Monday, August 28, 2023

Summer Psalms #2: Secure Psalm 23


Summer Psalms #2: Secure Psalm 23

Psalms 23 is probably the best know scripture in all the Bible. It is considered one of the “crown jewels” that are set apart because of their beauty and their subject. Passages like Genesis 1, Isaiah 53, Job 38, John 3, 1 Corinthians 13 or Revelation 21. It is hard to get a consensus from everyone on what all the crown jewels chapters or passage of scripture are, but Psalm 23 would be on each one of those lists. 

Listen to what Charles Spurgeon said about Psalms 23 - Of this delightful song it may be affirmed that its piety and its poetry are equal, its sweetness and its spirituality are unsurpassed. The position of this Psalm is worthy of notice. It follows the twenty-second, which is peculiarly the Psalm of the Cross. There are no green pastures, no still waters on the other side of the twenty-second Psalm. It is only after we have read, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!” that we come to “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  - C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 1-26.

Let me pick up where Spurgeon stopped and put down some contextual foundation before we look at the six beautiful verses of this Psalm. Psalm 23 is actually one of a trio of Shepherd Psalms, Psalm 22, 23, and 24. These 3 Psalms show us David’s great shepherd, His Lord and if we also are the sheep of his pasture, then they show us our great shepherd as well.

We see The Compassionate Shepherd Dying for His Sheep in Psalms 22:1-2 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season and am not silent.

We see the Caring Shepherd Protecting His Sheep in Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

And we see the Conquering Shepherd in Psalms 24:7-8 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.

And in the center of those “shepherd Psalms is the 23rd Psalms. So, let’s turn there now and read all six verses.

Satisfied With the Shepherd – Psalm 23:1-2

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

 David’s Stability

David makes these boasts in the opening two verses. First, Jehovah is my shepherd, and secondly, because that is true, I shall not want.

Here David uses the personal name of God, because he has a personal relationship with Jehovah. He knows and is known by the creator of the universe, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, just and loving God. David knows that He is the one who is personally watching over him.

In fact, Warren Wiersbe points out that each of the OT names for Jehovah can be seen in this psalm:

Jehovah-Raah, “The Lord my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1)

Vs. 1, I shall not want shows us Jehovah-Jireh, “The Lord who provides” (Gen. 22:13–14);

Vs 2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures and leads beside the still waters is Jehovah-Shalom, “The Lord our peace” (Jud. 6:24);

Vs 3 He restores my soul and vs. 5 he anoints my head with oil is Jehovah-Rapha, “The Lord who heals and restore” (Ex. 15:26);

Vs. 3 He leads me in the paths of righteousness is Jehovah-Tsidkenu, “The Lord our righteousness,” (Jer. 23:6);

Vs. 4 says in the valley of the shadow of death you are with me. That is Jehovah-Shammah, “The Lord who is there,” (Ezek. 48:35);

Vs. 6 David declares that he is part of the household of God and now lives under God’s banner and that is Jehovah-Nissi, “The Lord our banner” (Ex. 17:8–15).

No wonder David would say in his second boast, “I shall want.”  He says, I lack nothing, I need nothing, I am full to overflowing because Jehovah God is my shepherd.

The Theme: “I shall not want” is the theme that runs throughout the 23rd Psalm. We see it in vs. 2, “I shall not want” for rest and refreshment, in vs 3, I shall not want for restoration and righteousness, In vs 4, I shall not want for protection in time of trouble, in vs. 5 I shall not want for provision in the wilderness, and finally in vs. 6 I shall not want for an eternal home.

In vs 2 David gives an example of resting in the Lord and needing nothing nor anyone else. He says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters.”

David is probably writing this Psalms as an older man, the King of Israel now, but he looks back to when he was once just a shepherd boy and his mind dwell on those times and how he remember when he was a shepherd and watched over his own sheep and now he rejoices that even in midst of all the problems of kingship, the battles with enemy nations, the family problems, the sins of his people, even his own sin, still he can boast that God cares for him and gives him peace. Jehovah is his Shalom.

Stablished in My Shepherd and Savior

As New Testament believers our Good Shepherd is fully revealed as Jesus, God the Son. When it was time, Jesus came as the shepherd of Israel and gave His life for the sheep, just as Psalm 22 prophesied. Jesus is the Shepherd of our souls, each and every day.

One of the reasons we so love Psalm 23 is because we see in it our own relationship with our Shepherd, Jesus Christ. He is our provider, He is our peace, He is our leader, He is our protector.

In John 10, Jesus claims the title of the Good Shepherd and He echoes Psalms 23 but changes the perspective. Instead of the sheep looking to His shepherd, now Jesus in John 10 looks as a shepherd to his sheep. And this chapter also is another crown jewels of God’s Word.

In John 10:7-11 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Jesus is the good shepherd and in this passage He also tells us how we become His sheep.

in John 10:27-29 Jesus makes this clear, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.”

That is the promise of our great, good, guiding shepherd. Listen for He calls every man, woman and child. Listen, for when you hear the Gospel Jesus is calling and if you would know His love, peace and protection, then you must answer his call and come. Go to him and find salvation. Walk with Him to life and life eternal. Stand behind His protection for no man is able to take you from his hand. What more could anyone need or want?

We have eternal salvation, eternal protection and eternal life in Jesus if we answer the Gospel’s call.

Song Come Unto Me

Hear the blessed Savior calling the oppressed,
“O ye heavy-laden, come to Me and rest;
Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear,
Bring Me every burden, bring Me ev'ry care.”

 Stumbling on the mountains dark with sin and shame,
Stumbling toward the pit of hell’s consuming flame;
By the pow’rs of sin deluded and oppressed,
Hear the tender Shepherd, “Come to Me and rest.”

 Come unto Me; I will give you rest;
Take My yoke upon you, hear Me and be blest;
I am meek and lowly, come and trust My might;
Come, My yoke is easy, and My burden’s light.

After David boasts that His shepherd meets all his needs he then reflects on the security and peace he has through his great shepherd in vss. 3-4

Secure In the Shepherd – Psalm 23:3-4

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;

David’s Security

Through The Valley - The next two verses present us with a progression of the sheep in their walking with their shepherd. The first two verses show us the sheep at rest in the shady, green pastures of the lowlands. Now in vss. 3-4 we picture the shepherd leading the sheep up through the paths of righteousness and even climbing steep mountain valleys filled with the deadly shadows of jagged peaks and waiting predators.

David, when he was a shepherd boy, would have made this kind of journey every year with his own flock. He knows that once the sheep knew him, and trusted him, then they would follow him anywhere. He also knew that it was necessary to leave the hot, dry lowlands and travel to the high, cool mountain tablelands.

For His name’s sake speaks of the Shepherd’s reputation, his name. David as one of the Lord’s sheep knows that his soul has been restored by his time with the shepherd in the green pastures. He knows that he is now ready to follow as his shepherd leads him in righteous, true paths. As he faithfully follows wherever his shepherd leads, then the shepherd’s name, his authority is clearly seen in the obedience and loyalty of the sheep who go where the shepherd leads.

The Rod and The Staff- “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” David knows he is safe and fears no evil because the shepherd walks beside Him through the valley. The rod and the staff of the Shepherd comfort him because with them the shepherd will protect the flock he loves.

Also notice here in vs. 4 that the person of the shepherd changes from third person, He leads me, to second person, You are with me. The danger, the threats of the dark valleys bring the sheep closer to their shepherd. David is no longer just talking about the shepherd, he is now talking to his shepherd who walks beside him through those dark paths.

Secure in My Shepherd, Jesus Christ

Jesus in John 10:11-15 says, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. -- The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Do you know where boldness in the face of danger or death comes from? Do you know where you will find courage while you pass through the valley of the shadow of death? It is not in us, we truly are frightened sheep, but that boldness, that courage, that ability to say, “I will fear no evil” comes from knowing my shepherd, Jesus Christ, the Son of God walks beside me in those dark valleys of my soul.

David says, “Thy rod and they staff, they comfort me.” Jesus’ rod and staff for us is the Bible and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, promised by Jesus. Listen, our Shepherd speaks to us through this Word and He eases our troubled hearts with the unspeakable joy and hope of the Holy Spirit.

Thy Word and Thy Spirit, they truly comfort me.

Stand By Me

The Hymn Stand By Me was written by Charles Albert Tindley, born in 1851, he was the son of a slave, lost his mother when he was very young. Then he was sent away from his family to live with an aunt. He was born free through his mother, but was hired out by his family to work alongside slaves throughout his youth. He taught himself to read and he taught himself the Bible and when God called him to preach he was ready. He wrote hymns and would often start his sermons by singing one of his hymns. He wrote the hymn Stand By Me. In it you can hear the voice of one of the Lord’s sheep calling out for the protection of His shepherd in those dark valleys.

1 When the storms of life are raging,
stand by me; (stand by me)
When the world is tossing me
like a ship upon the sea,
thou who rulest wind and water,
stand by me. (stand by me)

2 In the midst of tribulation,
stand by me; (stand by me)
When the hosts of hell assail,
and my strength begins to fail,
thou who never lost a battle,
stand by me. (stand by me)

5 When I’m growing old and feeble,
stand by me; (stand by me)
When my life becomes a burden,
and I’m nearing chilly Jordan,
O thou Lily of the Valley,
stand by me. (stand by me)

There is such courage, such boldness, such comfort in knowing that our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, stands by us with His rod and staff. Walking with us through the valleys of dark shadows that we pass through in this world.

And we must pass through those valleys because only through the valleys will we find the tablelands Jesus has prepared. This is what David sings of in his last stanza of Psalm 23. The Sheperd has been with the sheep in the low restful pastures. He has walked beside then in the dangerous mountain passes, then comes the summit and they walk out upon the peaceful tablelands in vs 5-6.

Supper With the Shepherd – Psalm 23:5-6

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

David’s Serenity

This journey began down in the lowland pastures, where the lambs were born and life with the shepherd began, but the shepherd could not leave the flock there, for during the hot summer months the lowland pastures dry up. So, He leads them higher and higher, up and further up, through those deep and dangerous mountain pathways. In order to get to the high cool, plentiful mountain plateaus, the mesas, the tablelands, they had to go forward and upward, the flock had to learn to follow their shepherd, leave the green pastures and brave the dark shadows if they were to come to a place of serenity with their shepherd.

David says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” The shepherd had gone ahead and had already prepared a place for the flock to find sustenance and a higher, greater peace.

David rejoices in this time with His shepherd. “You have prepared a table to feed me and you have anoint my head with oil to sooth and comfort me. O Lord, My cup runs over.”

Stephan Haboush, who was a shepherd boy in and around Bethlehem in the late 1800s, wrote a book called My Shepherd Life in Galilee. In that Book, he talks about this phrase, “My cup runneth over.”

A pilgrim, having a very dear and intimate friend in a distant country, visits him. Upon his arrival, this pilgrim, though in a strange land, finds the gates and doors of the palace of his friend open and the friend standing expectantly with open arms to welcome him to his bosom. The pilgrim is refreshed wonderfully; the dust of the long and tedious journey is washed away, and he is made to feel at home. He did not dream of the wealth or of the great possessions of his friend, or of the beauty that he saw in every nook and corner of the magnificent palace. Every conceivable thing was lavished on the pilgrim. From the hour of his rising to the hour of his slumber he was entertained royally, for nothing was left undone to make his stay the richest experience of his life.  Every wish, and every want was fulfilled. The time of parting came.

How will he express his appreciation to his wonderful host? If he offered gold and silver his friend would feel insulted, for he was vastly richer than the pilgrim. Would the mere words “thank you" or "much obliged" be sufficient to express his sincere appreciation of the wonderful hospitality? How, then, should he express his gratitude? The pilgrim, while visiting his friend, learned that there was a supreme expression of appreciation. He could only say to his host, "My cup runneth over."

David closes his song of praise to the shepherd of Israel, by looking even higher than the table lands. He says, in vs 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

He looks past this high place of peace, past this serene supper to a dwelling place for all eternity where He will be with His shepherd forever. From the tablelands high above the valley below, David looks even more upward and forward and he sees into forever, into eternity.

Supper In My Shepherds House

One day we will hear the voice of our shepherd call us home. One day after we have journeyed through the painful paths of this life, one day when we pass through that final valley of death’s shadow, then on that day we will follow our loving shepherd to that final tableland.

On that day, we will leave behind even the high tablelands of earth, leave behind our earthly places and times of joy and go on to the highlands of heaven and like David, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

There is so much promise in that phrase, “the house of the Lord,” to us it is speaks of heaven, but it is more than just a place. The House of the Lord means we belong in and are a part of the household of God, we belong to Him now and for eternity. Dwelling in His house forever means protection now, it is belonging to him now, it is who we are and where we will be, now and always. We are the sheep of his pasture. We are the members of His mighty, eternal house.

Remember how Jesus expressed it in John 10:27-30? “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.”

One God, One Lord, One faith, One people, One Flock, One House. We are His and we are protected under the power of the House of God forever.


We began this sermon by saying that the 23rd Psalms was a crown jewel of the Bible. So much beauty and truth in just 6 verses. But what we truly need is not to know the 23rd Psalms as a masterpiece of literature but as the Master’s Peace in my life. It should be as true for me as it was for David.

In its prose I should hear my own heart of thankfulness, my own hope of peace, my own height of joy.

I pray that you have answered when the Good Shepherd called. I pray you are walking with him though those pathways of righteousness. And if you face the valleys of death’s shadow that you know He walks beside you each step of the way. Finally, I pray that you are looking upward to those blessed tablelands of heaven, to a serene suppertime with the Shepherd of your soul. 


Friday, August 25, 2023

Book of John Bible Study: That Ye Might Believe John 20 The Resurrection: Jesus our Risen Lord

 Book of John Bible Study: That Ye Might Believe
John 20 The Resurrection: Jesus our Risen Lord

Resurrection Accounts

Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

 Luke 24:1-4 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: …10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

The Women at the Tomb

Mary Magdalene was probably so named from the town of Magdala in Galilee, where she had lived. Joanna was the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward (see Luke 8:3). Mary the mother of James is mentioned by Matthew (27:56) and Mark (15:40

 Salome is described as the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Mt 27:56). - Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett Falconer Harrison, Eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary:

Reconciling the Accounts

The accounts vary with the names of the women, the number of the angels and the appearances of Jesus. Do the accounts contradict one another?
No, John centers his story on Mary as she was the first to see tell Peter and John about the empty tomb. The others, along with Mary, saw the empty tomb but Mary quickly leaves to find John and Peter. The other women stay behind, go into the tomb and see the angel(s), only one of which speaks and is featured in Mark and Matthew. They then go back to tell all the apostles the message.

Meanwhile, Mary had found Peter and John and returned with them to the tomb. After seeing the empty tomb Peter and John leave, but she stays behind weeping, then looks into the tomb and sees the two angels and before leaving she sees Jesus, her resurrected Lord.

As the other women are heading back into Jerusalem, Jesus now appears to them.  He confirms the message of the angels to tell the apostles to go to Galilee and wait for Him there.

The role of these women is especially significant in light of the fact that they lived in a male-oriented society. Although only one of the twelve disciples, John, was at the crucifixion, these women were present. They were the first people to come to the empty tomb, the first to learn Jesus was alive, the first to see Him alive, and the first to tell the good news of His resurrection.

- George W. Knight, A Simplified Harmony of the Gospels, (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2001), 244.


If the Gospels were faked, then the differences would have been “fixed.”

The fact that they show differences attest to the truth of 4 different authors and several different sources.

There are no contradictions, but several different eyewitness accounts of the same event.

 Mary sees Jesus

Mary Magdalene comes with Mary the mother of James and Salome. John doesn’t mention them but Matthew does. Is this a contradiction?
No, John centers his story on Mary as she was the first to see Jesus. The others along with Mary saw the empty tomb, she quickly went to find John and Peter. The other women went into the tomb and saw the angel(s) and then they went back to tell the apostles the message the angels had given them. Mary Magdalene found Peter and John first and returned with them to the tomb. After seeing the empty tomb Peter and John left, but she seemed to stay behind saw the angels and then the Lord. Shortly after the Lord appeared to the other women and confirmed the message of the angels to tell the apostles to go to Galilee and wait for Jesus.

 Peter and John at the empty tomb John 20:3-8

In this passage who is “that other disciple?”

Once again it is John, who often referred to himself this way.

The three words for see or saw in these verses are different words in the Greek.

blepei: Vs. 5 A mere partial viewing of the burial spot form the entrance to the tomb.

theorei: Vs. 6 beholding something, looking close, examining it.

eiden: Vs. 8  perceiving to the point of belief.


Does the description of the grave clothes fit the description of the “Shroud of Turin?”

Not at all.  These are in two pieces wound about the body.  The “Shroud” is one piece folded once and laid from the head down to the feet.

Vs. 11-18  Why doesn’t Mary react to the angels or recognize Jesus when he first speaks to her?

Shock and deep grief may have prevented her from seeing what would be obvious in a normal situation.

What finally causes Mary to recognize Jesus?

When She hears her name from His lips.

Explain why Jesus told Mary, “touch me not?”

The phrase should be understood as “don’t cling to me.”  Jesus was not going to continue living on the earth.  His relationship with Mary and the other disciples would no longer involve his physical presence.


Vs. 19-31 Jesus appears to the disciples.

 Why did Jesus breath on the disciples?

He gave them the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as he had promised in John 14:17. In the Old Testament God breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living soul, here Jesus breathes into them the Holy Spirit symbolizing the new spiritual life and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

What authority did Jesus give them?

The authority to forgive or retain the sins of others.

 How is this authority administered?

Through the Gospel, which is given to all conditionally.  If they accept the gospel their sins are forgiven if they reject it their sins remain.

 Thomas was absent at the first appearance and did not accept the testimony of the others.  When Jesus appeared the second time, what was Thomas reaction?

He believed, even without having to touch the scars.  His statement, “My Lord and My God” is one of the strongest in scripture.

 Vs. 29 What does Jesus say about faith and signs after Thomas’ confession?

Those who believe without seeing are blessed.  A greater faith and therefore a greater blessing for those who could not see Jesus.

 Vs. 30-31 What is the purpose of John only recording the certain miracles of Jesus?

To bring belief to those who did not see Jesus when He was on the earth. John’s Gospel  strengthens our walk by faith.

 The Post-Resurrection Appearances of Christ

Appearances on Resurrection Sunday

1. To Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18).

2.  To the other two women who were with Mary - Salome and Mary the mother of James (Matthew 28:9-10).

3.  To Peter (Luke 24:34). 

4.  To two disciples on Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-32). 

5.  To the apostles with Thomas absent (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25)

Week after the Resurrection

6.  To the apostles with Thomas present (John 20:26-29).

Over the next few weeks

7.  To seven of apostles at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-25). 

8. To the apostles on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-18

9.  To over 500 brethren (1 Corinthians 15:6).

10.  To His brother James (1 Corinthians 15:7)

40th Day after Resurrection

11.  To the apostles and ate a meal with them (Acts 1:3-8; Luke 24:44-49). 

12.  To those who witnessed His ascension (Acts 1:9-12; Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53). 

2-3 Years After the Resurrection

13.  To Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8; Acts 9:1-6; 18:9-10; 23:11). 


The Resurrection is an essential part of the Gospel message and a key doctrine in the Christian faith. It proves that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that His atoning work on the cross has been completed and is effective. The empty cross and the empty tomb are God’s “receipts” telling us that the debt has been paid. - Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 1:387.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Summer Psalm #1: Seeking - Psalm 8


Summer Psalm #1: Seeking - Psalm 8

Key Verse: What is man that thou art mindful of him?  Ps 8:4


We as a society have become lost. We don’t know who we are or why we are here or what we are supposed to do while we are here. We have teachers, groomers, child predators telling innocent children that they can be any perversion they want, boys can be girls, girls can be boy or if you don’t like those human genders then you can a furry and be a unicorn, a dog, a cat. Recently a mother went on Tik-Tok and with tears in her eyes complained about a veterinary who refused to treat her child who identified as a cat. She was broken hearted, that the vet couldn’t accept her child as a cat.

Because we have generations that doesn’t know who they are they also don’t know who they are supposed to love and marry. They don’t know how they are supposed to live or even if they are supposed to live. Schools have been teaching for decades, that each of us are just here by a random chance of evolution. We are no better than a bug on a sidewalk, so when things go wrong what does it matter if you squash the bug? Life is meaningless, whether that life is yours or a classroom full of children who made fun of you or a church full of Christians, or a mall full of people who don’t look, act or talk like you think they should. They exist by the random chance of evolution so why should they not cease to exist by the random shot of a gun?

Are we doomed to live this way from now on? Or is there another way? What if life isn’t random, or the future is not empty because we can find in God’s Word an answer that changes all the hopelessness to happiness, all the emptiness to fullness and all the pain to praise. I want you to look at Psalms 8, for here is one of the central truths of human  existence and it begins centers on the question, What is man?

God's Glory - Psalms 8:1-2

 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.

Know God As God

David, the poet-King of Israel, begins this psalm by writing, O LORD, our Lord.

The first LORD is in all Caps so we can know that it is the word Jehovah / Yahweh, the "I am "of the burning bush. This is the personal name of God. So revered by the Jewish scribes who copied the Old Testament that they did not dare to write it out fully or to speak it out loud. In order to write it here in scripture, they took the consonants from Jehovah, and the vowels from the word Lord and made a new word that showed the name of God, pronounced as Lord, Adoni, but understood as Jehovah.

The second Lord in this verse is the word Adonai, it means controller, master "one who occupies the position of a master over a slave.

Then David moves from the address of his Lord God to praise for his Lord Creator. He says, How excellent is thy name in all the earth! God is lauded as sovereign in power and majesty. David imagines God in all His might and splendor ruling over all the earth.

From David's inspired perspective, he looks up into the heavens and his mind is filled with the wonder of his God.

He says that God's glory is set high above the heavens. Higher than can be fully seen, imagined or comprehended. God is higher than what David sees in the night sky, more majestic than what he can write down in a psalm and greater than his imagination can comprehend.

David then moves his psalms in a great sweep from the glories of heaven to the lips of a baby or a toddler. He says that even in the most elemental sounds of the human voice, even in the first steps of a human life, there is praise, strength, glory for their Creator, because God has ordained it.

In Psalms 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.  2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Do you want to know why God created such a vast universe and put us in only a very small insignificant part of that universe? Psalms 19 and Psalm 8 give you the answer, the vastness of the universe shows the power and omnipotence of God. “The heavens declare, they shout it out, they make it plainly seen and impossible to overlook. They heavens declare the glory of God! I don’t see a cold, empty, impersonal universe, I see God’s revelation to me or His glory, power and eternity!

First Step In The Quest To Answer What Is Man?

If we are to find an answer that makes sense of this life, if we are to understand who and why we are here. If we are to overcome bad luck, bad circumstances, bad parents and even our own bad choices, then we must see and know God as David knew Him.

We must see Him as Jehovah, God Almighty, God of Creation, God of Power and yet God who also transcends the universe and makes Himself known by us personally. I must see Him as the creator of all, Sustainer of all, all powerful, all knowing, and in all places and all times, but I must also see him as savior, friend, guide and protector.

Perhaps even more important to knowing that Jehovah, Yahweh is God, I must also know Him as Adonai, the Lord of my life. He is my master, and I have fully given myself to serve Him. If life is going to amount to something worthwhile, if my time on this earth is to leave something lasting, then Jehovah God must be Lord God to me.

Remember the story of Thomas after the resurrection. John 20:26-29 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

The Lord and God that Thomas knew through the resurrection, the Lord and God that David knew through creation, must be the Lord and God we know if we are ever to answer the questions, “What is Man, and who am I?”

No King but Jesus

There is a famous saying attributed to John Adams just before the Revolutionary War. I’ve always liked it and I’m going to share it with you to finish this point. When a British Major ordered several of the founding fathers to disperse, he added the command “in the name of George the Sovereign King of England.” John Adams who had a great way of turning a phrase spoke up and said, “We recognize no Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” -John Adams. (pretty good isn’t it.)

John Adams along with the other founders of our nation, changed the world and went from outlaws to heroes and much of what they did was because they believed in a God who held the universe in His hand, and they also had placed themselves in those very same hands.


To know what is man. To know who you are, you must first know who God is. Without that foundational knowledge you will never know yourself, your purpose or your potential in this life.

Transition: From God Himself, David now turns to God’s handiwork, His creation

God's Grandeur - Psalms 8:3

Psalms 8:3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

 Know God As Creator

David looked up into the night sky and he is astounded by the stars that he could see. At that time the visible eye could see about 3000 stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, or as the ancient called it, the “River of the Sky” that ran through that vast field of stars. Isn’t it ironic that today man has much greater knowledge of the universe than David ever could, but we are no longer in awe of God who spoke it into existence. Perhaps that is one of the things that has blinded us to our God, we see much more but we know much less about what we are seeing. We know so much less because we no longer want to see the One who put those stars, planets, galaxies, and nebulas there and so we won’t see that He also placed us in the middle of that river of the night sky. Today, we have gained scientific knowledge, but we have lost Biblical wisdom and perspective.

Biblical wisdom instructs us in Psalms 33:6  By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Job 22:12  Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!

So, let’s consider God's Universe, let’s view as best we can, His Glory written in the heavens.

The Size of God’s Universe The universe is so vast that no scale model is possible.

If we tried to make a scale model that contained an earth only one inch in diameter, the nearest star at the same scale would be over 51,000 mile away, that is further away than anything on our planet.

Instead, let us use this scale in our model. Let us reduced the distance from the earth to the Sun, 93 million miles, to only the thickness of the page of my Bible, now we got something. Now the distance to the nearest star (4 1/2 light years) would be a stack of paper 71 feet high.

Our Galaxy, 100,000 light years across, at this scale would be a stack of paper 310 miles high.

The known edge of the universe would then be a stack of paper 1/3 of the way to the sun or 30 million miles. (but wait there’s more)

The Immensity of God’s universe. The universe is so immense that no one can count all the stars that fill it.

They estimate that there are over 100 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone, and they estimate again that there are over 100 million galaxies in the known universe.

In order to count to 100 billion, just the stars in our universe, you would have to count to 250 every minute for 1000 years. (So lets go ahead and get started we’ll wait finish the sermon in 1000 years. That would set a record wouldn’t it?)

In David's time, they had counted the 3000 stars they could see, and they stood in awe of the creation of God. How much more should we stand in awe when we consider the One who holds this vast universe in the palm of His hand?

Psalms 95:3-7 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.  6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.  7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Seeing The One Behind Creation

What do you see when you behold the night sky? And please do yourself a favor and every once in a while, get out of town, go camping. Get yourself a blanket, or if you’re old like me and your back and knees can’t get easily after laying on the hard ground, then get a good reclining lawn chair and look up into the real star filled night sky. The same sky David looked into. What do you see? Do you just see stars, planets and darkness or do you see the craftmanship of Jehovah God who hung those stars in the fabric of space, like so many shining diamonds strew out on a vast background of black?

Do you see nothing, or do you see the glory, power and majesty of the Creator? And there behind that miracle of creation you will also see God and yourself as part of that creation.

Psalms 50:6  And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself.

Psalms 89:5-6 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. 6 For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?

Romans 1:19-20 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

God is talking to us indirectly, through creation but He is talking directly to us in these passages from His word. what a difference that revelation makes. What such a reality, such a truth does for us and to us, who understand and define ourselves within God’s creation of the universe.

Transition: After consider God’s handiwork, David then looks at man in vs. 4 and asks the question that is the theme of our message and the central truth each of us must know if life is going to make sense. David asks, “What is man?”

God's Greatest - Psalms 8:4-8

Psalms 8:4-8 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;  8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

Know God As Savior

David looks at himself in the light of God’s incredible creation. After considering the vastness of the heavens, the glory of God seen in them, he then asks God, "Why do you bother with man? Why do you care about me? What is this insignificant man when compared to the greatness of the God who created the universe?

He not only asks what is man, but also, who am I? I am just a lowly, son of man? He asks, “God why would you visit me? Why did you reveal yourself to me?”

This question is the consequence of David seeing himself through the perspective of God’s creation. What is man in comparison to all that? Why did You care enough to reach down through the vastness of the universe and touch him?

David’s answer is the most amazing part of Psalms 8.

David says, “You have made man a little lower than the angels.” The Hebrew word here is actually, Elohim, the word for those who dwell in heaven, both angels and God. David is saying that in the order of ranking all of God’s creation, man is second only to God himself. We have been made as the highest creature in all of creation.

David says, “We have been crowned with honor and glory.” We have been made in the image of God. He breathed into us the breath of Life. He made us like Himself, having free will, having in our being both intellect and eternity, through that same image of Himself. That likeness has been terrible marred by sin, corrupted almost to the point that the image of God can no longer be seen, but praise God, it can be fully and beautifully restored through the gift of God, His own Son Jesus Christ.

David goes on and says, “All things have been placed under man's control. Thou made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands, you put all things under his feet, under his authority.”

And so here is the answer to David’s question, “What is man?” Man is God’s highest creation, made in God’s own image, to rule over all of God’s creation. But this truth, can only be fully understood by David or by us when we see ourselves in the light of God’s creation and in the light of a relationship with God though Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Finishing The Quest

To finish this quest. We must answer for ourselves the question, Who am I? Are you only an insignificant bit of nothing in a vast, empty universe? Are you only a cosmic random chance or an accident of blind, unguided evolution?

Many hopeless people are seeking as the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates counseled, To "Know Thyself." But many on this quest, don't like what they the person they find. So, they attempt to forget or change who they are. They use mindless activity, drugs, promiscuous sex, or catastrophic surgeries to try and change the person they are. Or if those things don’t work then they turn to violence, rage, or they stop caring about anyone or anything, including themselves. In the end many turn to suicide, thinking that will stop the questions, but that only reinforced for eternity the answer they did not want to hear while alive

And yet, the right question will bring fulfillment, joy and a life worth living to its fullest. When we know God as God, when we know God as Creator, when we know God as Savior, then we understand who we were meant to be.

We understand that in God, we have a purpose, we have power and we have the promise of eternity. Yes, man without God is hopeless, helpless and homeless, but when I realize who God is, when I realize who I am in light of God’s Word, when I see myself as so loved by God that He sent Jesus as my Redeemer to save me, then my life, my existence, my being has purpose.

I know who I am, through God and His love for me. I am not an insignificant speck in the fabric of time and space.  I am a beloved child of the King of the Universe.

This is what Psalms 8 says, we are God's greatest creation, second only to the Trinity. All of God’s creation has been given to our care, but this can only be understood in the truth of God’s Word and the love in the right relationship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

The final fulfillment of God’s design for man - Matthew 25:21 Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

That is what we were created for. That is our eternal purpose!

John Newton's before and after God

John Newton was an absolute lowlife; He was the captain of a slave ship that traded in human beings like so much livestock. He was even terrible at this low profession since he was also a drunkard that hated his men and was hated by them.  Once he was so drunk that he fell overboard in a storm. His men took a harpoon and tossed it at him as he struggled in the water. The harpoon struck in the leg and they used the attached rope to pull him back on-board.  Ultimately, he lost his job as on a slave ship due to his drinking and wasted life and was sold as a slave to the very people he used to transport as slaves out of Africa.

You might look back at John Newton and think that was a waste of a person, He was not fit to even be called human and you would be right. But this worthless piece of human flotsam in the sea of human history was changed when he was touched by God. He believed, he repented and then answered the call of God to pursue the purpose he was created for . After many rejections, he finally become a pastor of a small congregation. There he served God, by preaching and writing hymns and through those sermons and those hymns he changed the world and eternity. His most famous hymn is of course  Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace (how sweet the sound)
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

2 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!

3 Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come:
'tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.

4 The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.

5 Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease:
I shall possess, within the veil,
a life of joy and peace.

6 The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
the sun forbear to shine;
but God, who called me here below,
will be forever mine.

If John Newton could rise from the empty, worthless, waste of his life by coming to a knowledge of and a relationship with God then any and all can rise as well.

Conclusion:  The highest praise - Psalms 8:9

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

David finishes the Psalm as he began it, with the majesty of God. 

He has found his place in God's universe, because God has found him. As his Psalm of creation has come full circle, also his own circle of creation is complete. He knows what man is. Humanity is God's greatest creation. And David knows who he is, just a man but one that has been remade, redeemed, and repurposed by God. God chose David and He chose us to have a purpose in Him. As all the universe shows the glory of God, we also are to show forth His glory by worshiping, by serving, by going, by living for Him. Then one day we will join with all of creation, with all the redeemed, for all eternity and we will glorify the Lord our God.

Revelation 5:8-13 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Have you found your place in God's universe?  Has God found His place in your universe, your life?