Humanity lives on a 196 million square foot rock that is hurtling through space at 67,000 miles per hour inside of a galaxy that is 100,000 light years long, among a pool of roughly 200 billion galaxies. Humanity is either the epitome of insignificance, or blessed beyond imagination by a loving Creator. The mere fact that we have been able to not only exist, but flourish, should be an indication of the latter. Psalm 8 really draws our attention to both or insignificance, and our blessings.
Glory Above The Heavens
You have set your glory above the heavens. As we read this phrase, we will likely attribute it as being a figurative statement about the greatness of God, but it seems to me that there may be a little more to this line. God has set His glory above the heavens, in other words, His glory resides above the heavens. In Genesis, a firmament, or expanse, is created by God and the stars are placed there. It is interesting that in this Psalm, the glory of God is beyond that expanse, beyond all that humanity can see, beyond the heavens themselves. The psalmist is essentially saying that God’s glory is above any created thing, be it man, beast, stars, galaxies, and so on. God’s glory is greater than all things, because God created all things.
What Is Man To God?
What is man that You are mindful to him? When we look at the earth around us, the stars above us, we can see just how small we really are, by contrast, we see just how great God is. This is magnified as we study the vastness of space, when we consider how difficult it is to understand how large our own galaxy is, and then multiply that by 200 billion galaxies. On top of that, we are still discovering more. Man is truly the least bit significant in all of this, we occupy such a small area of the universe that we are like a speck of dust against the whole of the earth. We are virtually nothing, yet God has deemed us important. He created us with purpose, with intent.
What use could God, the creator of all things, have for such insignificant creatures when He can do anything He desires by simply willing it? Yet He created us, He desires our existence. Not only that, but He has granted us a will of our own and allows us to make our own paths in His creation, even if our path is not what He desires. How fortunate are we that God has not snuffed out our light, as it would be an effortless act on His part? What is man that God would not only create us, but pay us any attention at all?
Lower Than The Angels
You made him a little lower than the angels. What’s interesting about this verse is that the actual Hebrew uses the word Elohim, which means that a more literal translation would be, “You made him a little lower than God.” I find this to be such a captivating statement, especially after the previous lines questioning what value we have that would cause God to even be mindful of us. However, let us keep in mind that this statement is not baseless, as Genesis states that God made us in His image. If we have been made in the image of God, there must be inherent value in each of us.
We know that we have value because God has given us responsibility. He has given us authority and a stewardship role over the Earth. If we did not have value, we would not have this responsibility. While it is true that God does not need us to accomplish anything in particular, God does find value and purpose in each one of us. We know this is true due to the cumulative responsibility we have been given over the Earth, as well as the fact that God is mindful of us. God has interacted with us, shown us miracles, and even sent His only Son to redeem us, these are not the acts of an indifferent God, but rather the acts of a God that cares, one that sees value in us. We are, after all, His creation.
Everything Under Our Feet
God has placed everything under our feet. The plants, animals, oceans, and deserts are all here for us to maintain. These things are not here merely for our amusement, but rather, we have been given a responsibility over them. To manage and safeguard them, or else they may be taken away, or we may be taken away from them. Life on this planet has been given to us, not just for food, but for company, for assistance, and to create the very ecosystems which we depend upon daily.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth.”Genesis 1:28
God did not hand us His very creation without also giving us inherent value, making us slightly lower than Gods ourselves. Our perspective is limited to only ourselves as we are unable to see into each other’s hearts, our experience is limited to the present moment as we are unable to experience more than one moment in time simultaneously, and we are ruled by our emotions as we are unable to distinguish between self-good and communal-good, but we are still made in the image of the one that created us. God is not limited to a single moment in time, He is not limited to His own perspective, nor is He selfish in determining what is good and righteous. God withholds judgement, understands the full picture by seeing things from every perspective, and does not show favor to any particular piece of His creation over another.
God is the embodiment of the values that we spend our lives attempting to achieve, revealing the gap between our nature and His. A gap that exists only because we allow it to exist, not because He desires it to exist. Individually, we are limited to our own perspective, but we have the ability to share our perspective with others. Individually, we are ruled by our emotions, but collectively we are able to overpower those emotions and help one another to stay on the narrow path. Individually, we are unable to relive the past or to know the future, but collectively we are able to forge the future we desire.
Unfortunately, without God’s help, we are unable to unite under a single common goal. A case can be made that it is possible for humanity to unite for a good cause, but that case can only be made because of the value that God has given to each of us. And frankly, even though it may be possible for humanity to unite without God, history has shown that it will not happen. In fact, if anything, history has shown that when humanity truly begins to unite in support of a cause, God is needed more than ever. The largest regimes ever to have assembled in our history are not remembered for their kindness and compassion, nor are they remembered for their faith in God. Instead, they are remembered only for monumental cruelty and violence.
What is it that makes something inherently valuable? Is it a high price tag? Is it because it is a rare object? No, something is valuable because of the positive effect it can have on the world around it. Gold is only valuable because we think we look better when we wear it. Money is only valuable because we all agree that it can be used in exchange for goods. Neither of these things have inherent value, if humanity decides today that stainless steel jewelry looks far better than gold, then gold loses its value. The same thing happens to all of those dollar bills if America switches to Yen. Materials are only valuable if there is a desire for them, money is only valuable because people agree that it has value. Humanity is valuable because of the responsibility we have over the world. We are valuable because of the change that we could create in the world. We are valuable because God has given us value through our ability to positively impact the world around us. It would behoove us to make better use of that inherent value.