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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. I suggest this Psalm was composed by David after the victory over Goliath. He had made clear that the conflict was all about Yahweh's Name. He was surely conscious, as women sung of how he had slain his ten thousands, that this could all become about him. And he didn't want that. It was all about Yahweh's Name being declared in all the earth, as he had made clear before killing Goliath. David's commitment to humility in success is commendable. Without doubt we should translate "Set Your glory above the heavens" as this is an imperative in Hebrew. David was intensely aware of all the glory he would be given for killing Goliath, but he urgently wants God to ensure He is glorified. That desire is in effect a desire for the coming of the Kingdom. Likewise :2 is an appeal for even babies to glorify God, and I will suggest this is an allusion to David's youth compared to Goliath. Human achievment is celebrated and glorified; in life and in obituary. But David gives us the perspective of the spiritual man. It is all nothing at all, even victory over a Goliath, beneath the glory of God, with which this Psalm opens and ends. It is His glory and not man's which should be sought and praised.

The language of "majesty" and "glory" is kingly language. Kings have majesty and glory and dominion over all. But David, already anointed as the next king of Israel, is strongly aware that in fact Yahweh is Israel's King, and in fact He is king of the cosmos. He perceives, correctly, that his victory sets him up to fulfil the prophecy of Samuel's anointing, and eventually become king. But he is keenly aware of Yahweh's kingly majesty. Whatever exaltation David, man, even "the Son of Man" achieves... is all to "the glory of God the Father". Paul's hymn in Phil. 2 about the exaltation of the Lord Jesus comes to this same climactic conclusion- that it is all to the glory of God the Father. This is saying the same as what David is probing here- that his exaltation, man's exaltation from nothing and extreme weakness and vulnerability, is from start (:1) to end (:10) overshadowed by it all being to God's glory.  

"How magnificent is Your Name" can as well be translated "what is the magnificent one of Your Name?". The answer given by the Psalm is "man", the man who glorifies God's Name. That man was initially David, who slew Goliath in order to glorify God's Name; it is also all men who are devoted to this; and specifically the Lord Jesus, who achieved the manifestation of the Father's Name to its ultimate term.

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). Eliab, Saul and Goliath had all mocked David for his youth. This is the context of David's praising Yahweh as if he were the greatest baby or infant there ever was- not just a young man, but a tiny baby. Again he shows how age and experience are nothing; he fought Goliath according to the paradigm of faith.  Babies and sucklings are the most feeble of all humanity. And that is how David felt. His desire to be humble after the victory is so impressive. The Lord likens weak and humble believers to babies in Mt. 11:25, where he thanks God that He has revealed His truths to the disciples, babies, and not the humanly wise and prudent. See on :8.

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.

The booming voice of Goliath is as it were silenced by the inatriculate gurgling and muttering of young children and sucking infants. One feeble sound cancels out another far mightier sound. David felt less than a young man, he felt as a powerless and vulnerable baby. But their inarticulate voice [cp. "we know not how to pray as we ought"] is for God far mightier than Goliath's, it is "perfect praise" (LXX), it is the basis upon which He "ordains strength".

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.

David makes no mention of the sun- because I suggest these were his thoughts at night, the night after he slew Goliath. The success of a slinger depends upon clever manipulation of the fingers as the sling shot is aimed and the stone is released. And so David after killing Goliath marvels at the work of God's fingers. He is humbled in his success, as few men ever are. The LXX has David willing himself to think now of the work of God's fingers: "For I will regard the heavens, the work of thy fingers".


Psa 8:4 what is man, that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You care for him?-
"Mindful" is the word usually used of covenant relationship with God. "Care for" can have the sense of "appoint". David is marvelling at the grace shown by God to man in inviting him into covenant relationship with Him. And His grace to David and to man in general, in appointing him, an insignificant and vulnerable human, as lord of His creation and [in David's case] king of Israel.

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 "Yahweh, remember me please, and strengthen me please, just this once oh God, that I may with one blow be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes"; 1 Sam. 1:11 "if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your handmaid and remember me and not forget Your handmaid, but will give to Your handmaid a boy" 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.

David had been anointed future king of Israel at this point. He perceives, correctly, that his victory will set him up to be desired as king by all Israel. And so he feels that the crown has already been placed upon him, effectively, by the victory. Hence "You have... crowned him with glory and honour". Glory and honour were poured out on David because of the victory; although this Psalm begins and ends by saying that all glory and majesty is God's. We are crowned only with God's glory. Although "made a little lower than the Angels / elohim" is applied by Paul to literal Angels, in the first context, David may be expressing how he was the one lower than the elohim, the mighty ones of Israel (elohim is used of the leaders of Israel in Ps. 82:6)- Saul, Jonathan, Eliab. He had been "made lower" by his short size, his red hair, his mother having "in sin conceived me", his banishment to care for the poor family's few sheep in the wilderness. But through killing Goliath he had suddenly been crowned with glory and honour.

So I suggest that 'elohim' here has various layers of meaning. David was lower than the 'mighty ones' of Israel at the time. The Son of Man, the Lord Jesus, was lower than Angels. But on another level, man himself, if he believes, is only a "little" lower than God and not in fact so far off as our pathetic weakness might make it seem. "Man" here is used firstly of David personally, but also of all men; and of the supreme "Son of Man", the Lord Jesus. He along with David show us the potential that there is within man, to be lord of all he surveys in God's creation. But all this is enveloped by the glory of the Father; and so the Psalm opens and finishes with this statement of God's glory as the bookends to the entire wonderful story of what it is to be "man". Our lowliness and vulnerability is for a short time- the LXX is confirmed by the quotation in Heb. 2, man was made "for a little time lower than elohim". A few thousand years of smallness... is a little time, in the spectrum of infinity. Putting the Hebrew and LXX together, the sense is that man was made a little lower than God, and only for a little / short time. This temporal perspective [for a little time] also gives perspective upon man. We are not hopelessly low. All our weakness and vulnerability is in fact only for a short time compared to man's eternal destiny; if indeed we are men as God calls us to be. And as in fact we are called to be by the very fact of being human.  

"You made him lower" [s.w. to decrease, abate] can suggest a reference to the fall. Man was created higher than the Angels, but was made lower than them as a result of his sin. And yet man's hope is to be made higher than Angels.

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.

David isn't saying that all things have been put under man's feet. The allusion is to how man was created to have the animals under his feet (Gen. 1:26,28). But he let the serpent dominate him. Paul quotes this and comments that now we see not yet all things out under the feet of the Son of Man; He has to reign until God puts all things under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). So David's marvel was in what God has called man to in the Kingdom age. And in his immediate context he surely has in mind how all Israel, the creation of God, was soon to be put under his feet when he became king. Although in one sense "[God] has put all things under his [the Lord Jesus'] feet" (Eph. 1:22), "who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him" (1 Pet. 3:22), in another sense not all is under Him. "For in that He subjected all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not see all things subjected to him. But we behold him who has been made a little lower than the angels- Jesus- crowned with glory and honour because of his suffering of death, whereby, by the grace of God, he tasted death for every person. For it became Him for whom are all things and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:8-10). The argument of Heb. 2 is that the Lord Jesus had human nature, was one of us [and not an Angel], and His path to glory can be ours. We also shall have all things put under His feet- because His representative death and resurrection was in order to "bring many sons to glory", many sons of men were to follow the path of the Son of Man (Heb. 2:10; hence "many "sons""). All in potential is under His feet, as it is under ours- but even for the Lord, it's a case of now but not yet. The promise of 'all things under His feet' refers to the future, as Heb. 2:5 states: "For not to angels did He subject the world to come". "The world to come" is the time of 'all things under His feet'. Attempts to twist this passage to mean we are now gardians of the planet and have it 'under our feet' are therefore at variance with the clear context.

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.

David stood over the dead Goliath; he had as it were all things under his feet. Goliath was likened to a wild animal: "Your servant has killed both the lion and the
bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them" (1 Sam. 17:36). Goliath complains that David is treating him like a dog, by coming to him with a stick (1 Sam. 17:43). The stick David carried played no part in David's military plan. Perhaps he consciously was treating Goliath as a wild animal, and now this Psalm celebrates this.  

The idea is that both tamed and untamed beasts, along with those in the sky and sea beyond man's reach to tame, will be subdued beneath man. We can take comfort that those things we do not tame yet potentially could, and those we cannot get to... shall be finally under us.

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).

David foresees that his unlikely exaltation is going to be that of every man; becoming lord of all he surveys in creation, of everything in sky, on earth and in the seas. His path is that of every man, ultimately; and it is epitomized in the path of the Lord Jesus, to whom Paul applies this Psalm. This calling of man to be lord of creation is in stark contrast to the worldview of the contemporary religions. "This is in contrast to the ancient cosmogonies in the ancient Near East where humans are created to be the slaves of the gods – maintaining the universe for them and seeing to their food, clothing and honour". Instead of remaining awed by man's smallness, David sees the huge potential that there is in being man- to be lord of all creation. Just as he had been exalted through his faith that he could conquer Goliath, so could all men be, if they are men as God intended. And as Paul shows, this has already been exemplified in the glorification of the Lord Jesus. We are not therefore to wallow in the smallness of humanity but to glory in our potential. We who are "babies and sucklings", so weak and vulnerable, gurgling and muttering incoherently, can utter perfect praise (LXX) or 'be ordained strong' (MT); and be lords of heavens, sea and earth. The Son of Man has shown us the path to that glory, having been one of us, of our nature. And yet as the Psalm makes clear, all this exaltation of man, "the Son of Man", is all under God- whose glory is over and through it all. Just as David realized that although he would be crowned king as a result of his victory, Yahweh was still the true king. This all shows us what it is and what it can be to be human, and for all time shows the potential within man. This is the answer to the question "What is man?". This is not so much a lament of man's smallness, weakness and vulnerability, although on one level it is that; rather is it a rhetorical question, the answer showing us what great potential there is for man who believes as David did. Likewise "What [or 'who'] is... the Son of Man...?" is answered in the achievment and person of the Lord Jesus. "What is the Son of Man?" leads to the answer: "The son of God". David's question is in fact a reply to Job's depressed statements about man in Job 7:16,17: "I loathe my life. I don’t want to live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are but a breath. What is man, that You should magnify him, that You should set Your mind on him". David is showing that man is so much more than Job's view, in depression, that man is nothing and better off dead than alive.

This 'higher' view of human nature, of what it is to be human, affects how we see ourselves and how we treat others. The surrounding religious systems had a generally low view of man; the gods were all powerful and man was merely their slave. This view is being deconstructed here. Protestant missionaries tended to encourage their colonial powers to be more respectful towards conquered peoples, because they were human. Whereas Catholic and other missionaries with a lower view of human nature apparently saw no reason to discourage inhumane treatment of the conquered.

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. The record of Goliath's defeat in 1 Sam. 17 has much to say about the glorification of Yahweh's Name. Goliath cursed David by his gods, but David instead talks about the Name of Yahweh and doesn't curse Goliath's gods. Yahweh repeatedly forbad His people to mention the name of other gods (Ex. 23:13; Dt. 18:20; Josh. 23:7). In the Ancient Near East, all conflict between peoples and nations was seen as conflict between gods. The role of prophets or priests on either side was to bring curses upon the other gods. And so they repeated the names of the other gods in incantations supposed to bring curses upon those gods. This however is forbidden to God's people. They instead were to focus upon the Name of their God Yahweh. And we see in this a pattern for ourselves; to focus upon the ultimate truth and truths of the one true God, and not be caught up in wishing cursing upon  those who believe otherwise. To focus upon the positive, which is the source of all victory, rather than going on the defensive against other views by cursing them.