June 4, 2017: Verse of the day

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God’s Interest in Humankind (8:3–4)

3 The Creator has established two spheres of rule—heaven and earth. He has established the celestial bodies in the firmament and has given them the rule over day and night (Ge 1:17–18), whereas he appointed human beings to govern the earth (Ge 1:28). The psalmist reflects on the grandeur of space with the moon and stars. How space reveals the glory, wisdom, and power of the Great King (cf. 89:11; Job 36:29; 38:33; Isa 40:26)! The heavenly bodies all have their appointed place. They are his “work” (maʿaśēh, “act”). The reading “work” is preferable to “works” (BHS). A number of Hebrew MSS and CD support the singular form. The “fingers” of God express in a sensitive manner his care as a sculptor. Craigie, 108, comments, “In contrast to God, the heavens are tiny, pushed and prodded into shape by the divine digits; but in contrast to the heavens, which seem so vast in the human perception, it is mankind that is tiny.”

4 In relation to the vastness of space, the order and the importance of the heavenly bodies, what is humanity? Why did God invest his human creatures with glory? Why does God uniquely care for them? The questions are poetic devices to evoke a sense of awe and set a proper perspective on the self-worth of human beings. Inasmuch as God gave shape to the heavenly bodies with his fingers, why should he concern himself with humans? The word “man” (ʾenôš) is a poetic word for human beings in their frail existence (9:20; 90:3; 103:15), whereas the idiom “son of man” (cf. 80:17; 144:3) is contrasted with “God” (v. 5a; NIV text note, “heavenly beings”). Humans are by nature “earthlings,” and yet they are the particular objects of God’s attention. The God who gave shape to heaven with his fingers continues to focus his attention on human beings. This is brought out by Rui De Menezes, “From Dust to Glory—the Anthropology of the Psalms,” Jeev 16 (1986): 105–20.

Compositionally, the choice of words for the ideal human (man …, the son of man; ʾenôš …, ben ʾādām) links with the development of the argument on the nature of humanity in Psalms 8–11. The ideal human is endowed with glory and with the power to rule over God’s creation. The word ʾenôš is used in 9:19, 20 and 10:18 for oppressive mortals. God’s examination of human beings (benê ʾādām, 11:4; 14:2) concludes that humans are corrupt (11:5), do not seek him, and are thoroughly degenerate (14:3; cf. v. 1). Reading Psalm 8 in relation to Psalms 9–14 gives a hopeless portrayal. There is no inherent hope in humanity. Yet these psalms encourage hope in the ideal human, by whom God will bring about his kingdom (see also Psalms 11 and 14).

The Creator has invested glory and honor on humanity. The verbs “mindful” (zākar, GK 2349, “remember”) and “care for” (pāqad, GK 7212; lit., “visit”) convey the care of God, who remembers positively by acting in behalf of humans. Instead of “visiting” them with judgment, as their sin deserves, God’s goodness extends to all creatures in his care (Mt 5:45). According to Brevard Childs (Memory and Tradition in Israel [Naperville, Ill.: Allenson, 1962], 33–34), God’s fatherly compassion motivates him to be continually concerned with humankind. He has not forgotten human beings (cf. Ge 9:8–17). The imperfect aspect of the verbs supports the continuity of God’s care (cf. 144:3; Job 7:17; 14:3).[1]


8:3 No branch of science proclaims God’s greatness and man’s insignificance more eloquently than astronomy. The simple fact that distances must be reckoned in light-years (the distance that light travels in a year) illustrates the point. Light travels 186,000 miles per second, and there are 31.5 million seconds in a year, so light travels roughly six trillion miles in a single year! Yet some stars are billions of light-years from the earth. No wonder we call such computation astronomical.

To gaze into the heavens at night should give us great thoughts about God. The moon and the stars are the work of His fingers! When we think of the numberless myriads of stars, of the vast distances in the universe, and of the power that holds the planets in orbit with mathematical precision, it boggles the mind.

8:4 Relatively speaking, the planet earth is a speck of dust in the universe. If this is so, what is a single man perched upon this planet? Yet God is interested in every individual! He has a personal, intimate concern for every human being.[2]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 139–140). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 557). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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2 thoughts on “June 4, 2017: Verse of the day

  1. Pingback: June 4, 2017: Verse of the day — Truth2Freedom’s Blog @Truth2Freedom | Talmidimblogging

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