SHARKS AHOY by Phil Callaway
Ever since he was knee high to a Doberman, my son Steve has been fearless. Take him to the ocean and he’d jump in looking for sharks. Take him to the mountains and he’d see how high he could climb. One day when he was five, I watched in horror as he jumped off a roof – a garbage bag parachute duct-taped to his back.
For years I’ve wondered what God would make of our son. Would He call him to be a helicopter test pilot? A professional bungee-jumper? Or would he fulfill every North American parent’s dream by settling down in an enormous house with a nice wife and provide us half a dozen grandchildren to spoil?
The unexpected answer arrived in the mail one day:
Dear Dad and Mom,
I just want you to know about recent plans and developments in my life. I met a couple of nice girls and we’re planning on being married. In Utah. Not really. But I did meet Lucy. You’ll like her a lot. It’s surprising how quickly you can find a Justice of the Peace down here. Lucy owns a tattoo parlor, but seldom works.
If you haven’t fainted yet, you may want to read the truth now. It may be more shocking. In the country of Uganda, The Lord’s Resistance Army is committing atrocities against children that are too awful for me to put in this letter. Over the years they’ve abducted 50,000 kids and turned the ones they haven’t murdered into soldiers. I want to go to work with street children in Kampala. I’ll be living with local missionaries. It will mean lots of needles and I’ll need to raise a little money too. I once heard you say Dad that Jesus came to comfort us, not to make us comfortable. I guess I’ve been comforted enough; it’s time to offer some to others.
Your son, Steve
“Where do you think we went wrong?” I asked his mother. “Couldn’t he just have a beach ministry in Hawaii?” She grinned despite the fact she’d stuck herself with a sewing needle. “Maybe we blew it taking him to other countries or raising him on God’s Word,” I suggested. “It’s what we’ve prayed for all these years,” she smiled. “That he would live life on purpose.”
And so a few weeks ago we hugged our firstborn son until his ribs squeaked there in the airport, as he embarked on a grand adventure half a world away. It’s funny the questions people ask when they hear he’s going to Uganda. “Aren’t you worried about his safety?” they say. And I’d be a fool not to admit that I have my moments. Check a list of the most dangerous spots on earth, and Uganda nears the top. But is safety what we’re here for? Isn’t the most dangerous place on earth the place of complacency? Isn’t Suburbia sucking the life out of more of our teenagers than any foreign country every could? I must be honest. There are times I’d rather Steve were staying home, making good money, putting it away for my nursing home bills. Yet I cannot hope for more than this: that my children will hear God’s voice amid a noisy culture, and that they will obey.
Just before he left I asked my son what he’d miss most about home. “The dog,” he said, smiling. Then why is it that I saw him studying family photos and lounging on the sofa watching an old Disney movie with his brother and sister? Was he killing time? Or saying goodbye to the remnants of childhood? I’ve shed a few tears, but mostly I’ve been giving thanks. For a son who’s an updated and improved version of his father. For e-mail and cheap overseas phone rates. And – oh yes – I’m thankful there are no sharks in Uganda.
Your Initial Response
How do you want to live your life? What does “live life on purpose” mean to you?
1Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.
2Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
3When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
5You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.
6You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet:
7all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild,
8the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
9Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1–9 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Use a line to connect “how majestic is your name” in verse 1 and 9.
2 Circle God’s dealings with the lips of children and infants (Psalm 8:2).
3 Box “mindful of” and “care for” and number them in ascending order (Psalm 8:4).
4 Underline God’s gracious dealings with humankind (Psalm 8:5-8).
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
What do you know about God’s name and His majesty? David not only knew God, but he also knew about the nature and the intrinsic quality of humankind. Gasping with admiration at God, the poet wrote it in a psalm to remind later generations, thus who read it might respond appropriately.
1 What is meant by God’s glory (Psalm 8:1)?
2 “Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2, ESV) How can God use the mouth of babes and infants to establish strength?
3 What enlightenment does the poet obtain by staring at the created universe (Psalm 8:4)?
4 Why does God grant the authority of governing the earthly things to humankind (Psalm 8:5-8)?
5 What does the poet know about human nature (Psalm 8:5)?
6 The theme of Psalm 8 is “The Glory of the Creator and of Man.” Psalm 8 is a psalm of praise and its focus is on God’s creation, that is to say, a psalm which responds to God’s creation. Therefore, a scholar calls this psalm and some other psalms as “Songs of Creation.”
The poet knew God was willing to lower Himself and being gracious to humble human beings, thus humankind could attain noble identity and status, all which came out of God’s mercy and goodness. By means of this psalm, the psalmist expressed his understanding about humankind and praised God accordingly.
Psalm 8 is unique in its writing style and its structure is as follows:
|A. Ascription of Praise (v. 1a)|
|B. The Glory of the Great King (vv. 1b-2)|
|C. God’s Interest in Man (vv. 3-4)|
|C’. Man’s Derived Glory (v. 5)|
|B’. Man’s Glory as Ruler (vv. 6-8)|
|A’. Concluding Ascription of Praise (v. 9)|
Nobody knows for sure the meaning of the Hebrew vocabulary “gittith.” Most probably, it is a musical style or type of instrument. The name “Lord” (or Yahweh) is the name used when God He established covenants with humankind. The poet calls the Lord “our Lord,” that is, “governor” or “master.” As God established His covenant with His people, He became the master of His people. God’s name is majestic for He is victorious (Exodus 15:6); furthermore, His majesty was manifested in His judgment (1 Samuel 4:8; Psalm 76:4), His law (Isaiah 42:21), and His rule over creation (Psalm 8:1, 9; 93:4). Owing to the fact that God has already revealed His name to the Israelites, they knew He was the Creator and Governor of all things. For this reason, the poet was able to see the splendor in God’s creation.
Psalm 8:1 a
Glory relates to beauty, power, or honor. God’s glory is an illustration of His moral beauty; moreover, His character is perfect. In other words, human beings can know God’s glory by means of His attributes and the historical manifestations of His presence. Through glancing at the profound universe, the poet saw the glory of God.
The ungodly people are the enemies of God. God is extremely glorious for He established strength by using the weakest and most helpless babes and infants. Babies are the continuity of the human race, revealing God’s majesty and strength from generation to generation. God do not overcome His enemies by power; but on the contrary, He uses innocent and harmless babies to silence His opponents.
When David raised his head and stared at the sky, he felt the greatness of God, and the insignificance of humankind; however, the Creator and Governor of all things went so far as to care and exalt humankind. There are two groups of words that speak of God’s great care for humankind, they are “mindful of” and “care for.” “Mindful of” has the meaning of pay attention to. The Hebrew verb “care for” is used to describe to look for what is missing, to worry about, and to do something for it. In simple terms, this can be interpreted as take care. In many Old Testament passages, God took care of his people by going to them and acting on their behalf; this was the meaning of “care for.” God was like a father who continued to care for His people here.
Verse 5 should be translated as “You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor.” (HCSB) Although humankind has “the image and likeness of God,” they are not gods. It speaks of three features of humankind: divinity, dignity and dominion. The crown speaks of the exalted position of humankind as ruler of all other created beings.
The poet spoke of God’s gift of administration to human beings, thus they can govern four types of creatures respectively: first, domestic animal; second, wild beast; third, wild birds; fourth, marine creatures.
The words of verse nine and verse one are similar; the poet once again points out that God is majestic.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 According the law of the jungle, human beings always employed power to bully or suppress people; however, God used the weak and helpless infants to silence those who opposed Him. God did not use power to conquer the ungodly people, but used the way which people thought it was illogical to speak to the evil people; this is a warning that we should take.
2 God has given the authority and blessing to rule over the earth to humankind, so that we can be stewards of the earth. This is the vocation of all humankind. Let us try our best to fulfill this divine entrustment.
3 Memorise Psalm 8:4.
4what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:4)
4 Resolve to understand humanity, as means of attaining wisdom to deal with others in our daily lives.
5 Resolve to understand my own self-image. For instance, in what situation would I feel inferior or self-conceited? By means of these reflections, I could understand my own brokenness and problem.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.