Bible Studies on the Messianic Psalms
Psalm 8: The wonder of God and the second man.
by I Gordon
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
for those interested:
Þ 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.
Þ 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
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'
'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
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?
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,'
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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
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
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
'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!