Psalm 8

Psalm 8
Christ as Son of Man, Set Over all Creation
Psalm 8. The psalm is a psalm of David, most likely written after a time of quiet meditation in creation, as vv.3-9 suggests. It is also composed “upon Gittith”, meaning “winepress” (see also Psalms 81; 84). Some suggest “gittith” may be a type of instrument that David invented (Amos 6:5).1 This would suggest a happy, joyful sound, such as would be fitting for a time of harvest, and the enjoyment of wine. Psalm 8 is also a Messianic Psalm, meaning it is prophetic of Christ, and also quoted in the New Testament (three times). This is also a Millennial Psalm, as the quotation in Hebrews 2 proves. The theme of the Psalm is the counsels of God to set a man over all creation. Specifically it is Christ, as Son of man, who accomplishes the purposes of God.
Son of Man.

"Son of man" is a title Christ has in special connection with mankind; as either the rejected sufferer at the hands of mankind and on behalf of mankind as the one who assumes the responsibilities of the whole human race, or as exalted heir and head of all that God has purposed for mankind. The Old Testament spoke of a coming "Son of Man" that would reign over all creation and have an everlasting kingdom (Psalm 8:4-8; Daniel 7:13-14). But "Son of man" is a title Christ took in rejection as well as in glorification. The connection between the suffering and glory of the Son of man is beautiful.

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Psalm 8 and Psalm 144. There are two Psalms that have very similar language regarding man. Compare Psa. 8:4 to 144:3; “What is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!” In both cases we have the words “adam” (or ‘man’, the word literally meaning ‘red’ or ‘earth’) and “enosh” (meaning ‘frail’ or ‘weak’). But notice the difference in the character of each Psalm. Both Psalms begin with the premise that man is weak and frail. But as Psalm 144 continues, it establishes the inability of man to keep himself; “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Psa. 144:4). On the other hand, Psalm 8 developes not the ruin of man, but God’s purposes concerning man, and these centered in the true Son of Man. When speaking of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 8, not Psalm 144; Christ at the very center of the counsels of God, as Son of man! It is with this glorified Son of man that we are associated in new creation, having broken our link with the first man Adam.
To the chief Musician. Upon the Gittith. A Psalm of David.
1 Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy majesty above the heavens.
2 “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou established praise” [quoted Matt. 21:16] because of thine adversaries, to still the enemy and the avenger.
vv.1-2 Psalm 8 begins and ends with the same words; “Jehovah our Lord [Adonnai], how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” This looks on to the Millennium, when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). Again, in Mal.1:11; “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great…”. What we have in Psalm 8 is a wider sphere of glory than we have in Psalm 2. In the second psalm, Messiah is viewed as the incarnate Son of Jehovah on earth, taking the nations for His inheritance, and Jehovah is seen “sitting in the heavens”. But in the eighth psalm, Jehovah is seen as having set His majesty “above the heavens”, and the Son is seen, not as reigning in Zion, but as over all creation. The first part of v.2 is quoted in Matt. 21:16 by the Lord in response to the Jewish leaders who would rebuke the praise of the crowds at Christ’s triumphal entry. We have a reference to babes again in Matt. 11:25, where it pleased the Father to reveal things to babes!
3 When I see thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars, which thou hast established;
4 “What is man [‘adam’ or ‘earth’], that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man [‘enosh’ or ‘frail’], that thou visitest him?
5 Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and splendour.
6 Thou hast made him to rule over the works of thy hands; thou hast put everything under his feet:” [quoted Heb. 2:6-8; partially 1 Cor. 15:27]
7 Sheep and oxen, all of them, and also the beasts of the field;
8 The fowl of the heavens, and the fishes of the sea, whatever passeth through the paths of the seas.
9 Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
vv.3-9 In considering the creation, especially the “heavens”, David is struck with the grace of God to man. Surely, a God who could create such majestic beauty is far above puny man. David exclaims at the grace of God, that He should even take notice of man, much less to visit him and give a place over the creation; “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Man is not even the highest of created intelligence, “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels” and yet, in the counsels of God, He purposed for man to be placed over all creation; “and hast crowned him with glory and splendour. Thou hast made him to rule over the works of thy hands; thou hast put everything under his feet”. The creation was placed into the hands of Adam, “to till and keep the garden”. But in transgressing the commandment of God, Adam failed in that headship. What then? has God’s purpose been frustrated? No. The second man succeeds where the first man has failed. In Hebrews 2, the writer shows that the “Son of man” is Christ Himself, who has been “crowned with glory and honor” now in heaven at God’s right hand! Psalm 8 says nothing about the death of the Son of man, but in Hebrews 2 we find that was necessary for its fulfillment. The Psalm begins with a view of man as very small compared to the universe, but it ends with the universe very small compared to the Son of man! Yet it says in Hebrews, “we see not yet all things put under him”. We are still waiting to see the manifestation of His glory as the Son of man, which will be fully displayed in the Millennium. The rest of the Psalm expounds the extent of the dominion of the Son of man; i.e. “everything”. It is very notable that men today are able to tame and train almost every kind of animal, with the exception of “the fishes of the sea”. Compare Dan. 2:38. But when the Lord Jesus was on earth, He displayed His absolute authority over the fishes of the sea in many miracles! But the final fulfillment of this will be in the Millennium. The Psalm concludes with the same sentiment it began with; “Jehovah our Lord [Adonnai], how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”
  1. “Gittith… Learned men suggest an instrument invented at Gath, or an air of the vintage festivity: a holy but happy season for a pious Jew. Fürst regards it as a hollow instrument from the verb ‘to deepen.'”  – Kelly, W. Notes on the Psalms.