September 24, 2023 . . . “Bible prayers: David prays” Psalm 8:1

September 24, 2023 . . . “Bible prayers: David prays” Psalm 8:1

September 24, 2023

“Bible prayers: David prays”

Psalm 8:1

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

Just over fifty years ago, back in July of 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 blasted off from the coast of Florida, bound for the moon. And as you can imagine, it wasn’t easy. They were, after all, sitting on top of a thirty-six story rocket that would fly them 25,000 miles per hour, 240,000 miles from home. A lot of things could go wrong!

And a few things did go wrong. For example, four minutes before they were about to land on the moon, the display on their computer froze with the message “1202.” So it was an error code, okay, but for what? No one knew, and time was running out!

And as Armstrong and Aldrin neared the surface, they were going too far and too fast. And instead of seeing a nice, flat plain where they had intended to land, Armstrong looked out to see a vast crater field and boulders as big as trucks.

Then there was the fuel. They hoped to have as much as two minutes of fuel left after they landed, but they were still a hundred feet above the surface, and had only sixty seconds left.

And when they finally landed, ice was blocking the fuel line. And no one knew--would it melt, or would it cause a catastrophic explosion?

Thankfully, they completed their mission, rendezvoused with the command module, and made it safely all the way home.

But before they left the surface of the moon, they left a few things on the moon. One was a plaque signed by President Nixon and the three astronauts, attached to a leg of the lunar lander. It read: “Here, men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon. July 1969, A. D. We came in peace for all mankind.” Also, they left an American flag, as well as a golden replica of an olive branch, and a mission patch from Apollo 1.

And there was one more thing. Just a few feet from the first boot print man made on the moon, they left a small, white, cloth pouch. And in that pouch there was a small, thin, 99% pure silicon disc, about the size of a half dollar. And etched onto that disc, in letters one-fourth the width of a human hair, were seventy-three messages from nations around the world.

The Prime Minister of Australia, John Gorton, wrote: “Australians are pleased and proud to have played a part in helping to make it possible for the first man from earth to land on the moon.” And the President of Iceland, Kristjan Eldjarn, wrote: “May the great achievements of space research inaugurate an era of peace and happiness for all mankind.”

And among those many words of congratulation and encouragement from leaders all around the world, there was one more. In the very middle, framed with gold, were the words of Psalm 8: “Yahweh our Lord, how great is Your name throughout the earth, above the heavens is Your majesty chanted.”

I’ll read the words, or rather, the prayer of King David as recorded in Psalm 8: “To the Choirmaster: according to the Gittith. A Psalm of David. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, You have established strength because of Your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1-9)

It’s easy to say that the book of Psalms is the book in which we can find nearly every human emotion. Are you glad? There’s a psalm for you to sing. Are you sad? There’s a psalm for that too. Whatever your mood, you can find a psalm for you.

In the words of Philip Yancey: “Psalms do not rationalize anger away or give abstract advice about pain; rather, they express emotions vividly and loudly. The 150 psalms present a mosaic of spiritual therapy--doubt, paranoia, giddiness, delight, hatred, joy, praise, vengefulness, betrayal--you can find it all in the Psalms.” And he wrote: “I need not paper over my own failures or try to clean up my own rottenness; far better to bring those weaknesses to God, who alone has the power to heal.”

And among those 150 psalms is this one--Psalm 8. And it begins with this: “To the Choirmaster: according to the Gittith. A Psalm of David.”

“A Gittith,” it said. What’s a Gittith?

The word itself means a “winepress.” And as commentators tell us, in time, the word also came to mean a stringed instrument that was shaped like a winepress. Later, the Greeks called it a “kithara,” and the Spanish called it a “guitarria,” (which, as you can probably guess, is how we got the English word, “guitar.”)

So as far as we know, Psalm 8 was first sung on an instrument that was a distant relative of our modern-day guitar!

Verse 1: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

Now before we go any further, let’s stop and look at that very first word, or rather, the very first letter: “O.” “O Lord, our Lord.”

So what does that little letter “O” mean? It’s not just a letter. It’s an exclamation of awe and fear and wonder.

And it’s a word we use a lot. We don’t just say, “I don’t know.” We say, “O, I don’t know.” And neither do we say, “Yes, very much.” We say, “O yes, very much!”

And it’s a word we often find in the Bible too, like in Psalm 95: “O come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” (Psalm 95:1). Paul wrote to the Romans: “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33). And as Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He said: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if only you had known what would bring you peace, but now it is hidden from Your eyes” (Luke 19:42).

And here in Psalm 8, David didn’t simply say, “Lord, our Lord.” He said, “O Lord, our Lord.” It’s an exclamation of awe, wonder, love, and praise!

And to whom does he sing his psalm of praise? “O Lord, our Lord.” Yahweh, Adonai, the almighty Maker of heaven and earth, the One who once made Himself known to Moses in a “burning” bush, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the great I Am, the One who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8).

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1)

Now verse 3: “When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).

Now we can’t say for sure all that David saw three thousand years ago. We know he was a shepherd, and we know he spent countless hours watching and wondering at the night sky. But it’s safe to say that what he did not see was quite a lot!

For example, it’s been said that if the Milky Way galaxy were the size of the entire continent of North America, just our solar system would fit inside a coffee cup!

Not quite two years ago, back in December of 2021, NASA launched its largest space telescope ever, what’s called the James Webb Space Telescope. With its eighteen hexagonal mirrors made of gold-plated beryllium, sixty-nine by forty-five feet long, at a cost of $10 billion(!), we can see things we could never see before.

And since its launch, the Webb Telescope has delivered a treasure trove of information about everything from stars to planetary systems to distant galaxies.

Take, for example, the Hubble Deep Field. What we once thought was nothing more than a handful of stars and empty space was actually filled with three thousand--not stars--but galaxies!

Or think of the Pillars of Creation, clouds of hydrogen and dust, a stellar nursery, that’s four light-years long!

Or think of this black hole with a mass of as much as nine million of our suns. And it’s so large, scientists still can’t truly explain it or understand it.

As one author put it, “Hubble was amazing, but it was nothing compared to this! And it just kind of leads to all these questions of, ‘Wow, what else are we going to see? And what do we not know we don’t know?’”

And think of the vastness of space. If we were to leave planet Earth and travel, at the speed of light, toward the sun, we could make it there in eight minutes. Not bad! But if we wanted to leave our galaxy, the Milky Way, it would take us more than fifty thousand years! And to reach the edge of the next galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy, it would take two-and-a-half million years!

And while the universe around us is amazing, do you know what’s the most complex, ingenious thing in the universe? Why, the human body, of course!

Take a look at the world of sports, for example.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re an outfielder waiting to catch a fly ball. First, you’re focused on the pitcher and the batter, not to mention the exact time the pitcher throws the ball and the exact time the batter hits the ball. And just as soon as your brain processes all that information through an incredibly complex series of events, it has to immediately interpret everything that’s just happened and is about to happen.

As one author wrote: “Solving the problem of converting light into ideas, of visually understanding features and objects in the world, is a complex task far beyond the abilities of the world’s most powerful computers.”

But now that the batter has hit the ball and you’re watching the ball fly through the air, now you have to catch the ball. Do you run left or right, or ahead or back? And you have to calculate exactly how fast you have to run, (with your seven hundred or so muscles), being fully aware of where the fence is, so you don’t fall down and get hurt!

And once you catch the ball, you have to throw the ball at an exact time to an exact place to, hopefully, get the runner out.

It wears me out just thinking about it!

And if that’s not enough for you, try scooping up a measly little teaspoon-full of topsoil from the forest floor, and you know what you’ll find? You’ll find more bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa than there are people on planet Earth. And that’s just in a teaspoon!

So what does all this mean for us?

Sometimes we lose perspective. Sometimes our lives and our concerns seem so large and so overwhelming.

But that’s when we need to remember that on this pale, blue dot on which we live, in a vast, vast universe, God Himself once chose to become Man, and lived for a while among us. And out of His absolutely incredible, infinite love and mercy, our Savior Jesus offered up His life on Calvary’s cross to make us right with God.

In the words of eighteenth-century preacher Charles Spurgeon: “There is no place where God is not…You may be the only traveler who has passed through that glen; the birds are frightened, and the moss may tremble beneath the first step of a human foot. Yet God is there in a thousand wonders, upholding the rocky barriers, filling the flowers with perfume, and refreshing the lonely pines with His breath. Descend to the lowest depths of the ocean where the water sleeps undisturbed and the sand is motionless in unbroken quiet. The glory of the Lord is there, revealing its excellence in the silent palace of the sea. Borrow the wings of the morning and fly to the farthest parts of the sea. God is there.”

No wonder David prayed in the words of Psalm 8: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

O Lord, our Lord, there is no God like You, who pardons guilt and forgives sin. Help us in all we think, say, and do, to bring praise, honor, and glory to Your name, for Jesus’ sake. Amen