When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3–4)
Okay, I have a confession to make: I’m kind of an astronomy nerd. I love looking at pictures from the Hubble telescope. In fact, one time I took my grandson up to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, to see life-size models of the Voyager and the room where they built it. I’ve toured the Palomar Observatory and joined in nighttime stargazing parties in Sequoia National Park. And I also tune in every time SpaceX is scheduled to fire a rocket. I love the heavens. They shock and amaze me, and I admit that sometimes I wish I were an astrophysicist and could really explore the way I want to. But alas, I’m old and I hate math. So when I start thinking this way, I console myself by saying that I’m sure that exploring the heavens is something I’ll enjoy doing when I get to the New Earth. Will there be nebulas there? I hope so.
Perhaps one reason I find the heavens so fascinating is that I know and love their Creator: “In the beginning, God created the heavens” (Genesis 1:1). I love those words and am amazed at God’s power. All humankind combining all their power couldn’t make one nebula. Not even one. But here’s how David described their creation: he called them the work of the Lord’s “fingers.” Get that. The moon and all the stars, the galaxies and all the worlds, all nebulas, and black holes, and planets that are billions of light-years from earth are all simply the work of his fingers—just a couple of swipes with his ring finger and pinky. No big thing for him. Enormous horizons of universe after universe that we could never explore even if we had a thousand lifetimes were created by him as “hand-made sky-jewelry … mounted in their settings.”(1) Sky-jewelry … think of that! The earth is the Lord’s art project. He made it the way it is because he delights in beauty and there’s no end to his creativity and power.
David’s words here are meant to make us feel our insignificance. We’re tiny. We’re weak. If his fingers created all the heavens, then in comparison to his power and enormity, we don’t even amount to a grain of sand in the Sahara. And so, David voices the most logical of questions: What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him (v. 4)?
To answer that question, we need to think back to the creation of the earth. On the sixth day, after he had bejeweled the heavens with stars and the earth with incalculable plants and animals, the Lord said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him” (Genesis 1:26–27). And “God blessed them … and God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:28, 31). Why is God “mindful” of us? Why does he “care” for us? Simply because man, though infinitesimal in comparison to the heavens, is his image-bearer. He made us to be particularly like him in ways that sugar cane, grizzly bears, or Neptune aren’t, and because we reflect him in this way, he keeps us in mind always. Humankind is the crown of all God created. So he cares for us as we might care for a beautiful painting we created and delight in.
But that’s not the only reason we fill his thoughts. Yes, he cares for us because we’re created in his image, but he also cares for us because the second person of the Trinity, the Son, became one of us. He took to himself the blood, bone, and DNA (creations of God) of a little virgin girl, and his incarnation has forever elevated our race. Jesus is the image of the true God, but he is also the true man. By living in perfect loving obedience to his Father, Jesus truly fulfilled all that man had been created to be and has graciously credited us with that record. And because of that, when we put our trust in him, we can have complete assurance that God, who has numbered all the stars and “gives to all of them their names” (Psalm 147:4), knows our name and knows us so well that he can tell you how many hairs are on your head. “Fear not,” the perfect Man says to us, “you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7). Or stars or nebula or grizzlies. Don’t be afraid. You’re more than a speck of dust to him. You’re his beloved. He’s all-powerful and knows you intimately. And even so, he loves you. What are we that he is mindful and cares for us? His beloved.