The Majesty of God (8:1-2)
David begins this psalm by ascribing greatness to the name of the Lord. How excellent is His name in all the earth! How majestic is His name in all the earth! This was most certainly true to the Jews. In the later ages of Israel ‘s history, the Jewish people considered the name Jehovah to be so sacred that they would not pronounce it for fear of taking the Lord’s name in vain. How unfortunate that the name of the Lord is not held in greatness among men in general today. The name of the Lord is so majestic, and yet man has turned His name into a byword and even a curse word. We must remember that even just the name of the Lord is to be held sacred and holy and only used to speak of His mighty works and wonders.
David not only praises the name of the Lord, but also the glory of the Lord. The glory of the Lord is above the heavens themselves. Even this creation cannot fully contain nor reveal the great glory of the Lord. We are allowed to get small glimpses of the glory of God when we read sections of scripture like Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel 1. At the completion of the construction of the temple, Solomon said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 ). Nothing can contain the glory of the Lord. What is interesting about this thought is that we cannot fully comprehend the majesty of the creation. We still do not fully understand the details of the creation. We are amazed at the perfect balance that is found in the world, from processes like photosynthesis to even abilities of the mind. Yet we do not fully know all that the mind can do! It is said that we generally use only 10% of our brain. There are still parts of our bodies that we are still learning about, like our tonsils and appendix. We do not even think about breathing, and yet these things come naturally. We are amazed at the creation, and yet these things are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comprehending the glory of God.
Glory to be praised by men
Therefore, the glory of the Lord is to be praised by men. Verse 2 is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 21:16, where Jesus responds to the chief priests and scribes in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem . The multitudes are crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David” and the Jewish leaders are indignant about this. Jesus responds, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” God is deserving of our praise and glory. Jesus went even further by making that quotation, for He was saying to the Jewish leaders that He is God. Jesus ties the words of “son of David” to being God Himself. Jesus therefore placed the scribes and teachers, those who resisted His claims of being the Son of God, in the category of “the foe and the avenger.” Jesus identified them as God’s enemies, all the more reason why the Jewish leaders wanted to destroy Jesus. Those who will not glory the Lord are the enemies of the Lord.
The Relation of Man and the Creation (8:3-8)
The insignificance of man
In the next two verses, David describes the insignificance of man. When one begins to consider the work of God’s fingers, man becomes unimportant. It has been the studying of the stars that has led many to consider their own smallness. When one looks at the expanse of the universe, we are very small people. The vastness of creation is mind-boggling. There is debate as to whether there is even an end to space or if it just goes on and on. We do not know if there is an edge to space that one would have to turn around and go to the other side. The distance of the planets shows the insignificance of man. We cannot even visit other planets in person because it takes years for our space shuttles to reach them. The power of the sun is immense, burning millions of degrees Fahrenheit. And yet this is considered only a medium size star that we cannot look at without damaging our eyes. We cannot be in its heat without burning. It was only just a little over 30 years ago that we could put our feet on the moon. The Voyager II spacecraft sent transmissions back to earth at the speed of light, about 186,000 miles per second. Yet it took four hours for us to receive the transmission. These planets are millions of miles away, such that we cannot comprehend. How powerful the Lord is! What is man that God is mindful of man and cares for him! We must see how small we are in light of all that is around us in the creation. We are placed on a planet that is perfect for life. The earth is just the right distance from the sun for there to be life. Any farther from the sun and we would suffer from severe freezing and even farther out would be uninhabitable. Any closer to the sun and it would be too hot for life to exist. Yet we see things that we do not understand. Why does Venus spin backwards on its axis? Why does Saturn have rings that the other planets do not have? Why is there a red spot which appears to be a perpetual hurricane on Jupiter? We ask these questions to see our insignificance even within the framework of the creation. The creation is a wonderful place to look to remind ourselves of the humility we must have before the Lord. It does not take much effort to realize how small we are when we stop to see all the great things of creation. Let us always see where we stand before the Lord.
Man’s God given significance
Before we get depressed about our insignificance in this world, we now see that God has given man a great amount of significance. What is man that God is mindful of him? The answer is that man is nothing. However, God has made man just a little lower than the heavenly beings. Now let us analyze this statement for a moment. The Hebrew says that man is made a little lower than elohim. If we recognize that word from the Hebrew we realize that this is the word used for God. It is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 where in the beginning God (elohim) created the heavens and the earth. It seems that we are nothing, but God has made us just a little lower than Him. This gives some light to the statement in Genesis 1:26 where we see that mankind was made in the image of God and in the likeness of God. Further, man has been crowned with glory and honor. This is an image of being a ruler, that there is a crown that has been placed on our heads that gives us glory and honor because we have God given significance. We also see the dominion given to man in that we read that God has placed all things under his feet. This dominion is also stated in the creation of man in Genesis 1:26 , “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” This is exactly what David says in Psalm 8:6-8. Man has been placed in charge of these things.
This puts man in a unique position. We have been made lower than God, for we are not God. But we are not as low as the animals of the earth. We have been placed above them and have dominion over the created things of the earth. We are placed between the two and what we look toward is what we become like. Allow me to explain for a moment. One of our current problems in society is that no one is looking to God but looking to animals for comparisons. Man looks at the animal world and suggests that since animals do such and such, mankind is of the same likeness. This is the fundamental idea behind evolution. Since man is considered to be from animals, we are in their likeness and ought to behave like animals. Animals have reached such a glorified status that they are protected over the greater good of the human race. What happens when we look to the animals is that we become like animals. But we are in the likeness of God and not in the likeness of animals. When our eyes focus downward, then we are removing from ourselves dominion and rule given to us by God. Our eyes, instead, are to focus upward toward God, for we are in His image and His likeness. We are to be like Him and not like the animals. God never said to look at the animals and be like them. God said to look at Him and be like Him. It is this thought that is being carried into the mind of the writer of Hebrews. In Hebrews 2:5-9 the writer quotes this section of Psalm 8 in a proof concerning the superiority of Christ. Chapter 1 of Hebrews argues the superiority of Christ because of His deity. For example, we read in Hebrews 1:5, “For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You?'” Christ is superior because He is God. The writer of Hebrews now turns the argument the other way and says that Christ is superior because He became man in chapter 2 and therefore acts as high priest for us. What superiority is there in being man? All the dominion and rule and glory that has been given to man. As Hebrews 2:5 points out, the world to come is not in subjection to angels. The world is in subjection to man and the Hebrews writer uses Psalm 8 to prove that argument. Verse 8 concludes that even now we do not see all the things that God has subjected to man. We cannot fully understand nor see into the spiritual realm all that God has placed under our feet. We are blown away by Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 6:3, “Do you not know that we shall judge angels?” We do not see all the dominion and glory that God has placed upon man. It is not deserved by us, for we are insignificant creatures in this vast universe. But God has given man the dominion over the world and over the things we cannot even see as yet.
So, how do we know we have this kind of dominion? Verse 9 continues, that though we do not see all that has been put under us, “we see Jesus.” We see the dominion and glory of Jesus who for a time was made a little lower than the angels also and suffered as humans suffer. But what happened to Christ? He was crowned with glory and honor. He was given a name that is above all names. He was given the throne upon which to rule until every enemy is destroyed. You see we are in that likeness “for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11 ). We are considered brothers and sisters with Christ. We are able to see all that was placed upon Him and all that was given to Him and we share in these things. 2 Timothy 2:12 says, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” In singing about those redeemed by Christ’s blood, Revelation 5:10 says, “And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” The book of Revelation closes with the image of the people of God joined with the Lord, “And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5).
We have been crowned with the glory of God and yet we do not see all that we rule over yet. We have a “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8), an “imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:25 ), a “crown of life” (James 1:12 ), and a “crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4) awaiting us. How do we know? We know because we see Jesus. We see His glory in His teachings. We see His glory in His sufferings. We see His glory in His death. We see His glory in His resurrection. We see His glory as He rules in the world. We see Jesus and we know that we have been given great rule and authority by God. We see Him and will be just like Him. Let us be sure to focus our eyes upward and not downward. Let us not look to earth and the scum of the earth as the models of our lives. Let us look up to the heavens and see the Lord so that we will be like Him. We see Jesus and we see His example. We have the model to which we are to pattern our lives.
There is no better way to conclude this psalm with such grandeur in our minds than the way David closed this psalm. It is the same words he used to begin this psalm of praise. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” Without God, we have no value. Without God, we are no better than the animals. Without God, we are small in this universe and our lives have no meaning. It is enough to be depressed for life. But with God, we have meaning and significance. God has given us dominion on the earth and rule in the heavenly places. He has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). We do not see this now, but we see Jesus and our hope rests in Him. Have you placed your hope in Jesus Christ? If you have not been baptized for the forgiveness of sins, then your hope rests somewhere else. It is time to turn to the Lord today and be crowned with the glory and honor of the Lord.