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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 8



Verse 1

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Title. - Upon Gittith. The Gittith was an instrument, or possibly a tune, invented in Gath, whence David brought it after his sojourn there with Achish (1 Samuel 27:2); or else it is derived from gat (Hebrew #1660), a wine-press, being used on occasions of joy, like the vintage. All the three psalms, Psalms 8:1-9; Psalms 81:1-16; Psalms 84:1-12, which have this title, are of the joyful kind. There may be an enigmatical reference to Messiah treading the wine-press (Isaiah 63:3; Revelation 19:15).

The psalm foretells the recovery by the Second Adam of the dominion over the earth and all nature, forfeited by the tint Adam. (Compare the quotations of it in Matthew 21:16; Hebrews 2:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:27.)

Vv.1-9.-God's glory seen in the starry heavens enhances His grace in raising seemingly insignificant man, in the person of the Messiah, above all creations. O Lord our Lord - Hebrew, 'O Yahweh our Lord' [ 'Adoneeynuw (Hebrew #113)]. So in Psalms 110:1, 'Yahweh said unto my Lord.' Lord implies rule, mastership, and ownership.

Thy name. How excellent (glorious) is thy manifestation of thyself (cf. note, Psalms 5:11, "thy name") - namely, in "the heavens," which "declare the glory of God" (Psalms 19:1) to men, "in all the earth" (cf. Psalms 8:3). The name in Hebrew is the image and expression of the being. God, as existing in Himself, is nameless. In the Son He manifests His name.

Who hast set thy glory above - as a crown (Psalms 8:5) upon "the heavens." The sun, moon, and stars in "the havens" manifest God's "glory" (Psalms 8:3).

Verse 2

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

Sucklings - children until the third year, up to which the Hebrew women used to suckle their children (1 Samuel 1:22-24). Even tender children can, by their admiration of God's works, put to shame the folly of the 'enemies of God' and of Christ; as the children did the chief priests, who were "sore displeased" at their 'Hosannas to the Son of David' (Matthew 21:15). But this was only one exemplification of the general principle in this verse-namely, that it is by man's lowliest weakness that God in redemption overthrows man's great "enemy;" for "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty" (1 Corinthians 1:27). This principle is especially exemplified in the Babe of Bethlehem, who was at once a "child" and "the mighty, God, the Everlasting Father" (Isaiah 9:6), who "stills the enemy and the avenger," not merely by His Almighty power as God, but by the weakness of His humanity and even infancy. His true disciples are children in spirit, if not in age, as He declares in Matthew 11:25-26.

Ordained - Hebrew, yicadtaa (Hebrew #3245), 'founded;' in Matthew 21:16, "perfected praise (quoted from the Septuagint), "praise," the effect, being substituted for "strength," the cause (cf. Psalms 118:14, "my strength ... song ... salvation"): laid the foundation of an edifice to thy "praise" or "glory." A different Hebrew word from that for "ordained" ( kownaan

Verse 3

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

Thy heavens ... the moon and the stars. The sun is probably included in "thy heavens" - namely, as they appear by day, wherein the sun rules supreme. "The moon and the stars" in the second dense describe the splendour of the night heavens. Compare Psalms 19:1-2; Psalms 19:4-6 where day, with its sun, and night are similar contrasted. David's original occupation as a shepherd, watching his flocks by night as well as day, would naturally suggest glorious thoughts of God's greatness exhibited in the visible heavens. Affliction it was that elicited his poetical powers. So blessed are the results of sanctified sorrow.

The work of thy fingers - human language used of God, in condescension to man's conceptions. What a contrast to the most ingenious works of man's "fingers"!

Verse 4

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

How condescending that the Creator of such glorious luminaries (Psalms 8:3) should stoop to make man [literally, frail man, '

Verse 5

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels - Hebrew 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430): the abstract idea of Godhead; not God Himself, because Scripture always puts an infinite distance between man and God; but the superhuman, the heavenly, such as are angels. Compare Zechariah 12:8, "The house of David shall be as 'Elohiym, as the angel of the Lord;" 1 Samuel 28:13, "I saw gods ('Elohiym) ascending out of the earth," where 'Elohiym is, supernatural beings. Hengstenberg translates, 'Thou makest him to want little of a divine standing.' He objects to the translation "angels," 'How could man, in respect to the sovereignty over the earth, be compared with angels, who possess no such sovereignty?' But Paul, in Hebrews 2:7, translates it "angels;" and the argument is, Man, through God's layout, originally made but a little lower than angels, who have heavenly thrones assigned to them near God has a universal dominion ultimately awaiting him in Christ, even far above that of angels. See the whole chapter, Hebrews 2:1-18; cf. Hebrews 1:4 etc. 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430) is applied to judges or rulers Psalms 82:6, as quoted by Christ (John 10:34-35). They are called so as being representatives of God, administering the power delegated to them by Him. Angels are called 'Elohiym similarly, as exercising power under God, and ministering to man benefits from Him. It is noteworthy that the incommunicable name YAHWEH (Hebrew #3068), Jehovah, never has the possessive pronouns my, our, etc., attached to it, whereas 'Elohiym has frequently-e.g., "my God."

Verse 6

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands - alluding to Genesis 1:26; Genesis 1:28, "Let us make man in our image (answering to Psalms 8:5, Thou madest him but a little lower than the 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430), or angels) ... and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea (Psalms 8:8, here) ... the fowl of the air ... the cattle (Psalms 8:7) ... all the earth," answering to "Thou hast put all things under his feet," with the important difference that here, in Christ, the dominion of man is extended over "all things," universally and without exception, not only on earth, but also in heaven and hell (as Paul reasons, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Hebrews 2:8), God alone being excepted Compare also Genesis 9:2. "Crowned him with glory and honour" (Psalms 8:5) expresses similarly that God has made man, in Christ, His deputy-king. This earth restored is to be the scene of, His dominion (cf. Isaiah 11:4-9).

Verse 7

All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

Sheep - `flocks,' margin; made up of sheep, goats, and such, smaller animals.

Beasts Hebre 'Behemoth' (Job 40:15): need here for the larger qnadr peds Compare Genesis 1:21 From Gen Beasts - Hebrew, 'Behemoth' (Job 40:15): need here for the larger qnadrupeds. Compare Genesis 1:21. From Genesis 9:2, as well as daily experience, it is shown that man, even though fallen, retains some of his sovereignty over the animal world. No animal is so strong and savage but that man, though relatively weak, in time becomes its master (James 3:7). Still there is this great difference between man's sovereignty now and what it was before the fall; then at was a voluntary submission; now it is a constrained one. As man revolted against his Lord, so the subject animals have revolted against man. He must maintain against them, as against the resisting earth, a conflict, employing art and cunning; and though on the whole he remains conqueror, yet he has to suffer many defeats (Hengstenberg).

Of the field. (Compare Genesis 2:19.) Man's feet dominion over the animal world shall be restored in Messiah's kingdom.

Verse 8

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 9

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Translate as (note) Psalms 8:1, 'O Yahweh our Lord.' In the English version, the LORD, where it stands for YAHWEH (Hebrew #3068), is in capital letters; where for 'Adonay (Hebrew #113), it is in small letters. This burst of praise in Psalms 8:1 is the language of believing hope, in Psalms 8:9 that of praise at the consummation of redemption. All God's redeemed ones shall join the song (Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:4-6).


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 8:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

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Saturday, December 5th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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