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Psalm 8:1-9

God's Glory Revealed in the Son of Man

Perhaps it was while David was attending sheep on a clear night with the stars brightly shining that he picked up his Gittith, a stringed instrument in the shape of a winepress. He began to strum and chant these amazing words of the Psalm he had written. What a tremendous God! How marvelous is his name! How majestic is our God! David's Psalm reflects on God’s glory and the amazing fact that it is entirely under his control.

 All of creation reflects his glory.

The stars display the glory of God. The earth is full of God's glory if we will but stop to examine it (Psalm 19:1). The Psalmist discovered that and declared: "O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!" (Psalm 8:1). How "magnificent is your reputation throughout the earth!" (NET).

The Lord God is sovereign over his creation. It reflects his glory because it is his handiwork. It is perfectly under his control. No "big bang" theory could produce such a magnificent piece of clockwork as our universe. The more universes and galaxies the scientists discover only emphasizes the glory and majesty of the Lord God. An increasing number of scientists are preferring the seeming intelligent "design" of biological systems. There is a Master designer behind the immense universe. The intelligent design is becoming increasingly evident to the skilled scientist.

The glory of God is magnified in his creation. The psalmist sees the exalted position of man as the capstone of the entire universe. Wonder of wonders is the fact the Lord God can hold the Milky Way in one hand and take infinite interest in me.

The Psalmist tells us in verse two that God’s ways are not our ways. Modern man emphasizes beauty, intellect, wealth, family heritage and position. In contrast, God emphasizes the weak and foolish in the eyes of the world. In the humility and innocence of a child, he has established strength. "From the mouths of children and nursing babies you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries, so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy" (Psalm 8:2 NET). The LORD causes to "cease an enemy and an avenger."

 God has chosen to reveal himself in such marvelous ways that children understand him. God is so secure in his honor and majesty that he can leave the defense of his name to babes. Uncorrupted and unbiased minds recognize God without any difficulty. What had impressed the Psalmist was the fact that the transcendent glory of God could still be grasped and expressed by a child. His greatness is far above all the heavens can still be comprehended and appreciated by a child. God will reveal himself to us if we will humble ourselves as a child and believe on him.

The praise of little children is a symphony in the ears of God. Jesus cared for the little children (Mark 10:16; Matthew 18:2-10). We have to become as little children before we can enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 21:16; 18:3).

What the Psalmist teaches is confirmed by an incident from the New Testament. In Matthew 21:14-16 the Lord Jesus quotes the words of this psalm. This was not a children's choir, trained by the temple leaders. This was a band of ordinary children in the streets of Jerusalem who happened to be there at the time Jesus healed the blind and the lame. However, when these children saw these wonderful things they began to cry out, "Praise be to the Son of David! Hosanna to the Son of David!" The scribes and chief priests were indignant. They thought Jesus ought to silence these children. Instead, Jesus said these are the ones who comprehend the will of God. They understand that here is being manifested the healing power of God. This is the prediction of David in the eighth Psalm that God's marvelous simplicity can be conveyed to a child much more easily than it can to an adult. 

Jesus said on another occasion, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children" (Matt. 11:25 NET). The apostle Paul made a similar observation in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

Man is the Crown of Creation

Even though the universe is a marvelous handiwork of God, man is the greatest expression of God’s thought. How much greater is he than the stars. The destiny of the redeemed man is eternity in fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the destiny of the stars is fire (II Peter 3:12). Not only do we see the glory of God in his creative handiwork, but we also see it in the highest form of his creation. We see God's glory in the consideration of man.

The Psalmist writes: "When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made, and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place, Of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them? Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them?" (8:3-4 NET).

Some wag has added, "If God so cares for the stars, will he not much more care for our souls?" It reminds us of the words Jesus said to his disciples, "Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are?" (Matthew 6:26 NET).

The Westminster Catechism reminds us, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." It pleased God to make a people for Himself. God created all things for his glory. God has so invested man with a position and dignity that is second only to the Godhead. He created man for a divine purpose.

"What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?" (Psalm 8:4a). The word for man here is Enosh, frail man, mortal man, and puny man. It describes man from his impotence, frailty, mortality, and inability to fulfill God’s purpose because of sin. Yet, he is still the crown of creation. Man is God-made, not self-made. We bear upon us the fingerprints of the infinite. Man is not the plaything of the universe. Strange that man can reach such heights and depths, majesty and meanness, angel and devil, deity and dust, honored and horrible, fellowship and foolishness (cf. Rom. 3:23; Jer. 17:9). 

"And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?" (v. 4b). The word of man here is Ben Adam. God visits the "son of man." He is the special object of God’s love. Man in sin and shame can not visit God. However, God in his mercy chose to visit man. "TNow the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father" (John 1:14 NET). The "Word" was none other than the second person of the God–head, Jesus Christ. He chose to redeem us. "We see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by God’s grace he would experience death on behalf of everyone" (Hebrews 2:9 NET).

The love of God condescends to this frail man who has come short of the glory of God. That condescension is seen in the Son of God (Cf. John 3:16). The apostle Paul wrote: "But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8 NET).

Verse five forcefully declares: "Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God (Elohim), and dost crown him with glory and majesty!" The NET  Bible follows the more traditional reading: "and make them a little less than the heavenly beings? You grant mankind honor and majesty."

God made man to be a little less than God is (8:5). Some perhaps are startled by that translation, for the King James Version says, "a little lower than the angels." However, it was the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which used the phrase "the angels." The Hebrew actually says "little less than Elohim," i.e., a little lower than God.

There is no place in the Old Testament where Elohim means angels. The Septuagint LXX has passed from them into the New Testament at Hebrews 2:7. Genesis 1:26, 27 man is made in the image of God, not angels.

What is included in that remarkable expression is the revelation of God's purpose for man. According to the Bible, angels were created as ministering spirits, but man was created in the image of God. No where are we told in the Bible that angels were created in the image of God.

The Psalmist is obviously thinking of the primordial man, the first Adam before the fall. He is referring to the fullness of his power and reflection of the majesty of the Creator, who had patterned man after himself. Hebrews 2:7, 9 helps us to understand the correct interpretation of these words of the Psalmist.

Many conservative evangelical Old Testament scholars have stressed that ‘elohim should be translated in its plain, simple, and regular meaning "God." "Angels" as a substitution for "God" is a poor translation.

The Last Adam

The fullest realization of man’s dignity and excellencies find their fulfillment only in the person of Christ Jesus. Man originally created sinless is a clear foreshadowing of Christ.  "So also it is written, 'The first man, Adam, became a living person'; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual" (I Corinthians 15:45–46 NET). The "first Adam" prefigures much of that which becomes vital in the life of the "last Adam." Adam prefigures Jesus Christ as a type. He is a clear foreshadowing of all the excellencies of Jesus Christ. What was said of Adam may well be claimed for Christ, but in a far more perfect manner. The glory of God is perfectly revealed in the Son of Man’s dignity. In Jesus Christ we see demonstrated the true character of the first Adam. The fullest realization of Adam as a type is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

If you see Adam only as a glorified ape, you will never see the beauty of God’s handiwork. The "first Adam" prefigures the "last Adam." The first Adam prefigures what Christ is. What is seen in the first Adam is perfected in the last Adam. Each time I read the gospels I marvel at the perfect Man manifesting so perfectly the image and glory of God.

The New Testament offers over fifty different titles that people gave to Jesus. However, there is one title that no one gave him, that of Son of Man. He alone called himself by that title. No one else did. He is the one Son, par excellence. He does what the Father does. He creates a new humanity, and a new heaven and a new earth.

Lord of all Creation

This perfect dominion as described in Psalm eight is true only in Christ. He alone is Lord of all creation.

Psalm 8:6-7 can be ultimately true only in the God–Man, Jesus Christ. "You appoint them to rule over your creation; you have placed everything under their authority, including all the sheep and cattle, as well as the wild animals" (NET). What awesome power!

I can think of a few examples from the life of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.

Everything is under the sovereign dominion of Christ. Mark 1:13 tells us that while being tempted in the wilderness for forty days by Satan Jesus "was with the wild beats, and the angels were ministering to Him." One scholar notes the verb suggests companionship between them and Jesus. It foreshadows the day when all creation is under his dominion in Isaiah 11:6–9; 65:25.

We shall be like Him.

The dominion of Christ is not limited to the animal creation. Christ is the head of his church. Am I dominated by a spirit of worldliness or by the Lord Jesus? Am I overcoming the world and dominating it by the Holy Spirit? Is He Lord and Master of my life? Am I obedient to Him?

The apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:25-28, quoting Psalm 8:6 in v. 27 the following verses: "For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be eliminated is death. For he has put everything in subjection under his feet. But when it says “everything” has been put in subjection, it is clear that this does not include the one who put everything in subjection to him. And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all" (NET). Did you notice that the last enemy to be conquered is death?

When Christ comes a second time we shall be just like Him. I John 3:2 says, "Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is" (NET).

This Psalm helps us to understand our present position in Christ.

Man reaches his fullest realization only in Christ. Thus, redeemed humanity has been elevated by means of the new birth to highest rank of all crated beings. We are elevated to the most sublime height possible short of becoming members of the trinity itself. Salvation is a restoration to what God intended when he made man in the first place. When we see Jesus, we see how far we have fallen and what God intended man to be. Now that we have been redeemed, God sees us in Christ. He is the pattern of normal humanity.

True greatness of man can only be manifested as the Holy Spirit makes him new, and as he comes to grow up in him in all things who is the head, even Christ.

Note to what heights the child of God is raised. God has exalted redeemed humanity to such a sublime height that it is impossible for him to elevate them further without breaching the Godhead. See how much God loves you! See what He has done for you in his grace. He has invested man with a dignity that is second only to his own and made him ruler over the world that he has created.

Do you wake up every morning and say to yourself, "I am a child of God. I have been forgiven of my sins. I am accepted in God’s family. He has marked me out as his own. He has put his Spirit within me, releasing to me the full–life of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am equipped to handle whatever comes today. I can take whatever life throws at me because I have him and all the fullness of his life." This is where you find identity, security, significance and sufficiency for your spiritual life. We are his handiwork! You are made in Christ!

Man was created to have dominion over God’s creation (see Genesis 2:6–9). However, man has perverted it by trying to have dominion over his fellow men. Man has not tamed the wild life. We see attempts at it in the circus and zoo. The child does not play with the adder. The lion and the lamb do not lie down together. Only on this website do you see it! But there is a day coming when they will!

In Philippians 2:9-11 the Apostle Paul declares this great exaltation of Christ at his Second Coming.

"As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (NET). 

"O Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is your reputation throughout the earth!" (Psalm 8:9 NET).

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Index to this Series on the Christ in the Old Testament


Title: Psalm 8:1-9 God's Glory Revealed in the Son of Man

Series:  Christ in the Old Testament

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey College, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries for ten years. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Honduras.

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