How Majestic is Your Name
Psalm 8:3-4, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
God has made the universe essentially infinite in order to mercifully dwarf our self-image, to remind the human heart over and over again that, he is “only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all.” Yes, Psalm 8 (and other places in scripture) make it clear that the mind-boggling vastness of the universe is supposed to make us feel small…Lovecraft, I think, got at least this side of the equation very right when he was gripped by the obliviating magnitude of time and space.
But there is another piece to David’s musings. He does not conclude—as Lovecraft did—with terror under the infinite height and depth and breadth of nature, rather he adds to the recognition of nature’s magnitude a simultaneous recognition of the Creator’s intimate nearness. He knows that YHWH—the one who spoke the infinity of time and space into being—he knows that YHWH is mindful of him and cares for him.
What a awesome and jarring conclusion to draw! The universe is expansive beyond belief, it’s glories dwarf the individual human being as a mountain dwarfs an ant, and yet the God who made all of these glories has set His nature-sustaining mind on us, and His all-wise heart that has devised the myriad glories of the created world is turned in care toward us. In this Psalm we see a beautiful union of the exalted and the intimate, the transcendent and the immanent…the One seated in the high and holy place is also the one who is with the needy in the ash heaps.
Conceptually, Psalm 8 anticipates the incarnation. Why? Because it embraces the dissonance of the exalted God dwelling intimately with His lowly people. In fact, it makes this dissonance central in a Psalm that begins and ends with a declaration of the majesty of YHWH’s Name (that is, of His identity). In this light, we might say that David presents the immanence of the transcendent God as the central beauty of His Name.
The majesty of His Name is seen when we consider that He is high and exalted beyond all imagination and yet is pleased to dwell—in thought and affection—with the lowly and small. And this majestic Name will nowhere be more beautifully sung over His people for their good and His glory than in the incarnation of the Son (of which verse 5-8 are something of an anticipation, according to Hebrews 2:6-8).
Yes, the incarnation is the logical and climactic outworking of the Name extolled in this Psalm. With the incarnation, the exalted YHWH literally comes to dwell with the lowly, He clothes the beauty of His Name—a beauty seen in the intimate nearness of His exalted self—He clothes the beauty of His name with the flesh and blood of the Man Christ Jesus. The Maker of heaven and earth enfleshes His mindfulness of us and His care toward us by walking among us and suffering with us, and ultimately by bearing all of our shame and suffering and lowliness and sin in Himself.
If the incarnation is the spear of God’s self-revelation, then the cross is the tip of that spear. At the cross the Name sung of in Psalm 8 reaches the zenith of its revelatory light….what greater declaration of the God who is high and exalted and yet cares for the lowly—what greater declaration of His name can be conceived than the cross of Christ? At the cross the One who is fully God pours Himself out to an infinite degree under the desolation of our well-deserved hell…at the cross the incalculable heights of God’s majesty are united to the incalculable depths of hell’s agony by the harmonizing bond of His incalculable love…at the cross, the high and exalted YHWH declares with rebellion-silencing authority to his lowly creatures, “I am mindful of you, and I care for you,”—and in doing so, He saves their souls and makes His Name known to the world (1 Corinthians 1:21-24).
O YHWH, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!