New European Commentary


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Psa 8:1 For the Chief Musician; on an instrument of Gath. A Psalm by David- Psalm 9 is apparently titled "On the death of the champion", i.e. Goliath. J.W. Thirtle gave evidence to suggest that the titles of the Psalms have sometimes become muddled, with the titles of some Psalms intended to be relevant to the preceding Psalm, in this case Psalm 8. This would lend weight to the suggestion that Psalm 8 is David's reflections after the death of Goliath. The reference here in Ps. 8:1 to Gath would also refer to Goliath, who was from Gath.

Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, You who has set Your glory above the heavens!-
It was David's name which was much set by (1 Sam. 18:30); but David's desire was it should be Yahweh's Name which was now made majestic after the defeat of Goliath, and not his name.

Psa 8:2 From the lips of babes and infants You have established strength, because of Your adversaries-
This may be an intensive plural, referring to David himself, who was considered a youth, and in his humility as he reflected upon his victory, he considered that before God he was but a baby. The Lord quotes this from the LXX, as if the babes and infants were praising Him, the Lord Jesus (Mt. 21:16). The original context clearly speaks of David praising God for His victory over Goliath. But the Lord understood the entire incident as prophetic of His victory over the Goliath of sin; achieved at Golgotha, 'the skull of Goliath'. The entire incident opens up as a prophecy of the Lord's victory over sin (see on 1 Sam. 17).

That You might silence the enemy and the avenger- The initial reference was to the great, blaspheming voice of Goliath being silenced. The words were likely also used about the destruction of Haman (s.w. Esther 8:13). But David's humility is again revealed by calling Goliath "the avenger"; for the Philistines were used by God to revenge the disobedience of the Israelites.


Psa 8:3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained-
It seems the night David killed Goliath, he looked up at the stars, in line with Abraham his spiritual father. "Ordained" is the word used of the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel, the symbolic heavens, under David (1 Sam. 13:13 cp. 2 Sam. 5:12). He perhaps later tweaked his composition, under inspiration, to reflect how this was all pointing forward to the establishment of the Kingdom under himself. But perhaps he also looked further, to how the Kingdom of God in Israel was to be established (s.w. "ordained") ultimately under the hand of his Messianic seed (s.w. 2 Sam. 7:12,13,16).

Therefore, taking this interpretation further, Psalm 8 is quoted in Hebrews 2 to prove the Lord Jesus Christ's superiority over the Angels; as if the triumphant David at this point was representative of the Lord Jesus. Verses 3-5 therefore show His marvel at how a human like Himself should be considered worthy to have such great Angelic attention; based upon David's feelings after the victory. Such was His respect of them: "When I consider Thy Heavens, the work of Thy fingers (the Heavens were created by the Angels; the Law was given by the Angelic finger of God writing on the stones), the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of Him? ('why should You think so much about mere Me?') and the son of man (Jesus) that Thou visitest (Angelic language) Him? For Thou hast made Him a little lower than the Angels... Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands (the Hand of the Lord is Angelic language; they were used to create all things); Thou hast put all things (including the Angels) under His feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field..."- i. e. the things of the natural creation made and controlled by the Angels.



Psa 8:4 what is man, that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You care for him?-
These were David's thoughts as he marvelled at how he had been used to achieve the victory over Goliath. But as explained on :3, he becomes a symbol of the Lord Jesus, the ultimate "son of man". David is here alluding to the earlier words of Job. Probably the only extant scripture at David's time was the book of Job and the Pentateuch, which explains why he so often alludes to the book of Job. Job came to deeply marvel at the fact that despite God's highness, He tests us and meditates upon us every moment of our lives: "What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him?... that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?" (Job 7:17,18). These words became the basis of the thoughts of the Lord Jesus as prophesied in Ps. 8:4: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him?". Like Job, the Lord learnt from the depth of His own inner struggles about the moral greatness of the Father. So even God's own Son, peerless and spotless lamb of God that He was even in mortal nature, recognized that such was God's moral splendour that He was surprised that during His mortality, God was so intensely interested in Him.

As God was "mindful" of David and thereby all men in Israel through the victory granted over Goliath, so David urged that in response, they should be "mindful" of God (s.w. 1 Chron. 16:12,15). But "mindful" implies 'to remember', and is a term used for answer to prayer (Jud. 16:28; 1 Sam. 1:11 and often). David is acknowledging that he had prayed for victory, and been granted it- but felt unworthy to have received such an answer.

Psa 8:5 For You have made him a little lower than the Angels, and crowned him with glory and honour-
The application to the Lord Jesus is made clear in Heb. 2:7,9. where the midrash / interpretation is added that the Lord Jesus had to be lower than the Angels so that He might experience death; and "a little lower" is interpreted as meaning 'lower for a little / short time'. For Angels cannot die (Lk. 20:35,36), which again supports the view that Angels are spoken of as one category, not good ones and wicked ones; and "Angels" can't die, therefore they can't sin (Rom. 6:23). Belief in sinful Angels roaming the planet is not taught in the Bible. The making of man (or the Lord Jesus) for a short time lower than the Angels is no evidence of His pre-existence or Divine incarnation in Him; for the words in their original context apply to the man David and to "man" generally. The idea is that man, and the Lord Jesus, is made for a little while / period lower than the Angels, and Paul takes this as implying that both the Lord Jesus and ourselves shall be exalted higher than the Angels, seeing we are only for a short period made lower than them.


Psa 8:6 You make him ruler over the works of Your hands. You have put all things under his feet-
David perhaps later reflected how the victory over Goliath set him up to be ruler or king over God's people. But the longer term application is to the Lord Jesus; through His victory at Golgotha, the skull of Goliath, His final kingship over literally all things was assured (1 Cor. 15:25).

The slant taken on this in the Hebrews 2 quotation is that this makes the Lord Jesus greater than Angels, in contrast to the Jewish worship of Angels as being greater than even Messiah. In the same way as the Angels are so closely associated with their charges that they are identified with them, so the Angels are described as the things in the natural world which they have created. Ps. 8:5,6 is quoted in Heb. 2:7 to prove Christ's superiority over the Angels: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the Angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands (an Angelic phrase); Thou hast put all things under his feet". "All things" often includes Angels in its context in New Testament usage. The works of God's Angel-hands in the natural creation have been put under Christ's feet, but the purpose of the quotation in Heb. 2 is to show that the Angels have been put under Christ's feet. Heb. 2:11 takes the point further by saying that as the Angels are identified so exactly with that they have created, so Christ was identified with His new creation, even to the extent of having an identical nature to them.


Psa 8:7 all sheep and cattle, yes, and the animals of the field-
In Ps. 18:39 (2 Sam. 22:40), David reflects how his victory in battle by God's strength meant that all was subdued under him. The victory in battle which he had in view was supremely that over Goliath, his most major and applauded victory. To a far greater extent, the victory of the Lord Jesus meant not simply the subjugation of Israel beneath Him, but of all creation, including the natural creation.

Psa 8:8 the birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, and whatever passes through the paths of the seas-
The subjection of the animal creation beneath the Lord Jesus suggests an allusion to the way that Adam failed to subject the natural creation beneath him (for he let the serpent dominate him); whereas the Lord Jesus as the second Adam did achieve total mastery over literally all things (cp. Gen. 1:28).


Psa 8:9 Yahweh our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
- It was David's name which was much set by (1 Sam. 18:30); but David's desire was it should be Yahweh's Name which was now made majestic after the defeat of Goliath, and not his name.