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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 8

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Verses 1-2


Psalm 8 is the second messianic psalm after Psalm 2. This is evident from its quotation in Hebrews 2, which makes it clear that this psalm is about the Lord Jesus. Psalm 8 is the first song of praise in Psalms. This psalm is the only one addressed to God alone. This is remarkable because it is about the true Man, the Son of Man, Who came to glorify God, but only after He fell into the earth like the grain of wheat and died (John 12:24).

There is a similarity and a difference between Psalm 8 and Psalm 2. The similarity is that both psalms are about the glory of the Lord Jesus. The difference is that Psalm 2 is about the Lord Jesus as King on Zion, where He reigns as the Son of God, the Messiah, over Israel (John 1:49) and from there also over the nations. He comes first for Israel as “servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises [given] to the fathers” (Romans 15:8).

Psalm 8 speaks about the Lord Jesus as the Son of Man Who rules over all that is created. He has a Name above all names. He is not in heaven, but above heaven. He transcends everything. For this He had to suffer and die as the Son of Man and rise from the dead. We find the announcement of this by the Lord Jesus Himself three times in the Gospels (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31Mark 10:33-Nahum :).

Psalm 8 is what is sometimes called an ‘envelope psalm’ because it begins and ends with the same phrase: “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth” (Psalms 8:1; Psalms 8:9). This emphasizes the fact that the glorification of God will take place through the Son of Man Who died and rose again. The Lord Jesus came as the second Man and the last Adam to fulfill God’s purpose in creating man, namely, the glorification of God. Christ is the true Adam..

How Majestic Is God’s Name

For “for the choir director” (Psalms 8:1) see at Psalm 4:1.

Then follows an indication that has not occurred before: it is a psalm “on the Gittith“. This phrase occurs three times in Psalms (Psalms 8:1; Psalms 81:1Psalms 84:1). The meaning of this word is related to a derivation of it, the Hebrew word gat, which means wine press. This makes it seem that it is a “wine press song.

The wine press is a symbol of judgment and of joy. We can see in this, first of all, a reference to the suffering of Christ Himself. He drank the cup of the wine of God’s anger for all who believe in Him. In the second place, it is a prophetic reference to the judgment on the wicked. Wine, besides being a picture of wrath, is a picture of the joy that is the result of tribulation through judgment (Jeremiah 48:33; Isaiah 63:3; Revelation 14:20; Revelation 19:1-Deuteronomy :Revelation 19:15).

To make the wine, the grapes must be pressed. Similarly, the joy and glorification of God come only through suffering. It will be a joy when the wicked are judged and the Messiah will reign over Israel and the entire earth.

For “a Psalm of David” see at Psalm 3:1.

David speaks to the “LORD, our Lord” (Psalms 8:1). LORD, Yahweh, is the name of God in His relationship with man and especially with His people. Lord, Adonai, indicates His sovereign rule over all created things. David, and in him the believing remnant, sees the power of God’s Name “in all the earth”. The whole earth is one great revelation of that Name. This will be the case when the Lord Jesus has cleansed the earth by judgment and establishes the realm of peace.

At the same time, David realizes that the majesty of God is “above the heavens”. His majesty transcends all that is created, whether it is the visible or the invisible part of it. David sees only the created and only a small part of it, the part he can perceive with his eyes. By faith he knows that God shows His majesty everywhere, in countless more places than he can see around him, but also much higher than the created sky. God transcends His creation immeasurably.

Man, who lives separated from God, does not see this because he does not acknowledge God, although God makes His eternal power and Divine nature known in creation (Romans 1:19-Proverbs :). But what is hidden from the wise and intelligent of the world, because their eyes are blinded by “the god of this age”, Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4), God has revealed to little children (Psalms 8:3; Matthew 11:25).

What is said of “the mouth of infants and nursing babes” applies to the believing remnant. As infants and nursing babes, they are utterly defenseless in the face of adversaries, enemies, and vindictive people. But their mouths open to praise God. This display of weakness and unreason according to human standards is a foundation of strength. God has laid that foundation to establish on it His honor and glory.

When the Lord Jesus quotes this verse from Psalm 8, He does so from the Septuagint, saying: “OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF” (Matthew 21:16) instead of “You have established strength”. In praising God – and the Lord Jesus – His power and greatness are sung. It is God’s method to shame through the mouths of infants and nursing babes, the weak, the things which are strong (1 Corinthians 1:27). David tells God that this is how He operates “because of Your adversaries”. In doing so, God is muzzling the mouths of “the enemy and the vengeful”. These are mainly and primarily the wicked of the people and subsequently the enemies from outside.

The Lord Jesus quotes this verse to silence His opponents, the chief priests and scribes (Matthew 21:15-Nehemiah :). Those fools reveal their opposition to Him by pointing out to Him the “unheard of” that children praise Him in the temple with the words “hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:15; cf. Psalms 118:25-Ezekiel :). The Lord then holds up to them this verse. In doing so, He says reproachfully to them whether they have “never read” that verse in Psalm 8. They will have read it often enough, but always without understanding its true meaning.

Not understanding something is not bad. Not wanting to understand something is really bad (cf. Isaiah 6:9-2 Samuel :). Such is the case with the chief priests and the scribes. Their unwillingness blinds them to the fact that this verse demonstrates that the Lord Jesus is the LORD, Yahweh, Himself. The children express this loudly.

Verses 3-8

What Is Man?

After the contrast between infants and nursing babes on the one hand and the adversaries on the other, more contrasts follow from Psalms 8:3 onward. In Psalms 8:3 David speaks of the mighty heavens and in Psalms 8:4 he speaks of the smallness of mortal man. He speaks about “Your heavens”. They are God’s heavens because He made them and is the Owner of them. He sees “the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars”. The mention of God’s fingers suggests that He has been at work as a skilled artist.

He has also “ordained” all the heavenly bodies, He gave them their place. All heavenly bodies do not find themselves in the place where they are by chance, but have been given that place by God. Therefore there is harmony in the universe. Everything is in the right proportion to each other. The heavenly bodies are the silent witnesses of God’s majesty, creative power and power of maintenance, which keeps them in their place and in their orbit. Here we have one of the many indications that the theory of evolution is a theory of lies. God has given everything its place in the sky, not by evolution, but by the work of His fingers. It is not a process, but an act.

Deeply impressed by the immeasurable universe with its countless stars, David speaks in amazement about the fact that God is thinking of that puny “mortal man” (Psalms 8:4; cf. Job 35:5). Job asks the same question, but as an indictment, from the perspective of the suffering God brings upon him (Job 7:17). ‘Man’ is the translation of the Hebrew word enosh, which means weak, mortal man. That is what man became after the Fall. Enosh therefore is the sinful man. This does not apply to the Lord Jesus.

David is also amazed that God cares for “the son of man”. “Son of man” is the translation of the Hebrew words ben adam, which mean “son of Adam”. This emphasizes that he was made from the dust of the earth, and also without the ulterior motive of sin. What makes him so valuable to God that He, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, does not forget him, but takes care of him and shows His favor again and again? After all, man in his mortality and weakness is an insignificant creature in the midst of God’s imposing, overwhelming works of creation (cf. Psalms 144:3).

After his astonishment at the significance that man has for God despite his smallness, David speaks of the relationship between man and the angels (Psalms 8:5). Compared to the angels, man is made by God “a little lower” than they are [“God” should read as “angels” cf. Psalms 97:7). Man is head of creation and God has subjected everything to him (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 1:28). Thus God has crowned him with glory and majesty!

This is amazing. As a creature, man does not possess the power and agility of angels. He is also confined to the earth, whereas angels are in heaven and can come to earth. Yet God has not set an angel as the ruler of creation, but that weak, limited man.

What attraction can there be in that puny man that God take thought of him? The answer to that question is: Look at the Lord Jesus, “the Son of Man”, Who is now in glory, crowned by God with glory and honor. In Him we see how God really thinks about man. He is the true Son of Adam (Luke 3:23-Jeremiah :; Luke 3:38). In Him we see the glory and honor of man.

He is the Son of Man (singular) and not the Son of Men (plural). This difference is important. For He is the Son of one human being, Mary, and not the Son of two men, Joseph and Mary. We humans are all born of two human beings – of a father and a mother – so we are all “sons of men” (Ephesians 3:5). The Lord Jesus by His birth is the Son of Mary in whom He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).

That David speaks of Christ by the Spirit we see in Hebrews 2 where these verses of Psalm 8 are quoted and explained. Because of its importance, we quote the entire section:
“For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, “What is man, that You remember him? Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him? “You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And have appointed him over the works of Your hands; You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, [namely,] Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:5-1 Samuel :).

Psalms 8:6 of Psalm 8 goes beyond the first Adam about to the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:47). “You have put all things in subjection under his feet”, indicates the complete lordship of the Lord Jesus over creation, as the quotation in Hebrews 2 makes clear. ‘All’ is also really all and allows no exception. It includes all things in heaven and on earth, every part of the created universe. Wherever we look in the universe, there is nothing to be found that is not subjected to Him.

Of that general dominion, nothing can be seen today. We see much misery and sorrow. This is because man, through sin, has given up and lost dominion. That dominion is now in the hands of Satan (Luke 4:6), who since the Fall has been “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31). The curse rests on creation. Peaceful animals have become predators and the earth’s soil has begun to bring forth thorns and thistles.

It will not always remain so. To see how it will be, we must look up. There we see “Jesus” and indeed “crowned with glory and honor”. God has given Him that place of honor as a reward for His work on the cross. Because of this suffering of death, the Lord Jesus was “made a little [or: a short time] lower than the angels”. He, Who is the Creator of the angels and therefore their Master, was, though for a short time of only three days, still during that time, lower than the angels. His humiliation knows no limits and therefore neither does His exaltation. We do not yet see everything subjected to Him, but in faith we do see Him to Whom everything will be publicly subjected.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews is concerned with raising our eyes upward to Him. And to see Him is also to see His work that He has done on earth at God’s behest. Where the first man failed so grossly and irreparably, the second Man has come to acquire the full right to creation. He acquired that right by glorifying God in the same area where the first man failed.

All things put “under his feet” (Psalms 8:6), that is, the feet of the first man, concerns especially the animal kingdom (Psalms 8:7; cf. Genesis 1:26). He rules over the tame animals, “all sheep and oxen”. These animals serve him. He also rules over the wild animals, “the beasts of the field”. He is able to capture and tame them or render them harmless (cf. James 3:7). He also rules over the animals of the air, “the birds of the heavens” (Psalms 8:8). The same is true of the animals in the water, “the fish of the sea” (cf. Genesis 9:2). The fish pass “through the paths of the seas”. They are not human paths. Yet man manages to catch the fish.

That everything is put under man’s feet is applied to the Lord Jesus three times in the New Testament (Hebrews 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22). There we also see that there are two exceptions. The first exception is God, for God has subjected everything to Him: “But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him” (1 Corinthians 15:27).

The second exception is the church, for it is joined to Christ as a body to a head: “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-Isaiah :). That the Lord Jesus reigns over creation together with His church we see pictured in the rule Adam and Eve receive together over creation (Genesis 1:27-Hosea :).

Verse 9

How Majestic Is God’s Name!

The psalm concludes in this verse with the same words with which it begins in Psalms 8:1. David has, what he says in the opening verse, clarified in the following verses. As a result, we have understood why David begins with this and has involved us in his admiration for God’s Name. This will be fully fulfilled in the realm of peace.

For us it has an even deeper dimension. We do not yet see everything subjected to Him, but we see Him to Whom everything will be subjected. In addition, we are united with Him, the Son of Man, and will share in His reign in the realm of peace. In that realm His dominion is not only over all that is on the earth, but also over all that is in the heavens (Ephesians 1:10). For us, His Name is already majestic in our hearts and lives, while outwardly nothing of His dominion is visible yet.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 8". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-8.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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