It’s hard to tell this dull, foggy, rainy morning, but yes, “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?” (8:3, 4)
Cats make themselves seem twice their size when faced with an enemy. There are fish that do the same thing. Apes beat their chests and roar. Be impressed, they say. Be warned, they imply.
And then we get to man who doesn’t need an enemy to puff him up—it just seems to happen naturally. We like being “larger than life,” to impress, to be that “big frog” in our little ponds.
The psalmist kind of puts us in our places here. In the light of God’s creation, we are pretty insignificant. In the light of the majesty of God Himself, we don’t even appear on the radar.
And yet, in awe, the psalmist proclaims that despite this, God is “mindful” of us and cares for us. We are a little lower than angels (8:5) but granted glory and honour nonetheless by virtue of being His image-bearers and in the light of the task that we have as keepers of the creation that God has made (8:6-8) because He was thinking of ways to express His care for us. The task of looking after these gifts was assigned to Adam back in Genesis 1:26. Genesis 2:15 follows up on this assignment by saying: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
Years ago, the WWJD (What would Jesus do?) movement appeared. It was a resurgence of the ideas suggested by the book “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon, first published in 1896. The book, according to Wikipedia, has sold more than 30,000,000 copies. The basic idea is that every time we are faced with a decision to be made or a question to be answered we need to ask “what would Jesus do?” and then do it. Good idea.
As I read Psalm 8 this morning the thought occurred to me that a WWJD moment would be a good thing for believers to practice when it comes to the world we have been mandated to take care of. What would Jesus do with what we so casually throw into landfills, including water bottles, pop cans and K-cups? What would Jesus do when faced with a beautiful deer during hunting season? What would Jesus do about the millions of acres destroyed in man’s pursuit for the earth’s riches? What would Jesus do with plastic forks and styrofoam cups at a picnic?
Is it because we think we are so “big” that we can so cavalierly treat the world around us with such disdain? Is this how we "beat our chests?" It’s ours to do with as we please, right? Wrong! It’s God’s and we are only its trustees. And as we “soil our nests” (something even the animals don’t do) we need to be aware that, though God is mindful of us and cares for us, spoiling what He has so carefully designed for His glory and our pleasure is like dumping the birthday cake mom made for us on the floor and trampling it. After a while there might not be another birthday cake!
Those who don’t know the Lord can’t be expected to know better (though they often do). Those of us who do claim to know Him, should. The next time you decide to stop at Tim Horton’s for a coffee, take your travel mug and save the planet from one more disposable cup. That, at the very least, will be a small beginning of honouring the majestic Creator of a majestic world.