************ Sermon on Psalm 8 ************


By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman


This sermon was preached on March 25, 2012


Psalm 8
"A Little Lower than the Angels"

The Glory of Creation
A pair of courting polar bears revealed a surprisingly tender side. Wave-surfing penguins struggled to escape a hungry sea lion. A team of killer whales worked together to create giant waves that swept seals off ice floes. The woolly bear caterpillar freezes solid every winter, the natural antifreeze in its body keeping it from dying; it takes 14 years before it has eaten enough to become a moth.

Last Sunday night Ruth and I saw this and more as we watched "Frozen Planet" (episode 1 & 2 of 7) on Discovery channel. I heartily recommend this series for everyone. And, with DVRs and VCRs you don't have to miss our evening worship to watch.

Courting polar bears, wave-surfing penguins, team work among killer whales, caterpillars that freeze and thaw. Isn't this all amazing. Isn't Creation glorious? Our response should be the same as the psalmist:
(Ps 8:1) O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

II The Glory of Mankind
A Psalm 8 reminds us there is something far more glorious than these animals, birds, and fish. In fact, there is something far more glorious than the sun, moon, and stars (Ps 8:3). What does the psalmist have in mind? He is talking about mankind. The point of psalm 8 is not to tell us about the glory of creation. Instead, the point of the psalm is to remind us about the glory of man. When we look at all the amazing things in creation we need to ask the same question as the psalmist,
(Ps 8:4) what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

Next to caterpillars that freeze and thaw for 14 years, what is man? Next to killer whales that work together, what is man? Next to the glory of the sun and the vastness of space, what is man? Is there anything special about us? Is there any particular reason why God looks after us?

B The question of the psalmist demands an answer. We need to know, "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (Ps 8:4). Here is the answer:
(Ps 8:5) You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
A footnote at the bottom of the page in our pew Bibles suggests the use of "God" instead of "heavenly beings":
(Ps 8:5) You made him a little lower than God and crowned him with glory and honor.

God is mindful of mankind because we have been made a little lower than God Himself. God cares for mankind because we have been crowned with glory and honor.

We need to go back, for a moment, to what we were told about mankind's creation in Genesis.
(Gen 1:27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Of everything made by God, man and man alone is made in the image of God. Not polar bears, not penguins, not killer whales, not woolly bear caterpillars. No matter how amazing the creature, no matter how big they are, no matter how manlike they may be, they unlike man are not made in the image of God. Man alone is made in the image of God so man alone is a little lower than God.

We need to also remind ourselves of how God made man. Do you remember what we learned from Genesis 2?
(Gen 2:7) the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
(Gen 2:21-22) So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. (22) Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
Of everything that God made, only man and woman received individual attention. Only man and woman were hand-crafted by God. Only man and woman were infused with the Spirit of God.

As we think about this, as we consider mankind's lofty position as part of the creation, our response should be the same as the psalmist:
(Ps 8:1) O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

C The psalmist also tells us the result, the consequence, of mankind's lofty position:
(Ps 8:6-8) You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: (7) all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, (8) the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

Man is a little lower than God. So, man has been made God's vice-regent. Man has been made God's steward. Man has been made ruler of the Creation under God. Again, this is in fulfilment of what we first read in Genesis:
(Gen 1:28) God blessed [man] and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
Man is to rule the Creation and everything in it to the glory of God.

Do you see man's lofty position in all of creation? Do you see man's lofty position over all of creation? David marveled that God would share His power and glory over Creation with feeble man! Man was created "a little lower than God" and was given privileges far higher than the angels (Heb. 2:5).

As we think about this, as we consider mankind's lofty position over the creation, our response should be the same as the psalmist:
(Ps 8:1) O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

III The Glory of Christ
A In looking at Psalm 8, we have seen the glory of God's creation. We have also seen the glory of man. But now, in this season of Lent, I want you to also see the glory of Christ as we look at Psalm 8.

From beginning to end, Psalm 8 is a psalm about Christ. And, as we look at Christ through the prism of Psalm 8, we should break out into a psalm of praise to God, saying and singing,
(Ps 8:1) O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

B Let's start by turning to Hebrews 2 (p.1864 in your pew Bibles). I want you to take note that Hebrews 2 quotes the words of Psalm 8:
(Heb 2:5-9) It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. (6) But there is a place where someone has testified [HERE ARE THE WORDS OF PSALM 8]: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (7) You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor (8) and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. (9) But 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.

Did you notice how Hebrews 2 changed the words of Psalm 8? Hebrews changes "heavenly beings" to "angels." The man who was a little lower than God is now a little lower than the angels.

Why this change? It should be obvious to all that man has made a mess of his stewardship of the earth. As vice-regents of God we, of course, are not to rape and pillage the earth. We are not to abuse our position as kings of creation. We are to be earth-keepers rather than earth-destroyers. That is the way it should be.

Instead, man is responsible for the extinction of thousands of species every single year. I did a Google search on this. One site claims man is responsible for 22,000 extinctions per year; the next site claims 27,000; the final site claims 50,000 species become extinct due to deforestation and hunting; we can quarrel about the numbers. What is obvious is that man today is not exercising proper dominion over creation. Man cannot control fish, birds, animals, insects, or plants; in fact, man cannot even control himself! As Hebrews 2:8 puts it, "Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him" (Heb 2:8).

The problem is sin. When man fell into sin, he lost the ability to properly exercise dominion over the Creation. When man fell into sin, he abused instead of rightly used Creation. When man fell into sin, he became a domineering tyrant over Creation instead of a co-regent with God.

Do you know what else sin has done? Because of sin, man often makes a god out of what is created. Time after time, man bows before what is created rather than the Creator.

C God has put everything under man's control. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. Here is God's answer to the problem:
(Heb 2:9) But 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.

"But we see Jesus!" (Heb. 2:9). Jesus is God's answer to man's dilemma. For instance, when our Lord was here on earth, we see that He exercised the dominion lost by sinful man. Consider these incidents:
-Peter and the disciples fished all night but caught nothing. Early in the morning Jesus stood on the shore and told them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. That morning Jesus showed His control over the fish (Jn 21:1-11; cf Mt 17:2427; Lk 5:111).
-Jesus showed His control over birds in the story of Peter's denial. Peter boasted that he was ready to go with Jesus to prison and death. Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me" (Lk 22:34, 60).
-At the time of His temptation, Jesus was in the desert forty days. Mark specifically tells us that Jesus "was with the wild animals" (Mk 1:1213). They posed no threat to Jesus because He exercised dominion over them.
-On Palm Sunday Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt "which no one has ever ridden" (Mk 11:17). Anyone with horses knows that no animal willingly submits the first time to the weight of a saddle or a man. But this colt did. Why? Because Jesus exercised dominion over it.
As the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45), Jesus Christ exercised the dominion lost by man because of the fall into sin.

D "But we see Jesus ..." Not only did Jesus exercise dominion but He was also given dominion.
(Heb 2:9) But 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.
Hebrews is talking here about the ascension of Jesus when He sat down at God's right hand, at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb 1:3). At that time, everything was put under His feet (Eph 1:20-23; Ps 110; Heb 1:13).

Now, notice why Jesus was given the dominion man lost. Hebrews says, "because he suffered death" (Heb 2:9). It was after He tasted death for everyone that He was given the name above every name (Phil 2:9). It was because He tasted death for everyone, that every knee should now bow before Him (Phil 2:10).

Think about this. Jesus, out of grace, tasted death for everyone. He, the Son of Man, part of the triune Godhead, tasted death. He suffered. He died. His soul left His body. His body hung there lifeless and was put in a grave.

The result? He was given the dominion that man lost in the fall into sin.

E God has put everything under man's control. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. "But we see Jesus ..." In Jesus, we sinful humans regain the dominion that we lost because of sin. Jesus, by His death, earned back for us what we lost. The result is that believers today share in the kingly dominion of Jesus (Rev 1:56). And one day, when Jesus fully establishes His kingdom, we shall reign with Him in glory and honor (Mt 19:28; 1 Cor 6:2-3; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21).

Man was "crowned... with glory and honor (Heb 2:7), but he lost his crown and became the slave of sin. Jesus Christ has regained that "glory and honor" (Heb. 2:9). All because Jesus made Himself lower than the angels by taking on flesh and suffering death for everyone. You know already what our response should be as we think about Jesus:
(Ps 8:1) O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Conclusion
In looking at Psalm 8, we have seen the glory of God's creation. We have seen the glory of man. We have seen the glory of Christ.
(Ps 8:1) O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Not only does God want this praise, God has also ordained this praise. Listen to the words of Psalm 8:2
(Ps 8:2) From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Do you remember where we hear the exact same words in the New Testament? In the story of Palm Sunday.

It started with the cry of the children in the temple area: "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Mt 21:15). This was the cry of the children in response to Jesus. They where echoing the cries of the Palm Sunday crowd. "Hosanna to the Son of David."

The chief priests and the teachers of the law were scandalized by this. You don't shout in the temple area or in church. They asked Jesus, "Do you hear what these children are saying?" (Mt 21:16). This implied a request, a demand even, that Jesus make the children stop.

"Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?" (Mt 21:16). In other words, Jesus cannot make the children stop. In fact, He must not make the children stop their praises. Because that is what God wants. That is what God has planned for a Jesus about to die. That is what God has foreordained to silence people like the Pharisees. If the children don't cry out, then the very rocks themselves will take up the refrain and praise the Lord.

"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" That is what we are to say and sing as we think of creation, as we think of man, and especially as we think of Jesus Who tasted death for everyone!
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