Psalm 8 actually appears in some hymnals. The hymn with which I’m most familiar begins: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name.”
What seems to prompt the psalmist to write Psalm 8 is his remembrance of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth that we read about in the first part of Genesis, particularly God’s creation of humans. In Genesis 1:26-30, we read that God created mankind (male and female) in his own image and placed them in charge of the seas, the earth, the sky and all living creatures in these three domains, including plants and trees.
The psalmist is still amazed. “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your mane in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens…When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1-9, NIV)
How could it be, the psalmist seems to ask, that God honored humans with the responsibility of caring for God’s creation? Psalm 8 is a hymn of praise but perhaps also a poem to call humans to remember their responsibility. Maybe part of the wonder expressed in Psalm 8 is about why God still honors humans with responsibility to care for his creation.
They were kicked out of the Garden of Eden because of disobedience. Cain murdered Able. By Genesis 6, God regretted his creation because humans had corrupted their ways and violence filled the earth. And many Psalms speak of mankind’s evil and wickedness. Not even the great flood cleansed humans of their ungodly ways.
We are still responsible, but we still shirk our responsibility or, at least, fall far short. Look at what the psalmist viewed in Psalm 8 that led to his amazement: the moon, stars, animals, birds, fish, humans. And, of course, there’s much more. Have we occupied the earth so long that we can no longer see its beauty and glory–that we can no longer imagine the fingers of God making the earth and all that is in it?
If we can see and imagine and comprehend, then we will sing: “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” We will capture the wonder of how we humans fit into God’s creation.