In Psalm 8, the psalmist states that God made man lower than the angels -- some translations read, "lover than Himself." It tells us how God crowns man with honor and power and glory. In Psalm 144, the psalmist states that man's life is vanity. Do these psalms contradict each other?
No. Man is a powerful spirit and yet man is also dying flesh. Jesus is the perfect man and lived to show what a true perfect sinless son of man is: powerful over the waves and wind; powerful over sin, powerful over self.
To the atheist's eye, man is a cosmic accident. To the pagan, man is part of nature. To the Judeo-Christian, man is fully spirit and fully flesh -- a being made to be more like God than any of God's other creatures, a creature made to glorify God, a being who (unlike the angels) can be filled with God. Yet this same being lost himself and his bearings. To the Christian, the spirit of man was restored by Jesus Christ, our redeemer, the Second Adam who has brought our spirit back from death and who has made us true children of God.
We are no longer strange children, but true children who have received salvation and deliverance. Now we are able -with God's help and protection- to go out and help restore the world.
1Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:
2My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.
3LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!
4Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.
5Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
6Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them.
7Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children;
8Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
9I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.
10It is he that giveth salvation unto kings: who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword.
11Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:
12That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:
13That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets:
14That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets.
15Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.