Reading: Psalm 8; Matthew 18:1-5
In Psalm 8 David speaks with great excitement about God’s glory and majesty, about His power. God shows His almighty power in nature. But not just in nature. Also in the way He created and still upholds mankind. Man, such a small and tiny creature in this vast creation. Nevertheless, God gives him an important place in this creation, even made him ruler over it all. And then David summarizes it all in these words: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
That is what David starts with and also what he ends with. That is the summary and the conclusion of this psalm. He starts with it, and then he elaborates on it and explains why God’s name is majestic, and then he closes with it again.
This psalm probably was a psalm which had its place in the temple liturgy. In the Old Testament, the worship service was quite different from the New Testament. In the New Testament, it is the congregation who sings and the congregational singing has replaced all the choirs and the music which we see in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the people of God did not come together in the temple every Sabbath Day. They did it in their own places, they had their assemblies in their synagogues, but the worship service in the temple, the house that God chose for His name, there it was through the choirs and many other musicians that God was worshiped. Psalm 8 had a place in the temple worship service as well.
The verses 1, 2 and 9 are the refrain. This was usually sung by a choir. And the verses 3-8 by soloists or parts of the choir. This way of singing emphasizes the message of the psalm, which is the first and the last verse, and verse 2, which was also sung by the choir, is then, in fact, the reason why David came to this conclusion and why he made this psalm.
It can happen that an event or just a very simple thing that happens, awakens certain thoughts in you, and you start thinking about it and from the one thought you come to another. And it all leads to one conclusion: How Great is God! That is probably how it went with David as well.
Imagine that at the end of a beautiful day you are sitting outside and enjoying the nice weather. It is Sunday and you are not in a hurry. Tomorrow is a day off, a national holiday or so: you don’t have to get up early and you have time to just sit and enjoy the beauty in God’s nature. To get impressed by the beautiful sunset, and thereafter the moon and the stars, appearing in the sky.
In the meantime, you hear some of the noises from the houses around you and from the street. A car coming around the corner, with lots of noise, the driver deliberately revving up the engine, with its noise breaking the serene quietness of the evening. A few seconds later you hear a voice shouting, from across the road; someone who is angry and starts cursing, misusing the name of the LORD. You cringe when you hear it and gone is your amazement over the beauty of God’s creation. Those curse words still sound in your ears and it is hard not to get annoyed and let it spoil your evening.
But then, all of a sudden, you hear a child singing. One of your little children, or maybe grandchildren, it sings a song that it learned not so long ago. “I love the Lord”. That is often one of the first songs that little children learn to sing, even before they go to school. And often they sing it with heart and soul, with such a joy that it makes even adults smile. And when you hear that, then all of a sudden the echo of that angry neighbour is gone, disappeared in the wind as vain words usually do. And you are filled with amazement, how God establishes His glory from that song of that little child.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants, You, God, have ordained strength because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger. How true are these words. And how often can the joy of little children with which they sing their songs or speak about the Lord, put adults to shame or make harsh and evil words of adults seem so vain and hollow. Isn’t it the children whom the Lord Jesus gives us as an example? In Matthew 18, when the disciples were fighting about the question who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, then the Lord called a child to Him, put the child in the midst of them and said: “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Humble yourself like a child. It is not in great words, it is not in human wisdom or glitter or show, but it is all in humbleness, in weakness, that God’s power is made perfect. That is what David thought about. What a power, what a strength is there in those words that come from the mouth of that little child, from babies and infants. Even though they are so imperfect in grammar and in pronunciation, still they wholeheartedly sing the glory of God! Even though it does not fully understand the meaning of all the words that it is singing.