Monday, May 15, 2017

Psalm 8 - some jottings

Psalm 8 notes


Praise the LORD for the majesty of creation and for crowning human beings


Praise of the Lord for creation and his purposes for humanity

When feeling insignificant

Repentance over neglect or misuse of creation or forgetfulness of God

Longing for the new creation and the fulfilment of all things in the Last Adam


O Lord, our LORD, I praise you for the majesty and glory of your name, which is so wonderfully displayed in all you have made.

I praise you for your power and infinity, the scale and intricacy and variety of your creativity.

I acknowledge my finitude, my weakness and mortality.

Thank you that your power is made perfect in weakness, that you delight to use the weak to shame the strong.

I confess to you my sin.

I know that I deserve nothing from you except your judgement.

I marvel that you give human beings a second thought.

Thank you for your care, that you think of me and attend to my prayer.

Thank you that you know me thoroughly and that though you are greater than I can imagine, the details of my life and my sometimes trivial concerns matter to you.

I praise you for your purposes for human beings, for the role and responsibility that you have given to your people.

I’m sorry for times that I have forgotten you or that vocation, when the calling to represent you in the world and to rule the world under you has meant nothing to me.

Forgive me for my rebellion, my self-absorption, my neglect and misuse of creation.

Help me to more fully and truly reflect your image in the world, to live as a faithful steward of your world, seeking to play my part in your great purposes to bring creation from one degree of glory to another.

May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I praise you for the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, the Last Adam, your image and glory, the Proper Man who was always faithful to you.

Thank you that your glory which was above the heavens came down and tabernacled amongst us and was seen and heard by the witnesses you had chosen.

Thank you that you have placed all things under your perfect Son, for his government of the world, that he is working out all things in conformity to your will.

Thank you that Christ has triumphed, defeating sin and death and Satan and that you are putting all his enemies under his feet. 

Thank you for the prospect of his full and perfect rule.

May more and more people bow the knee to him and serve him with gladness.

Expand my vision of your glory.

Make your name known to all the nations.

May all creation resound with your praises.

O LORD, our Lord, I praise you for the majesty of your name.

Outlines / structure:

Expositor’s Bible:

Goldingay, Baker Commentary

Humanity’s position in creation

Vv1-2 – Praise Yahweh as the powerful, majestic creator

Vv3-4 – wonder whether this God would be involved with mere human beings

Vv5-9 – marvel that Yahweh has bestowed glory and honour on humans by giving them dominion over creation

Wilcock, BST:

The story so far

The joyous slaughter of sacred cows

The first and the last man

Kidner, Tyndale:

Crown of Creation

The praise of his glory (vv1-2)

What is man? (vv3-8)

The praise of his glory (v9)

Tidball, Signposts

The Crown of Creation

V2 – God and human instinct

Vv3-5 – God and human dignity

Vv6-8 – God and human responsibility

Chiastic structure:

Benediction (vv1, 9)

God’s rule v. human rule (vv2-3, 6-8)

Human insignificance v. human significance (vv4, 5)

Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life

Majestic name

The irony of your strength (vv1b-2)

The mystery of your care (vv3-4)

The clarity of your revelation (vv5-8)

The certainty of your plan (v6 – Heb 2:5-9)

Alan Harman, Mentor Commentary

Vv1-2 God’s majesty

Vv3-5 Man’s insignificance

Vv6-8 Man’s role in creation

V9 God’s praise renewed

Allen P. Ross, Kregel Exegetical Library

God’s Condescending to Mankind

I. Introductory refrain: The psalmist extolls the excellency of the nature of the LORD (1a)

II. The Psalmist praises the LORD’s greatness in confounding the enemy with children and his grace in giving human beings dominion over creation (1b-8)

A. It is marvellous that this majestic LORD should use “children” to confound the mighty (1b-2)

1. The majesty of the LORD is displayed in the heavens (1b)

2. The LORD uses the words of children to silence the enemy (2)

B. It is marvellous that this majestic LORD who created the universe should regard humans enough to entrust his dominion to them (3-8)

1. The work of creation is God’s finger work (3)

2. God endowed man with glory and entrusted him with dominion (4-8)

a. It is amazing that God even thinks of a mere mortal (4)

b. It is marvellous that God granted mortals glory and dominion over creation (5-8)

III. Concluding refrain: The psalmist extols the excellency of the nature of the LORD (9)




Gittith – something from Gath, in the SW of Israel – 2 Sam 15:18 – Goliath! – feminine form for a person or thing from Gath – Ibn Ezra links it with Obed-edom the Gittite, a Levitical singer – 1 Chron 13:13-14; 16:4-5 (Goldingay)

Gittith – also Ps 81 & 84 – all joyful songs of thanksgiving

Gittite cf. gat, winepress


Man matters because God matters. Man matters; God matters more. Matter tells us God matters!

The first proper song of praise in the Psalter – form and subject untypical (Goldingay)

The last v of Ps 7 vowed to praise Yahweh. This Psalm fulfils that promise. The suffering and enemies of the previous psalms do not make this Psalm any less true.

Harman: This Psalm is the latter part of Genesis turned into a song

The only praise Psalm wholly addressed to God – no invitation to praise, no reasons for praise in a because clause (Goldingay)

Kidner: “This psalm is an unsurpassed example of what a hymn should be, celebrating as it does the glory and grace of God, rehearsing who He is and what He has done, and relating us and our world to Him; all with a masterly economy of words and in a spirit of mingled joy and awe.” (p65f)

Inclusio - Begins and ends with God’s majestic name – vv1a and 9 – the packaging / wrapping of the Ps, cf. product packaging aiming to create an impression

The Psalm brings to mind God’s surprising ways in the roles he has assigned to the strong and the weak (v2), the spectacular and the obscure (vv3-5), the multitudinous and the few (vv6-8). (Kidner, p66)

The Psalm takes us above the heavens (v1) and back to the very beginning (vv3, 6-8) and the NT points out to the very end (v6). (Kidner)

Wilcock: Remember / be mindful – 6:5

Glory 3:3; 4:2; 7:5

The avenger – 7:3-5

Enemies in all Pss 3-7 and here

Les individualistic than preceding Pss ???, not especially autobiographical – our – though the speaker is an individual “I” (v3) he is representative – the title indicates it is intended to be used in public worship – David speaks for us and wants us to join with him

Cosmic and prophetic scope recall Ps 2

V1 – Lord, sovereign – honorific plural

Our Lord, personal trust and relationship of course crucial – not just Lord in general or in theory or of others

V1 – adder, splendid, majestic, usually with the implication of might / power – 76:4; 93:4; 136:18 – deferent submission

V1 – hod – majesty, awesome power and authority – 1 Chron 29:11; Job 37:22; 39:20; Is 30:30; Hab 3:3

V1 – ardent, intimate, reverent

This great God is our covenant God

The God of Israel the only true God

V1 – tnh (acclaim) – MT tena - The Hebrew constantaly could allow “Thou whose glory is *chanted* above the heavens” – Is 6:3 – natena – he gave / put

God greater than all created reality and in authority over it

Names more than mere labels to the ancient Hebrews – suggest character

V2 – Lit. from the mouth – Jer 36:4, 6, 17, 27

V2 – contrast the threatening enemies and the helpless children – God makes them a strength / stronghold / bulwark / fortress – what seems inconsequential has overwhelmed the mighty (cf. the apparent insignificance of humanity and of Christ)

Davis: praise packs a lethal punch – toddlers wallop God’s enemies!

V2 – the praise of cradle and nursery is acceptable to this great God (Kidner)

Mt 21:16 quotes LXX

Rising discord in v2 – foes, enemy, avenger – cf. the enemies of the previous psalms – they even get a mention in this hymn of praise

V2 – oz – strength / might – implication of praise for God’s overwhelming strength and majesty

Quoted by Jesus in Mt 21:15f – the children shouting his praise

God’s use of the weak to confound the strong – 1 Cor 1:27

V3 – change to “I”

V3 – David the shepherd boy contemplating the night sky? On a clear night, he could see maybe 2000-3000 stars. With a good pair of binoculars, we can see up to 10 000.

If the Milky Way were the size of North America, our solar system would fit in a coffee cup. And the milky way is perhaps one of 100 billion galaxies in the universe. (Davis, p97)

Of all creation, only human beings could ask the question of v4

Vv3-5 – both the smallness and the status of humanity – might seem insignificant, but highly significant in God’s purposes – of all creatures, humanity is both great and small

Almighty God who set the stars in place, also set human beings over the creation

Vv3-5 – contrast the puniness of human beings and the immensity of the cosmos (Tidball)

V4 – enos suggests human frailty – ben adam – the sons / descendants of Adam, adamah, earth or ground

V4 – David’s question, “What is man?” is really a way of saying “What a God!” (Davis)

What other answers do people give to the question “What is man?”

The answer of paganism – fate – man an accident / prisoner / slave of the gods

The answer of nihilism

The answer of humanism

(see Davis p99f)

Scientific materialism – how much of each chemical in man – a wet machine – a sack of stuff

Cf. Lk 12:24 – God even cares for the ravens!

Is 40:26ff; 45:18; 51:16

Ps 144:3f

Job 7:17f quotes v4 rather negatively – Job’s suffering as a loss of glory

Ps 25:6

Ps 90

Care – lit. you attend to – Jer 23:2

V5 slows to a stately emphasis – virtual synonyms: What is man that You should note him / human creature, that you should pay him heed?

V5ff – especially suitable for David the king

V5 – Gen 1:26

MT Elohim - God

LXX takes Elohim in its rarer generic sense to mean supernatural beings, angels – 1 Sam 28:13; Ps 82:1; 6f – Heb 2:7, 9

“Little” (v5) could mean “for a while” in both the Hebrew and the Greek

Human beings were put between the world and God

Human beings little gods (Tidball) – cf. the scientific anthropic principle – humanity at the centre of creation – though overall in content if not exactly in form the Psalm is of course theocentric – humanity is enveloped in God’s praise, established by God, cared for by God, responsible to God etc. Human powers of dominion are to be used for God’s praise. Selfish exploitation or pretended autonomy are disordered.

James 3:7f

Heb 2:6-8

1 Cor 15:27f

Eph 1:19-22

Godlingay: The 2-fold all in vv6-7 corresponds to the 2-fold all in vv1 and 9

V6 – masal, ruler, used of God in 22:28; 66:7; 103:19 and elsewhere

Cf. Is 11

Rm 8:22

Vv6-7 – the prominence of the monosyllable, kol, all, draws attention to the central motif of the Psalm

We don’t see a perfect world functioning well under man’s good rule – human beings have messed up the world – creation is out of sorts – we can’t manage our own lives let alone the whole world!

Cf. X – 1 Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22; Heb 2:6-8

Rev 5:10

V9 – Humanity and its dominion takes second place to God and his – a very strong focus on God despite the attention given to humanity – human beings put in their place, which is under God, in relation to him, faithfully serving and praising him

We can say human being only after we have learnt to say God

Name of the Lord – Ex 33:18f

(Henry Law, Daily Prayer and Praise: The Book of Psalms Arranged for Private and Family Use (Banner of Truth, 2000, orig. pub. 1878)

(Derek Tidball, Signposts: A devotional map of the Psalms (IVP, 2009)

Walter Brueggemann & William H. Bellinger, Jr., Psalms, New Cambridge Bible Commentary (CUP, 2014)

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