Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

by Rev. John H. Farmer

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Owned by God

I thought that on this warm, sunny, fall day to ask again one of the great questions put forth by Holy Script. I don’t just want this to be a philosophical question. Read Psalm Eight (A Psalm of David) with me:

“O Lord, our sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.

You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; You have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (New Revised Standard Version).

For me an old Sunday school hymn comes to mind: He’s still working on me—“It took him just a week to make the moon and the stars, but he’s still working on me.”

Sooner or later we will all be in earshot of a youthful lad or lass lamenting, “O there’s just nothing to do around here…” That’s a cry from the mouths of children who’ve been spoon-fed entertainment, whose imagination suffers from under stimulation, whose intellect is yet to be challenged. It is our fault, not theirs. Spending their formative years attending to the TV and popping in one video game after another keeps them busy—but rarely challenged.

Try getting the kids gathered about, then read this Psalm together. Oh yes, please find a fresh translation so as not to make them yawn. Talk some about the words, the recognition therein, and then head out of doors at night. Find a dark spot, preferably on a moon struck night. I would suggest an outline to acquaint them with the sights, sounds and smells of an evening out of doors here in our delightful tidal basin known as the Northern Neck of Virginia.

Perhaps this Psalm was to be sung. Like most of the others it was also memorized by the faithful for use in corporate worship. Note this, written by Woodrow Michael Kroll (former 1940s evangelical preacher and Back to the Bible radio host): “The sense of God’s presence of what the psalmist is so profoundly conscious in his own spiritual life is that which gives its glory and it’s meaning to the natural world. Nature is full of God; nature is the theatre of his glory. All admiration of nature in a rightly tuned heart is a confession of that glory. To the psalmist, then, a poem about nature is a God appreciation poem. For all who would honor the Lord God of heaven, every university natural science course should be the same, a God appreciation course.” Now, back to the outline.

Psalm 8, verses 1-2: The excellence of God’s name. God’s name, indicating his person and character, is far more worthy of praise than even his heavenly creation. “From the mouths of babes” indicates the innocence of praising God. In Matthew 21:16 Jesus makes an historical reference on praising the name of God. Young David (the Psalmist) makes reference to himself as a youth when he received the strength to still the avenger (1 Sam. 17).

Verses 3-8: The shepherd psalmist ponders the heavens. Keeping a watchful eye on one’s flock at night gives one time to consider what’s above. David notes the vastness of the sky, the uniqueness of the sun, the moon, and the twinkle of stars. Some of our children have never been outdoors at night. Get them to look up, listen, and count. David ponders who are we in relationship to a God who spans the sky, the sea and all of creation, yet still trifles with us. It is a “wow” moment!

God’s graciousness to us, the best of his creation, identifies the human race as preeminent of all of creation. Spend some time with your youth telling them just how precious they are to you. Tell them how you have dreams and hopes for their tomorrows. Tell them how proud you will be to leave this earth in their hands when God calls you beyond the vastness of the sky.

Share with your young audience how important it is that they accept responsibility for nature. Talk about how you expect them to care for the things of God’s creation long after we’re all gone from this earthly scene. Let them know how warm and comforting it will be for them to take their children out of doors and show them the vastness of God, and how granddad, grandmother, mom and/or dad went “once upon a time with them.

Verse 9 sums it all up. God’s graciousness towards us is worthy of our continual praise.

Let’s end where we started: To whom do we really belong—are we owned by God?