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  Francis Thompson
 

 
 

 
 
 

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Psalm 8

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David

King James Version
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

 

Bible Commentary
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
3 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
4.  The Messianic Psalms - www.lwbc.co.uk/messianic_psalms.htm
5.  Scientific Facts In The Bible By Living Water Publications - www.inplainsite.org/html/scientific_facts_in_the_bible.html

 

 

Music for Psalm 8

Click on image for song preview of Psalm 8. The music was composed in 2003.  Psalm 8 features on the CD album The Complete Psalms: Psalms 1-10.
 

 
  Download on iTunes

 

Upon Gittith

We are not clear upon the meaning of the word Gittith. Some think it refers to Gath, and may refer to a tune commonly sung there, or an instrument of music there invented, or a song of Obededom the Gittite, in whose house the ark rested, or, better still, a song sung over Goliath of Gath. Others, tracing the Hebrew to its root, conceive it to mean a song for the winepress, a joyful hymn for the treaders of grapes. The term Gittith is applied to two other psalms (Pss. 81 and 84) both of which, being of a joyous character, it may be concluded, that where we find that word in the title, we may look for a hymn of delight.3
 

 

 

Messianic Psalm

Although Psalm 8 is usually regarded as a nature psalm, it also is messianic referring directly to the life of Christ:
Verse 2 … "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength".
Jesus Himself uses this text in Matthew 21:15-16 when the religious leaders asked that He stop the children singing praises to Him, He replied, "Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?"
Verses 4-6 … "What is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visiteth him? For 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; Thou hast put all things under his feet".
These verses are echoed by Paul in Hebrews 2:6-11 and Hebrews 2:8. They speak of Christ’s humanity and divinity. He represents the human race and will be given the authority over all creation4

 

 

What are the paths of the sea?

The sea is just a huge mass of water, how then could it have "paths?" Man discovered the existence of ocean currents in the 1850's, but the Bible declared the science of oceanography 2,800 years ago. Matthew Maury (1806- 1873) is considered to be the father of oceanography. He was bedridden during a serious illness and asked his son to read a portion of the Bible to him. While listening, he noticed the expression "paths of the sea." Upon his recovery, Maury took God at His word and went looking for these paths. His book on oceanography is still considered a basic text on the subject and is still used in universities.5
 

 

Envelope Structure

Ps. 8 exhibits a charming literary figure that has been called the "envelope structure", in which the opening thought is repeated or concluded at the end of the poem (vs. 1, 9; cf Ps. 103 and 104), the intervening verses to be interpreted in the light of this enveloping thought.2
 

 

Psalms Song Category

The Psalms Song Category is a great starting point for searching the songs which make up this music category. The song category page contains Daily Scriptures and easy links to song previews and song pages. The song pages include interesting background information and commentary about the songs and the Bible author. Sometimes there are links to related web pages including Bible Quotes, Sermons, Music samples, and Bible Puzzles.
 




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