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Notes on the eight Psalm; the superiority of Christ

A meditation

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David.

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!

The Psalm

Noticeable points

Has 9 verses in the English.

The first and last stanza are the same.

It is one of the four great Messianic Psalms[1].

It is a Psalm of exclamation – no words can adequately convey the greatness, the glorious wonder of our Lord. Even creation that displays His glories is fettered with the sin of the first Adam and hence groans.

For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now. Romans 8:22 (NKJV)

It’s a series of contrasts – contrasting that which is inexpressible (the majesty of Jehovah) to that which is expressible – poor weak man. The greatest is compared with the most insignificant. Note the number of second person pronouns used – Thy name (1), Thy glory (1), Thy finger (3),  Thou art (4),  Thou madest (6), Thou hast (6).

It could be about man yet it is about the Son of Man. This mystery was revealed in the coming of the person of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 2:7). Yet, it pertains to the saints, the remnant in every way. For every saint will be:

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29 (KJV)

[W]ho will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body... Philippians 3:21 (NKJV)

The Psalm points to the Christ we are associated with, but not our association with Him, for the mystery of the church had not been revealed when this Psalm was written.

Scriptural links

This Psalm is quoted by the author of the book to the Hebrews 2:5-9, who denotes the person of which this Psalm speaks to Jesus, and argues that Jesus, the Son of God, was equal to God, and superior to the angles[2], was made lower than the angels, for a little time, before being glorified and honoured by God himself. In faith we see Him crowned in glory.

“To the chief musician upon gittith, a psalm of David”

It is a Psalm of David, the shepherd king of Israel, the author of at least 73 (51 have no inscription).

Upon Gittith: ie winepress, which is fitting considering the suffering of Christ upon the cross when he shed His precious blood[3], although some think this is a musical instrument played after gathering the vintage: hence, appears at the close of the civil years of the Jews, with the Psalm directing us forward to the later-days glories[4].

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

“O LORD”

Should read Jehovah[5] our Lord (although always pointed in Hebrew to read Adonai).

Yahweh or Jehovah – self existent, sacred name, one, who, being Love, is righteous, and is strictly speaking the only name of God – the OT uses Yahweh when it “names” God (Exodus 3:15).

First used in second chapter of Genesis, as Jehovah Elohim (LORD God), except when the serpent speaks – he drops the Jehovah.

Havah (haw-yaw’) “to be” that is “One who is what He is”, hence “I Am that I Am”, hence the name Jehovah is the expression of who He is.

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. Isaiah 6:3 (KJV)

And of Himself, Be ye holy, for I am holy (Lev 11:44)

Jah – sacred name

Sing unto God (Elohiym), sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him. Psalm 68:4 (KJV)

Celebrates the character and deeds of God

The name Jah is the most great, incomprehensible, and awful name –His self existence and absolute dominion.

There is no one word that is sufficient for the Deity described, for instance in Psalm 68: God or Lord is actually:

Elohim (2) – plural God, supreme God, magistrate

Adonai (11) – empathic adon, the Lord, proper name, God - sovereign

Shaddai (14) – Almighty

Jehovah (17) – self existent, sacred name of God

Jah (19) also (4) – the sacred name

Al (20) – strength, might (adv), God[6]

“Our Lord”

From the root “to rule”, the sovereign, controller, Lord, master, owner from which adoni comes,

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master [adon]… Malachi 1:6 (KJV)

The Psalm is personal “our”

“how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens”

Jehovah is to be glorified in the earth as well as heavens.

Adam failed to promulgate that Name, but it will be.

The recognition that His name is excellent is still to happen – every knee will bow.

All of creation is filled with His glory – Rom 1:20, Ps 19:1-6

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork. Psalm 19:1 (KJV)

The glory is revealed as the Son of Man

(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.

“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength”

The weakest being, the despised remnant.

It’s not the kings and high officials that sent forth the gospel, but the babes.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty 1 Corinthians 1:27 (KJV)

It was not what man could do, the power in the gospel is ordained of God

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (KJV)

It was the children in the temple that cried Hosanna to the Son of David (Matthew 21:15), for if no one cried out, the stones on the road would have (Luke 19:40)

It contrasts Jehovah with the weakest of all, the babes of men.

When I am weak then I am strong – it is not our strength that we accomplish anything, but the strength from the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:10).

It was not the ruling class that the gospel was revealed, but mere fishermen, tax collectors and other sinners.

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Matthew 11:25 (KJV)

Also the children of God, who He is pleased to subdue to the enemies.

The simple child tells His promises.

“ordained strength”

Here strength (oz) is force, security, majesty, praise, boldness, loud, might, power, strength.

Ps 68:34 Ascribe ye strength unto God (Elohiym).

Ps 96:6 Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ps 96:7 Give unto the LORD [Yehovah], O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

“because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger”

The enemy was the serpent. Satan was dealt with by Jesus.

The first promise to Adam was to have Satan dealt with, rather than sentencing him – what grace! “it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” Genesis 3:15

“enemies” is adversary. Best described by Peter (1 Peter 5:8)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)

“enemy” [oyeb] is hating: an adversary, enemy or foe, hence Christ has stilled the one that hates Jehovah.

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

Man is so insignificant compared with all of creation.

He does great things past finding out, Yes, wonders without number Job 9:10

How small is man’s ability compared with that of Jehovah.

We see God in context – it is not a void as the carnal mind sees God.

This places man in his correct context.

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

This is man, the weak, unprotected being on this planet, enosh (meaning mortal)?

As for man (enosh), his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. Psalm 103:15 (KJV)

When I compare the Heavens (3) with man (mortal) (4), how insignificant he is – why should God consider him?

Speaks not of Adam, as Adam was not a son of man: Christ was the Son of Man.

The contrast of this weakling with all of creation – why should God have a regard for him – yet He will crown him with glory and honour?

It contrasts man with God the infinite goodness and finds no comparison.

For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:     “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15 (NKJV)

Yet He has regard for man! Showing the condescension of God to man (Ezek 16).

Man needs to clearly recognise and understand his position. It was a Roman centurion that showed Israel this position – “Lord I am not worthy” and Jesus marvels: “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel”. (Matthew 8:8,10)

The Lord will consider such a worm (Job 25) as me in my humbleness and contriteness of heart! Praise the Lord.

He is mindful of him? This is an active recollection. He remembers, makes mention of.

Son of Man – a diminution for man (Job 25:6 uses this illustration).

“thou visitest him”

Visiting can be either a blessing or revenge. It is the iniquity of the fathers that are visited upon the children (Exodus 34:7). Such visitations are to afflict, chasten or punish.

Yet Sarah was visited and bore a son, Isaac (Genesis 21­:1-2). The Lord visits to show mercy, to refresh, to deliver and to bless (See also Ruth 1:6).

In this case the term visit is best described as “having regard for”, or “having a care for”

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? Hebrews 2:6 (KJV)

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

This speaks of Jesus Christ, yet it speaks of His saints as well.

The “him” speaks of the “son of man” from the previous verse.

“A little lower” speaks of position and time (mehat). The same word describes water flowing over a waterfall.

Christ for a time was made a little lower than the angels, but He did not remain in that position, for once the work of the Father was accomplished, He was crowned with glory and honour (Hebrews 2:9).

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV)

Once the work was wrought, Christ was glorified.

God has a clear order of things. We are lower than the angels. Christ emptied himself, or made himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:7) and became lower than the angels, although he was much superior prior than them.

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: Philippians 2:7-8 (KJV)

Speaks of the extreme degradation Christ was to suffer.

But speaks of the saints as well: the remnant. 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2 (KJV)

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Isaiah 62:3 (KJV)

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Revelation 3:11 (KJV)

[N]or can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. Luke 20:36

This is the status of a resurrected saint, accomplishable because Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6)

“lower” – (Hebrew chacer; khaw-sare) = To lack – to be abated, decrease hence “I must decrease” John 3:30

Hence, man who is very insignificant, has been regarded by God, will be raised up and exalted by God into the heavenly realm, this being the coming glorification of Christ’s redeemed.

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 8:30 (KJV)

John 12:21 wish to see Jesus

Hebrews 2:9 we see Jesus

1 John 3:2 we shall be like Him BUT not on our merit:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Ephesians 2:8 (KJV)

“crowned him with glory and honour”

That is Christ has all the excellency of the Godhead, all the splendour, beauty, glory, honour and majesty.

(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.

Christ, made a little lower than the angels, (Hebrews 2:9), now crowned with glory and honour,

One man (Christ) he put all in subjection (Hebrews 2:8)

All of what? – everything, nothing was left out

all honour is bestowed upon him, which has never been bestowed upon anyone (7,8)

He is placed at the head of all creation and has pre-eminence (Col 1:18)

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:7 (KJV)

Over cometh what? That which displeased God – without faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6)

Note the contrast – man as to animal as Christ is to man.

Christ is our saviour; there is no affect can we have on our salvation.

Note the universality of God’s dominion – it includes all living creatures on earth – every animal will bow the knee.

Sheep etc speak of the faithful, lowly, harmless saints that obey His voice, because the He first loved them

“put all things under his feet”

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Ephesians 1:22 (KJV)

things we should put aside.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Romans 13:12

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

A partially fulfilled prophecy, for Christ was indeed made a little lower than the angels, and although seated now on the right hand of God, Christ has not taken his rightful position of government of the universe (1 Corinthians15), for the last enemy (death) has not been destroy (1 Corinthians 15:26).

He is the head over all things the church (Ephesians 1) which is seen by faith.

Jesus also is crowned, which is also seen by faith (Hebrews 2)

Jesus, who came to His own, and His own rejected Him, did not set Himself up as king, but takes the title Son of Man (Luke 9). He must suffer, for “except a corn of wheat die”…

We here are under his feet – not just Zion, hence the mystery has been revealed, as it includes both Jew and Gentile (Isaiah 49)

We will therefore will be gathered together to be the heavenly Eve, of the last Adam, the Son of Man, the Lord from heaven.

 

Endnotes

[1] The four are: Psalm 2: the divine sonship of our Lord is made known, Psalm 8: He is the Son of Man, Psalm 16: He is the Obedient one, and  Psalm 22: Obedient even unto death.

[1] The four are: Psalm 2: the divine sonship of our Lord is made known, Psalm 8: He is the Son of Man, Psalm 16: He is the Obedient one, and  Psalm 22: Obedient even unto death.

[2] A sevenfold proof that the Messiah was superior to the angels is given in Hebrews 1:4-14, finalised with a passage from Psalm 8 as the ultimate proof.

[3] Gaebelein, A.C. (1985) Gaebelein’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Brothers, New Jersey.

[4] Spurgeon, C.H. (1885) The Treasury of David (in three volumes), reprinted Hendrickson, also available on line eg at < http://www.spurgeon.org/treasury/treasury.htm> (Accessed 3 September 2014)

[5] LORD = Jehovah, God = Elohim (divine being), Lord = Adonai (master or ruler) in most translations

[6] Also: Jehova Roiy (raah) – shepherd, Jireh – provide (Gen 22:14), Raphe – heals, M’Keddesh – sanctifies, Nissi – my banner (Exodus 15:17), Shalom  - peace (Judges 6:24), Tsid Kerv = righteousness, Shammah – God who is there

[6] Also: Jehova Roiy (raah) – shepherd, Jireh – provide (Gen 22:14), Raphe – heals, M’Keddesh – sanctifies, Nissi – my banner (Exodus 15:17), Shalom  - peace (Judges 6:24), Tsid Kerv = righteousness, Shammah – God who is there

David L Simon
3 October 2004 (NVCF), 21 August 2005 (CCC)
Edited 3 September 2014
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