November 26, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Psalm 8:1-9 (NRSV)
O LORD, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are humans that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8 invites us to reflect on God’s creation of all things, including human beings. Compared to the grandeur of the universe, we are small and seemingly insignificant. But God has created us in God’s own image and entrusted to us the care of creation. The more we reflect on what God has created, the more we are led to exult, “O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
This devotion is part of the series: A Biblical Guide to Reflection.
This week I will finish a brief series of devotions I’ve called A Biblical Guide to Reflection. In previous devotions of this series, I focused in particular on self-reflection, that is, on examining ourselves and especially our inner lives. We saw how Psalm 139 encourages us to celebrate the fact that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 51 leads us to reflect upon our sin and the need for God’s renewing work in our lives.
Self-reflection is certainly one crucial element of reflection. But Scripture teaches us to reflect not only on ourselves but also on other things. Psalm 8, for example, focuses mainly on God’s creation, placing reflection on human life within a larger theological framework. As the Psalm writer meditates on the grandeur of the heavens, he is struck by the relative tininess of human existence. He wonders out loud how it could be that God actually cares about us, given our minuteness in relationship to the vast universe.
Yet the psalmist reflects not only on the creation of the physical universe, but also on the unique creation of humankind. Although human beings are relatively small compared to the heavens, nevertheless the psalmist writes, “You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). Humanity bears the very image and likeness of God, and therefore shares in God’s own glory and honor (see also Romans 8).
Furthermore, the psalmist writes, “You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet” (8:6). As bearers of God‘s image, human beings share not only in God’s glory but also in God’s authority. God entrusts the world to human beings, granting them unique dominion over all created things.
The Psalm writer’s reflection on creation emphasizes God’s glory and authority, yet marvels over how God shares both of these with humankind. We might expect Psalm 8 to end with some enthusiastic statement on the importance and significance of human beings. But this is not what we find. Rather the final verse of this psalm, echoing the first verse, offers praise to God: “O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (8:9).
Thoughtful reflection does not simply give us a better idea of who we are. It also enables us to consider things far bigger than ourselves, even the whole creation. As we do this, we are honored to realize that we are creatures to whom God has given so much. But this reflection doesn’t drive us to self-adulation so much as to worship. The more we reflect on God’s creation, including ourselves as created beings, the more we will be inspired to worship God in all of God’s majesty.
Can you remember a time when your reflection on the wonders of creation filled you with awe?
Can you think of a time when your reflection on the wonders of creation led you to praise and worship God the creator?
In your life and work, in what ways do you exercise the authority God has given you as a human being created in God’s own image?
Set aside some time in the next few days to reflect on the glories of God’s creation. If you can go to a place of natural beauty, that would be fitting. But if not, perhaps you can remember a time when you were in such a place. Or perhaps photographs might renew your sense of awe over the grandeur of God’s creation. For example, last week, I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Zion National Park in Utah. In that place, it was easy to sense the majesty of God and be inspired. Today, I’m back home. But the combination of my memory and some photographs I took can help me feel the awe that I sensed so easily last week.
Let the words of Psalm 8 (printed above) be your prayer today. Read that psalm slowly, speaking to God as you do. When you finish, you may wish to add your own words of reflection and praise.
Banner image by Danika Perkinson on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Authority (Psalm 8).
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.