Daily Family Worship

Psalm 8: The Astronomer’s Song

by | Apr 4, 2024

psalm 8

Matthew Poole has well said, “It is a great question among interpreters, whether this Psalm speaks of man in general, and of the honor which God puts upon him in his creation; or only of the Man Christ Jesus.” It is clear that here the Psalmist intends to display and celebrate the great love and kindness of God to mankind – not only in his creation, but especially in his redemption. Jesus was fully Divine, but He was also fully a Man; and as such, He was advanced to the honor and dominion which are here mentioned, so that He might carry on His great and glorious work of redeeming us from our sins. So Christ is the principal Subject of this Psalm; He Himself interprets it in this manner (Matt. 21:16), as does the Apostle Paul (1Cor. 15:27; Heb. 2:6-7).

The first verse opens with the Psalmist being lost in admiration. He contemplates the heavenly bodies – those bright luminaries that we call the moon and the stars. He does not take notice of the sun, for it was very likely nighttime when he was pondering these thoughts on the starry sky. And while he considers these vast powers of the Lord’s Creation, he becomes lost in wonder and amazement as he recollects the mercies of redemption – especially in connection with the incomprehensible thought of the great Maker Himself condescending to become Man! Yes, it is a wonderful thing indeed that He Who made such a magnificent universe condescended to even look upon man; but if we interpret the passage in this sense alone, we certainly overlook the greatest beauty of it! For the wonder of all wonders, which the sacred writer is here contemplating, is that God Himself – in one Person of the Triune Godhead – should pass by the nature of angels, and become a descendant of Abraham! (Heb. 2:16) It is this one unique Man – Whose nature, being united to the Godhead, forms the glorious Mediator – which the Psalmist is here contemplating; and as he struggles to wrap his mind around this unfathomable thought, he breaks out in wonder, love, and praise! 

After the introductory thoughts of this Psalm, the following verses come in with even greater fullness, in order to explain and confirm the astonishing truth that the Son of God was made “a little lower” than the angels during His life and ministry upon earth. As the Covenant-Head of His Church and people, Christ was before all things; and by Him, all things consist. Consequently, therefore, He was above the angels; but for our sakes, He became one of us – “a little lower” than the angelic beings. He was “the first born of every creature,” says the Apostle; He was “the image of the invisible God,” and “the appointed heir of all things.” All these things can only refer to Christ as Mediator – both God and Man in one Person. He is not separate from either nature; but in the union of both, He became our one and only Mediator so that He might rescue and redeem us from all our sins! No wonder, then, that the Psalmist – as he contemplates these wonders of redemption – thus exclaims, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him!”

After reciting the wonders of redemption in the Person of the Lord Jesus, the Psalmist makes a beautiful response to his own introductory exclamation of wonder and praise. He again extols the Lord in the covenant-mercies of redemption, as the object of adoration throughout all the earth. O Lord Jesus! Blessing, honor, glory, and power be unto You! The power and might of Your Kingdom will be invincible against all enemies – however violent they may be in their determination to wreak their vengeance. You will be victoriously mighty against all the wise and powerful ones of this world – not by mighty forces of weapons, but by the Word of Your Gospel. This Gospel shall be preached by “babes and suckling’s” – that is, by humble men who are weak and contemptible in the sight of the world. It is believed in by Your Church of despised and afflicted people. And this Word of the Gospel – as it is preached and believed in by such poor persons – shall nevertheless confound all the wisdom of the world, and break and crush under it all the strength of the world! No creature or power whatsoever shall impede it in its work and course; for it shall stand firmer than the heavens, or the sun, or the moon – and it shall endure for evermore!

Lord, we gladly join in the Psalmist’s song of praise, and sing aloud with all the redeemed ones – both in heaven and on earth – “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens!” We confess that we are all unworthy indeed to have Your amazing love lavished upon us – even to the point that the Lord Jesus took upon Himself human flesh, and became “a little lower” than the an-gels, so that He might effectually carry out the work of redemption for our lost souls. Amen.

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