“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.”
These are the first and last words of Psalm 8. The psalms are full of wonderful, poetic language and this beginning and ending is a good example. This sentence establishes so much in such a few words. God is Lord—Lord of creation, Lord of the universe, Lord of the world. Equally important, God is David’s Lord—and ours. When we pray this psalm we acknowledge God as Lord of our lives.
David looks at the heavens, the sun, moon and stars, and stands amazed at God’s care for humankind. “What are we humans that you value us so? Why should we be so important? Why have you given us so much?”
Our place in creation lies somewhere between the angels and the rest of the creatures on earth. God has given us dominion over all that has been created—domestic animals, wild animals, birds, fish—all of these creatures are “under our feet.” We have been “crowned with glory and honor.” Put another way, we are the crown of creation. This amazing God has trusted us with this great responsibility.
We haven’t done so well. We threaten our charges with oil spills, over-fishing and hunting to the point of extinction, destruction of habitats, poisoning the air and water they—and we—need to live. All these and more are the destructive ways we have exercised our dominion over God’s creation. We haven’t done a very good job of living up to the trust God has placed in us.
When we have children, they are, in a sense, our creation. We love them, we take care of them, we try to do the very best for them that we can. At some point, we trust them to the care of others. We send them to school, to church, to friends’ houses to play. When we place them in another’s care, we trust that that person will treat them in the same loving way we do. We hope that that person will want, as we do, what’s best for our children and do everything possible to make that happen.
In effect, this is what God has done with creation. God expects us to care for all created things and love them as God loves them. This is the dominion we have been given: not to control, but to care for; not to use for our own ends but to love. God has made us “a little lower than the angels” so that we can be God’s representatives on earth. We exhibit God’s majesty when we care for God’s creatures.
Please do not misread me. I am not in any way saying people shouldn’t hunt and fish, nor am I saying it’s wrong to use animals for food. But we all know there are ways of doing these things that respect God’s creatures and ways that do not. God calls us to be good stewards of the creation that has been given into our hands.
What, indeed, is humankind that God has given us this exalted position? Why should we be entrusted with this stewardship? Certainly not because God loves us more than the other creatures. If we believe God delineates among creatures in the nature or amount of love, it is only a short step to believing that God loves some people more than others—and that puts us on dangerous ground indeed.
God has decided that we should be stewards of creation for God’s good reasons and God’s good purpose. Rather than feeling exalted by this honor, we should be humbled that our majestic God should deem us worthy to be given this responsibility. What an awesome task God has set before us!