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What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?
And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?
Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God,
And dost crown him with glory and majesty!
Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands;
Thou hast put all things under his feet,
—Psalm 8:4-6 NASB 1977
This quote from Psalm 8 has fascinated me for more than fifty years. It carries within it the spiritual “key” to so many, many things to do with God and man and our relationship and purposes together. In terms of foundational importance on virtually all spiritual levels, it may be second only to Christ’s greatest commandment in Matthew 22:36-40. It is a kind of “Rosetta stone,” unlocking the heart and mind of God. Likewise, it makes the birth of Jesus all the more unspeakably penultimate if one views His resurrection to be even more the supreme moment for humanity. In either case, He is the summation of God’s gift to both Himself and all creation.
Indeed, “what is man…?” The answer is that he is the carrier of God’s expansion of His influence and His fatherly nature as He engages what God has created across both time and eternity. Man (mankind) is His bridge of engagement, the extension of Himself as He penetrates His creation while remaining transcendent from it simultaneously. That is an unfathomable, deep concept. Man is God’s hands shaping God’s creation and growing more and more into him/herself as he does. That begins to answer the Psalmist’s question, “What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?”
The next phrase, “And the son of man, that thou dost care for him,” takes us directly into the heart of God and the method through which mankind is empowered to be and do what God the Father empowered him to do. God Himself became a human being in and through the person of Jesus. Christ’s birth (Christmas) is the celebration of God entering time in a new form as the one both fully God and fully man. Jesus is “the son of man,” the embodiment of all that God will do in and through man. God is the creator of man, the empowerer of man through the Holy Spirit who impregnated Mary, and the embodiment of man’s potential in and through Jesus Christ. This reality begins the journey of studying and worshiping why indeed God would “care for him” since this “son of man” is the centering point of both God’s ambition for Himself and mankind.
The next phrase, “Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty,” speaks to man’s condition in the context of time—as in, “a little lower than God” and awaiting man’s full glorification with and through Christ in eternity. It is of note that some Old Testament interpretations instead say that man is a little lower than “heavenly beings” or “angels,” as used in Hebrews 2:6-8. Man, being a created being, and God, being an uncreated being, tells us clearly that man’s exaltation, while glorious and yet to be seen, will never be like unto God Himself as an equal. Nevertheless, we are to be crowned with majesty and be empowered with the ability to do the “supernatural” things Christ Himself could do, since Jesus clearly indicated that His control of the material world was not done by His “God self” but by His human self being empowered by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 61:1-3). This takes us to the reality of man having control over the material creation in the pattern of Jesus Christ. As the Scripture goes on to say, “Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.”
So, what can we possibly say after all this? We say, “Merry Christmas” and “God bless you” and a host of very well-intentioned things to one another, and that is as it should be. Yet, in this nonsense-filled world which so universally displays fallen man’s weaknesses of all kinds, it is so easy for us to say, “Yes, what is man that anyone would take thought of him or her?” Man is, if we are to believe both in Jesus Christ and the ancient reality of the Scriptures, an unfathomably amazing creation of skill, character, honor, selflessness, compassion, and the shadows of a cloak divinely given to him by his Creator. And that is…