Above What?

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Psalm 8:1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!

When I asked people what this verse was actually saying, their answers were what I expected—that God’s majesty is displayed in the heavens themselves. Their interpretation actually came from Psalm 19—a different Psalm altogether.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Although the heavens do declare the Glory of God, that is not what Psalm 8:1 is saying—this verse is saying much more than that…

A familiar passage can sometimes become too commonplace for us to really listen to it—and therefore we risk not hearing what God is really saying in it. It can even become cliche—at which point we may lose the meaning altogether.

So, in the interest of listening to our God… and with the purpose of hearing Him… let’s unpack Psalm 8:1 a little…

The Hebrew word for “LORD" is Yahweh (YHWH). It is God’s memorial name and means self-existent or eternal.

The Hebrew word for “Lord” is Adonoy and is also a proper name for God. It comes from an unused root meaning to rule. It has the idea of a sovereign controller.

The Hebrew word for “majestic” is addir and means noble, wide or generally large. Figuratively it means powerful.

The Hebrew word for “name” is shem and is from a primitive word that had the idea of a definite or conspicuous position; as in a mark or memorial of individuality. It implies honor, authority, or character.

The Hebrew word for “earth” is eretz and means firm. It refers to the land of the earth itself or the earth in general.

The Hebrew word for “displayed” is natan and means to give, put, or set. It has the idea of appointing, ascribing, or assigning.

The Hebrew word for “splendor” is hod and means grandeur or glory. It has the idea of an imposing form or appearance.

The Hebrew word for “above” is al and means upon, over, top, or highest.

The Hebrew word for “heavens” is shamayim and means heavens. It comes from an unused root that means lofty.

Let’s think through these definitions for a moment in order to more clearly understand the awesome message this verse contains.

First of all, David addresses God by name as LORD because he is referring to all that God is. The LORD is self-existent and eternal. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the God of the nation of Israel. God gave this name to His people as a memorial name for all generations. Israel could always call their God—YHWH. YHWH is the God Who has made a Covenant with Israel—He is their God and they are His people.

David addresses God as his Lord to show his allegiance to Him, and his pride in Him… He acknowledges Yahweh as Ruler—his Ruler and the Controller of all that is. He confesses that Yahweh is the Sovereign Lord of all.

After addressing His God, he begins to exalt the person of Yahweh and praise His Name. David declares that the name of Yahweh is a mark of His individuality. David expounds upon the honor, authority, character, and position that the Owner of this Name embodies.

David proudly exclaims that his God’s “personhood” is majestic—David’s God is noble, great, and powerful. So great, wide, and large is His identity that there is nothing on the earth that can compare—in fact, the nobility of the earth itself cannot begin to stand in the presence of David’s God. 

Are you beginning to catch the import of David’s praise?

Let’s continue…

David doesn’t mince his words when he describes His awesome Lord. He proclaims that his Lord’s Glory is not to be taken lightly, nor is it noticed by accident. David announces that YHWH, Himself, has appointed or assigned His Glory to be seen by His creation.

God, Himself, has put a value on His Being, His Glory and Grandeur—He is weighty in value, far above all else, and He demands that His creation realize it. He has set His Glory in front of His creation—not only the ability to be aware of His magnificence, but He has put Himself “in their face”, so to speak—they cannot deny His resplendence.

God has ascribed His Glory as that which is the highest of the high; it is above and over the top of any other supposed glory—even that which humans consider to be lofty and high—the heavens themselves.

So while it is true (and wonderful) that the heavens declare the Glory of God (Psalm 19:1), Psalm 8:1 is declaring that the Glory of God (which is declared in the heavens) is above the glory of the heavens themselves!

Cool, huh!

© Sharon Jensen 1999-2017