In all the earth, O LORD our Lord, how glorious is your name! For you have set above the heavens your glory and your fame.
From infants’ and from children’s lips you ordered praise to sound, To silence all your enemies, the wicked to confound.
When I regard the heavens you made, your fingers’ work I trace; I see the moon and shining stars which you have set in place.
I ask myself, “What then is man that you should give him thought— The son of man, that you to him such gracious care have brought?”
You made him little less than those who dwell in heaven above, And you have crowned and honoured him with glory and with love.
You gave him charge of all the works created by your hand, And everything that you had made you gave him to command—
All flocks and herds, and birds and fish, all beasts both wild and tame. In all the earth, O LORD our Lord, how glorious is your name!
You can hear a congregation sing this to the excellent tune Richmond here.
The church I am a member of is blessed to have people from many countries. For some of the year, our 4:30pm service ends when it is dark outside. When speaking with those born outside the UK about this Psalm, they sometimes comment how few stars can be seen in the Manchester sky compared to the skies over Africa.
The Psalmist was aware that the world is a big place and would have looked up into the sky at night and seen countless stars. Elsewhere in the Bible, God asked Abram to count the stars (Genesis 15:5). The sight of the countless millions of stars visible under a truly dark sky helps us begin to realise the true immense nature of our Creator God.
The Hubble Space Telescope has been able to see 125 billion galaxies, and in each galaxy there about 100 billion stars, so we get a number with 22 zeroes, a number so big, we do not have a name for it.
Our God is even bigger than that! Our God created them!
Now let us look inwards: the average human body contains 100,000,000,000,000 (100 quadrillion) cells. And yet each one of us originated from just one, when egg and sperm fused. And in each cell, the DNA contains 3.2 billion pieces of information. Scientists have identified and named about 1.8 million different species on the Earth.
The Psalmist was awestruck by the majesty of God’s creation. Even though we can see so much more of God’s creation and observe the diversity in God’s world, are we awestruck?
In Psalm 8, we get a wonderful picture of the kind of relationship that God longs to have with us, and that God desires for us to have with our world. Although God is so great, God takes notice of humanity. Though we are insignificant in comparison to the size of this vast cosmos, we are not insignificant to God – verse 4: “What are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them?” Each of us is just one of over 7 billion, but the Psalmist says to God and to each of us: “You made them inferior only to Yourself” and that each of us is “crowned with glory and honour”.
Creator God, You are so big, so strong, so mighty: There is nothing You cannot do. The mountains are Yours, the rivers are Yours, The stars are Your handiwork, too! Help us today to see Your creation with fresh eyes. Amen.
(based on the Children’s Song “My God Is So Big…”)
Walt Johnson is a member and elder of Wilbraham St Ninian’s URC, Chorlton, Manchester
Sing Psalms! Psalmody & Praise Committee Free Church of Scotland 15 North Bank Street Edinburgh EH1 2LS