Their point is that there had to be a God who created this vast universe and the conditions for life on the earth, a little pinpoint in the universe.
King David who wrote Psalm 8, our text for today, probably didn’t understand the vastness of the universe or those statistically impossible conditions for life on the earth, but like those scientists he did understand that the vastness of universe, its beauty and perfection, declares the glory of God and calls upon all people to praise and worship God.
And he posed this question: In this almost endless and breathtaking universe, why would God specially select that little pinpoint called Earth to produce life, and why would God give the slightest consideration to us mere human beings on the earth?
We’re going to consider that question today:
WHY WOULD GOD CARE ABOUT US?
As incomprehensibly vast as the universe is God is even bigger. He’s the Creator of the universe. He watches over it and preserves the precise movements of planets and galaxies. David writes, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” David writes something very similar in Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
The sheer size of the universe, the spectacular beauty of the stars in the night sky, the unimaginable precision in the movement of planets call upon all of us to praise and glorify God. Before we read anything in the Bible or hear about our Savior Jesus Christ we already have a responsibility to worship God. That’s why he created us.
It’s so obvious that we are to worship God that David writes, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.” You don’t have to be a scientist, or an intellectual, or any kind of an adult to worship God. Even little children know that they are to worship and praise God. Often they are more faithful than adults in praising God. And sometimes their worship and praise is more heartfelt and enthusiastic than adults. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and cleared the temple courts of the money changers, his enemies complained that the little children were even praising him. Jesus responded by quoting from this psalm: “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”
Let me ask you: Why do you worship God? Why do you go to church on Sunday morning? Some of you might say, “Well, there’s a commandment that says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.’” But that 3rd commandment is only partly valid as a reason for worshiping God. The Sabbath was a time to worship and hear God’s word as is Sunday for us. But in the Old Testament the Sabbath was the seventh day of the week, Saturday. And the command to do no work and worship God on the Sabbath was a ceremonial law for the people of Israel. In the New Testament today we follow the pattern of public worship one day a week which is good, but in this psalm David certainly indicates a better reason for worshiping God than an Old Testament ceremonial law.
Some of you might say you go to church on Sunday morning just because it’s habit or tradition or you have to go to church because it’s Sunday. I hope none of you says that you go to church to earn God’s approval or favor, or worse yet, to gain his mercy and forgiveness. That would be just plain work-righteous unbelief. David again would offer a much better reason for worshiping God than trying to gain his favor and mercy, or just because it’s Sunday or it’s a tradition or we have to go to church.
Some of you of course, I hope all of us, would say you go to church on Sunday morning to worship your Savior Jesus Christ. He died for our sins. He rose again from the dead. He’s going to come again to take us to be with him in heaven. That certainly is a primary reason for worshiping God, but still David would offer us an even more fundamental reason for worship God.
David would say that God deserves our worship and praise simply because he is God. He deserves our worship and praise just because he exists and is our Creator. He deserves our worship and praise because he preserves us in this life by providing all that we need to live. No one has an excuse not to worship God. If even little children worship God so naturally and beautifully, every adult ought to worship him too.
In this psalm David gives us an even more important reason why we want to worship God and go to church: God is mindful of us. God cares about us. And David is astounded that God bothers with us at all. “When I consider your 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?”
Think of David’s words this way: The universe is virtually immeasurable. It’s filled with billions and billions of enormous galaxies. One of those galaxies we call the Milky Way. Our solar system is a tiny speck in that galaxy and the earth is one small planet in that solar system. God cares about the human race that exists on this little planet. And more than that, God cares about you and me, individual human beings, among the billions of people who live on this earth, among the trillions who have lived on this little earth since the beginning. Jesus reminds us how much God cares about each individual among the billions and trillions: “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
But David’s question is why? Each one of us is less than a speck in the universe. Why would God care about us?
David writes, “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” God made us lower than himself obviously. He made us even lower than the angels. We don’t exist in the heavenly realms as they do or shine with their glory or have the power of angels. And yet God glorified and honored Adam and Eve by creating them in his image. They were holy as he is holy. They were like God. They thought like God. They were to rule over the earth. David writes, “You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.”
David probably had another reason for asking why God would care about us or bother with us. Adam, and we his descendants, sinned against God. After glorifying us with his image and the dominion of the earth, we sinned against God. We lost the image of God. We’re all born in sin and doomed to a sinful life and eternal destruction. Our dominion of the earth is filled with trouble, disappointment, tragedy, and sadness. And we die to face the judgment of God. Why would God even bother with us anymore? Why would God care about us?
There’s a one word answer to that question: Love. God’s love for us his creatures. And his love is as vast and incomprehensible as the universe itself. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God loved and cared so much about us, he had so much compassion for a whole world of human beings who had fallen into sin, that he sent his own Son to rescue human beings from eternal judgment and hell. The Apostle Paul writes that Jesus is a second Adam who came to do what the first Adam failed to do. “Just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”
The writer of the book of Hebrews also notes this comparison between Adam and Jesus, the second Adam, who came to save us. He quotes these words of David from Psalm 8 reminding us that God created us lower than the heavenly beings, lower than the angels, and put everything under our feet, under our authority. But he notes that we don’t see and experience everything perfectly under our dominion because we have sinned.
But the writer of Hebrews notes that we do see Jesus. “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” The Son of God who existed in the glory of heaven from eternity, more glorious than the angels, submitted himself to God the Father, stepped down beneath the angels into this world in the person of Jesus born of Mary to be our Savior from sin. He tasted death for us all. He died the death we should have died. He atoned for our sin.
And because he fully atoned for our sin and finished the job of saving us, God the Father raised Jesus from the dead and glorified him once again. He made him ruler over all creation as Adam and we were intended to be. The Apostle Paul in his 1st letter to the Corinthians notes this truth as well and quotes also from Psalm 8: “[God] ‘has put everything under [Jesus’] feet.’”
In the book of Revelation when the 7th trumpet is sounded voices in heaven say, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” And of all of us whom Jesus saved the Apostle John writes in Revelation, “And they will reign for ever and ever.”
God cares about us because he loves us. He loved us so much he sent Jesus to step down from heaven, a little lower than the angels, to be our Savior.
On one of these coming warm and clear summer nights look up into the sky and see the endless stars and the nearly infinite universe, and ask God, “What am I, a little speck, in this universe, that you, God, should be mindful of me? Why would you care about me?
And God’s answer: “I love you. And Jesus is the proof.”
“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” Amen.