Psalm 8 - Mans place in Gods Kingdom
Psalm 8 - Man’s place in Gods Kingdom
What is it about?
The first words are: “On the instrument of Gath” Gath relates to either one of three words;
- An instrument name
- A Philistine city
- Type of melody
This Psalm is after, 5 petition Psalms whereas this is a straight psalm of praise.
Focus of the Psalm is a hymn of creation and the place of humans within this sphere and all God has created.
As Rabbi Zelig Pliskin quotes – “Hashem has given us an immortal soul. Our soul which is our real essence is an aspect of the Divine. And we humans have ruling power over the rest of creation. We have been given intelligence, and with this intelligence we can benevolently conquer the entire world”
In the bible study we have been studying Job and I see this as a direct parallelism to Job as Job questions “why should God in his infinite wisdom be bothered with mankind”
David praises God for the role mankind has been given.
The Psalm has a number of themes ;
Theology (thinking) and the majesty of God.
Humanity and the insignificance of man.
Significance of man.
Parallelism of Gods power and splendor on the earth compared to the heavens, look for yourself at a picture of a Nebula within the universe to see its Gods power and majesty as creator.
Interesting aspects of this Psalm
Jesus uses this Psalm when cleansing the temple in the gospels. (In my message on Jesus cleansing the temple https://www.teshuvah-uk.com/john-2-cleansing-of-the-temple)
One of the deeper aspects of this Psalm is seen as a direct address to God i.e. you are stood talking to him and praising him in wonder.
It is an “inclusio” i.e. like an envelope structure it finishes with a similar way to how it starts as look at the first and last verse. God is the alpha and omega, he is a perfect circle as he is the start and the finish. He is everlasting and he is the only one who can ‘bara’ (hebrew word to ‘create’) as in;
Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The Parallelism is of man who isn’t eternal, comes from dust & returns to it
Psalm 8 has been influential in much midrash (Jewish commentaries and interpretations of text)
One of the most important aspects of this Psalm is explained by the writer of Hebrews (probably Paul) as a way of highlighting the human aspect of Jesus.
VERSE 1 - O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth,? Who have set Your glory above the heavens?
When we need to get somebodies attention in life we start by calling their name. As we do when we need to get Gods attention by calling upon his name i.e. “O Lord” as stated by one commentator; “Knowing his name actualizes communion with him” i.e. it makes communication with him real.
The word ‘O Lord’ in this context in Hebrew is “Adoneinu” – which means “our master” and is rarely used in the bible. Another Psalm i.e. Psalm 135 uses this word in Hebrew is similar in context he is supreme and omnipotent and is sovereign.
The second address is a collective one and in terms of the writer, David here is referring to all of Israel as “Our Lord”.David would frequently address God on behalf of Israel collectively as he was the King
The word 'Excellent' – Hebrew is “addiyr” - actually translates in some versions as “incomparable” i.e. there is nobody comparable to you.
VERSE 2 - Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
In summary this reads as ‘the young recognize Gods majesty and their praises are more powerful than assaults by enemy forces’
Lamentations 2:21 - The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied.
Here, the young are victims of oppression as a result of dying in a war.
David Guzik narrates this Psalm as “God displays his strength in unlikely vessels to silence the enemy”.
Here is the messianic reference as after Jesus cleansed the temple with reference to the high priests and Torah scholars he made reference to himself as God in Matthew 21:14-16
JM Boice - :”He also interpreted their praise as praise not of a mere man, which a mere son of David would be but of God since the Psalm says that God has ordained praise for himself from children’s lips”
This would have infuriated the priests in the temple and in the New Testament this was when the senior as Jesus was talking as if he was God
Jesus referred to them as the “enemy and the avenger” i.e. Gods enemies
There are many rabbinical teachings on this;
Some Jewish commentators believe enemies are sea monsters and more importantly in scripture;
Psalm 74:12-14 - For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13.Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.
14.Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
Isaiah 51:9 - Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?
N.B. ‘rahab’ in Hebrew ‘rah-hev’ translates as ‘the proud’ which could relate to earthly enemies or satan.
Job 26:12 - He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud.
VERSE 3 - When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
It is David looking at Gods handiwork in the stars, you can read lots of interesting things about how small we are but instead look up at the sky this evening and you can see Gods handiwork for yourself. Which Shows God as a master artist they are the work of the most amazing artist there is and they are his handiwork and it is thought this Psalm was recited at night because of the reference to the stars and the moon.
VERSE 4 - What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
“What” should have exclamation’s marks around it as it is an expression of surprise at Gods character and the result of his creation.
There are two words for “man” as in Mankind in Hebrew
“Enosh” – associated with human frailty
"Bnei Adam" – sons of Adam used to explain Chetkadmon which is original sin inherited from Adam’s fall.
Within this verse in spite of man’s sin God cares for his creations as Job uses similar language to David here as he talks about man’s futility and questions God’s motive over his treatment of man as in :
Job 7:17-18 - What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?
18.And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?
The last part of the verse “son of man that You visit him” David is saying here that God doesn’t think about man but has a real connection with him as in direct messianic reference to the man Jesus
VERSE 5 - For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honour.
This verse talks about where God genuinely became man as he placed himself lower than the angels.
Angel are spiritual creations and the words “Little lower than angels” – some translations use the word Elohim which can mean; God, Gods or divine beings or angels
The second part of this verse is used in Hebrews 2:6-10 where the writer talks about the reality of humans reigning with Christ in the millennial kingdom. As Arnold Fruchtenbaum – “man will be associated with him in his messianic rule” ;
Mans position is described within;
Genesis 1:26-27 - 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.
27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
In a total contrast to God, man isn’t divine as he was he was ejected out of the Garden of Eden and death was his punishment. As a result lost his title
Another point here is it shows us the difference of Christianity compared to other religions who see man as a slave to the Gods like Greek Mythology where gods send trials and tribulations to taunt man in his mortal weakness.
This Psalm is at odds with other religions as this Psalm talks about the moon and the stars as created objects and not living or acting in their own capacity such as Egyptian gods.
As man was created in Gods image, he reflects Gods glory in ways that other parts of creation do not. The verse is talking about God's positioning of man between angels who are spirits with no bodies and animals who are bodies with no spirits, man has a body and a soul within it. Man instead of looking upwards now ignores God and he chooses to look downwards i.e. evolution within the earth itself.
VERSE 6 - You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; you have put all things under his feet,
In the verse, this is a reference to ;
Genesis 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.”
This verse is a mixture of man’s role and Jesus humanity as well as the Messianic reference as Jesus has all things put under his feet and he is exalted over the church as its honoured lead as in
Ephesians 1:22 – CJB - Also, he has put all things under his feet and made him head over everything for the Messianic Community.
“Under his feet” was a military term to define total and utter conquest and again, this Psalm is quoted as Jesus position as intercessor in
1 Corinthians 15:27 - for “He put everything in subjection under his feet.” But when it says that “everything” has been subjected, obviously the word does not include God, who is himself the one subjecting everything to the Messiah.
VERSE 7 & 8 - 7. All sheep and oxen— Even the beasts of the field,
8. The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.
It is worth pointing out that this is in reverse order of Genesis 1:1-3
VERSE 9 - O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!
The Psalm finishes how it starts, as with the “inclusio” format re-directing after going down from
The Messianic reference to Jesus
To beast of the air and sea
Back to God
David re-directs his praises and our attention back to his and our heavenly Father and can be seen as doing a drill down in what I do, we start at the high level of data and go right down to the lowest level of detail and or importance and back to a God of mercy.
SUMMARY AND IN CLOSING
There are a number of concluding themes here.
THEME 1 – Gods Majesty
The Psalm highlights the greatness of God and the place of man within Gods universe as the commentator Waltner writes“Despite man’s fallen humanity, humans are prime exhibits of Gods majesty”
If you think about it: God made man, God made man something glorious God made man for a high and worthy destiny
THEME 2 – Man as a caretaker of the Earth
This Psalm talks about how man was and will be again given the honour of representing God in caring for all of creation. God initially gave man everything in the garden of Eden and man rejected it in favour of his own desires hence; God has set limits on man . If you look at it as he has the ability to destroy himself (i.e. the US has enough nuclear weaponry to destroy itself four times over and it is a good that God is in control and not man. In Book of Revelation it talks about an age again where man will be put in control and it will revert to Gods original plan .
You can see in the world today how man has abused his power over the planet i.e. over-fishing, deforestation and gas and climate change.
THEME 3 – Our friendship with God
As we know from scripture, God is beyond the limits of human understanding yet God has chosen to have a relationship with man as well as becoming man through his son Jesus Christ
Through this Psalm I see a relationship between God and man through the messianic message of Jesus in his role in the church and our lives. I reflect on it with my relationship with God
THEME 4 – Jesus our advocate
This is the most important part of the Psalm which I see as Jesus Christ was the advocate or expiation in that man he humbled himself by being born of man was born of man and “emptied” himself of his place and honour and only God could do this because of our in-built rebellious and sinful nature.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum says “Jesus tasted death for every man, all were made sinners through one act of disobedience of Adam, all are made righteous through one act of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ”
The other downside of this is for those who don’t believe in his atonement will suffer the consequences because ultimately you are rejecting it and you are talking about Eternity without God.
By simply repenting and turning to God through his son Jesus Christ this is the one act of obedience man can do.
Romans 5 : 18-19 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous