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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 8

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 1

Psalms 8:0.

God's glory is magnified by his works, and by his love to man.

To the chief musician upon Gittith.
A Psalm of David.

Title. Gittith. lamnatseach al haggittith הגתית על למנצח The word גתית gittith, signifies wine-presses; Ληνων, the LXX. As to what is meant by these wine-presses, says Houbigant, we are utterly ignorant. Some interpreters, however, think that a musical instrument brought from Gath is implied; for the Chaldee renders it, "On the harp which David brought from Gath." And, agreeably hereto, this triumphal Psalm is thought to have been composed by David upon his victory over Goliath. See Dr. Hammond's first note upon it. It relates, however, more eminently to our Blessed Saviour's victorious resurrection from the grave, and his triumphal ascension into heaven, whereby our human nature was exalted above all the creatures in the world. In this view of it, Fenwick supposes that Gittith refers to Christ suffering, and to his consequent trampling his enemies in the wine-press of God's wrath. Comp. Isaiah 1:3.

Verse 2

Psalms 8:2. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, &c.— The first and most natural signification of these words is an allusion to the case of David himself; who, in comparison of Goliath, was but a mere child; and God's enabling him to gain a complete victory over this gigantic champion, was not only a proper punishment for his defiance of the armies of the living God, but likewise sufficient to make the whole army of the Philistines adore the omnipotence of the God of Israel in reverential silence. Our Saviour applies it to himself, Matthew 21:16., and it may with great propriety be applied to the first preachers of the Gospel; who, though ignorant, illiterate, and void either of power or interest, triumphed over the wisdom of the wise, and put to silence the cavils of the subtle: though some imagine that this quotation was applied by Christ to children, literally such; yet it is plain, that the Scribes and Pharisees were not offended so much at the people, as at their expressions: When they cried Hosanna to the Son of David, they were displeased, and said unto Jesus, Hearest thou what these say? i.e. "How they ascribe the power of salvation to thee, who art but a mere man? Is that acclamation, Hosanna, which signifies save now, and is often used in our addresses to God, fit to be given to thee?" Our Saviour replies, "Yes: for have ye not read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained strength? and though, in this low and abject state, I appear as a man, and seem, in my present condition, to be as incapable of such power as a sucking child is of the greatest enterprise; yet am I to save my faithful disciples, and to subdue the enemies of my mission, according to the sense of that prophetic passage." Though the Evangelist cites these verses according to the Septuagint version, Thou hast perfected praise; yet it is most probable that our Saviour used the Hebrew phrase, which renders the sense clearer; and, though the persons crying Hosanna are called children in our version, yet it is most likely that they were grown persons; for they were the persons or multitude who conducted Jesus to Jerusalem. The Greek word which we render children, is generally applied to menial servants of all ages; and in Mat 14:2 it is applied to Herod's courtiers, or servants. See Mede's Discourses, and 2 Kings 2:23.

Verse 4

Psalms 8:4. What is man—and the son of man? Bishop Patrick, in his preface to the Paraphrase on the Psalms, has made a remark which we here subjoin, as it gives light to this, and several other passages of Scripture: "The son of man, and the sons of men, (says he,) are phrases which often occur, and which in Scripture-language seem to belong to princes, and sometimes the greatest of princes; see Psa 80:17 where it signifies Hezekiah; Psa 146:2 where it signifies any prince, however great in dignity, or eminent in power: so Psa 58:1 the counsellors of Saul are called the sons of men. The original of this language, I conceive, is to be drawn from the common manner of speech among the Hebrews, who called the chief of any kind by the whole kind. So they call man creature, Mar 16:15 because he is the prime creature here below: so a king, or eminent person, they call the son of man, because he is the prime, or chief among the sons of men: hence we may learn what to understand by that title which the Blessed Saviour so often gives himself; The Son of Man, or rather, That Son of Man: i.e. the Messiah, the Lord's Anointed; that great prince, whom God promised to send into the world."

Verse 5

Psalms 8:5. Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels Him, that is, the Son of Man, spoken of in the preceding verse. This, as well as the following verse, is applied by the apostle to the Hebrews to our Saviour, chap. Psa 2:7 where we shall enlarge upon it: see also 1 Corinthians 15:27. Instead of a little lower, &c. some would render the Hebrew word, מעט meat, for a little time lower than the angels: for, say they, as it is Jesus Christ who is here treated of, and as the words relate to the time of his abasement, we cannot say that he was made but a little lower than the angels, since he then appeared under the form of a servant, and was a worm rather than a man; but he was so only for a little time. See Philippians 2:6-8.

Verse 6

Psalms 8:6. Thou madest him to have dominion As these words, and those which follow, are not here spoken of man, till after it is said that God had abased and humbled him; and man having not been established king and ruler of the world, after having degraded himself by his sin, but, on the contrary, having then lost all the right which before this he had over the other creatures; the advancement here spoken of can have no relation to him. Besides, under these general terms, the works of his hands, the angels being also comprehended, as appears from Heb 1:4-5 these words can relate only to JESUS CHRIST. It should be particularly observed, that in the description which the prophet here gives, Psa 8:7-8 of the empire of the second Adam, he has borrowed the ideas and expressions of the dominion which God gave to the first Adam, Genesis 1:28.; much after the same manner that the prophets have usually borrowed the terms and ideas of the Jewish church in their times, whereby to describe the Christian church. See Isaiah 18:7; Isaiah 62:9. Malachi 1:11.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, This Psalm opens with the Psalmist's high admiration of the glory of God: O Lord our Lord. It is a pleasing task to contemplate the divine excellencies, and his wondrous works, when we can claim an interest in him, as our God; for then all things are ours. How excellent is thy name in all the earth! bright is the display of glory which appears in all the works of creation and providence throughout the earth; but brighter far this glory shines in the eternal world, where God has fixed his radiant throne, and angels and archangels adore him, yet cannot reach his praise, who hath set his glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength: by the weak things of this world, such as were the apostles and preachers of the Gospel, whom men despised as babes and sucklings, has God sent forth his mighty word, which is the power of God unto salvation; because of thine enemies; either to confound them, as in the Temple; or to convert them, when, unable to resist the powerful evidence, they should fall down and give glory to God. That thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger, or, cause him to cease; that is to say, the power of Satan, and his kingdom upon earth. Note; (1.) The kingdom of Christ shall finally be triumphant, however despicable its professors may now appear in the eyes of a carnal world. (2.) The weaker and more helpless we are before our spiritual foes, the more is God's glory exalted in bruising Satan under our feet, and making us, through faith, more than conquerors.

2nd, The great condescensions of the Divine Grace to man still further awaken the Psalmist's wonder, love, and praise; especially the glories of the man Christ Jesus, so highly exalted for us men, and for our salvation.

When I consider thy heavens, that stupendous frame, the work of thy fingers, so curiously formed, so astonishingly magnificent; the moon and the stars, with all the various bodies, which with such order revolve in their several spheres; which thou hast ordained, or prepared, suited and admirably disposed to answer the uses for which they were intended; what is man, אנושׁ Enosh, miserable man, that thou art mindful of him? either man in general, to whom, in some sense, all that is said may be applicable; for whose benefit the heavens are spread abroad, the luminaries shine; in nature, next to angelical; in dignity, the head of this lower world; to whom all creatures are put in subjection, and for whose support, use, and comfort, they are given. Well might this awaken our admiration, and make us astonished at the greatness of the gift; but greater far is the glory put upon man, and to which the apostle, Heb 2:6 applies these words. God has been so mindful of man as to take the human nature into an union with the divine, in the person of his own Son, who now is become the son of man; and thou visiteth him with the most unbounded favour and regard, giving the Spirit without measure unto him, and anointing him with the oil of gladness above his fellows. For thou hast made him a little lower than the Elohim; by the assumption of the human nature, Christ is inferior to the Father as touching his manhood; or angels, as the apostle interprets the word, Christ having taken that nature, which in excellence is inferior to the evangelical, particularly as subject to death and misery: a little, not so much respecting the degree as the duration; but a little while, that is to say, during the days of his humiliation, especially when he lay in the grave, and experienced that lowest abasement of humanity. Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, by raising him from the dead, and setting him on the mediatorial throne on high. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands, all things are committed into his hand, in heaven and in earth; and he is above all, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Thou hast put all things under his feet, not only the affairs of this sublunary world, and the inferior creatures here specified, but angels in heaven, and devils in hell, all own his sovereign sway; and men, whether his loyal subjects who enjoy his protection, or his enemies who must lick the dust. Such an exaltation of our divine Lord fills the heart with the deepest acknowledgment to that gracious God, who thus visited us in our low estate, and, above all other, manifestations of his glory and grace, excites our highest admiration. O Lord, our Lord, now in the incarnate Jesus especially related to us, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Note; (1.) The more we behold of the visible glories around us, the more should our hearts be led to the contemplation of the glorious Author. (2.) Redemption will ever furnish sources of wonder and praise. Indeed, the more we search, the more shall we find this ocean unfathomable; and, after endless ages spent in the delightful task, still cry, O the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of love that passeth knowledge!

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 8". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/psalms-8.html. 1801-1803.
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