| || |The Berean Expositor
Volume 19 - Page 140 of 154 Index | Zoom | |
"A little lower than the angels" (Psa. 8: 5).
pp. 139 - 143
There are two Psalms in which David asks and answers the question, "What is man?"
"Lord, what is man, that Thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that Thou
makest account of him! Man is like to vanity, his days are as a shadow that passeth
away" (Psa. 144: 3, 4).
But instead of this conclusion leading David to consider that man has no place in the
scheme of things, and that his little world and span are but a drop in the ocean, it causes
him immediately to call upon the Lord: "Bow Thy heavens, O Lord, and come down,
touch the mountains and they shall smoke" (verse 5). And all this with the object of
delivering one who at first sight was of so little account.
When we turn to the other Psalm of David where this question occurs, we find even
less reason for unscripturally belittling man:--
"When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars,
which Thou hast ordained, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of
man, that Thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8: 3, 4).
Unless we give good heed to the actual teaching of this Psalm, we are liable to become
the victims of a false comparison. When man looks away from himself to the vastness of
the heavens, the myriads, the immensity of it all is overwhelming, yet is the pessimism of
the poet not justified when he wrote:--
"Stately purpose, valour in battle, splendid annals of army and fleet,
Death for the right cause, death for the wrong cause, shouts of triumph, sighs of defeat.
Raving politics, never at rest while this poor earth's pale history runs:
What is it all but the murmur of gnats in the gleam of a million million suns?"
Ecclesiastes expresses a similar thought. Because it ends in death, all such activity is
vanity. This is a true conclusion, but the poet has been misled by the mere comparison of
size and bulk, which is a false basis to work upon.
An astronomer, similarly overwhelmed by this irrelevant logic of size, as Fitchett
aptly calls it in his Unrealized Logic of Religion, observed that if God dispatched one of
His angels to discover this tiny planet, Earth, amongst all the glittering hosts of the stars,
it would be like sending a child out upon some vast prairie to find a speck of sand at the
root of a blade of grass. This would be very terrible if true, but in its implication it is
false. Scripture does not speak of these millions of suns and planets, and the earth as one
of them. Its constant language is "the heavens and the earth", with no thought concerning
their disproportion so far as size is concerned. When dealing with moral worth, do we