SOAP Journal – 06 March 2019 (Psalm 8)

O LORD, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:9

This is one of David’s psalms and one which is often partially quoted. This psalm could be seen as a meditation on the greatness of God and His kindness toward humanity.

David begins with God’s greatness, which is an excellent place to begin. The same phrase that David closes with in verse nine is the one with which he opens, “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your Name in all the earth.” The Name of God is majestic and its implications reach farther than we may ever know. His Name, YHWH, is understood to mean something akin to “I AM.” No god or goddess of our own devising has ever been given such a name.

David says that it is from the mouth of infants and nursing babes that God has drawn what was needful to shut up the mouths of His adversaries. God did not go to the wise or the eloquent or any other such, but to infants and nursing babes; to those who cannot communicate well or clearly or at all. From this source, God draws out what He needs to silence the enemy and the revengeful.

From the theme of God’s greatness, David moves on to God’s goodness toward humanity. David considers the moon and the stars and that God has created such things and yet has created humanity and given us value and honor above those stars; above sheep and oxen; above the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea; above every other created thing. It is this same positioning of humanity so high in the natural order that astonishes people still. I have heard more than one talk being given about another topic that took a moment to wax lyrical about how amazing humanity’s place is. We are not the strongest creature out there or the fastest; we are not suited to flight or diving into the depths. But we have made ourselves all of these things and that after we had already spread all over the face of the globe, slighting the odds.

With these two things held in his mind, David returns to his initial thought and is awed by the majesty of God’s Name.

And that is where I ought to find myself when I meditate on God and what He has done for me. If I am not, with David, in awe of God and His magnanimity, then I do not understand Who He is or how much He has done for me. And, in truth, I do not always understand. I do not always grasp just how amazing He is or just how gracious He is to me. The more I live, the more I see how great He is and how deep His mercy and grace toward me are and how expansive His blessings truly are. We in the Western world are often quick to poo-poo God’s intangible blessings like love, joy, peace, patience, and so on. But if we understood those blessings aright, we would seek them in a way that cares not a bit for material blessing. I have only caught glimpses, but those have been enough to draw me to the intangible blessings.

Father, You are good and Your mercy endures forever. You have done great things for me. Please give me the ability to contain the magnitude of this in my mind and to meditate on this, that I might know You better.

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Thanks, Praises, and Reminders (Psalm 92:1-3)

A Psalm, a Song for the Sabbath day.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,
With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp,
With resounding music upon the lyre.

Psalm 92:1-3

I’m glad when The Bible gives me a listing of things that are good or acceptable or in some other way bless the heart of God. These verses are one such portion of scripture.

First, it is good to give thanks to the LORD. The verse does not specify what I should be thankful for and that is probably just as well. An exhaustive list of everything I have to thank God for would span as many pages as The Bible currently contains … possibly more. I can begin with thanking God for my life and the breath that fills my lungs and move forward from that. Why is it good to give thanks to God? Because being thankful is good for both of us. For God, it is a blessing when I thank Him, just as it is a blessing when others thank me. Being thanked let’s us know that what we’ve done is appreciated and noticed and that those who receive it are not taking it for granted. Being thankful is also good for me. A grateful heart is less prone to sins like coveting. If I am focused on all that God has done for me and given me, it is difficult to perceive a lack in that. Not impossible, but extremely difficult.

Second, to sing praises to [the] name, [of the] Most High. Thanking God is an act of me praising Him to Him. Praising Him in the context of this part of the verse is praising Him to others. Just as it is good to thank God, it is also good to tell others of His goodness and generous heart toward me. This adds another dimension to the blessings. I bless the heart of God by letting Him know that I have noticed His goodness toward me – as with being thankful. I also remind myself of His goodness toward me in praising Him, building my faith. But this action adds in reminding others of God’s goodness and it builds their faith. This action extends the blessing beyond God and myself to everyone who hears and understands God’s goodness.

Third, to declare [His] lovingkindness in the morning and [His] faithfulness by night. Jeremiah wrote that it is because of God’s mercies (lovingkindnesses) that we are not destroyed and that those mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Every morning, God trots out a fresh set of mercies to cover the new day. Every night, I can reflect on God’s faithfulness to me; how He never left my side. Morning and evening; day and night I should be considering God’s mercies and His faithfulness and making them known.

How do I do all of this? Well, the psalmist assumes that music will be involved. Lutes and harps and lyres are all mentioned. And music is an excellent way to praise God and to reflect upon His mercy and faithfulness and to thank Him. But music is not required. I can thank God whenever I notice that He has done something for me. I can praise Him by speaking well of Him and what He has done when I talk with others. I can make known His mercies of the day to me when I sit and talk with friends and family at the end of the day. Music is excellent and God definitely loves to hear His children sing to Him and for Him and about Him, but I must be certain that I do not limit myself to that mode of praise and thanks.

One last note: This psalm was written to be sung on the Sabbath. This was intended to be sung when Israel was taking time off from their work to reflect on God and His goodness toward them; to be part of the idea of speaking God’s words to our children when we are at home and when we get up in the morning and go to bed at night (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

Let me be thankful for all that God is and does. Let me praise Him to anyone who will listen – especially to my fellow believers, that we may swap stories of how great is our God. Let me make known His mercy in the morning and His faithfulness at night. His mercy is what makes relationship possible. His mercy is what dusts me off and sets me back on my feet when I fall. His mercy endures forever.