Friday, March 02, 2018

O LORD, our Lord (Psalm 8)

The psalmist is here speaking to God, not speaking merely for himself, but for a number of people: “O LORD, our Lord.” It is a psalm of praise. He is leading a number of people in the praise of their God, and, stretching across continents and centuries, he leads us as well.

But what do we mean by the phrase, “O LORD, our Lord,” a phrase which begins the psalm, and which ends the psalm. What are we saying? Careful observation will tell us that it is not mere repetition. First, we have the word LORD (all caps), which is a code word for the covenantal and revered name for God. In fact, over time, it was so revered by the Jewish people that they would no longer pronounce it aloud as written in the Hebrew text, in honor (or safekeeping) of the 3rd commandment, “Though shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” When reading the Old Testament text aloud, they would substitute the second name in our verse (Lord, with only the first letter capitalized), which translates Adonai. That is a term of honor, and denotes God’s authority and sovereignty. But the other term speaks of God in covenantal relationship with His people. It’s the name that covers both His mercy and His judgment; His holiness and His compassion. Older translations cover it as Jehovah. More modern translations go ahead and blurt it out: Yahweh. Our verse here renders it “LORD.”

This prayer addresses God in the wonder and breadth of His names, and proclaims His majesty, His splendor, and His strength. These are not just found in isolated spots on earth, but throughout all the earth, and indeed, over and above the earth. He is, in His Persons, majestic, and splendid, and exceedingly strong. Machen says, “a stupendous view of God.” And we, if following our psalmist/leader, are impressed.
This God is so great, He makes us feel small. That is, until we find out how much care and attention He showers on us as He calls us to Himself, and as we walk in restored relationship with Him. “What is man, that You take thought of him?” As David says earlier, “Who am I, …?” To think He shares His majesty with us.
But then, once more, we find that this psalm that includes us, is not all about us. This reference to “the son of man,” “that you care for him,” leads us, - no, forces us to think of Jesus, who indeed rules as God in creation, and under whose feet His and our enemies are being placed. It almost leads us to - praise. 

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