HOW EXCELLENT IS THY NAME
T. Pierce Brown
Psalm 8 starts and finishes with what should be the keynote of all our thinking about God. “How excellent is thy name in all the earth.” His name stands for all the riches and glory of his character.
His excellence fills the whole earth in terms of its natural constitution. If we consider the number of things so small they can be seen only through a high powered microscope, we are amazed. When we consider the vastness of the universe, so big that we see no end to it, we praise and magnify God. If we look at the interrelationship of birds, insects, plants, animals, the tides, weather and see how each is dependent on another for proper functioning, we cannot sensibly doubt the being of God, nor can we cease to glory in his wisdom and power. Indeed, he has set his glory in the heavens and above the heavens.
His excellence is shown by the fact that he does not depend on the great and mighty of the earth to accomplish his purposes. Some of the greatest were done by what was apparently the feeblest means. Whether we examine the life of Moses, Joshua, Gideon or the Apostles, we are struck by that outstanding fact.
Yet David reveals what the Bible suggests in other places, that the greatest glory of God and the excellence of his name are revealed more clearly in his dealings with man than in any other way. Notice some aspects of that truth and some significance of those facts.
First, the excellency of his name is revealed in the character of man. Verse 5 says, “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.” The greatest glory and honor is doubtless in the fact that we are made in the image of God. That fact and the awareness of that fact are far more significant than many persons realize.
It amazes, humbles and thrills me to realize that you and I are God’s finest product. It is not the largest planet, the brightest sun, and the expansive and beautiful galaxies. It is not even the singing angels, including the cherubim and seraphim. He sent his Son to die for me! We may be humble, commonplace, obscure, unknown, mediocre, poor, ugly, crippled, vagabond, orphan or even criminal. Yet we are worth more to God than all other things he created, for we have an eternal spirit, in the image of God and will exist eternally. If an awareness of this does not create in us an attitude of humility, reverence, praise and obedience, there is nothing in the world that can.
Denial of those facts, with theories such as humanism and evolution, have done more harm to the human race, brought more inhumanity to man, created more crime, wars, disaster and destruction than any other one attitude of which I am aware. The basic reason for this is simple. If man is made in the image of God, not only are his rights to be respected, he has responsibilities to live up to certain standards. If this is not so, and we are nothing more than a highly developed dog or ape, we have the right to treat each other that way and act that way. If you are a dog and you get my bone or threaten me, I may kill you without any compunction. This kind of philosophy was behind the Nazi, Communist and other movements that have been so destructive.
On the other hand, if I recognize who and what I am, my worth, my capabilities, I am pulled upward, intellectually, spiritually and physically. It is a great motivator in all areas of life to think of oneself properly. It is interesting that these human theories cause both of two very destructive things. First, they may cause one to think too highly of himself. If he is the highest and best in the evolutionary process, he owes allegiance to no one. He thinks as W. E. Henly put it, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” Instead of the confidence of Paul, who said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (Philippians4:13), it produces arrogance and pride with all its consequent evils.
On the other hand, if one does not understand he is made in the image of God, he may think too poorly of himself. After all, he is but an animal. He can do nothing that is really worthwhile or noble, for there is really nothing of value except his own desires. Nothing is worth dying for, but nothing is worth living for. The dog has no reason to respect the rights of the rabbit. These infidel philosophies lead some to depression, despair, suicide or wasted lives.
Viewed from this standpoint of materialism, man is insignificant compared to almost anything. If one were an astronomer, one would realize that man is scarcely a speck of dust compared with the universe. It is worth noting, as one man did to an astronomer who made that observation, that it was this speck that was doing the looking, observing, and philosophizing. It was not the astronomical universe that built the telescope, but man.
If one is an unbelieving geologist, he postulates man as insignificant in terms of time. The mountains have been there for thousands of years; man but a few days. Yet it is this seemingly insignificant man that tunnels through the mountains, flies over them, climbs them, and removes them.
When I was in high school my biology and chemistry teachers pointed out that chemically, I was worth about $1.98. It probably would be about $20 now. Yet it is the man that is doing the analyzing and evaluating. The chemicals do nothing. Yet God reveals to me that I am worth more than all the gold and silver in the world.
The elephants, rhinoceros, whale and many other things are greater in power and strength than man. How is it that we have dominion over all of them? Evolutionists have no answer that makes any sense. Only God’s word has the answer. Man is different, made in the image of God with the right and power to have dominion over the beasts and fowls.
Even considering only man’s physical being, he is fantastic and marvelous beyond comprehension. In this age of computers, we are sometimes told how smart a computer is. Of course a computer is not smart at all. It only responds to what man puts in it, and even then, it only responds that way because man made it. It could neither make man nor reproduce itself. Sometimes we are told how smart a spider is to be able to build a web so fantastically beautiful and effective. But a spider builds a web just like spiders did thousands of years ago. God made them with the instinct and ability to do great things, but they, with all other created things have no ability to learn things and pass them on to future generations.
Even atheists admit that there is something “wrong” with genocide, the holocaust, but they can’t possibly tell you why. A dog can be taught not to chase a rabbit, and perhaps a lion can be taught not to kill a deer, but neither can be taught that it is morally right or wrong. So God’s excellency is revealed in man, who alone of God’s earthly creatures has the power to make moral choices.
The excellency of God’s name is revealed in his mindfulness for us. He satisfies man’s mental aspirations. He placed in each of us a yearning for knowledge, then gave us the means of fulfilling that aspiration. He placed in each of us certain physical needs and desires. Then he gave us appropriate means of fulfilling them. He placed in man a yearning for immortality and gave us the means of fulfilling that yearning in Christ.
There is no greater demonstration of the excellency of his name than in his visitation of him in the person of Jesus. The fact that he loved and cared for people personally while on earth, giving us both admonition and example in how to think, feel and act that would give us the greatest happiness here and forever should make us cry out again, “How excellent is thy name.”
Perhaps the greatest lesson is not in seeing how great man is, but in the fact that in spite of his smallness, frailties, sinfulness, he is still God’s choice creation, and God has manifested the excellence of his name by being mindful of him. Since the Lord has been mindful of me, should I not be mindful of him? Can we meditate on those facts without being more grateful, thankful and obedient?