Psalm 8 (C)

O Love, my Beloved, How powerful is your Name in all the earth!
You, whose glory is sung in heaven by the angels and saints,
Who with he innocence and spontaneity of a child,
Confound those who are mighty and proud,
You comfort the unloving and fearful.
When I look up at the heavens, at the work of Love's creation,
at the infinite variety of your Plan,
What is woman that You rejoice in her,
And man  that You delight in him?
You have made us in your image, You fill us with your Love;
You have made us co-creators of the earth! guardians of the planet! 
to care for all your creatures, to tend the land, the sea, and the air we breathe; 
all You have made, You have placed in our hands.
O Love, my Beloved, How powerful is your Name in all the earth!

Nan C. Merrill Psalm 8

Psalm 8:


Holy God, powerful and beautiful is your love in all the earth!

God suffers with us. God co-creates with us.

Not because we are anything special, but because God loves us.

God confounds the proud and comforts the fearful.

Not because we are anything special, but because God loves us.

God creates all sorts of variety for us to enjoy and care for.

Not because we are anything special, but because God loves us.

God chose to dwell with us and to work in and through and with us.

Not because we are anything special, but because God loves us.

God, help us to be more like you.

Not because we are anything special, but because we love you.

Holy God, powerful and beautiful is your love in all the earth!

The Lord’s Prayer:

Breath Prayer:  

If you are new to breath prayer, I’ve recorded some examples:

Here are some simple breath prayers to accompany this psalm:

Meditate on the infinite variety of the Devine’s plan

A simple prayer with one word on exhalation and one on inhalation: God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your power and release my control. 

Or you can split a longer phrase between inhalation and exhalation or put a phrase on both.  Here is an example: You have made us in your image, You fill us with your Love.

Do what is most comfortable to you.  Breath prayer is a practice not something we do perfectly.  Some days will be easier than others.

Ok, everyone, take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.

I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom.  It is a practice I have continued since.  Many churches use the Revised Common Lectionary (RLC) that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C).  Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C.  Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others.  While we were using Psalms in year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A.  In Advent of 2020 we rejoined those who use the lectionary in year B.  Advent of 2021 follows year C of lectionary pattern with Psalms in year C.    

I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections.

Other Year C Psalm blog posts:

Advent – Transfiguration: 1st Sunday in Advent Psalm 25, 2nd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Luke 1:68-79, 3rd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Isaiah 12:2-6, 4th Sunday in Advent Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 80, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Psalm 148, New Year’s Day Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Christmas Psalm 147, Epiphany Psalm 72, 1st Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 29, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 35, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 19, 4th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 71, 5th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 138, 6th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 1, 7th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 37, Transfiguration Sunday (Sunday before Lent) Psalm 99

Lent: Ash Wednesday Psalm 51, 1st Sunday in Lent Psalm 91, 2nd Sunday in Lent Psalm 27, 3rdSunday in Lent Psalm 63, 4th Sunday in Lent Psalm 32, 5th Sunday in Lent Psalm 126, 6th Sunday in Lent (Palm or Passion Sunday) Psalm 118 or 31

Holy Week: Monday Psalm 36, Tuesday Psalm 71, Wednesday Psalm 70, Maundy Thursday Psalm 116, Good Friday Psalm 22, Holy Saturday Psalm 31

Easter: Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 114, 2nd Sunday of Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 150, 3rdSunday of Easter Psalm 30, 4th Sunday of Easter Psalm 23, 5th Sunday of Easter Psalm 148, 6thSunday of Easter Psalm 67, Ascension Psalm 47 or Psalm 93, 7th Sunday of Easter Psalm 97, Day of Pentecost Psalm 104

Season After Pentecost (Ordinary Time): 1st Sunday after Pentecost (Trinity Sunday) Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 or Psalm 22, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 77 or Psalm 16, 4th Sunday after Pentecost  Psalm 30 or Psalm 66, 5th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 82 or Psalm 25, 6th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 52 or Psalm 15, 7th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 85 or Psalm 138, 8th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 107 or Psalm 49, 9thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 50 or Psalm 33, 10th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 80 or Psalm 82, 11th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 71 or Psalm 103, 12th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 81 or Psalm 112, 13th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 139 or Psalm 1, 14th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 14 or Psalm 51, 15th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 113, 16th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 146, 17th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 137 or Psalm 37, 18th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 66 or Psalm 111, 19th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 121, 20thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 65 or Psalm 84, 21st Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 32, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 145 or Psalm 98 or Psalm 17, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 98, 24th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 46.

Sources and notes:

“Psalm 8 is the first hymn of praise in the Psalter. It interrupts the sequence of prayers for salvation to say something very important about the God to whom the prayers are made: The LORD is the cosmic sovereign whose majesty is visible in the whole world. The psalm also discloses why the salvation of those who pray is so important for the reign of God: As human beings, they have an office in God’s kingdom.” Mays p. 65

“The LORD who is sovereign over the congregation that sings the hymn possesses a cosmic majesty evident in all the earth. The psalm does not imply that the sovereign self of God is apparent in the visible world. There is no pantheism here. The majesty to be seen is that of the name of the LORD. The content of “name” is the works and words of the one whose identity and will are expressed through them. The psalm sees in all the earth the work of the word of the LORD and views the work of the LORD as the word of the LORD’s sovereignty. The body of the hymn praises the LORD as creator, but there and here the language distinguishes between creator and creation while marveling at the majesty of the one discernible in the other.” Mays p. 65

“In the psalm, the question [what is man?] is not an invitation to philosophical reasoning or scientific research. In all the appearances of Psalm 8 in the Old Testament, including this one, the psalm’s purpose is to acknowledge the finiteness of a human being, his unimportance and limits (144:3-4; Job 7:17; 15:14). The recognition is evoked here by contemplation of the vast depth of the night sky with its moon and myriad mysterious stars, an experience to which people of many times and places have testified. The experience is not, however, that of being “lost in the cosmos”; rather, it is of awe and wonder at the marvelous majesty of God, who can make and has made a royal regent of this mere moral. The question is asked in the psalm to serve the purpose of the hymn, praise of the LORD.” Mays p. 68

Creach notes that this text is often used to abuse (dominate) the earth because people are to have ‘dominion’, but that is not the intention or proper interpretation as “humans serve not as owners over creation, but as tenants” p. 73 or we could think of ourselves as having a “sublease” p.75. If we took care of the earth as the owner would, we would be lovingly caring and protecting all of it.

“…dominion without the recognition of God’s claim on us and on the earth becomes domination.” NIB p. 327

“The movement from Psalms 3-7 to Psalm 8 suggests at least that the royal status and vocation of humanity are not diminished by suffering. In fact, as regards the human, we may conclude that to be created in the “image of God” inevitably means that we will suffer. As regards God, we may conclude that divine partnership with humanity inevitably involves God suffering. These same conclusions are articulated in the book of Job.” NIB p. 327

WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.

Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.

Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Chittister Chittister, Joan. (2011). Songs of the heart: reflections on the psalms. John Garratt Publishing. 

WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.

Creach Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

DAFLER, J. (2021). PSOBRIETY: A journey of recovery through the psalms. Louisville, KY: WESTMINSTER JOHN KNOX.

W de Claisse-Walford, Nancy L. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 4-5. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 22. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2020. 

W Hopkins, Denise Dombkowski. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 2-3. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 21. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2016. 

NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Lewis, C. S. (2017). Reflections on the Psalms. Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. 

Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.

McCann McCann, J. C. (1993). A theological introduction to the book of Psalms: The Psalms as Torah. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Merrill, N. C. (2020). Psalms for praying an invitation to wholeness (10th Anniversary Edition ed.). London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.

Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know.Nashville, TN: Abington Press.

Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.

WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.

OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.

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