A Breath of Air… Some Thoughts on Psalm 8

I have learned over the years that it is good to read many different Bible versions. Not only does it keep my Bible reading fresh because different versions render verses differently, but I do not speak any of the original languages of scripture (Hebrew, Greek, and at times Aramaic). Therefore, I am at the mercy of the those who have published different Bible translations to give me an idea of what God’s Word actually says. It’s the same reason why it is wise to read different commentaries, scholarly books, articles, videos, podcasts, interviews and lectures. Just as no two theologians/scholars/veteran pastors are in complete agreement, neither are those who translate the Bible.

Recently, the question at the center of Psalm 8 in the New Living Translation jumped out at me. Here is the entire Psalm with the question bolded…

Psalms 8 (NLT) O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you. When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place— what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority— the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents. O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

It is easy to forget that we, human beings, are “mere mortals.” It is also easy to forget that we have a responsibility in how we utilize and treat the creation and each other. And, more importantly, how we respond to God, because we were made “a little lower” than Him. The psalmist asks an important question…

“What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”

This gave me pause. So, I started looking up some verses. Maybe they will humble you and bless you, as they did me…

Genesis 2:7 (NLT)…the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Job 34:14-15 (NLT)If God were to take back his spirit and withdraw his breath, all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust.

Psalms 104:29-30 (NLT)When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust. When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.

Job 14:10-12 (NLT)…when people die, their strength is gone. They breathe their last, and then where are they? As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 (NLT)The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered.

Psalms 6:5 (NLT)For the dead do not remember you. Who can praise you from the grave?

Genesis 3:19 (NLT) For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.

Psalms 90:3 (NLT)You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!”

Psalms 89:48 (NLT)No one can live forever; all will die. No one can escape the power of the grave.

Psalms 115:17 (NLT)The dead cannot sing praises to the LORD, for they have gone into the silence of the grave.

Isaiah 38:18-19 (NLT)For the dead cannot praise you; they cannot raise their voices in praise. Those who go down to the grave can no longer hope in your faithfulness. Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.

Psalms 13:3 (NLT)Turn and answer me, O LORD my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.

Psalms 30:8-10 (NLT)I cried out to you, O LORD. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying, “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me. Help me, O LORD.”

Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 (NLT)Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

Isaiah 29:15-16What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”?

Job 14:14-17 (NLT)Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins. My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover my guilt.

John 5:28-29 (NLT)Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.

Daniel 12:2 (NLT)Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace.

Hebrews 9:27-28 (NLT)…just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

Romans 6:23 (NLT)For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:47 (NLT)Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven.

Psalms 103:14-17 (NLT)For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone— as though we had never been here. But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT)Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.

2 Timothy 1:10 (NLT)He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.

Ezekiel 37:1-9 (NLT)The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign LORD,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’” So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

1 Corinthians 15:53 (NLT)For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

1 Timothy 1:17 (NLT)All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

Job 9:32-33 (NLT)God is not a mortal like me, so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial. If only there were a mediator between us, someone who could bring us together.

1 Corinthians 15:45 (NLT)The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit.

Romans 2:6-8 (NLT)He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.

John 6:47-51 (NLT) – I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.

John 3:16-18 (NLT)For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.

Revelation 22:11-13 (NLT)Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy. “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

1 John 2:17 (NLT)…this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

Psalms 17:15 (NLT)Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.

John 3:6 (NLT)Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.

1 Samuel 2:6 (NLT)The LORD gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up.

Job 12:10 (NLT) For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being.

John 11:25 (NLT)Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.

And finally, what is becoming the most encouraging reference in the Bible to me at the moment…

Job 19:25-27 (NLT) But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

A Breath of Air

The same question is asked in another psalm…

Psalms 144:3 (NLT)O LORD, what are human beings that you should notice them, mere mortals that you should think about them?

The very next verse then reiterates the reality of who and what we are…

Psalms 144:4 (NLT)For they are like a breath of air; their days are like a passing shadow.

How then does what appears to be a merely insignificant mortal, “a breath of air,” whose “days are like a passing shadow,” then gain any sense of joy?

The very last line of this psalm tells us…

Psalms 144:15 (NLT)Joyful indeed are those whose God is the LORD.

Back to Psalm 8…

The psalmist asks if God “thinks about” and “cares” for us “mere mortals.” Well, of course He does! If He didn’t, He would not have given us “charge of everything” that He had “made,” “putting all things under” our “authority.”

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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