Bible Studies on the Messianic Psalms
Psalm 8: The wonder of God and the second man.

By I Gordon

Introduction

Last time we looked at Psalm 2 – the first Messianic Psalm. The Psalmist asked a few questions: Why do the nations rage? Why do they conspire? Why do they take their stand against the Lord and His anointed? We looked at the sad truth that the kings and rulers on this earth saw any ties to God as shackles and fetters around their feet which they desired to throw off. But I guess that doesn’t ring any bells with the day in which we live now does it? We also looked at the reaction from God – firstly to laugh and then terrifying them in His wrath. It is an amazing Psalm that has not only the words of the world and God the Father, but also that of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We will look at the next Messianic Psalm in this study. It is Psalm 8. It is a Psalm that touches on the wonder and majesty of God, the fall and redemption of man and it starts, and ends, with praise.

Psalms 8:1-9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. (2) From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (3) When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, (4) what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (5) You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (6) You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: (7) all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, (8) the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. (9) O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

This Psalm’s surface assessment

Say that fast 5 times in a row and you’ll be left with a permanent lisp! A surface level reading of this Psalm leaves the reader thinking the following: As David wondered at the glory and majesty of the heavens, the work of God’s hands, his thoughts soon turned to mankind - why would God give dominion and honour to mankind on this earth? In comparison with the greatness of the heavens, why would God be interested to care so much for one so small?

Now that is a valid thought from this Psalm. But again, this is only a surface view of the Psalm. Peel away the top layer and you’ll find just under the surface some of the great themes of the Bible. And most importantly you’ll see something of the Messiah. When you first read this Psalm, you may ask, ‘Ok, where is the Messiah in that? Why is this Psalm considered Messianic?’ Yet it is a Psalm that is quoted 3 times in the New Testament, once even by Jesus Himself, and each quotation is in reference to the Lord Jesus. So there is more in this Psalm than first meets the eye. It is a Psalm that reaches to the heights of Heaven, yet takes in the depths of the fall. It ties in the first Adam, who was given dominion over this earth only to lose it, and continues with the last Adam, who gave up all to win back that which was lost. Let’s have a look.

It all starts with praise  

Psalms 8:1 ‘O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.’

The Psalm starts with praise and rightfully so! O Lord - How majestic is your name in all the earth. How majestic is that name! The word majestic suggests power, splendour and magnificence. All of creation, throughout the whole earth, cries out, firstly, that there is a creator. Secondly it cries out how majestic, how marvellous, this creator is! We’ll talk about the heavens when we come to verse 3, but they too, with their sheer magnitude and beauty declare the glory of the one who made them. But delve down deep enough into any area and you will see the fingerprints of God. You see the design of God. It all cries out how awesome is the knowledge, wisdom and creativity that is the Lord God. I’ve got a book at home called ‘Made in Heaven – Man’s indiscriminate stealing of God’s design!’ It shows how man is turning to creation to learn how to do things well. It shows that man’s inventions are based on what God has already done. Here are a couple of examples and I’ll put more in the footnote [1] for those interested:

· When Speedo wanted to come up with the best design for a fast swimsuit, where did it turn? To the design of the scales on a shark! It used this to come up with its “Fastskin” swimsuits.

· When trying to come up with a material that could hold the most loads under stress (PSI) what have scientists now turned to? The silk of the spider’s web. Previously it had the best PSI rating apart from Kevlar but they have now found a spider’s silk that has 10 times the strength of Kevlar. They are using this spiders silk to even make bullet proof body armour.

As the Psalmist says, how majestic is God in all the earth. His wisdom, knowledge and power are seen in all areas in creation throughout the heavens and the earth. That is so true but is that what we see today? When you turn on the news or read the papers is there much about the majesty of God? Is the whole earth speaking of the majesty of God’s name? As mentioned last time, the age in which we live is certainly not speaking about the majesty of God’s name. God gets few mentions and when He does, most of them are negative. His name is often used as a swear word. Why the bad press? He does make the news on occasions – if wild fires devastate large areas of land or tornados demolish a town He does get a mention. These are described as ‘acts of God’. Though if a terminal cancer patient is miraculously cured this is not ever called an act of God. It is just as unexplainable event. The term ‘acts of God’ is reserved for devastation and bad things.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (Rom 1:18-19)

God has made His existence evident to all. But there is an active suppression of the truth of God even though the truth of God is evident, or plain, both within them and to them. Listen to this quote from an evolutionist at the Kansas State University and think about what this means for what you hear from ‘scientists’ [2] :

‘Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic’ Dr Scott Todd, an immunologist at Kansas State University

God always has His people!

(2) From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

I like this for as great as God is, as high and majestic as He is, He is not out of reach from even children and infants. In fact God is pleased to reveal Himself to babes and those who come with a childlike faith. And he loves to use the weak, the young and the humble to silence His foes. He uses weak and lowly vessels. An atheist might have an intellectual argument why God cannot exist, but that can be trumped by the simplest believer with a child like faith. Jesus emphasised the importance of this:

Matthew 18:1-4 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (2) He called a little child and had him stand among them. (3) And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (4) Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

To those overly wise in their estimation, God hides Himself but is pleased to reveal Himself to those who want Him. This passage in Psalm 8:2 is the first passage that is quoted in the New Testament by Jesus. Let’s have a look:

Matthew 21:12-17 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. (13) It is written, he said to them, " My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a den of robbers.'" (14) The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. (15) But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. (16) Do you hear what these children are saying they asked him?. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, 'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise' ?" (17) And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Again we see this same truth: The high and mighty missed him. Their pride and self importance clouded their vision from seeing the Messiah. Yet the lame and the blind flocked to Him and the children sang His praise! It’s wonderful that even the children could grasp that He was the Son of David, the Messiah! It doesn’t require a PhD. It reminds us once again not to be proud or to consider ourselves as something great, but to let God be God and believe and trust Him with child-like faith.

Who am I?

(3) When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, (4) what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

Now that thought is true and you may have thought it yourself as you have looked up into the vastness of space.

Have you looked into space and thought – Who am I? I am so small! Have you ever looked into the glory and holiness of God and thought what would He have to do with me? [3]  Staring into the heavens tends to do that type of thing! The Believers Bible commentary (Big Blue) says: No branch of science proclaims God's greatness and man's insignificance more eloquently than astronomy. The simple fact that distances must be reckoned in light-years (the distance that light travels in a year) illustrates the point. Light travels 186,000 miles per second, and there are 31.5 million seconds in a year, so light travels roughly six trillion miles in a single year! Yet some stars are billions of light-years from the earth. No wonder we call such computation astronomical.’

Here is another way to try and grasp the scale we are talking about: ‘The Sun accounts for 99.9% of all the matter in our Solar System. In fact, you could fit 1.3 million Earths inside our Sun,’ [4] yet, the largest stars they have discovered have a radius up to 2000 times that of our sun. And this is just called the work of His fingers! Feeling small yet? Have your eyes glazed over or your brain stopped working yet? What if I was to say that astronomers say there are over 170 billion galaxies each with hundreds of billions of stars of varying sizes and brightness? [5] I wondered how they knew these things and searched it out. I read that “The Hubble Space Telescope observed a tiny patch of sky (one-tenth the diameter of the moon) for 11.6 days and found approximately 10,000 galaxies of all sizes, shapes and colours.”

170 billion galaxies each with hundreds of billions of stars – the work of God’s fingers! And the Bible says God counts their number and has given them all a name. (Psalm 147:4) Feeling small? What is man that you are mindful of him? Despite all the wonders God has done in the heavens, man is His greatest (and sometimes the worst) of all His creations.

What of God’s greatest creation... mankind?

Psalms 8:4-8 What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. (6) You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: (7) all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, (8) the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

Seeing we’ve had a bit of a scientific theme running through this study, let’s carry that on briefly and talk about your favourite topic: You! You started as a single cell, a cell smaller that the period at the end of this sentence. And within that cell, in the DNA, was the entire genetic blueprint required to construct your entire body. [6] Within that cell were the instructions for how to build a heart-- the first organ it builds; a liver, 10 toe nails, not to mention the ten toes to put them on! It had instructions for two amazing incredible eyes and one very useful sniffer. Even your eye lids are cool. While in the womb, from 10 weeks on your eyelid was fused shut over the developing eyes. Then about at the 6 month mark, certain cells decided to die away allowing your eyes lids to open, or shut, depending on whether you want to let light in or block it out! All of this is contained in that one cell that has all the God-given instruction to build you! It could even build a brain with which you can think, learn, comprehend, love... When God created everything He gave it all the following heavenly assessment: ‘It was good’. Mankind, made in His image, was given the assessment of ‘very good!’ Mankind was the crowning achievement of the creation week. We start life as a single cell that divides and builds until we become a 100 trillion cell full formed human being. It’s incredible. You are incredible!

These verses in Psalm 8 remind us of the initial creation and the glory of mankind as God’s greatest creation. It takes in a time when Adam named all the animals and was given dominion to rule and reign. It takes us back to when Adam and Eve were in the garden, in perfect innocence, when all was in harmony. Yet this passage does not find it’s fulfilment in the first Adam but the last. It is not fulfilled by the first man, but the second. And that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

That harmony, tranquillity, innocence and peace was of course lost a long time ago as you well know and the subsequent years have not been kind. The first man born on this planet killed the second, his brother. Within 1600 years of creation, here was the heavenly assessment of mankind:

Genesis 6:5-6 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (6) The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. [7]

Now that is one sad verse concerning the state of mankind back then! It is a very bleak report card. But turn on the news and see what going on in large parts of this planet today. See what God’s greatest creation is doing to one another: Violence, rape, murder, endless wars and rumours of wars. Man was given dominion over this planet but we left it, oh so long ago, in the garden.

Is mankind ruling today? Are all animals in subjection to man’s dominion today?

Going back to Psalm 8:4-8, do we see a fulfilment of these verses today? Do we see all that is in the fields and all that is in the sea are in submission and under the dominion of man today? Hardly! Spiders bite us, wasps sting us, bears maul us, mosquitoes try to drain us, sharks eat us... even some toothless domestic short haired moggy that we’ve fed and housed for 15+ years can take exception to be being stroked the wrong way and take the odd swing at us! And what of man’s best friend... the faithful dog. Ever been chomped by a dog? [8]

But like I said earlier, this passage reflects on that given to the first man but its ultimate fulfilment is tied in with the second - Our Lord Jesus. That’s why it is a Messianic Psalm – it has its fulfilment in Him! The purpose of God will not be thwarted. What the first man lost, the second will restore. Let’s look at how the writer of Hebrews uses this passage which again shows the Messianic fulfilment of this psalm.

Hebrews 2:5-9 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. (6) But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (7) You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor (8) and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. (9) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

God had wonderful plans for mankind. He still does. The world to come, this passage tells us, will be subjected to him. Mankind’s position over this earth, given so long ago in the garden, will be restored. Man will be above the angels. The Bible tells us we will even judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3). I don’t understand this for it is not explained – just stated. Yet, at present we do not see everything subject to him. That is where we got to with Psalm 8. And that’s what Hebrews says. But what do we see? We see Jesus. We see the one, though the eternal King, who was willing to be made lower than the angels.

Not only that, but He was willing to die. You know, when I read and studied this whole theme, I had the very real sense of what a mess mankind has made of everything. What depths we sunk to leading up to the flood and how we are fast tracking ourselves there again. Remember that it said that the thoughts of mankind, and the intents of their hearts, were only wicked – continually. And it pained God that He had made us. And as I thought of the stars, and the galaxies and the power of God, it seemed to me that God had every right to just wash His hands of us. If He desired to wipe us all out and go do something else we’d get what we deserve.

170 billion galaxies in the observable Universe, each with hundreds of billions of stars and planets... If God decided to give up completely on man and planet earth and turn His attention elsewhere, I’d get that. I’d understand that. But He didn’t. He did the opposite. Really, He did the unthinkable. He came down and became one of us. He fully identified Himself with what it is like to live on this planet. To be weak, and to be tempted. To be tired and to thirst and be hungry. To be mocked and even despised. And not only that but, as Hebrews tells us, to suffer and taste the most agonising death for everyone so that they could again find life. So that mankind could be exalted back up to the place above the angels and rule once again in the age to come – all due to Jesus Christ. That, to me, is some God and some Saviour!

Conclusion - Ending where it began

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

So the Psalm ends the way it starts... with praise. So will this creation. It began with praise as you may well know. In the book of Job, God speaks and gives a little sneaky glimpse of what was happening at the beginning:

Job 38:4-7 Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. (5) Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? (6) On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-- (7) while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

So this creation, like our Psalm, began in praise. And this creation, like our Psalm, will end in praise. God has given us a glimpse of what it was like in the beginning when the morning stars sang together and the angels shouted for joy. Let’s conclude by looking at one passage that gives us a glimpse of how things will end.

Psalms 96:1-13 Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. (2) Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. (3) Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. (4) For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. (5) For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. (6) Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. (7) Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. (8) Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; Bring an offering and come into His courts. (9) Worship the LORD in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth. (10) Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity." (11) Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains; (12) Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy (13) Before the LORD, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.

In one sense this is a Psalm that tells God’s people to praise God throughout all the ages and rightfully so. But from verses 11 onwards it speaks of special praise on a special day. The praise will come from all corners and all of creation. It will come from the heavens and the earth and from the sea and the fields. Even the trees will join in singing for joy before the Lord. That day is when He returns. As the Psalm says: ‘He is coming. He is coming to judge the earth and the peoples in righteousness and faithfulness. ’ Like our psalm, so goes creation. It began in praise and it will end with praise. It’s just this middle bit that we live in now that isn’t so flash. But take heart for He is coming!


[1]  Some other examples from this interesting book are:

· What have scientists turned to, to try and stop the counterfeiting of bank notes? The morph butterfly with its iridescent wings that change colour in water. If they can mimic that on bank notes they will be extremely hard to counterfeit!

· Camera makers are studying the human eye to design a better lens on their cameras.

· They are studying mosquitoes in trying to develop painless needles.

· Faster computer chips are being modelled on how the human brain works. (Just as long as they don’t model it on your brain or mine - That computer would take several minutes just to boot up and would often crash!)

· Even simple things in God’s creation can be used for good. A Swiss Engineer in the 1940’s went for a walk in the forest with his dog and when they got back they noticed that he and his dog were covered with burrs – a spiky looking seed of dry fruit. And it couldn’t be brushed off. So he examined this under his microscope and discovered it had a whole series of hooks that attach to the loops in clothing. From this he invented Velcro – with its hooks on one side and its loops on the other. They have made steel version that can hold 35 ton loads and today they are developing nano versions that they believe could be as strong as epoxy yet removable! Who came up with this simple but cool design? God did!

· They wanted robots that could get into tricky areas and scale vertical surfaces. So to whom did they turn? To the one who has been doing that for thousands of years - the Gecko! How does the Gecko do this without falling off? Its toes have hairs that have millions of tips that are used like a Velcro type action. They also give off small electromagnetic charges that attract like two magnets of opposite charges do. Amazing.

· Renewable energy is a huge topic in today’s world and we have a giant source of energy available in our sun. But how do we harness this efficiently? Scientists examined the sunflower to find the perfect angles to absorb the most amount of sun light for solar powered devices in the smallest amount of area. This is based on the ‘golden ratio’ (as calculated through the Fibonacci numbers if you are into your maths) that is seen throughout nature in trees, flowers, shells, in the human body and even in the spiral of galaxies. Who came up with all this? God did!

[2]  In fact there have been scientists that have lost their jobs for even suggesting that there is an intelligent designer behind creation. An interesting documentary that delves into this is ‘Expelled: No intelligence allowed’. You can watch it on You tube if interested.

Richard Dawkins (anti-God atheist) wrote ‘Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.’ According to him, it’s just an appearance of being designed for a purpose, but he would have you believe that there is no designer and there is no purpose! So there is wilful active suppression of the truth for they don’t want there to be a God.

[3]  It is a thought that is expressed in the song we sometimes sing ‘Who am I?’ The chorus says:

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star, would choose to light the way, for my ever wandering heart?

[6]  The Wonders of God DVD says that DNA is the densest information storage system in the universe and all the information contained in a pin head volume of DNA would fill a sack of books 5 hundred times higher than from here to the moon! Who coded that! This incredibly detailed code requires a coder. This program requires a programmer! Matter doesn’t just change into intelligent information through random processes. Yet all the instructions needed for this single cell to develop into an adult were encoded in this cell.

[7]  That, to me, could quite possibly be the saddest verse in the Bible. Mark those words: “every inclination”, “only evil”, “all the time”. And remember, Jesus said: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man”. Larry Norman sums up where things are heading on his album “So long ago the garden”. Part of his song Nightmare #71 says

"let the proud but dying nation kiss the last generation, it's the year of the pill, age of the gland
we have landed on the moon, but we'll clutter that up soon, our sense of freedom's gotten out of hand
we kill our children, swap our wives, we've learned to greet a man with knives
we swallow pills in fours and fives, our cities look like crumbling hives
man does not live, he just survives, we sleep till he arrives
love is a corpse, we sit and watch it harden, we left it oh so long ago, the garden"

[8]  I have. He chased me on my bike down the street while I was delivering newspapers as a teenager and sunk his teeth into my calf muscle. Man that hurt! I Had to get injections from the doctor and everything. No... We don’t see everything in submission and under the feet of man today.