Psalm 81NIV New International Version Translations
1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
As a young man, David kept sheep. He was with his sheep on the hills at night when he saw the moon and the stars in the sky. God made them all. God was strong and powerful. But God had enemies. These enemies fought God. They also hurt the people of God. David felt very small when he looked at what God had made. David felt that he was not important. But David also knew that God would make people strong. Later David wrote Psalm 8. Perhaps it was when he lived in Gath, a Philistine city 30 kilometers west of Bethlehem.
Verse 1: Only God has true glory. He has it because he is so good. God’s glory shines from inside him. God shines brighter than the sun.
Verse 2: God has many powerful enemies. The most powerful is Satan or the Devil. He may be the avenger in the psalm. But God will win. God is more powerful than all his enemies. There are 2 pictures of children in Psalm 8:2.
- babies at the breast: this tells us:
- the love of a mother for her child is very strong
- the child grows strong as it feeds from its mother
- what children say:
- their words are usually true
- their words show what they understand
Verses 3 – 4: The night sky is so big and we are so small. Can God really see us and care for us? Yes! He remembers us and visited us when Jesus came to earth. Why did he come? The answer is in Psalm 8:5-8. This is the purpose of God for men and women. Satan stops us from doing it well. Jesus came to put things right. Jesus came on a very special visit.
Verses 5 – 9: The New Testament of the Bible repeats Psalm 8:5. It translates God (Elohim in Hebrew) as angels. An angel is a servant of God.
Items for Discussion
- Why is it important to remember that our God not only created earth, the planet we live on, but all of the heavens too?
- We can compare the universe to the orderly function of a perfectly designed clock, why?
- If a clock cannot exist without a clock-maker then can the universe exist without a universe-maker?
- Think of the concepts of purpose and design
- What responsibilities did God give to the “son of man?”
- Why should we be thankful that it is our Savior that was given responsibility over the earth’s creatures and not mankind?
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Let’s reread Psalm 8:3-4.God designed the heavens. This is a very important concept to our belief that the universe and all of its bodies and motion has purpose and design. Therefore, it is not impractical to conclude that God, who has a complete plan for His world, would have designed an event to foretell the birth of His son. It would be no different than a clock maker who, at the end of a specified timeframe, places a mechanism to announce the coming of the hour.
God’s Word is simple, yet profound. The sun, moon and stars already existed, and God took them and set them on their courses in order that we might recognize signs, know the seasons and be sustained night and day. Note that this work was done on the fourth day in order that the plant cycles established on day three would not perish due to perpetual darkness or light, or grow in a manner in which the Creator would be unable to declare of what He saw that “it was good”
So what was that star? The most logical explanation was that the light in the sky was a planetary conjunction. Johannes Kepler, a German astronomer (d. 1630), pointed out that in the year 7 B.C. there occurred “a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the zodiacal constellation Pisces [fishes], a sign sometimes connected in ancient astrology with the Hebrews.” Moreover, this astronomical phenomenon occurs only every 794 years but in that year occurred no less than three times (in May, Sept/Oct, and Nov/Dec). Alfred Edersheim points out, in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, that the following year, 6 B.C., Mars joined the conjunction. Moreover, says Edersheim, “Kepler…also noticed, that when [in 1603-4] the three planets came into conjunction, a new, extraordinary, brilliant, and peculiarly colored evanescent star was visible between Jupiter and Saturn, and he suggested that a similar star had appeared under the same circumstances in the conjunction preceding the Nativity.” When we add to the above (i) that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C., and (ii) that he orders the killing of “all the boys…who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi,” there is a fairly strong case to be made for this viewpoint.
The use of the term “stars” is important in Scripture. It is used frequently to symbolize Israel, ruling powers, and the faithful. God said to Abraham, “look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be: (Gen. 15:5). The stars are a nightly reminder to us of the reality of the promises that God made to Abraham and to us who are “heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).
Items for Discussion
- What are some of the reasons that you can think of that would lead our God to foretell the coming of Jesus in this way?
- Our Kings of the Orient journeyed alone, without an entourage. What might be some of the reasons for their choice to “go it alone?”
- What significance to you see in the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh?
- Why do you think that mankind consistently places itself about God, a Creator who set in motion, the greatest time piece ever, the universe?
- How can we use the concept of the stars within our heavens to help people understand our God?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations