Authority (Psalm 8)

Bible Commentary / Produced by TOW Project
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Psalm 8 is an exception in Book 1, as it does not pertain specifically to David. Its concern is with all human authority, not only David’s rule. Although God created the entire universe (Ps. 8:1-3), he chose to appoint human beings to rule over the creation (Ps. 8:5-8). This is a high calling. “You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet” (Ps. 8:5-6). When we exercise authority and leadership, we do so as God’s delegates. Our rule cannot be arbitrary or self-serving, but must serve God’s purposes. Chief among these are caring for the creatures of the earth (Ps. 8:7-8) and protecting the weak and vulnerable, especially children (Ps. 8:2).

If we gain authority in work, it is tempting to regard our position as a reward for our hard work or intelligence and to exploit our authority for personal gain. But Psalm 8 reminds us that authority comes not as a reward, but as an obligation. It is right that we should be accountable to superiors, boards of directors, trustees, voters or whatever earthly forms of governance we serve under, but that alone is not sufficient. We must also be accountable to God. Political leaders, for example have a duty to pay attention to the best environmental and economic science available when considering energy policy, whether or not it accords with current political winds. Similarly, business leaders are called to anticipate and prevent possible harm to children —whether physical, mental, cultural, or spiritual—from their products and services. This applies not only to toys, movies, television, and food, but also to retailing, transportation, telecommunications, and financial services, among others.