In verse 4, the psalmist ponders why God would even pay attention to us. Out of genuine appreciation for God’s attention, the psalmist poses a staggering answer: We are only “a little lower than God.” This answer reminds us that God’s delight in us is real, not imaginary.
This revelation has the potential to destroy us or to give us life. Recognizing our closeness to God becomes destructive when it makes us prideful, when it inflates our ego with arrogance, and when it lets us envision ourselves a caricature of humanity. Paul describes this as thinking too highly of ourselves (see Romans 12:3), and we now recognize such self-aggrandizing as a deadly sin.
Yet there is no virtue in thinking too lowly of ourselves. God delights in us so much that we are crowned with glory and honor and have been given this earth. The psalmist’s discovery strikes the proper balance—we are not God, but we are made in the image of God. Locating ourselves here saves us from pride on the one hand and despair on the other. “A little lower than God” is precisely what it means to be human.
Sometimes a person will say, “Don’t blame me—I'm only human!” But that’s wrong. Our problem is not that we are human, it is that we are not human enough. Living beneath our nature, falling short of our potential to be a little lower than God, leads us to say such things. Our first task is not to become Christian but rather to become human—to claim our sacred worth and let God delight in us.
Meditation: Dare to believe you are of inestimable worth to God. Then pray for the grace to acknowledge your sacred humanity and to become who you already are.
In our society we often privilege intellect and expertise. However, in Proverbs we read that God values wisdom. Wisdom has been present since the beginning, and some early theologians understand this Wisdom to be none other than the Son of God. Part of wisdom is understanding our place in the universe. The psalmist marvels at the vast display of God’s power in the heavens yet also recognizes that humans are a manifestation of God’s glory. The New Testament readings invoke the Trinity as we approach Trinity Sunday. Paul says that we have peace with God through Christ, and we are given the Holy Spirit. In John, Jesus Christ has received everything from the Father, and the Spirit will guide his followers into all truth.
Read Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31. When have you heard God calling out to you?
Read Psalm 8. The author reminds us that our shortcomings are not because we are only human, but because we fall short of our humanity. How do you strive to be more human—a little lower than God?
Read Romans 5:1-5. How do you allow God’s peace to calm you when you feel your life swirling around you?
Read John 16:12-15. To which person of the Trinity do you feel “closest”? How can you develop your relationship with the other two persons?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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