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Summary: Jesus told the chief priests and scribes that it would be a good idea if they would read the scripture so that they would understand why the children were praising Him with shouts of ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ (Matthew 21:19).

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Thursday, February 10, 2014

Tom Lowe

Psalm 8—Repair of man comes through man.

Title: To the chief Musician upon Gittith. A psalm of David.

Theme: A messianic psalm emphasizing the humanity of Christ and His ultimate victory as man.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction

Messianic psalms are called that because they are quoted in the New Testament in direct reference to the lord Jesus Christ. Psalm 8 is quoted three times in the New Testament. In fact, the Lord Jesus himself quoted from this psalm—“And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Matthew 21:16). He was telling the chief priests and scribes that it would be a good idea if they would read the scripture so that they would understand why the children were praising Him with shouts of ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ (Matthew 21:19).

The beginning and ending of the psalm suggest that it is essentially a psalm of praise. However, the middle of it qualifies it as a so-called nature psalm, that is, a psalm of creation.

Man is the king of the earth, appointed to rule it for God. Nevertheless, the greatness of man’s status is no cause for the praise of man. David stands amazed that the great God of creation, the great and glorious Jehovah, would pay any attention to frail people on earth. David understands that God glorifies Himself in the heavens, but how can He glorify himself on earth through such weak, sinful people? That God, in His remarkable condensation should focus attention on us is proof of our dignity as creatures made in the image of God. The grandeur of men and women can be found only there. Apart from knowing God, we have no understanding of who we are or what we are to do in this vast universe.

The gittith mentioned in the title is probably a guitar-shaped harp associated with the city of Gath and the Philistine nation.

Commentary

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

‘Magnificent’ or ‘Majestic’ would be a better translation than ‘excellent.’

“O LORD our Lord” is literally, ‘O Yahweh, our Sovereign. David is definitely an Israelite who knows his God as Yahweh, and he acknowledges Him as the universal sovereign ruler. It is from this awesome truth that the assurance of faith springs. ‘It just blows my mind,’ that I am in the care of the One who controls everything and whose will as Sovereign no one can oppose or invalidate. Not only has the Lord set His glory “above the heavens” (beyond the earth’s atmosphere), but He has also decided to share His glory with His creatures on earth. The glory of God dwelt with Israel in the tabernacle and temple, and it was especially revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ—“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Wicked people crucified the “Lord of Glory” (1 Cor. 2:8), but He was raised from the dead and has returned to heaven in power and glory (Phil. 2:5-11).

“Thy name” refers to the revealed character of God, which encompasses all His divine attributes. David seeks to give unto God the ‘glory’ His name deserves. How bright His glory shines even in this lower world! He is ours because He made us, protects us, and takes special care of us.

The name and knowledge of God is not to be confined to Israel, but is to be published “in all the earth,” which shows that this psalm speaks of the Messiah (a Messianic psalm). The name of the Lord, in this instance, is identical with the Lord Himself.

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