Psa. 8:0 To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David.
This seems to be sent as a song of praise to the head of music in the temple. Either the musician played the gittith, a type of stringed instrument that seems to have originated in Gath, a Philistine city, or David was giving instruction that this Psalm was to be accompanied by the Gittith.
Psa. 8:1 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
O YHWH (the self-existent, eternal One) our Lord (sovereign, master). This is a statement acknowledging the covenant God of Israel, the Creator, as the authority over David and the people of Israel. The Hebrew word for name states “an appellation, as a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication honor, authority, character.” David is declaring God’s name to be excellent (powerful, famous, and worthy)—not just in Israel, but in all the earth. He also acknowledges God’s dwelling place, the place of His glory/beauty/majesty, as being above the heavens (from earth’s perspective). The visible expression of God’s glory is hidden from our view except as declared by the heavens—which only give us a glimmer of His glory.
Psa. 8:2 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.
After looking up the Hebrew words and finding a cross reference to Matthew 21, it seems that David is making an observation about the bold praise that comes naturally from the young children as they observe the wonders and beauty of God’s great creation. The truth of their praise cannot be denied. It serves to silence those who would place themselves in opposition to that truth.
Psa. 8:3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
I can certainly relate with David in these verses. I love to “consider the heavens.” As he considers, David realizes that the stars and planets are God’s artistry, his craftsmanship, “the work of His fingers” set in place according to His plan and purpose for our benefit. He placed them in position and set them in motion that has continued with dependability and predictability from the time of creation. By considering the heavens we can learn to navigate the oceans and predict the weather. The rising and setting of the sun and the phases of the moon enable us to define time and chart the seasons. It’s just amazing to me to know that the same stars and planets that I see were seen by Abraham, Ruth, David, Esther, Peter etc.
Psa. 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
As David considers the heavens, he begins to feel very small and insignificant. How can man occupy a position of any consequence in the mind of the Creator? How does man even come to His remembrance in comparison to such beauty and majesty? More to the point—how does David even rate recognition of any sort from God, let alone His pointed care and provision?
This section was referenced in the epistle to the Hebrews:
Heb. 2:6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Heb. 2:7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
This verse, in particular, expresses the thoughts of every person who comes to know God intimately through relationship and through the scripture. You can’t help but wonder why He cares about us so much! We have continually rejected His authority and taken His provision for us for granted. Still He provided His Son as the sacrifice for “my” sin and continues to reach out to us in love. It’s beyond my human understanding!
A few years ago I got to visit my daughter who was working in the Bahamas at the time. We stayed on the island of Eleuthra part of the time. One of my favorite memories is of getting to see the heavens with more stars than I’d ever seen before. There was no light pollution, and I even saw the Milky Way! I couldn’t hold back the tears as I thought of this section of scripture. It just befuddles me that anyone can deny our Creator.
Psa. 8:5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Psa. 8:6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
Psa. 8:7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
Psa. 8:8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
Order and authority are part of God’s plan. Man occupies a position “a little lower than the angels.” There seem to be different “levels” of responsibility and authority assigned to angels—archangels, seraphim, cherubim, etc. God has also delegated “levels” of authority for man—husband over wife over children; kings/rulers over government leaders over citizens, etc. Man was created to be the delegated authority over all the creatures on planet earth.
Gen. 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Gen. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Gen. 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
The “all things” referenced in verse 6 are, in context, those things on planet earth as defined in the verses that follow.
I think the crowning glory and honor of man was to have been created “in the image of God.” The angels cannot claim this privilege. Being created in the image of God has placed man in a position to enjoy a fellowship and relationship with the Creator that no other creation of God can experience.
(7/08) I don’t know why I didn’t reference this the first time through, but these verses were used by the writer of Hebrews in explaining why Christ became a man and was made “a little lower than the angels.” Why? (Hebrews 2:9-10) To “taste death for every man….in bringing many sons unto glory.”—to become “the captain of their salvation.”
Psa. 8:9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
David closes with the words of praise with which be started this song. It’s an exclamation point on the glory, power, and majesty of the Creator.