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Banner of Examination of Self Esteem from Psalm 8

An Examination of
High Self-esteem

Understanding Self-esteem From Psalm 8

Paul J. Bucknell

Is our problem with proper self-development one of poor self-esteem? Many are convinced so.

These proponents strongly affirm that unless we have a proper view of our own lives, we will not have a proper view of others. If we do not love ourselves, then we cannot love others. Their conclusion is then to boost up man's view of himself.

Is this assessment correct? Psalm 8 stands out telling us that developing a proper self-perspective can only come from properly understanding God. In fact, as we look at this short Psalm, we will find that instead of searching for a good view of ourselves, we are called to come to grasp a right perspective of God.

Below are two evaluations of modern perspectives of self-esteem from Psalm 8, the first focuses on God’s glory while the second, man’s false view of himself.

A) Focused on God, not on self

Ps 8:1 (For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.) O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!

1. God is great!

For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.) O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! (Ps 8:1)

Man will gain a proper perspective of himself only when he understand himself in light of God His Maker. From verse 1, man is not even great enough to mention in the equation of what makes greatness.

God is great. There is no other star on the stage of the universe. Only God deserves full praise and adoration. When man compares himself with other men, women or animals, he thinks himself to be important, great, rich, wise, and influential.

But all of these acclamations soon turn to dust when his sin is exposed to the holy light to the Creator.

God has a majestic Name, not man. The works of God are to form the focal point rather than the deeds of man.

2. God is mighty!

From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength, Because of Thine adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. (Ps 8:2)

God’s strength is clearly seen when He humbles His enemies through the mouths of infants and nursing babes. People by themselves are so weak and frail. But here we see God taking further steps by using infants that are unconscious of the interworkings of the complex world outside themselves.

Man’s cleverness is not evident, but only man’s weakness is on display so that God’s mighty power is clearly seen. The baby here is a powerless tool empowered by God!

God’s ability is so great that He can use the most humble things to accomplish His purposes. God is the great one partly due to His amazing ability to do this great feat! God is Great!

3 When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;

3. God is the Creator!

When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained (Ps 8:3).

When God wants to show off His mighty power, He doesn’t choose man to illustrate His point. In Job, He uses the dinosaurs and storms. Here in Psalm 8 the heavens, the moon, and starts are instead spoken of.

People again are absent. Although man is a special work of God, we see here that there are plenty of other mighty works of God. God doesn't need to speak about mankind to display His greatness.

God is so great. He is the Maker of the most splendid works around us. Any rudimentary study of astronomy quickly humbles the lofty concepts of man. God is great. He made it all. Man is not God’s greatest work.

Yahweh is Great! Psalm 8:1

B) Self-Esteem Versus God-Esteem Concepts

A second journey through Psalm 8 will enable us to compare self-esteem with God-esteem.

1. Psalm 8:1

For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.) O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! (Ps 8:1)

Man usually compares himself to other men or animals, the improper basis on which to judge mankind. We need to be fair and judge people in light of God. And frankly, when compared with God, we find that God, not man, has the majestic Name. He is greater than all and His glory goes beyond the heavens.

Instead of thinking about the value of man, we need to get a proper value of God’s great and majestic Person. God alone is great!

2. Psalm 8:2

From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength, Because of Thine adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease (Ps 8:2).

God’s strength is seen when He comes and humbles His enemies through the mouths of infants and nursing babes. We are not amazed by mankind’s cleverness but God’s amazing ability to even work through such finite creatures!

God can use the most humble things to accomplish His purposes. God is mighty!

3. Psalm 8:3

When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained. (Ps 8:3)

Although man is a recognized special work of God at least in his perfect state, there are plenty of other mighty works of God described here. God doesn't here speak about man this way. His heavens are being displayed here.
God is so great. He is the Maker of the most splendid works around us. Any rudimentary study of astronomy quickly humbles the lofty concepts of man. God is great. He made it all. God is the mighty Creator!

4. Psalm 8:4

What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? (Ps 8:4)

Mankind is a humble creature with little strength rather than a great one. He naturally would not demand any special attention for his origins are from dust of the earth.

God is in a completely different class with man. God is glorious while people are a slight and humble creature totally dependent on God Himself. God is so merciful!

5. Psalm 8:5

5 Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty! (Ps 8:5)

Mankind is frail, but God did something special in this weak being. He specially honored man by doing something special in and through him, but the purpose was to show off how great His mercy and grace are.

God took special steps to use man and give him an honor that he didn’t deserve. What is so amazing is that God took such action at all. The Lord is much greater than the one who received the honor from God. God is so gracious!

6. Psalm 8:6-8

Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. (Ps 8:6-8)

Man is God’s servant. At his best, man serves God as he was appointed. He was responsible for caring for God’s creation on earth but then through his failure brought a curse to the one thing he was challenged to bless.

God is the great ruler. God is in charge of all and delegates authority and grants ability to rule as He sees fit. God is the great Ruler!

7. Psalm 8:9

O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth! (Ps 8:9)

When greatness is discussed, man does not fit into the picture. Psalm 8 begins and ends the same way to purposely exclude mankind from the picture of greatness.

Yahweh alone is majestic and mighty. The little authority to tend to earth in this great universe finds no place in the association with greatness. Man is but a servant to carry out God’s good work. Yahweh is Majestic!

Summary Perspective on Self-esteem

In summary, man only can be properly evaluated in light of God’s person and his God-given assignment. If we use ourselves or other people to judge our lives, then we have an improper view of our lives, leaving God improperly applauded. There is no doubt that this secular world is so strong because we are earthly-minded resulting in a very derogatory attitude of God.

By focusing on the self-esteem of man instead of God’s greatness, we misfocus on our greatness. The scriptures do not allow us to have this concept. We are not to look at ourselves but to our God. Galatians 6 says to get a proper concept our ourselves.

Something is wrong with the teaching of self-esteem though the difficulty can be hard to pinpoint. One might mention it is the overuse of the word. We find ‘self-esteem’ absolutely everywhere, and if not the word, certainly the concept. But popularity, though one must be cautious, does not equate with error.

Or one might mention the way the word is used to shape our basic concepts about ourselves and our relationship with us. Certainly, the human race has for the last millenniums been missing out on this supposedly crucial teaching, but again, this doesn’t make it wrong.

One problem with rightly evaluating self-esteem is in trying to understand what the concept means. If we would define it as high self-esteem ‘a good and proper concept of self,’ we cannot find anything against the teaching. Because of this reason, this poor theology has been destroying the mind of modern Christians. Why?

We should have a proper concept of ourselves. We should not despise what God said was good. To be fair, we oftentimes have the wrong view of ourselves, being proud and overconfident on our knowledge and self-awareness. This leads us into a false belief that God accepts us because we are valuable and special. We end up confident that God loves us because we are lovable. In conjunction with this, we are upset with God when He doesn't show His saving love to all. Modern man’s perspective of himself has accommodated his wrong concepts by incorporating them into his theology.

A study in Psalm 8, however, brings startling clarity to this issue of self-esteem. It amazes me how a Psalm can powerfully come alive and address modern philosophical and educational perspectives.

The self-esteem movement has stolen lots of glory from God. How? Man begins to esteem himself highly and think less highly of God. When we look at Psalm 8 or any other place in the scripture talking about glory, we do not find man praising man. That is idol worship. Instead, we have God and His works being openly declared and praised.

When God speaks about showing His glory through man, it is through weak and sinful vessels. We do not see this “I am a great person” concept. Nor do we find man being patted on the back by God saying, “I couldn’t do without you.”

The clumsy notion that we cannot be at our best person unless we think highly of ourselves is absent from the holy scriptures. This pride causes us to be preoccupied with ourselves rather than the purposes God has made us. People get wrapped up on thinking about how others think about themselves rather than seeking the purposes for which God made them.

Some, trying to get the last word, “Aren’t those who look down on themselves the ones who do not rightly treat others?” We gain a correct picture when God’s Word becomes our standard, not some notion of what we think is good or right. When God’s Word touches our heart (Mat 5:3), we become convicted of moral failure and in turn ask for God’s cleansing through Christ and His empowerment to live rightly. It is only in brokenness that we find restoration, the very reason God sent Jesus Christ into the world.


Here are some articles that we have written in the past on the destructive nature of high self-esteem.

The Blowout of HighSelf-esteem

Self-esteem in Light of God's Goodness | Part of Knowing God ...

They are said to have low self-esteem. They stress that each person should have high self-esteem, often by stressing the phrases hinting at some magical force ...

Psalm 8:1-9 Experiencing the Glory of God; Examining Self-Esteem ...

The Glory of God and an Examination of the Self-Esteem Movement ..... of man, we will find that man has been endowed with a high calling and good gifts.

Revival: God's Action Plan (Part II) 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Our generation is typified by talk of high self-esteem. We know little of true humility. We want to believe better things of ourselves than is true. People even help ...

Growing in Intimacy: Song of Solomon 1:15-17

There has been so much talk about self-esteem in this generation. ... Boy-girl relationships often zoom from high ecstatic states to being dashed down into rocks.

Romans 12:1-8 Bible Study Questions: OUR RESPONSE TO EACH ...

What is the difference in the way Paul talks about our view toward ourselves ( Romans 12:3-5) and the way the world or friends understand “self-esteem”?

John 15:8 Purpose of Abiding | Part of study on Abiding in Christ

... us to experience the glory of God and examine the Self-esteem movement. ... The Glory of a Pure Heart - Meeting God on High describes those saints and ...

Philippians 1:11 Glorious Love | The Bible Teaching Commentary ...

Psalm 8 enables us to experience the glory of God and examine the Self-esteem movement. In order to appreciate and live for God's glory, we must make room .

Discovering an Effective Leadership Model from the Book of Haggai

The libertarian model has recently become popularized by the self-esteem ... also , Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take ...

BFF's website search on Psalm 8


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