Psalm 8 – Part 2

In the previous issue, verses l-4a of this Psalm were considered; we now examine the remaining verses 4b-8.

“And hast crowned him with glory and honour”, v. 5. Perhaps this refers to man as having been created in the likeness and image of God, intended to exercise a benign rule over the earth on behalf of his Creator. In moral and intellectual capacity, as well as in form and appearance, man was perfectly equipped to fulfil this purpose. Even fallen humanity retains many of the hallmarks of divine origin. The ability to feel compassion, to analyse problems and evaluate solutions, to legislate for the benefit of others, to administer relief, to promote health and the treatment of disease — all these things, even though at times marred and distorted by the fall, reveal to discerning eyes something of the glory of God. But God crowns men in other ways now, ways suited to our needs as fallen and redeemed creatures. He crowns us with “loving kindness and tender mercies”, Psa. 103. 4, while the New Testament Scriptures refer to other crowns reserved for believers, for example the “crown of righteousness”, 2 Tim. 4. 8; the “crown of life”, James 1. 12, and the “crown of glory”, 1 Pet. 5. 4.

“Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet”, v. 6. Whereas “all things” are not presently under the feet of man, Heb. 2. 8, this verse stresses that human dominion in the earth was acquired from God, not achieved by man. Scientists and technologists, rulers and leaders who reject or ignore this truth, go dangerously astray. We live in God-given bodies with God-given faculties in a God-given world. We are therefore answerable to God. This means, among other things, that men, who ruthlessly plunder natural resources for personal or patriotic reasons or from motives other than to please God, will be accountable. Men like to think of the things beneath their feet, but too often disregard the God who placed them there.

“All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas”, vv. 7, 8. Here then is what the psalmist had in mind in verse 6 when he referred to the “all things” which have been put beneath man’s feet. He meant the creatures of earth and sea and sky. Domesticated animals and livestock are for the most part still in subjection, though since the fall wild animals and serpents have moved largely out of bounds and have become a constant hazard to humanity. Indeed, God on occasions has used wild animals to execute His anger against His people’s sinfulness, as Jeremiah teaches, “Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: everyone that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased”, Jer. 5. 6.

Surely men ought always to remember that the creatures that they can still use for food or companionship are a stewardship from God. Unnecessary cruelty or greed violate this trust, and will be dealt with one day. And it is wonderful to reflect that during the millennial reign of Christ, conditions on earth will be restored to those obtaining before the fall to a great extent, including the subduing of, and rendering harmless all God’s creatures; see e.g., Isaiah 11. 6-9. This lovely little psalm depicts ideal conditions, and makes no reference to the results of the fall. It is an idyllic picture of earthly conditions as God intended them. Although the characteristic blessings of the present gospel era are “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”, Eph. 1. 3, we should not be blind to, much less despise, the beauty of the truths expressed by this psalm. For although the Holy Spirit finally prompted the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews to take up this same psalm and invest it with a meaning far richer than was possible for its first writer, Heb. 2. 5-10, it stood for centuries in unadorned quality as the expression of the worship of a devoted heart.

The writer ends as he began, his heart being fully satisfied with his meditation upon man’s ideal relationship with God and with His creation. We ought to be able to share his feelings, and say with him, “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”, v. 9.


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