O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.
Today’s Scripture comes from a psalm in which David prayerfully meditates on the majesty of God displayed throughout the earth. David sees the majesty of God gloriously displayed in the heavens, “the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have established” (8:3). But greater is the glory David sees in God using “the mouths of babes and infants” to establish His dominion over the earth. In this David has much to teach us about prayer.
Old Testament theologian Bruce Waltke points out that the phrase “babes and infants” occurs seven times in the Old Testament. Each time the phrase “refers to the helpless offspring of a people threatened with annihilation by a ruthless foe (1 Samuel 15:3; 22:19; Psalm 8:2; Jeremiah 44:7; Lamentations 1:16; 4:4; Joel 2:16).” (Bruce Waltke and James Houston, The Psalms As Christian Worship) Waltke comments on the significance of “babes and infants”:
It is an apt metaphor for ancient Israel who, trapped as a small and insignificant state between the giant superpowers of Egypt and Mesopotamia, found strength in their dependence upon God. It is also apt for the church which, in a world armed with military and political power, also conquers by faith. Luther rightly interpreted babes and sucklings as a figure to describe the kingdom of God’s unique character of humility. (The Psalms As Christian Worship)
We take, then, the speech coming “Out of the mouths of babes and infants” as the prayers of God’s humble, beleaguered people. As today’s psalm states, God shows Himself yet more glorious in using their prayers to silence His enemies. John Calvin adds this commentary on the prayers of God’s humble people:
The faithful prayer and praise of God’s people — not necessarily their eloquence — commences God’s work of slaying the foe. What majesty accrues to God when he brings onto the field of battle the poor in spirit against the arrogant hordes of wickedness in order to slay their intolerable pride in the dust. (Commentary on Hebrews)
Godly John Knox is famous for his impassioned prayer for God’s kingdom to come in Scotland: “Give me Scotland, or I die.” In the face of such bold prayer, Mary Queen of Scots is reputed to have said: “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.” Out of the mouths of babes and infants! Amazing! What power we wield when we humbly pray!
- Take a few moments to meditate on God’s majesty displayed in the heavens.
- Now take some time to meditate on God’s greater majesty displayed in using the prayers and praise of His people. How might this influence your thoughts about prayer in today’s world?
- Conclude by praying The Lord’s Prayer.
“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics