Inspired by Psalm 8
To the Chief Musician. On the instrument of Gath.
A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,[b]
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!
1. Matthew Maury
Inspired by a tiny phrase in the eighth Psalm that some would have thought superfluous or merely poetic, this Naval Commodore became determined that there were indeed “paths” in the sea. At the time certain currents were known such as the Gulf Stream, but no one realized that there were “fast-tracks” across entire oceans. But that’s what Maury discovered as he continued to study the ocean.
He found that differences in temperature usually marked different currents, and within a couple of years the trip from New York to England was reduced from six months to four and a half, and continued to improve.
They called him “The Pathfinder of the Seas” and erected this monument to him:
You can see sea and wind charts in one hand, and a Bible by his foot.
(Read more about Matthew Maury and other scientists who loved God in the book Men of Science, Men of God.)
2. Matt Gilman
In most circles, stealing your lyrics wholesale from someone else’s song is not considered appropriate. But for Christians, the Bible has enduring newness that is not exhausted by any number of songs, books, or tributes. Like an infinite diamond, every direction that you turn is a startling new view of the same thing that has been there all along, and thus the angels can freak out every time they see God, saying, “Holy.”
And that is the title of Matt Gilman and Cory Asbury’s album, “Holy.” If you haven’t, you should really check out the title track also:
Only one word comes to mind—
there’s only one word to describe:
There are many other great musicians at Kansas City’s House of Prayer, stealing from other great Scriptures. I think creativity is an attribute of God that he expects to see in his people, and that creativity is most powerful when it is grounded in a reflection of the same ancient truths of who God is and what he has said in his Word.
3. Whoever wrote Hebrews
In the first two chapters of the letter to the Hebrews, the writer has quoted the Old Covenant ten times; once from the story of David, once from the song of Moses, once from Isaiah, and seven times from the Psalms.
Why are the psalms quoted so much—more than everything else? Because a tune makes words easier to remember, and the psalms (although we forget) used to have tunes. Paul requested that his letters be read aloud (Colossians 4:16); the added dimensions of hearing, reading, and singing, helps you to memorize anything. Imagine how many songs you know all the lyrics to.
Scientists think every human mind can and does hold around 20 encyclopedia sets of information. Many centuries ago, Jews memorized entire books of the Torah, many the entire law of Moses (first five books), some the entire Tanakh (Old Testament). With all the translations and printings of Scripture we have and all the technology on our side, what’s our excuse?
Regardless, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament thought that these ancient worship songs (including Psalm 8) contained some of the best statements about Jesus and who he is, even though they were Jewish and 1000 years old.
4. David was inspired by Moses
The reason David had something enduring to say about God was not only that he had a heart after God, but his mind had followed suit. Like the writer of Hebrews, David had found an priceless revelation of God in the Scriptures, which for him meant the books of Moses. Nehemiah, David, Joel, and Jonah all quote in their books from the revelation of God to Moses: “the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love.” It was what God had said about himself to Moses when Moses asked God to reveal himself.
These words that God spoke to Moses are quoted in three Psalms, and all three happen to be attributed to David (Psalms 86, 103, and 145). These “new songs” from David were inspired by God’s enduring word.
Often our worship songs and our science can say as much or more about our God than our theological background or denomination. What about the songs we write and listen to today? Do our “new songs” contain ancient truths? Do they say something enduring, not just about us or our view of God, but about God?
Does God’s Word breathe inspiration on our science, our songwriting, and our spiritual shepherding? There have been inspired writers, yes—but “the inspired writers await inspired readers.”
May we have the heart of David, a heart after God in live pursuit, to find out from God what he has said about himself in his Word. May we find in that revelation an enduring word about who God is that will bring depth, power, and purity to our lives, our conversation, our studies, and our songs.
Worship songs recommended for memorizing Scripture:
Matt Gilman - When I Consider (Psalm 8)
Shane & Shane - Psalm 13
Cory Asbury - So Good to Me (Psalm 40)
Justin Rizzo - Psalm 93
Matt Gilman - Psalm 100
Charlie Hall - You Have Done Great Things (Psalm 126)
Jon Thurlow - Psalm 131
Shane & Shane - Psalm 145
And just for kicks… Andrew Peterson - Matthew’s Begats