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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 8

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

Verses 1-9



Psalm 90; 8; 19; 29; 23.

The author of Psalms 8; 19; 29; 23 is David, who composed some of them perhaps late, late in life. We call this group of psalms the psalms of the Shepherd Boy, or the psalms of his peaceful early life. Dr. Sampey calls this group of psalms "The Echoes of a Happy Youth."

The subject of Psalm 8 is God’s strange exaltation of what is seemingly insignificant. The items of information in the title are (1) direction for its use; (2) the tune; (3) the author.

Spurgeon calls this psalm "A Psalm of the Astronomer." The time of day taken as a viewpoint, is a clear night.

A good outline of this psalm is the following:

Opening doxology (Psalms 8:1)

1. Babes achieving great results (Psalms 8:2)

2. Man, though small, not forgotten, but exalted above all other creatures (Psalms 8:3-8)

Closing doxology (Psalms 8:9)

There are several interpretations of Psalms 8:2, viz:

1. That it means child-holiness, as in the case of Samuel and John the Baptist.

2. That it shows God’s providence in behalf of babes.

3. That man in general is helpless.

4. That it refers to David in particular and indicates his weakness; that it also refers to Christ in becoming a babe. The New Testament quotations from this psalm and their application are found in Matthew 21:16; Hebrews 2:5-8; and 1 Corinthians 15:27; thus:

"And said unto him, Hearest thou what these are saying? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea: did ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" (Matthew 21:16). "For not unto angels did he subject the world to come, whereof we speak. But one hath somewhere testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visiteth him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honor, And didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet." Hebrews 2:5-8

"For, be put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put in subjection, it is evident that he is excepted who did subject all things unto him." (1 Corinthians 15:27).

Upon these quotations and their application we can determine the interpretation of Psalms 8:2:

1. That it refers primarily to strength from the weak things (1 Corinthians 1:27)

2. That it was applied to the children at the triumphal entrance into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:16)

Then Psalms 8:4-8 are found to refer primarily to man (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 1:28) and then to Christ as the ideal man (1 Corinthians 15:27; Hebrews 2:5-9).

Some say that the author of Psalm 19 was a pantheist, but he was not. He does not identify God and nature. The two books of revelation according to this psalm are Nature and the Scripture, but they are distinct revelations.

Dr. Sampey’s outline of Psalm 19 is,

1. The glory of God in the material universe (Psalms 19:1-6)

2. The excellence of God’s revealed word (Psalms 19:7-11)

3. Plea for deliverance from every form of sin (Psalms 19:12-14)

This outline shows the progress of the thought, thus: The work of God reveals glory; the Word of God is excellent; prayer to God is the sinner’s privilege when he sees the glory of God in nature and also recognizes his imperfection as he is measured by the perfect Word of God.

A New Testament quotation from this psalm is found in Romans 10:18, in that great discussion of Paul on the Jewish problem of unbelief, showing that the light of nature extended not only to the Jews, but to the whole inhabited earth. Note carefully these words: But I say. Did they not hear? Yea, verily, Their sound went out into all the earth, And their words unto the ends of the world.

There is also a New Testament reference to it in Romans 1:20: "For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse."

There is a striking figure in this psalm found in Psalms 19:5-6, in which the rising sun is likened unto a bridegroom coming out of his chamber and running his course, thus: Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course. His going forth is from the end of the heavens, And his circuit unto the ends of it; And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Thus we see that the time of day taken as a viewpoint in this psalm is the sunrise, the most exhilarating and invigorating point of the day.

Here we note six names of the Word of God with their attributes and divine effects, noting progress in the effect, thus:

1. The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul. "Law" is the name, "perfect" is the attribute and "restoring the soul" is the effect.

2. The testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the simple. "Testimony" is the name, "sure" is the attribute and "making wise the simple" is the effect.

3. The precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart. "Precepts" is the name, "right" is the attribute and "rejoicing the heart" is the effect.

4. The commandment of Jehovah is pure, enlightening the eyes. "Commandment" is the name, "pure" is the attribute and "enlightening the eyes" is the effect.

5. The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever. "Fear" is the name, "clean" is the attribute and "enduring forever" is the effect.

6. The ordinances of Jehovah are true and righteous altogether. "Ordinances" is the name, "true" is the attribute and "righteous altogether" suggests a righteous fruitage from the whole law.

Certain classes of sins are recognized in this psalm, viz:

1. The sin of ignorance, of which Paul is a fine example.

2. Secret sin, of which David is an example.

3. Presumptuous sin, of which Saul, son of Kish, is an example.

4. The sin of infirmity, of which Peter is one of the best examples.


13. Who is the author of Psalms 8; 19; 29; 23; and when were they composed?

14. What does Dr. Carroll call this group of psalms?

15. What does Dr. Sampey call this group of psalms?

16. What does Dr. Sampey give as the subject of the Psalm 8?

17. What do the items of information in the title?

18. What does Spurgeon call this psalm?

19. What is the time of day taken as a viewpoint?

20. What is Dr. Sampey’s outline of this psalm?

21. Give several interpretations of Psalms 8:2.

22. What New Testament quotations are from this psalm and what is their application?

23. What then is the interpretation of Psalms 8:2?

24. What is the interpretation of Psalms 8:4-8?

25. What is your favorite verse of this psalm?

26. Is the author of Psalm 19 a pantheist and why?

27. What are the two books of revelation according to this psalm?

28. What is Dr. Sampey’s outline of this psalm?

29. State this outline so as to show the progress of the thought.

30. What is the New Testament quotation from this psalm?

31. What is the New Testament reference to it?

32. What is the striking figure in this psalm? What time of day does this psalm take as a viewpoint?

34. Give six names of the word of God with their attributes and divine effects, noting the progress in the effect.

35. What classes of sins are recognized in this psalm, and what an illustration of each?

36. What is your favorite verse in this psalm?

Verses 1-18



We commence this chapter by giving a classified list of the Messianic Psalms, as follows:

The Royal Psalms are:

Psalms 110; 2; 72; 45; 89;

The Passion Psalms are:

Psalms 22; 41; 69;

The Psalms of the Ideal Man are Psalms 8; 16; 40;

The Missionary Psalms are:

Psalms 47; 65; 68; 96; 100; 117.

The predictions before David of the coming Messiah are, (1) the seed of the woman; (2) the seed of Abraham; (3) the seed of Judah; (4) the seed of David.

The prophecies of history concerning the Messiah are, (1) a prophet like unto Moses; (2) a priest after the order of Melchizedek; (3) a sacrifice which embraces all the sacrificial offerings of the Old Testament; (4) direct references to him as King, as in 2 Samuel 7:8 ff.

The messianic offices as taught in the psalms are four, viz: (1) The Messiah is presented as Prophet, or Teacher (Psalms 40:8); (2) as Sacrifice, or an Offering for sin (Psalms 40:6 ff.; Hebrews 10:5 ff.) ; (3) he is presented as Priest (Psalms 110:4); (4) he is presented as King (Psalm 45).

The psalms most clearly presenting the Messiah in his various phases and functions are as follows: (1) as the ideal man, or Second Adam (8); (2) as Prophet (Psalm 40); (3) as Sacrifice (Psalm 22) ; (4) as King (Psalm 45) ; (5) as Priest (Psalm 110) ; (6) in his universal reign (Psalm 72).

It will be noted that other psalms teach these facts also, but these most clearly set forth the offices as they relate to the Messiah.

The Messiah as a sacrifice is presented in general in Psalms 40:6. His sufferings as such are given in a specific and general way in Psalms 22; 41; 69. The events of his sufferings in particular are described, beginning with the betrayal of Judas, as follows:

1. Judas betrayed him (Matthew 26:14) in fulfilment of Psalms 41:9.

2. At the Supper (Matthew 26:24) Christ said, "The Son of man goeth as it is written of him," referring to Psalm 22.

3. They sang after the Supper in fulfilment of Psalms 22:22.

4. Piercing his hands and feet, Psalms 22:16.

5. They cast lots for his vesture in fulfilment of Psalms 22:18.

6. Just before the ninth hour the chief priests reviled him (Matthew 27:43) in fulfilment of Psalms 22:8.

7. At the ninth hour (Matthew 27:46) he quoted Psalms 22:1.

8. Near his death (John 19:28) he said, in fulfilment of Psalms 69:21, "I thirst."

9. At that time they gave him vinegar (Matthew 27:48) in fulfilment of Psalms 69:21.

10. When he was found dead they did not break his bones (John 19:36) in fulfilment of Psalms 34:20.

11. He is represented as dead, buried, and raised in Psalms 16:10.

12. His suffering as a substitute is described in Psalms 69:9.

13. The result of his crucifixion to them who crucified him is given in Psalms 69:22-23. Compare Romans 11:9-10.

The Penitential Psalms are Psalm 6; 32; 38; 51; 102; 130; 143. The occasion of Psalm 6 was the grief and penitence of David over Absalom; of Psalm 32 was the blessedness of forgiveness after his sin with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah; Psalm 38, David’s reference to his sin with Bathsheba; Psalm 51, David’s penitence and prayer for forgiveness for this sin; Psalm 102, the penitence of the children of Israel on the eve of their return from captivity; Psalm 130, a general penitential psalm; Psalm 143, David’s penitence and prayer when pursued by Absalom.

The Pilgrim Psalms are Psalms 120-134. This section of the psalter is called the "Little Psalter." These Psalms were collected in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, in troublous times. The author of the central psalm of this collection is Solomon, and he wrote it when he built his Temple. The Davidic Psalms in this collection are Psalms 120; 122; 124; 131; 132; 133. The others were written during the building of the second Temple. They are called in the Septuagint "Songs of the Steps."

There are four theories as to the meaning of the titles, "Songs of the Steps," "Songs of Degrees," or "Songs of Ascents," viz:

1. The first theory is that the "Songs of the Steps" means the songs of the fifteen steps from the court of the women to the court of Israel, there being a song for each step.

2. The second theory is that advanced by Luther, which says that they were songs of a higher choir, elevated above, or in an elevated voice.

3. The third theory is that the thought in these psalms advances by degrees.

4. The fourth theory is that they are Pilgrim Psalms, or the songs that they sang while going up to the great feasts.

Certain scriptures give the true idea of these titles, viz: Exodus 23:14-17; Exodus 34:23-24; 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Kings 12:27-28: Psalms 122:1-4; and the proof of their singing as they went is found in Psalms 42:4; 100; and Isaiah 30:29. They went, singing these psalms, to the Feasts of the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Psalm 121 was sung when just in sight of Jerusalem and Psalm 122 was sung at the gate. Psalm 128 is the description of a good man’s home and a parallel to this psalm in modern literature is Burns’s "Cotter’s Saturday Night." The pious home makes the nation great.

Psalm 133 is a psalm of fellowship. It is one of the finest expressions of the blessings that issue when God’s people dwell together in unity. The reference here is to the anointing of Aaron as high priest and the fragrance of the anointing oil which was used in these anointings. The dew of Hermon represents the blessing of God upon his people when they dwell together in such unity.

Now let us look at the Alphabetical Psalms. An alphabetical psalm is one in which the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used alphabetically to commence each division. In Psalms 111-112, each clause so begins; in Psalm 25; 34; 145; each verse so begins; in Psalm 37 each stanza of two verses so begins; in 119 each stanza of eight verses so begins, and each of the eight lines begins with the same letter. In Psalm 25; 34 37 the order is not so strict; in Psalm 9 and Psalm 10 there are some traces of this alphabetical order.

David originated these alphabetical psalms and the most complete specimen is Psalm 119, which is an expansion of the latter part of Psalm 19.

A certain group of psalms is called the Hallelujah Psalms. They are so called because the word "Hallelujah" is used at the beginning, or at the ending, and sometimes at both the beginning and the ending. The Hallelujah Psalms are Psalm 111-113; 115-117; 146-150. Psalm 117 is a doxology; and Psalms 146-150 were used as anthems. Psalm 148 calls on all creation to praise God. Francis of Assisi wrote a hymn based on this psalm in which he called the sun his honorable brother and the cricket his sister. Psalm 150 calls for all varieties of instruments. Psalms 113-118 are called the Egyptian Hallel. They were used at the Passover (Psalm 113-114), before the Supper and Psalm 115-118 were sung after the Supper. According to this, Jesus and his disciples sang Psalms 115-118 at the last Passover Supper. These psalms were sung also at the Feasts of Pentecost, Tabernacles, Dedication, and New Moon.

The name of God is delayed long in Psalm 114. Addison said, "That the surprise might be complete." Then there are some special characteristics of Psalm 115, viz: (1) It was written against idols. Cf. Isaiah 44:9-20; (2) It is antiphonal, the congregation singing Psalms 115:1-8, the choir Psalms 115:9-12, the priests Psalms 115:13-15 and the congregation again Psalms 115:16-18. The theme of Psalm 116 is love, based on gratitude for a great deliverance, expressed in service. It is appropriate to read at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper and Psalms 116:15 is especially appropriate for funeral services.

On some special historical occasions certain psalms were sung. Psalm 46 was sung by the army of Gustavus Adolphus before the decisive battle of Leipzig, on September 17, 1631. Psalm 68 was sung by Cromwell’s army on the occasion of the battle of Dunbar in Scotland.

Certain passages in the Psalms show that the psalm writers approved the offering of Mosaic animal sacrifices. For instance, Psalms 118:27; Psalms 141:2 seem to teach very clearly that they approved the Mosaic sacrifice. But other passages show that these inspired writers estimated spiritual sacrifices as more important and foresaw the abolition of the animal sacrifices. Such passages are Psalms 50:7-15; Psalms 4:5; Psalms 27:6; Psalms 40:6; Psalms 51:16-17. These scriptures show conclusively that the writers estimated spiritual sacrifices as more important than the Mosaic sacrifices.


1. What are the Royal Psalms?

2. What are the Passion Psalms?

3. What are the Psalms of the Ideal Man?

4. What are the Missionary Psalms?

5. What are the predictions before David of the coming Messiah?

6. What are the prophecies of history concerning the Messiah?

7. Give a regular order of thought concerning the messianic offices as taught in the psalms.

8. Which psalms most clearly present the Messiah as (1) the ideal man, or Second Adam, (2) which as Prophet, or Teacher, (3) which as the Sacrifice, (4) which as King, (5) which as Priest, (6) which his universal reign?

9. Concerning the suffering Messiah, or the Messiah as a sacrifice, state the words or facts, verified in the New Testament as fulfilment of prophecy in the psalms. Let the order of the citations follow the order of facts in Christ’s life.

10. Name the Penitential Psalms and show their occasion.

11. What are the Pilgrim Psalms?

12. What is this section of the Psalter called?

13. When and under what conditions were these psalms collected?

14. Who is the author of the central psalm of this collection?

15. What Davidic Psalms are in this collection?

16. When were the others written?

17. What are they called in the Septuagint?

18. What four theories as to the meaning of the titles, "Songs of the Steps," "Songs of Degrees," or "Songs of Ascents"?

19. What scriptures give the true idea of these titles?

20. Give proof of their singing as they went.

21. To what feasts did they go singing these Psalms?

22. What was the special use made of Psalms 121 and Psalm 122?

23. Which of these psalms is the description of a good man’s home and what parallel in modern literature?

24. Expound Psalm 133.

25. What is an alphabetical psalm, and what are the several kinds?

26. Who originated these Alphabetical Psalms?

27. What are the most complete specimen?

28. Of what is it an expansion?

29. Why is a certain group of psalms called the Hallelujah Psalms?

30. What are the Hallelujah Psalms?

31. Which of the Hallelujah Psalms was a doxology?

32. Which of these were used as anthems?

33. Which psalm calls on all creation to praise God?

34. Who wrote a hymn based on Psalm 148 in which he called the sun his honorable brother and the cricket his sister?

35. Which of these psalms calls for all varieties of instruments?

36. What is the Egyptian Hallel?

37. What is their special use and how were they sung?

38. Then what hymns did Jesus and his disciples sing?

39. At what other feasts was this sung?

40. Why was the name of God delayed so long in Psalm 114?

41. What are the characteristics of Psalm 115?

42. What is the theme and special use of Psalm 116?

43. State some special historical occasions on which certain psalms were sung. Give the psalm for each occasion.

44. Cite passages in the psalms showing that the psalm writers approved the offering of Mosaic animal sacrifices.

45. Cite other passages showing that these inspired writers estimated spiritual sacrifices as more important than the Mosaic sacrifices.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Psalms 8". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/psalms-8.html.
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