Who am I and why do I exist?
Note: This is just a short essay taking a look at
The answer to the question (Who am I and why do I exist?) lies within Psalm 8 and as each individual exegete studies the passage they will notice that there are numerous
textual problems. Therefore he or she may come up with slightly differing
answers to the question, but they will probably not in their outcome be that
The question of who am I, must first be
addressed so that when looking at the question "why do I exist" there
will be concrete understanding of the role that "I" plays in the
creation of Psalm 8:3-8.
Who am I then?
I am, according to Psalm 8:4 a human being or a "son of man". There is a difference here in some translations
with the use of "mortal" (NRSV) and the term "son of man"
(RSV,KJV). Am I then just a mere mortal who lives a life of insignificance or
am I someone who lives in a special relationship with God. Francis Moloney
points out that I am someone who is "entirely dependent upon the all
creating, all glorious and legislating God". The "son of man" must therefore be someone who through God's
gracious hand has come from the utter insignificance of Psalm 8:2, where "I"
am compared to the "moon and the stars" and the "work of your
fingers" to be in a relationship with God where "I" am told that
I was made "a little less than God". The use of mortals (NRSV) tells
us that my life span is finite, and the question posed in Psalm 8:4 "what
are human beings that you are mindful of them" only emphasises how it is
inconceivable to many that God would want to know each mortal as an individual. As a being created a little less than God I have a special place
in creation and have a special responsibility with that order.
At this point there is some divergence as
many scholars and translators have sided on the use of "a little less than
angels". Graigie believes the use of "a little less than angels"
is a reflection of modesty by the translators of the time, not wanting to be seen
as extravagant. Kraus however
is more at home with the use of "angels" and he puts forward that we
should translate ""cyla" " as divine or heavenly
beings. To Graigie
therefore "I" have a station in God's kingdom of not just a little
less that God but a little less than the heavenly beings that surround his
throne. The point here
becomes not whether one point of view is correct but rather to establish the
nature of my relationship with God. And to establish that "I" am
created higher than the rest of the earthly realm.
Why do I exist?
It becomes evident that "I" have
those responsibilities as mentioned in Psalm 8:6 where "I" am told I
have dominion over the works of God's hand, including the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air and the creatures that pass through the oceans(Psalm 8:7-8).
It also becomes evident that it is only by a free decision of God that I was
raised from the total insignificance of Psalm 8:4 and given power over his
earth. This then displays that it comes as a gift of grace to be wielded at God's
will. As a babe God uses
me to establish his bulwark or strength against his enemies. Here in Psalm
8:1-2 there is again great discussion over the translation of the words used in
the Hebrew. It centres around whether God uses Babes and infants as instruments
of praise (NIV) or whether out of their mouths comes his strength (NRSV). Eaton
however is comfortable with joining both Psalm 8:1-2 together as a unit and
declaring that "a contrast is thus drawn between the mighty choirs of
heaven and the singers on earth who by comparison prattle like babes and
infants". In spite of the
inadequacy of human worship God has through it founded a bulwark. Again, to
arrive at a position that is uncompromising over this issue is almost
impossible and as such
there is a need to see beyond the disagreement and point out that God does not
use the physically strong to do his work but choses the insignificant so that
God's name will be glorified.
It must therefore be assumed that "I"
exist to serve Yahweh through his creation and to do this in such a way that
brings glory and praise to the creator himself. This is signified by the very
existence of Psalm 8 which is all about praising and glorifying God. Artur
Weiser in his commentary sees a comparison between the fear of Yahweh and joy
in him. It must then
be concluded that I exist at God's will and that I am a mortal being with a
finite life span, who has been given a special place and responsibility in the
created order even though I am so insignificant that I hardly rate mention in
comparison to creation. Also "I" have a creator who has taken a
personal interest in me and has giving me dominion over the rest of creation.
No matter what the textual criticisms of
this psalm and how much scholars debate of the correct translation of some
verses "I" cannot escape the fact that the reason "I" am
what I am and "I" exist "to serve Yahweh".
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your
name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:9).
Craigie Peter C. Psalms 1-50 Word Biblical Commentary (52 vols; Word Incorporated; Waco, Texas: 1986, Vol 19)
Eaton J.H. "Psalms" The Torch
Bible Commentaries. (Scm Press; London: 1967).
Kraus Hans-Joachim, Psalms 1-59 A Commentary. (Augsburg Publishing House; Minneapolis: 1988).
Mays James L. "Psalms" Interpretation
(John Knox Press; Louisville, Kentucky: 1989).
Moloney Francis J. "The
Re-Interpretation of Psalm Viii", New Testament Studies Vol 27,
October 1981 p664.
Vangermeren Willem A. The Expositor's
Bible Commentary. (12 vols.; ed. Frank E. Gaebelein; Zondervan Publishing
House; Grand Rapids: 1991, Vol 5) 1-882.
Weiser Artur. The Psalms. (Scm
Press; London: 1966).