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Condescending Glory

I recently led a small bible study that focused on Psalm 8. It is a short psalm, a praise and wisdom psalm. And I believe it is a great psalm to focus on when looking at the world; more specifically when looking at how the world views itself and how the world should actually view things if it were to be biblical about it.

Let’s face it, the world thinks pretty highly of itself, likes the fact that the world is in charge of, well, it is in charge of the world. The world likes being in charge and doesn’t like anyone saying anything else. This in a world that values and extols tolerance, at least when one is in agreement with what the world has to say about things.

Interestingly enough, there is biblical basis for man assuming a role of dominion over things, it is how the Lord purposed the role of man in the Creation. It didn’t work out that way, not through any fault of God’s, but because of the fall into sin and the loss of the role God purposed for us. A role that can now only be restored through Jesus Christ, a role that will only be restored in Jesus Christ when He returns to set up His Millennial Reign upon the earth, one in which we get to be co-heirs and co-rulers of along with Jesus. We are restored through Christ alone to a position of dominion in Creation for we are in Christ and are of Christ once we accept Him as Lord and Savior and trust in Him alone for our eternal salvation.

Psalm 8 lays out that dominion in a nice concise way, a so very often the Bible does in so many areas. Psalm 8 begins with what is known as an inclusio, a repeating of a phrase in verses 1a and 9 that serve to “bracket” this psalm and focus one’s attention on the heart of the matter, the majesty of the Lord’s name:

O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth

The effect of the inclusio draws the reader to the underlying importance of the Psalm, the majesty of the Lord’s name above all else. If that is not enough, verses 1b and 2 show you the Lord’s strength. From the mouths of babes and nursing infants, the Lord ordains strength. God can use the weakest and most vulnerable to carry out His purposes. Not much in that for the world to get all puffed up about, the Lord can do great things with the least of things.

The remaining body of the psalm is a celebration of humanity, the role of dominion over His creation that He purposed for us. But sadly we have failed at it according to God’s plan, and will continue to fail until Jesus restores all in His Soon Return. Hebrews 2:6-9 quotes Psalm 8:4-6, but Hebrews does so in a way that shows that it is Christ who fulfills the role of dominion celebrated in this Psalm. It should be clear to us that in today’s world (the world’s self opinion not withstanding). not all is put under dominion as the Lord would have it. And it will not be until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

So what can we do as faithful believers:

  • Acknowledge and praise the majesty of the Creator
  • Acknowledge and accept that the Lord  often uses weak things to confound the mighty
  • Acknowledge and understand our dominion is only by the Lord’s grace

How can we as believers make use this Psalm in our daily lives?

  • It should inspire us to always praise the majesty of God
  • It should comfort us (and others) to acknowledge that God has chosen to display His majesty by using weak, flawed and vulnerable mortals to play a part in His plans for creation
  • By extension it should comfort us (and others) that God can use anyone to further His plans and purposes of creation, of redemption, of dominion.
  • By reading this psalm in the context of our understanding of Christ, it is clear whatever role God has for us in dominion over creation is not playing out today as it well when Jesus comes again and establishes His rule upon the earth.

I called it condescending glory in the title because the glory of man in any role of dominion over creation in by God’s grace, and only because He chose to stoop down, to condescend to our level to grant us that dominion in grace. Our glory condescends from God, a message the world might not like much but will one day acknowledge at the feet of Jesus Himself. And what a glorious time for all who have trusted in Him that will be as we praise and worship Him in His Glory.

I would close with a passage from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church that I think sums up where we stand before God if we stand without Him:

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. – 1 Corinthians 1:20-25