06-24-dhow-from-serena
Indian Ocean  (c) Carole Sparks

The earth itself testifies
to our insignificance.

Nothing makes a person feel small like standing beside the ocean or looking up into a big Texas night sky full of stars (especially if there’s a meteor shower, which we saw once—amazing!) or peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon. The earth itself testifies to our insignificance.

And yet…

God chose us to govern His magnificent creation. Why?

I’m spending this year in Psalms. It’s something to which God called me several months ago, and I expect to read through the entire book twice before the end of 2017. (I’m also reading books about the Psalms, so feel free to share any good suggestions.) This means you can expect many blog posts out of the Psalms this year, of which this is the first.

Psalm 8.

04-26 Ngorongoro Crater (144).JPG
lion resting (c) Carole Sparks

The Psalmist says to God, “You made [people] rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet” (8:6), then he lists many of the things over which we “rule”: domesticated animals, wild animals, birds, and fish. We don’t rule for any of the reasons other animals rule their domains. Sure, we have the biggest brains, but weaponless, we would lose a fight with a gorilla or a lion or a crocodile or an elephant or a poisonous snake or any number of other animals.

We rule because God gave us the task of ruling way back in Genesis 1. The only reason we (puny, almost-hairless beings) are at the top of the food chain is because He put us there. Why would He do that? For the same reason He selected the tiny Hebrew people group to be His “Chosen People.”

To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today.  -Deuteronomy 10:14-15

For the same reason Jesus was born in the insignificant backwater town of Bethlehem.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.  -Micah 5:2

The less we are,
the more He is.

Because the less we are, the more He is. We know, if we stop to think about it, that we really shouldn’t be the ones in charge.

Which brings me to the mouse in the jungle…

There’s a really fantastic children’s book called The Gruffalo. It was a favorite in our house for years, and I always did all the voices! In the second half of the book (spoiler alert!), the mouse encounters many of his natural enemies, but they are all afraid of him because a very large, very scary monster is following him through the woods. The mouse doesn’t know the monster is behind him. He thinks the animals are actually afraid of him.

This mouse is not a good role model. He’s deceitful and prideful and foolish, unlike us. Oh wait.

We can still make a good point here. The animals fear the one behind the mouse. They see the gigantic monster because the tiny mouse stops to talk to them. In a sense, the monster gives the mouse dominion over the animals. Obviously, God is not a monster, but do you see the connection? God appoints us to rule the world because our weakness and insignificance leaves the most room for His dominance.

Paul got it (and you’ve probably already thought of this verse). He said, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, [etc.]. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

If He is really the one in control, then what is left for us? First, our assignment remains from Adam: “Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28b). Like the sovereign of a nation or the father of a home, “to rule” means to be the caretaker, the leader, the responsible one as much as (or more than) it means to make rules and determine futures.

Deflect the
credit to Him.

Secondly, it remains for us to glorify Him. Unlike the mouse in The Gruffalo, we must turn around and point out the One who is truly in charge. We must never think it’s our own power or intellect or influence that deserves respect. We must deflect the credit to Him and acknowledge His power far above our own.

The Psalmist knew this, too, and this is the verse that really struck me as I read Psalm 8. It’s one of those verses stuck between familiar songs so it’s easy to overlook. Think about this one for a minute:

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies…  -Psalm 8:2

Through something as weak as children and infants, using something as ephemeral as praise, the God of Creation has made a stronghold, which is neither weak nor ephemeral. It’s as if He built an impregnable fortress out of clouds. And there’s plenty of room inside for all of us mice.

We are the mice God has put in charge of the whole jungle! (click to tweet)

So, how do you think about our assignment to rule over (or take care of) the world? How does it affect your daily life? Feel welcome to share in the comments below!

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