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-Some Observations On PSALM 8

PictureSome Observations On PSALM 8 Psalm 8, only nine verses long, is quoted three times in the New Testament: once by Jesus Himself when He confounded those who objected to His being praised in the Temple (Mt. 21:16); once by Paul to confound those who disputed Christ's power to raise all the dead (1 Cor. 15:27); and once by the writer of Hebrews to vindicate the Son's glory as the due reward for His suffering and death upon the cross (2:8). While these references are a more popular topic in this psalm, I want to make a few other observations.
The King Of Israel And The World David begins this psalm by exalting the name of God in reference to three places ­ the earth, the starry heavens and the heaven of heavens (8:1,3,5). His praises anticipate a glorious future of universal praise when Christ will subdue all things under His pierced feet. Psalm 8 anticipates Philippians 2:10 where Paul teaches that the Lord's anointed will exercise control over all creation. But David's chief joy is his anticipation of the all-nation praise of God upon the earth. According to prophecy, the capital of this world-rule will be Jerusalem (Isa. 2:3; Zech. 14:16). These Scriptures are associated with the millennial reign of Christ when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14 KJV). Meanwhile, God's glory remains unchallenged in paradise and in the astronomical universe. David's joy is that this same glory will yet be extolled by the children of men on earth. For if the angels cannot sin and the universe spontaneously obeys every scientific law of the Creator, then fallen angels and men are the only exceptions to the rule. While fallen angels are beyond redemption, David foresees a day when all nations will be under the control and blessing of the King of kings.

The Majesty Of Creation, The Humility Of the Creator
As David views creation, he is made to feel like a child. But what of his feelings as he foretells the incarnation, death, resurrection and glorification of His Lord? These are the prophecies of verses 4 and 5 as later expounded by the writer of Hebrews 2:6-10. The One known as the Son of Man will subdue all things as part of His reward for having been totally obedient to His God and Father.

As a shepherd, David had ample opportunity to scan the skies while he watched over his father’s flock by night. However, though awed by the glory of God, he was also astonished that God had any regard for the insignificant sons of Adam. As if this were not enough, in verse 4 is the promise of the Incarnation ­ the Son of God lowering Himself to become the Babe of Bethlehem, an even greater expression of divine humility, God “manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16).

David’s meditation in this psalm implies that the shepherd-king was equally amazed that human dust and ashes (Gen. 18:27) should have any room for pride. So we have the humility of an infinitely glorious God contrasted to the pride of degraded upstarts. Paul describes such as those “whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Phil. 3:19). Thus even the smartest of these earthlings who scan the heavens cannot see beyond space into the places of eternal light.

The Folly Of Worldly Wisdom
Because God chose the weak things of this world, He has granted sight to the blind while those who think they can see remain in darkness (Jn. 9:39-41). They have nothing good to say about God. So intellectual snobbery is the fast lane to eternal destruction on the broad road to perdition. Those sophisticated Athenians demonstrated this: “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked” (Acts 17.32). The gospel has its own logic defined as the “foolishness of preaching” (1 Cor. 1:21). This world cannot discern the difference between wise simpletons and brilliant fools who have foolishly blinded themselves with their own science.

Wisdom and intelligence are not interchangeable terms. The elite are not numbered with the elect, for “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27). Humanly speaking, those with the greatest gifts are often the greatest sinners, as goodness and gift are not interchangeable terms. Indeed, even among believers, those who possess “all knowledge” but lack love are reckoned as “nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).

Born-Again Babies
The second verse of this psalm is quoted in the New Testament by Christ during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He quoted it to silence those Pharisees who had ordered Him to silence the children who echoed His praises in the Temple. The Greek rendering of the Hebrew verse has come down to us as meaning “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise” (Mt. 21:16). This was a rebuke to the Sanhedrin who held the apostles in contempt, dismissing them as “unlearned and ignorant men” (Acts 4:13).

In contrast, the Savior had already thanked His Father for revealing His mysteries to spiritual babes (Mt. 11:25), while the self-styled “wise and prudent” were stumbling in the darkness of reprobate ignorance. Despite all, no matter how poor and undereducated some of the disciples of Christ might be, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). Those too proud to humble themselves to the level of a child “shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3).

The Eminent And Pre-Eminent Christ
Since God chose the weak things of this world, it is no surprise that these saintly babes are reckoned as nothing by this world. Nevertheless, these same nobodies are destined to become the elite of eternity. For at His coming, the Lord will glorify our dusty humanity (Phil. 3:21). The humblest of today’s saints will outdazzle the world’s greatest when Christ fashions anew the body of our humiliation. This means that in His subduing of all things, the Son of God will raise the ability of His glorified saints to that equal with angels (Lk. 20:36). Of course, there is an essential difference between likeness and equality. Whereas we long to be like Christ, we know that we shall never be equal to Him. For He who shines with the brightness of deity and bears forever the wounds of His Cross will always have unmistakable pre-eminence. Hence “let all the angels of God worship Him” (Heb. 1:6).

Subjection As Son Of Man
According to verses 4-8, the Son of Man is destined to have control over the whole world. While this applies to the nations, brute creation and the environment, someone will ask about Paul’s statement “when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him” (1 Cor: 15:28). As a human, the Man Christ Jesus has been charged with the ministry of total domination. As Adam was appointed federal head of creation, the second Man has acceded to the same position of primacy and supremacy (Gen: 1:28; Mt. 28:18). This He has received by virtue of His victory through death, resurrection and glorification. However this same Jesus has power over all; it is obvious that the One granting this authority is Himself exempt from subjection. This is particularly essential seeing that God can never be obliged to obey man. Therefore the second Adam as a true human being has had power delegated to Him whereby He is able to subdue all things. However, by a wonderful paradox only someone who is also divine and omnipotent can fulfill this ineffable commission (1 Cor. 15:47).

Despite this divine power given to the Son of Man, Paul reminds us that when God says “all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him” (1 Cor. 15:27). Therefore as the Son is no less God than His Father, yet in His human capacity as the Son of Man, He will hand back the royal authority when He has completed His work of universal subjection. However the Only-begotten Son must reign eternally with His Father in the new creation. Therefore we have the positive witness of Hebrews 1:8: “But unto the Son He saith, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy kingdom.'” The glorified Christ in heaven declares that He overcame and is set down with His Father in His throne (Rev. 3:21).

Being “equal with God” (Jn. 5:18; Phil. 2:6) the Son of God is not a bit inferior to His Father in respect of all the eternal glories, mysteries and elements of Deity. However as Son, He accorded due respect and obedience to the Father who sent Him (Jn. 9:4).

The Perfect Perfectionist
In concluding this study, we must not overlook the truth that God has determined that the world will only be put right by the Man of His choice. For as Adam turned the Garden of the Lord into a wilderness, so the Son of Man will turn this wilderness of sin into Paradise regained. This refutes the notion of divine intrusion in a world which continues to ask why God does not intervene to prevent evil. In all reverence, we would state that God has limited Himself in order that He may give greater glory to His beloved Son.

As the reward for Calvary, God has committed the work of regeneration to Jesus of Nazareth who will restrain the madness of the despotic tyrants who are wasting the earth. This same Jesus will bring in a thousand years of perfect peace. He will destroy dearth, disease and death. But above all, He will redeem billions in a world where the gospel incarnate is both the Preacher and the Savior.

And so there is only one Man who will set the world right again. However, to do so He will have to assert His rights over a world which has told Him to go away and never come back (Mt. 8:34; Lk. 19:14). To those who love God the good news is that Jesus is coming again, and He will have power over angels and men. He will subdue the fallen angels and cast death into the lake of fire. For He who is fit to rule in heaven is fully qualified to subdue earth and the sunless underworld.

Therefore until He comes again let the babes and sucklings continue to express perfected praise in the temple. And let every knee bow in subjection and every tongue confess Him as Lord: “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8:1,9).

By Tom Summerhill

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org

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