Psalm Eight: What Is Man, That You Are Mindful of Him?
What a paradox is man! The Name of the Lord is majestic in all the earth, and the heavens above, ah, how much glory do they declare! Wherever one should turn his eye, there is all around him the stuff of awe-struck wonder, and the more deeply he probes, the greater the marvel becomes. In the depths of the deepest ocean, what brilliant flowers and beautiful creatures may be found hidden away from all prying eyes. In the vast expanse of the universe, what mind-boggling distances and unthinkable substances, what expansive galaxies and innumerable stars, what gasses and solids and plasmas and dark matters beyond the wildest surmisings of man. And here on this earth, such noble creatures may be found, the soaring eagle and massive elephant and untamable lion â€“ it staggers the mind to try to conceive of it all, and after the attempt, the only reasonable verdict that one may come to is this, â€œO Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your Name!â€
But let us return to that enigmatical subject, man; and herein lies the paradox: of all God's creatures, there is nothing, absolutely nothing in all the universe, that more brilliantly displays God's glory; and yet there is nothing at all in the universe besides that tramples upon and derides God's glory, and flings mud and opprobrium at the majestic Creator who made so rich a storehouse of glories that a blind imbecile could not help but be driven to worship. No creature but man could insult and mar the glory of God, and yet no creature but man could display that same glory more fully than even the elect angels of heaven.
But our paradox is not yet done, for man is not only this conundrum of shards of glory strewn about the sinkhole of depravity; he is also enigmatical in this respect, that he is a weak, small, and even a pitiable creature, and yet one before whom whole worlds must bow in subjection. A lion is a very strong creature, and when a naked lion meets a naked man in the wild, the outcome of the confrontation needs no strong intellect to divine. But what lion is there who will tunnel through mountains and build high towers, devise cures for all kinds of sicknesses, invent computers with staggering capabilities, reach out to the very stars? What animal is there who should ever be capable of ruling the universe? Of what other creature has it ever been said that God would put all creation beside underneath his feet, and give him dominion over all things?
But how can this be? Man is a little lower than the angels, so how then can he have dominion over all things? It is great enough to give him dominion over stars and planets â€“ but even that does not comprise all creation, for there are great multitudes of angels, too, and they are higher than man. So how can man reign over all God's creation? And thus the enigma grows deeper.
And only deeper yet would it grow, for many years after King David, who wondered at God's design for insignificant man, had finally come to the hour of his death. For who was ever found like David, a man after God's own heart, who would rule his people well and justly? The more generations that passed, the more proof there was that man was not capable of ruling the universe.
But there finally came an heir of David that embraced the paradox, and was paradoxically triumphant; for what paradox has there ever been like the paradox of the eternal Lord and Creator, the Son of the Most High God, stooping to become the Son of Man? What a wonder, that the Lord of righteousness should condescend to bear the depravity of his people on his own shoulders, and suffer the curse of God for all their sins! But the Son of Man stooped to the depths of humility to this end, that he should be the Lord of the living and dead (Rom. 14:9), and win the Name which is above every name (Phil. 2:5-11), and henceforth wait until the Lord should place all his enemies beneath his footstool (Heb. 10:12-13). Man the paradox, who had never been sufficient to fulfill God's purpose of displaying God's image to perfection and reigning over all creation, was raised to the majestic heights of glory, above all angels and dominions and powers; for in this man Jesus dwelt all the fullness of the godhead bodily (Col. 2:9), and he reigns over all, and he brings up his fellow men, for whom he died, to reign over all else according to God's original design (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:9-10; 20:6), yes, and even to judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3).
Remember this, Christian, when you look at that sad paradox, man! Remember that, although we do not yet see everything in subjection to man, we still see Jesus, who was made for a little while lower than the angels, and is now crowned with glory and honor such as no man ever bore (Heb. 12:5-9). Oh, so that is man, that God should be mindful of him!