Singing As We Plant #8
Take time to read the entire Psalm, and then come back and re-read the following verses.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
– Psalm 8:1-4
Psalm 8 is one of my favourite Psalms.
It starts with the wonder and glory of God. He is God. He is also our Lord. How precious is that personal pronoun: our Lord. His glory fills the cosmos. And from the most glorious, most wondrous, most exalted vantage point above the heavens, the psalm zooms in, like one of those spy movies where the satellite image above Los Angeles zooms in on a tiny street in a forgotten neighbourhood. The psalm zooms in on the mouths of babies and infants praising this exalted God.
When kids sing about God and his goodness, the devil is like: “I got nothing.”
It then speaks of how the songs of children leave the enemies of God silent. When kids sing about God and his goodness, the devil is like: “I got nothing.” Why do you think this is the case? What is it about praise from the mouths of children that God can use as a weapon? And what can we emulate from the way they praise God, so that we too can silence God’s enemy?
Jesus, on the way into Jerusalem, quotes this psalm and shows us what it means. In Matthew 21:14-17, the opponents of Jesus – the opponents of the gospel – hate to hear the children shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David” in the temple courts. Jesus identifies himself with the awesome God of Psalm 8:1 and identifies the children with the babies and infants of verse two. And he shows that the chief priests and teachers of the law are to be identified with the foes and enemies of God. That is, they are to be identified with the devil himself. And through the praise of the children, God strikes a blow against his foes.
Kids are unrestrained. I love singing with my son Daniel, because he is too young to get embarrassed and so he belts out tunes and pulls some dance moves without the fear of rejection. We have great dance parties in our house. He will lose that freedom at some point, and I think that will be a sad day. When I watch the kids singing and praying and praising God at our Next Generation gatherings at our church, my heart leaps, and I think the devil flees. They have a passion and a fervour that is very powerful. How can you be more passionate and zealous in your praise of God?
The entire canon of scripture can be summarized in two words: “Trust Me.”
Kids are quick to trust. They take us at our word, which is scary, and they take God at his word, which is wonderful. Faith and trust are huge themes in the scriptures. They please God, and they make the enemy of God retreat. In some way, the entire canon of scripture can be summarized in two words:
Adam fails to trust in the first garden, but Jesus trusts God in the garden of his great testing and so establishes a new way for us. The rest of biblical history is all about those who trusted God and those who didn’t. Kids teach us what real trust looks like. How can you trust God in a more child-like way?
Kids are honest. They are able to own up to failings really quickly and they are able to put them behind them equally quickly. Their whole bodies tell us how they are feeling. Lying, it seems, is a skill that grows with age. How can you be more open and honest in your praise of God?
Followers of Christ aren’t called to be childish, but Jesus himself calls us to be child-like.
Look at Jesus. Sing like a kid. The devil hates that.
Singing As We Plant
Church-planting starts with the glory of God and moves from the glory of God to seeking the good of man.
Church-planting starts with the glory of God, as does this psalm, and moves from the glory of God to seeking the good of man. And it turns out that the highest good for man is to glorify God in his whole life.
So in aiming for the glory of God, we hit the highest good for mankind.
This psalm isn’t really about us. And church-planting isn’t really about us. And it is when we remember that, when everyone finds their place in a God-centred universe, that everyone finds full human flourishing.
Dear Father, when I think of the stars and the moon and your handiwork in the heavens, I am reminded of your glory. And I am moved by the fact that you are mindful of me. Teach me to express this in self-forgetfulness, unrestrained praise, trust and thanks. In Jesus’ wonderful name we pray.