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Journey Through The Psalms: Glory and Honor

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth! -Psalm 8

So today is that first Sunday of Lent. The season and time of the year in which we mark and do the work of preparing to receive and welcome Christ as the risen Lord and savior in our lives. But right now, we've got the journey that lies ahead. And last week, I introduced the series and opened things up. Hopefully you were able to get one of those Psalm reading schedules. They're still available on the website, on the Facebook page or printed copies in the office. We started on Wednesday with reading through the Psalms, you get Sundays off unless you want to use them or play catch up if you've missed some days.

Last week, I'd said that Psalter had those three general categories: Psalms of orientation, Psalms of disorientation and Psalms of re-orientation or new orientation. Well, this morning’s Psalm is definitely in that category of a Psalm of orientation because it sings God's praises, but we also have to talk a little bit about some of the elements of Psalms. Last week, I'd mentioned those parallelism where ideas are repeated. One of the things that we find in Psalms, throughout Hebrew scripture and even the New Testament, is a literary or a structural device called a chiasmus.

Now, a simple form of this is one that's found in Matthew 23:13, where Jesus says, “those who exalt themselves will be humbled. And those who humble themselves will be exalted.” So you have two ideas that end up getting crisscrossed. So the word chiasmus comes from the Greek letter chi. It's a symbol that looks like an X. So we have those who are exalted are humbled, and those who are humbled are exalted. And when you link the exalted with exalted and humble with humble, it forms an X, so that's a real simple form of it. Another way to think of it is to imagine you're building a sandwich. You put a piece of bread down, slather on your favorite condiments, and we put a slice of meat on there. Then you repeat the process in reverse, you put another slice of meat on, then you slather on some more condiments and then you put that other piece of bread on it. So you have a process where you go through A, B, C, Maybe even D or more. Then in a similar fashion, you repeat those ideas or themes in D,C, B, A. It's a technique that's used to draw emphasis to what is being said of what's going on. If you've ever studied, or read, Franklin Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, his second habit is, begin to begin with the end in mind. And I think that's what these chiasms do. They present the idea, take us through the steps and then go backwards again through those steps to bring us back to that point that they really want us to pay attention to.

So in the case of Psalm 8, verse 1 and verse 9 are identical. They bookend everything else that happens in here. This Psalm is one that follows that chiasm structure, versus one and nine say, “O Lord, our sovereign. How majestic is your name in all the earth?” We start with this thought with this idea, “O Lord, our sovereign. How majestic is your name in all the earth?” We're identifying God, we're speaking to God, we're addressing God, we're saying, ‘God, you are our Sovereign God, and nothing in all of creation is greater than your name.’ That's the beginning point. That's the theological point. So it's not just to make good and pretty poetry, but it's to make a strong and significant point. The point being that everything starts and begins with God.

Then we've got this praise of creation, this wonder and awe that the psalmist experiences, “God, when I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you've established.” You’ve had those moments in l