What Is Man?
(To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David.)
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 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? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! (Psalm 8)
“What is man that thou art mindful of him?”
It is rather remarkable that God has placed such a high value on mankind. He created us in his image, has involved himself in world affairs, and loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son to die for us.
David looked at the moon and the stars and it made him think about all of God’s creation. Considering the magnificence of God’s handiwork, David asked the penetrating question: “What is man?” In light of all God’s creation, what is man that God is mindful of him? People have different ideas about the value of mankind. They hold to different views about the origin, purpose, and destiny of mankind. I worked with a man in Texas for a brief time, many years ago, and he claimed to believe in evolution. I liked the man. He had a good personality and did not disparage my beliefs, but he had no interest in the things of God. He acknowledged the theory of evolution cannot be proved, but he said he did not need a God to rule his life. There have been people I have had the chance to meet over the years, people that were not Christians, that I have prayed for many times. Of course God is not going to overpower them and bring them to repentance, but I pray for his powerful influence. This man has been on that list. Another man was an oral surgeon from Missouri who came to Texas to learn some new surgical techniques. I was (un)fortunate enough to get to be one of his “guinea pigs” and got my wisdom teeth taken out for a fraction of the normal cost. It was quite the experience both during and after the surgery. I witnessed to this man in my limited knowledge, and gave him a card on my last visit that encouraged him to seek the Lord. Surprisingly he gave me a hug and that was the last time I saw him. I have prayed for him many times. There is a man I worked with for about 8 months when I arrived in Alaska. He did not want to hear from me about Christianity, and we have never visited with each other outside of work, but we are on friendly terms. Even though we do not work together anymore we still talk regularly on the phone, or through friendly text messages. I like him. I have prayed for his conversion, and I have tried to be a witness in small ways and I have not been pushy. He is a nice man and was the best employee I had working under me. I hope that I have had an impact on him and that his opposition to the Lord has lessened. In fact, he told me once that he did not have a problem with Christianity, per se, but with "Christians." Knowing what I do about many professing Christians, I don't blame him. He is the only one of these men that I am still in contact with and I expect we will continue to be friends. These are just three individuals that came to mind in writing this, contemplating the value of man, and I offer the Lord a heartfelt prayer even now for all three of them. These men, along with all the rest of us, have been created in God’s image.
What is man?
People are important enough to the Lord that he came to the earth to be born as one of us, that he might reconcile us to God. Some people think the atonement allowed God to be merciful to mankind, but that is not so. It was because God is merciful that the atonement happened. God loves humanity. He wrongly gets blamed for the consequences of man’s sinful decisions, yet he still loves us enough to draw us to himself. He gave his Son to suffer and die so our penalty for sinning could be set aside. It’s also true that God has stepped in to lessen the suffering of people when it has been morally safe for him to do so. In saying when it “has been morally safe for him to do so”, I mean that God has created a world where choices matter. The only way choices matter is if there are consequences connected to those choices. A world of cause and effect helps us to make at least some sense of things. Still, God intervenes and provides help at times, without undermining his moral laws.
Some think that “God is on the side of the biggest battalions.” But God doesn’t need armies at all. God can bring down a mighty empire by starting with a baby (see verse 2). To humble Pharaoh’s empire God sent a baby to a Hebrew home. Moses was born and through the actions of his parents he was saved from death. He was hidden and then found by Pharaoh’s daughter. She looked at him and he cried. Though Moses’ journey had some twists and turns, and could’ve taken a different path than it did if he had not obeyed God, from those beginnings came the downfall of a powerful and oppressive kingdom.
God cares. The Creator of the universe focuses his attention on people. Though he has created many wonders – the sun, the stars, the moon, the planets, even the angels, mankind is the focal point of his creative and redemptive work. For now, we are a little lower than the angels, but in a coming day, the redeemed will reign with Christ and will judge the angels. What an intriguing truth.
What is man?
We are significant beings, each and every one of us. Job asked: “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?” God sets his heart upon human beings. He sets his heart upon me, upon my wife, my children, the people I see at work, the people at the grocery store, and people like the three men I mentioned earlier. Are his concerns our concerns? Do we care about mankind? Or are we more concerned with entertainment and comfort? In our world, there is not an emphasis on mankind as there should be. Millions upon millions of lives have been destroyed in mother’s wombs. Millions upon millions of lives have been destroyed because of militarism and empire building. What tremendous evils these are, yet they are carried out time and time again for selfish reasons. Some people give more attention to saving animals and trees than they do human beings. Save the whales but women should be able to kill their unborn children. Murder is wrong, unless it is done by people in uniform and “for their country.”
We live in a world of turmoil, and it starts with the fact that God’s emphasis on the well-being of people, of individuals, is cast aside for selfish pursuits. Life is not valued as it should be. Protecting life is not emphasized as it should be. I can’t make decisions for others, but what am I going to do with the opportunities I am given to make a difference in the world around me? What am I going to do with the time I have on earth?
What is man?
As a human being I am a creation of the God who is love. Being created in his image I am meant to live as he lives.
Love is man’s highest purpose.
“…love is the fulfilling of the law.”
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:”
“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”
I am responsible for loving God and my neighbor. I am not to live for myself, but for the Lord and others.