When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? — Psalm 8:3-4
While serving in the Air Force during World War II, John Peterson’s fellow airmen called him “Deacon” because of his habit of reading the Bible every morning. John did not resent that nickname because he knew it was God who sustained him in the months he was away from home and family.
As a pilot, John spent many hours in the air. His flights often took him over the famed “China Hump,” and those lengthy journeys provided opportunities for the young serviceman to meditate and pray. Somehow, it seemed the Lord was especially near whenever he guided his military transport plane over the rugged Himalayan Mountains. As he gazed down at the soaring peaks and mountain ranges separated by the deep green valleys of the Irrawaddy, Salween, and Mekong Rivers, he would marvel at the incredible beauty of the earth spread out beneath him.
One day as John scanned the mountainous terrain below and then the vast reaches of the horizon around him, he was overwhelmed by the awesomeness of God’s creation and the power that formed it. The words and melody of a song began to form in his heart, and when his flight was over, he put down on paper a song that has inspired thousands in the years since then:
My Father is omnipotent
And that you can’t deny;
A God of might and miracles;
‘Tis written in the sky.
It took a miracle to put the stars in place;
It took a miracle to hang the world in space.
But when He saved my soul, cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace!(1)
John knew that the beauty he viewed from his aircraft was created by a miracle-working God. Even more, he recognized that the awesome and majestic Creator of this vast universe was mindful of him! He reached the same conclusion that the psalmist David recorded in today’s focus verses.
Today, more data is available than David had when he looked at the heavens and marveled. Thanks to technology, we know more about our universe than when John Peterson flew over the Himalayas during World War II. While we may not be able to express our wonder in song, as John and David did, we should join them bowing in awe before our all-powerful Creator. Like them, we should magnify the One whose fingers molded the universe, and rejoice that He looks down across the expanses of space and thinks of us!
Psalm 8, which is attributed to King David, has the superscription “To the chief Musician upon Gittith.” The precise meaning of “Gittith” is uncertain. Since the word is derived from the word Gath, some commentators suggest it refers to a song sung after the killing of the giant Goliath, or a type of musical instrument which originated in Gath. Others suggest the term references a musical style, perhaps of a joyous nature. The word is also used in the superscriptions of Psalms 81 and 84, so it possibly alludes to a hymn of delight. Since the focus of the song is the creative power of God, some have called it “Genesis 1 set to music.”
The dual reference to God in the first four words of the psalm, “O LORD our Lord,” uses two different names in the original Hebrew: Yahweh and Adonai. Yahweh is the sacred and personal name of the God of the Covenant with Israel, while Adonai means “lord, master, or sovereign.”
Psalm 8 begins with adoration of God. Verse 2 was quoted by Jesus in Matthew 21:16 to vindicate the children singing praises to God in the Temple. A wider application of this verse indicates that God uses things that are completely without strength or wisdom to frustrate the designs of those who oppose His kingdom.
In verse 3, the psalmist considered the heavens, specifically the sun, moon, and stars. As a shepherd, David would have had many opportunities to gaze upon the vastness of the sky, and to wonder at the condescension of the God who “visits” (attends to and observes) man. Although man is insignificant in comparison with the lofty grandeur of the heavens, verses 5-8 allude to man as the crown of God’s creation, to whom God has given power over all the creatures on the earth.
Verses 4-6 are quoted in Hebrews 2:6-8 and were applied directly to Jesus. Verse 6 is also quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:27 and Ephesians 1:22. The psalm concludes as it began: with the psalmist’s expression of honor and glory to the Name which alone is worthy of praise.
Psalm 9 and 10 are thought to have been one psalm originally; they appear that way in the ancient Greek and Latin translations of the Bible, although there are some stylistic differences. Psalm 9 is the first of the psalms to be presented in an acrostic form, in which the first letter of each verse or pair of verses are successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The superscription Muthlabben literally means “to die for the son.” This may have been the title of a popular song, possibly placed in the superscription to indicate that the psalm was to be sung to the same tune or musical styling.
In this psalm, David alternated between prayer and praises to God for His justice. Some commentators suggest that it was probably written after a victory over the Philistines. The psalmist brings out that God’s judgment is absolutely fair, and is final, whether He is judging a nation or an individual. However, God will also protect the oppressed and aid those who seek Him.
David stated in verse 5 that God would destroy the wicked and “put out their name for ever and ever.” Since the Hebrew people considered it very important to preserve their names for posterity, having their names blotted out of the record would have been a severe punishment. A similar retribution is described in verse 6, which states that “their memorial [or remembrance] is perished with them.”
The word Higgion in verse 16 means “meditation.” When combined with the next word, “Selah,” it indicates a dramatic pause to add emphases to the final four statements.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
When we view the immensity and grandeur of God’s universe, we should recognize how amazing it is that God is concerned about us, and glorify Him!
1. John W. Peterson, “It Took a Miracle,” ©1948, 1976 John W. Peterson Music Company.