What is Man?


What is man that You take thought of him, 
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God, 
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
(Psalm 8:4–5)

In Psalm 8, verses 1-3, David starts off by talking about the majesty and splendor of God, then reflects upon all that God has created. He thinks about the incredible work of God’s hands, which includes the heavens, the moon, and the stars. And then, David poses a very good question when he asks, “what is so important about man that God should think so much of him?” God created everything, the earth, the sun, the moon, the entire solar system. He created the mountains, the valleys, the trees, and the amazing variety of the plant-life we see around us. He created the ponds, the lakes, the rivers, and the mighty oceans. He created the birds, the fish, and the rest of the incredibly diverse creatures that walk the earth. So, David asks, why is man so special?

David ponders this same thought in Psalm 144:3-4, when he says, “O LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him? Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” As I said before, it’s a very good question. Why is man so special to God? Before I looked for the answer to that question, as I read Psalm 144:4, I was struck by one phrase, “Man is like a mere breath.” The Hebrew word translated as “breath” here is the same word that is translated as “vanity” or “meaningless” in Ecclesiastes 1:2. In comparison to God, in comparison to the vastness and wonder of God’s creation, what is man? Is man really meaningless? Is man mere breath?

Just like the rest of the creatures that roam the earth, man was created from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7,19). But, there was something different in the way that God created man, something that set man apart from the rest of creation. First, when creating man, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” So, unlike all the rest of creation, when man and woman were created, they were created in the image of the Creator, in the image of God. Creation as a whole reflects God’s creativity, the incredible workmanship of His hands. But man and woman reflect God Himself.

When God created everything else we see around us, He said, “Let there be…” and then those things were created. But when God created man from the dust of the earth, He did something He had not done with any other creature. He breathed His breath, the breath of life, into man, who then became a living being (Genesis 2:7). Man’s breath, our breath, comes from God. So, the next thing that sets man apart from the rest of creation is that man has the breath of God in his lungs.

After creating man and woman, God blessed them, commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, and gave them dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28). So, clearly, in God’s eyes, man is far from meaningless, far from “mere breath.” Man is created in His image, has God’s breath in his lungs, and has been given dominion over the rest of creation. And, since man is so special in God’s eyes, since God has set man apart from the rest of creation, man’s purpose is to give Him glory. When we think about how special we are to Him, when we stop to consider how He has blessed us, how can we not desire to do just that, to give Him the worship and the glory that He deserves?

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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