It’s easy to grow discontent with life. We might covet another person’s home. We may admire their talents or personality. We may wish we had just a fifth of their intellectual capacity. Perhaps they are more popular, or powerful, or physically fit, or whatever. “Thou shalt not covet” is part of the big 10 because as sinners we tend to want what we don’t have, even if we don’t need it or would be worse off for having gotten it.
If you are tempted to grow discontent, a little nugget of truth tucked inside Psalm 8 is for you. It is one of the many hidden treasures in the Psalms. I have highlighted it below:
“O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your 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?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
At first glance, the phrase I highlighted may seem like a put-down. God made us lower than heavenly beings, angels. Actually the psalmist is marveling at the fact that, while we are not angels, God has given us so much responsibility. God placed man in the supreme role on earth, to have dominion over all the creatures, both land and sea (Ps. 8:6-8; 115:16). It is through mankind that God has chosen to rule this planet—not angels (“heavenly beings”). And, one day, God’s city, sustained by him, will outlast and rule over all the nations of the earth (Ps. 46:4-5; 65:5-8a). The King will not be an angel; he will be a man.
Yet Jewish teaching put a primacy on the status of angels, of Moses, and of the priestly hierarchy. The early Jewish Christians were tempted to worship the signposts that should have pointed them to the greater reality. As so often happens, they abandoned the real treasure for false treasure. So we read in Hebrews:
“For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking… But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
Jesus is so much greater than the angelic idol of Jewish culture. Angels cannot taste death like us. Angels cannot spill blood and atone for our sin. Only the God-Man Jesus Christ could serve as the infinite, perfect sacrifice. And, because Jesus took on flesh and died for us, we will partake in glory.
For those who place their faith in Jesus Christ and identify with his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus is greater than anything you could long to be or have. You already have the greatest treasure, the highest standing, and the deepest wisdom in Jesus Christ. He is the living water, and he calls you to come and drink. While the idols of our culture seem to offer lasting satisfaction and joy, they will hook you, waste you, enslave you, and destroy you.
We are no different from early Jewish Christians. Our sinful flesh still tempts us to look at the idols of our culture in the hands of other people, to let our eyes linger and our hearts envy. It is so easy, so passive, so tempting. All the while, we hold in our hands the greatest gift the world has ever known. I find that I am most susceptible to envy and discontent when I am least satisfied in Jesus. Is that true for you? Don’t be deceived today. Treasure Jesus.