Same Words; Different View (Psalm 8:9)

LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8:9)

“Tell them what you’re going to say. Tell them. Tell them what you said.” A speech teacher shared that old saw with me in college. In short, she wanted us to give speeches that left no doubt about what our point might be. David begins and ends Psalm 8 with these words. Literary analysts would call this an inclusio, a sort of set of parentheses that set off whatever appears within. A traditionalist composition teacher would call this sentence a thesis statement.

I can’t disagree with either of these comments, but I’d like to suggest looking at this closing statement of the psalm in a different manner.

Twenty-eight years ago, when I became a parent, I thought that being a parent was a pretty astounding thing. Today, having watched that daughter grow into a fine young woman and the mother of four children, I still believe that being a parent is a pretty astounding thing.

I could have made the same statement about the astoundingness of parenthood in 1983 or today. The words might be exactly the same, but the meaning behind those words would differ. Having experienced parenting more fully, I can comment on it more profoundly. I have no doubt that another twenty-eight years will cause me to look at the matter differently yet. Again, the words will remain the same, but the passing of time and experience will alter their meanings.

David starts off Psalm 8 with what might be considered a hollow and easy praise of God. Lest we think him shallow, though, he proceeds to explore that idea of the majesty of God’s name. He takes it with him and proceeds through a tour of creation. Everywhere, we hear that majesty echoing. Everywhere, we come to understand the message more clearly.

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. Having watched a butterfly emerge from a cocoon and spread its wings, having tasted redbud blossoms, and having watched my children exercise their marvelous gifts in various ways, I can speak those words more meaningfully today than just a few days ago.

Life is rich, Lord, and you are the richness of it.