Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Does God Care about Education?

Psalm 8 is poetic literature from the Old Testament. (To say that is not to detract from the fact that it is inspired, inerrant Scripture.)

In it, the author makes descriptive use of literary devices such as analogy, imagery, theme, allusion, anthropomorphism, parallelism, polysyndeton, and repetition. (That's a quick list.) 

A scholar of ancient semitic languages and literature tells me one feature of this Psalm is a device common to Hebrew literature (which we also use in English)  -- the "merism."  

Here is what he told me: "The use of extremes (heavens and earth, east and west, morning and evening) is called 'merism.' This is the use of extremes to talk about everything in between. God rules 'the heavens and the earth,' means he rules everything. Do it when you 'lie down and rise up, means do it all the time. Etc."

In our communication, we might say, "I searched high and low." Meaning, "I searched everywhere -- high, low, and everywhere in between."

Aside from its literary value, in this one Psalm, alone, we have references to multiple parts of God's creation and hence multiple subjects of study. From the stars to the seas, from Mercury to the Marianas Trench to man, these subjects to study are bookended by an impulse to worship him.

Furthermore, as my sister-in-law reminds me, in the act of studying and classifying things in this world, we are participating in the creation mandate to subdue -- to bring order to our understanding of creation. 

If we want to know our God, we will study all those things he made in and for his own glory. Learning is one way we worship our Lord God. Whether we are studying the hard or soft sciences or the humanities, in all our pursuits, we begin and end with God. "In the beginning, God..." And who was with God in the beginning? The Word. 

Psalm 8 (ESV)

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth! [WORSHIP]
You have set your glory above the heavens. [THEOLOGY]
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants, 
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger. [JUSTICE, MERCY]
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, [HARD/NATURAL SCIENCES]
what is man that you are mindful of him, 
    and the son of man that you care for him? [PHILOSOPHY, THEOLOGY]
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b
    and crowned him with glory and honor. 
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet, [SOCIAL/POLITICAL SCIENCE, AGRICULTURE]
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field, [ANIMAL HUSBANDRY]
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas. [ZOOLOGY]
Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth! [WORSHIP]

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