Christ Jesus excepted, all human beings come into this world with wicked hearts that are incapable of truly loving God and neighbor (Gen. 6:5; Ps. 51:5; Rom. 3:9– 18, 23). Yet as we have seen in our study of the Lord’s creation of humanity, our hearts were not originally inclined to hate our Creator and other people. In the garden, we were very good, image-bearers who clearly and plainly reflected the glory of God to all creation (Gen. 1:26–27, 31).
Today, the image of God is marred as a consequence of the fall, but it is not entirely lost. Having a full understanding of our original vocation as image-bearers, therefore, helps us know our purpose today. Question and answer six of the Heidelberg Catechism tells us that we were primarily created for the Lord’s “praise and glory.” This teaching comes from Psalm 8, which is the subject of today’s study.
Psalm 8 is David’s meditation on the glory of God as he reflects on the created order. As do other passages of Scripture, such as Psalm 19 and Romans 1, David looks to the natural world in Psalm 8:1 to prove the majesty of the Lord. Yet the bulk of this Psalm is concerned with the purpose of human beings, and David’s consideration of our nature and role moves him to praise God. In the vastness of the universe, men and women are very small and apparently insignificant. Despite this fact, however, the Lord has decided to pay special attention to human beings (vv. 3–4). In comparison to the power and refulgent glory of the angels, humanity has been created a “little lower” (v. 5). However, it is to these “lesser” beings that the Lord has entrusted the earth. It might seem counterintuitive, but beings made of dust have been endowed by the Creator with the task of shepherding all things (vv. 6–9; see Gen. 2:15–17, 19).
Like David, we should praise and glorify God for this tremendous responsibility and tangible sign of our worth as His image-bearers. That is why the Heidelberg Catechism is right to say we were made for the praise and glory of God. John Calvin comments, “God, in creating man, gave a demonstration of his infinite grace and more than fatherly love towards him, which ought justly to strike us with amazement.” But it is our failure to be amazed at what the Creator has done for us that reveals ever more clearly how far we have fallen from our original state.