What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)
Compared to the vastness of the universe, humanity is puny. Looking up into the night sky forces the writer of the Psalm to see himself as small and God as unimaginably huge. From a purely human point of view, Man does not even register on the scale when compared to the presence of God. But humanity does register on God’s scale, for God created Man in His image, giving people the natural ability to have a personal relationship with Him, the God of the universe.
There are two words for man used in Psalm 8:4. The first word, man (enosh) means mortal, the individual person as well as the group as a whole. Man is collective and may refer to all of humanity. This word is first used in Genesis 6. “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown” (Genesis 6:4 ESV). The second word man is the word adam, the name for the first man in Genesis 1. Adam means ruddy, and implies health and vitality. “What is man (enosh) that you are mindful of him, and the son of man (adam) that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4 ESV)
In Genesis 6:4, the sons of God and the daughters of man are the progeny of Adam and Eve, and all their descendants. The mighty men are the strong, powerful, brave men who were ruling the world. The sons of God are those mighty men, who sired mighty men. These men of renown are described as an individual or as a group. Why would God have any regard for those who are great in their own eyes and the eyes of the world but are puny and insignificant in the scheme of God’s universal design? They are created in the image of God which does give them stature in God’s design but does not make them as significant as their Creator.
There are few cultures that do not revere strong men. Such reverence enhances the strong persons conceit and self-importance. Strong men are proud of their accomplishments and superiority. Societies delight in those who are mighty. Lesser men are looked upon with disdain. Manly characteristics are defined by pride and strength and ability. Strength becomes more important than anything considered weak or meek. God is forgotten in the pride of a person’s strength, as are others created in the image of God who do not exhibit the same forceful character and traits.
From Adam to Noah, as people wandered away from God, they saw themselves as mighty men and men of renown. Mighty men are warriors leaning toward tyranny, and giants, unafraid of anything. Men of renown are individuals who are remembered for their superhuman deeds, those whose reputations followed them, who became larger than life and were then mythologized. Perhaps they were viewed as bigger than any god. They were certainly viewed as blessed by a god.
Such people are not blessed by God, but are under His judgment. God describes such larger than life people as wicked in everything they do and are. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6 ESV). Those who revere strength over the knowledge of God ultimately sink into wickedness. The thinking of their hearts, their whole person, mind, emotions and will, are corrupted by sin, unable to do anything for God. They cannot save themselves from God’s wrath with their own strength. They are evil and God grieved that He made them and allowed them to prosper and populate His world.
All they need to do is look at the heavens, the work of God’s “fingers” and all of the things God has put in place to understand their puniness and insignificance.