This week begins the eight day celebration of Succot – also called the Feast of Tabernacles, Booths or Indwelling. The eight day festival prescribed in the book of Leviticus calls for the people of God to dwell in temporary booths constructed from the branches of various trees. These succot (the plural word of the singular succah, meaning booth) look back to the temporary dwelling places of the Israelites during their journey in the wilderness for 40 years following their exodus from Egypt. The roof of the succah is purposefully constructed with gaps between its branches so that the indwellers may gaze into the evening sky and consider the heavens, the work of God’s finger, the moon and stars which He has ordained. Such meditation in light of the fragile construction of the succah provides a striking contrast between the constancy of our eternal God and the changeability of feeble mankind. It provides a reminder of the transitory nature of life on earth, and as such stands in contrast to a future, final and eternal resting place where God and man dwell together forever. The book of Revelation chapter 7 prophesies this future time describing an innumerable assembly from every tribe, tongue and nation standing in white robes alongside the angels, waving palm branches before the throne offering eternal praises to our God and King. At that time there will no longer be any need for a call or invitation to worship, as praise will be the spontaneous outburst of a people who see and know their God.
Psalm 8 is the Psalter’s first actual praise hymn, and unlike all of the other praise psalms, Psalm 8 addresses God and God alone; there is no invitation or call for man to praise, nor is there any “because” clause offering any reasons to praise. It is perhaps the closest example of heavenly praise that we have example of in the Psalter, yet it is offered from earth. It teaches us that we must approach the throne of God with the utmost humility (vs. 3-4), but more than this it reveals to us that man is remembered and visited by God! It demonstrates that we, as His children and babes and sucklings, may without presumption expect God to hear us and take pleasure in our praises!
It is interesting that scholars suggest that the eighth Psalm was used in the Feast of Tabernacles liturgy to celebrate and worship God as Creator, recognizing that God’s creation helps us to understand the importance of our relationship with Him on earth. Psalm 8 paints a picture that belongs to earth in this age, yet it does so with great optimism. It links creation with present experience and reflects upon promises that still hold – what God intended humanity to be, what they are in Christ and what they will be in the consummation – God will complete His specific plan for man despite his fall. Like the eight day Feast of Tabernacles, the eighth Psalm looks at the eternality of God from the standpoint of human weakness and concludes that God still holds majestic power in all the earth (vss.1 & 9).
This week take one evening to spend outside, read Psalm 8 while gazing into the heavens and meditating upon God’s handiwork. Consider the privilege that He has given to you to be a part of His universe. Realize and reflect on the idea that as vast as the universe is, God is infinitely superior and more majestic. Oh Lord our Lord, how excellent is your Name in all the earth!
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