Psalm 8: Glory in Smallness

This is the eighth post about the Psalms in a series I started several years ago. It’s taking me a lot of time, but I’m going through each Psalm as a way of coming back to the Bible. Thanks for reading as I pick the series back up again.

1 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
7 all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
8 the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

(New International Version)

This is a beautiful hymn, praising God for all he is, standing in awe that he would pay attention to us. It speaks to how God has positioned even the smallest of creatures places of glory and honor. 

Being the mom of two little ones right now, it is significant to me that David (the author) says the praise of children and infants can silence enemies and protect against them (v. 2). What does that mean? I think about how honest and earnest my toddler, in particular, can be. His words are simple, because his thoughts are simple. There’s often an undeniable truth to the things he says because he is just telling us what he sees or what happened. Seeing the world through his eyes is humbling. It brings us down to the basics. It reminds us to show uninhibited joy. It renews our sense of wonder and learning. 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15). We are supposed to receive the kingdom of God with that same sense of wonder and learning and humility.

So how does this frame of mind silence enemies? Because it reminds us what is basic and true about God: that he is worthy of uninhibited praise. That is so true that even children and infants recognize it. Psalm 8:2 is actually quoted by Jesus in Matthew 21 in response to the chief priests who were indignant about the children praising Jesus in the temple. In this instance, he is demonstrating how the praise of the children does silence his enemies, how the praise of the smallest among us holds great value and power.

Psalm 8 continues with descriptions of the heavens, demonstrating how powerful and vast God’s powers are. We are drawn into the imagery of the moon and stars, which is then contrasted with the smallness of human beings. How can God, who created the universe, care about each of us? It’s amazing that the author of all beauty and mystery also be mindful of the details of our lives.

Verses 5 through 8 describe the responsibilities of humankind. Despite how small we are in the vast universe, we have been crowned with glory and honor (v. 5) and given the privilege of ruling over all his creation (v. 6). This section reflects back to Genesis 1, where God created the birds of the sky and fish of the sea, the creatures on the land, and then mankind to rule over them all. I see the word “rule” to carry a responsibility for us to care for the earth and all the creatures in it. God rules over all creation with love and attention and care. We should treat God’s work in the same way.

Regardless of our smallness in all creation, humanity has been bestowed with glory, with a high position. Regardless of their smallness, children have been bestowed with glory in their innocence and earnestness.

One thought on “Psalm 8: Glory in Smallness

  1. There’s that saying that I’m not sure I entirely agree with, but I get the sentiment, “Small people, small problems,” or something like that. But the same is not true of joy. It seems like the smaller we are, the easier it is to find joy, like when our daughter finds her toes! Oh that life could stay simple always. That’s why it’s so hard for us to approach Jesus that way, as we grow, it becomes ever more important to find joy and wonder simply in the world around us.


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