Psalm 8 and the Image of God

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had the pleasure of sitting under Dr. T. David Gordon’s preaching Sunday night. Dr. Gordon, author of the recently-released Why Johnny Can’t Preach, has been one of the most influential men in my life (after my dad, brother, and a few others) with his media ecology class, lectures, conversations, articles, and now preaching.

Dr. Gordon preached on Psalm 8, which is a Psalm that explicitly praises God, but doesn’t stop with that. Unlike many modern praise choruses, the psalmist recalls the grounds for such praise, including God’s “glory above the heavens”, the “work of his fingers”, and several verses praising God for making man in God’s image.

The psalm juxtaposes two aspects of man. First, when compared to the moon and stars which God has “set in place”, man seems small and insignificant: “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” But then the psalmist rehearses the place of “glory and honor” man has been given: “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings [Hebrew word is Elohim] and crowned him with glory and honor.”

After an exposition of this psalm as praising the created order and how it is fulfilled in Christ, Dr. Gordon gave some points of application. Since we, as fallen sinful creatures, cannot rightly fulfill our duty to exercise dominion over creation, we need to remember that Christ’s work as the last Adam is complete and perfect. No matter how we fail, Christ has accomplished it.

Also, because we have been created in God’s image – which entails a special place in creation and characteristics that find their source in the Triune God, we should aspire to the image of God in which we have been created. Dr. Gordon specifically pointed out how we have so gotten used to the “banal,” but we can and should aspire to cultivate, appreciate, and create beauty. The aesthetic beauty, after all, finds its source in God the Creator. Genesis 1 shows that God saw his creation as “good” and “very good.” God’s good creation included beautiful things and practical things (“pleasant to the sight and good for food”). Man has also been given the gift of creativity.

Being “creative” doesn’t mean one has to be an artist and create beautiful paintings or impressive architecture. Creativity also includes artisans, who make more practical things. In either case, because we are made in the image of God, we should cultivate creativity, grow in our appreciation for it, and mature in our discernment regarding it. General example areas include food, drink, music, language, art, craftsmanship, and intellect.

Another example would be me improving upon my listening to and summarizing sermons. Maybe he should write a book on how Johnny can’t listen and process sermons correctly. Speaking of which, I heard through the grapevine that Dr. Gordon’s next project is something along the lines of why Johnny can’t sing hymns (how pop culture has re-written the hymnal).

2 thoughts on “Psalm 8 and the Image of God

  1. Sounds like a great sermon. The point alluded to in your fourth paragraph reminds me of Hebrews 2:8b-9:"Now in putting everything in subjection to him [man], he left nothing outside his control. At present, we [DO NOT YET] see everything in subjection to him [mankind]. 9 But we [DO] see him [Jesus] who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."CAPs and clarifiers (man, mankind, Jesus) mine. We DO NOT YET see mankind glorified, but we DO NOW see Christ (the true man) glorified!I'm looking forward to his follow up book on hymns. BTW, he gave a great interview recently on Christ the Center / Reformed Forum available here.

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