To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David
King James Version of the
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!1
The psalmist addresses God, not as a national deity, but as Lord of the universe. Speaking in the name of the people, associating himself with his brethren, he says "our" instead of "my". The individual is forgotten in contemplation of God's majesty in the heavens.2
2 God has used as instruments of His power those who are otherwise as feeble as little children and babies. Through them God has shown His power in causing "the enemy and the avenger" to "still" or "desist" from His plans. Jesus quoted this passage (Matt. 21:16) to vindicate the hosannas of the children in the Temple against the objections of the scribes and Pharisees. Some interpreters see in this verse the key to the whole psalm. In their opinion, the sense is that puny little man is the babe of creation, yet God has given him strength to rule the world of which he is such an insignificant part, and thus conferred upon him dignity and honour far beyond that of the rest of the creation which He governs.2
This psalm is the outgrowth of the psalmist's contemplation of the
sky at night. The moon and stars shine out. There is no mention of
the sun. It is probable that gazing upon the starlit sky at night
produces in the heart of man greater awe and wonder than looking up
into the sunlit heavens, when the sights and sounds of earth
distract from the singleness of contemplation.2
4 When one stands in the presence of the vastness, the mystery, the glory of the heavens as seen at night, and begins to reflect upon the infinity of space and the countlessness
of the heavenly bodies, he must feel that man is an insignificant
small dot in the universe. The term "son of man" is from the Heb. Ben-'adam, probably emphasising man's earthly nature as formed from the ground. The psalmist is contemplating why the infinite God, who has a universe of worlds to claim His attention, be "mindful" of finite man. Why should He honour man by making him viceroy of the earth? Only in the realisation of the worth of a human soul created in God's likeness can one answer these questions. This realisation comes only in appreciation of the Saviour's death on the cross.2
5 In this verse man is described as being made "a little lower than the angels. However the term "than the angels" comes from the Hebrew word "me'elohim"
which literally means "than God". The original text translates "Thou
hast lessened him for a little time from God. Or, Thou hast made him
less than God for a little time". The quotation of this verse in
Hebrews 2:7 also
reads "angels" instead of God. Whether we read "than the angels" or
"than God", man is shown to be on a much higher level than the
animal kingdom, because of his kinship with God. Nevertheless, at
his best, finite man is far inferior to the infinite God. As king and ruler of the earth, man
partakes of the attributes of God, who is king of the universe.2
6 Man is an earthly king, with a territory and subjects. This dominion, given him at creation, has never been entirely lost. Through the victory of Christ man will regain the dominion he had lost.2
7 Flocks and herds are subservient as beasts of burden and farm animals. Animals that roam at large, many of our present-day domestic animals were at one time wild. Their subduing and taming by the power of man is significant evidence that God has placed "all things under his feet".2
9 The statement of verse 1 is repeated. Contemplation of God's majesty and man's dignity as His representative leads to adoration.2
References and notes
1. King James Authorized Version 1611
2. SDA Bible
Commentary Vol. 3 pgs. 648-650
3. Charles H. Spurgeon, "The
Treasury of David" - http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries
Messianic Psalms - www.lwbc.co.uk/messianic_psalms.htm
5. Scientific Facts
In The Bible
By Living Water Publications -