David sings praise to God because of His creative work and His interaction with His creatures – specifically human beings. David reveals who He is praising. He is praising the LORD, Yahweh, the God who redeems people. The Redeemer is majestic. Then he calls God, “our Lord.” You’ll notice in your Bibles that this word, “Lord” is not all capitalized. That is because it is a different word in the Hebrew text. It is the word, “Adonai.” Adonai is more of a title meaning “Master.” This means that this powerful Creator is the Redeemer and the Master! Notice that David does not just say, “Oh LORD, Lord, how majestic.” David says, “our Lord.” When those two Hebrew words are put together, it’s a formal address to the King. Therefore, David is saying that the Redeemer is also the King. In addition, David calls Yahweh majestic. The term majestic is a royal attribute that means mighty. Majestic seems to have connotations of awe in association to one’s revealed strength. God truly defines the word majestic. His strength made the stars, the galaxies, the earth. And, His glory (i.e. – “name”) is majestic all over the earth. Because of these truths, David desires to praise the Lord.
The second half of verse one further expands on the truth of God’s kingship. David says that God has set his glory above the heavens and also revealed in all of creation. What a beautiful picture that is! If people saw perfectly, their eyes of faith would constantly be pointed upwards to the majestic God.
In a somewhat similar fashion to the original creation story, David moves from the broad creation to the pinnacle of creation – human beings. Over the last several weeks, we’ve been learning about the fallenness of human beings and the difficulty that even the Psalmist has faced, and in this Psalm David directs his focus to the intent of God to silence the enemy. Sin was not a part of garden of Eden to begin with. Since God is still involved in this world, He is very gracious with it, and His goal is to silence the enemy. This is going to happen someday. We’ve read the previous Psalms which point to that glorious return of Jesus when wickedness will be wiped away. And that is a glorious thought for the believer, but what about today? How can we be confident today that God will wipe away sin? Obviously God has promised it; therefore, it will happen. But, God has displayed the glory of this promise by revealing it on this earth. Let’s look at verse 2: “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.” What does David see as a sign of God’s faithfulness to put an end to wickedness? Answer: The strength of future generations. This word for “strength” has the sense of being a bulwark and also carries with it connotations of praise. Instead of God wiping the earth completely clean, God continues to bring children into this world – revealing to us that He is working to complete His plan.
In the amazing rule and plan of God, we see the enormous and very small objects that God cares for. David again meditates on this amazing rule of God in the heavens and declares that the heavens are the work of God’s fingers. These huge stars in space are merely the work of His fingers – indicating the vastness of God. It is no wonder that David quickly moves to say, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him” (v. 4).
Even the wording in verse four is very important. David uses two phrases to describe humanity. He says “man” and then “son of man.” Remember, David has been meditating on the fallenness of humanity. Psalm 8 is redirecting back to Psalm 1 and the intent of humanity. The word “man” is a poetic word for human beings in their frail existence (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 140). The phrase “son of man” is a special phrase that refers to man’s relationship to God Himself. As one commentator put it, “Humans are by nature ‘earthlings,’ and yet they are the particular objects of God’s attention” (TEBC, p. 140). If we go back to the beginning of God’s creation, before Adam and Eve sinned, why would God pay so close attention to them? He did not need them. He enjoyed perfect community within Himself in the Trinity for all eternity. God’s relationship to humans provide a unique privilege. Yet, as we’ll see in future psalms, the word “man” and “son of man” are used to display that humans have become corrupt, failing in following through on God’s mandates towards them (11:5, 14:3); however, God, in His abundant grace, is still mindful – meaning that he remembers humans. He thinks on humans. He “visits” or “cares for” us. Instead of visiting Adam and Eve with judgment. He visited them by clothing them. Instead of visiting the human race with only wrath, He visited humanity on this earth and absorbed the wrath of God in our place. He is continually concerned for humanity – even sinful humanity!
While human beings are broken, they still displayed a semblance of the image of God. That image has been granted to them by God and verses 5-8 reveal this truth. Sadly, humans tend to go to one of two extremes. I remember reading a theology book that talked about human beings natural tendency to either think too highly or too low of themselves. This verse makes two things clear.
- We are not God. This verse says that humans have been set a little lower than “the heavenly beings.” This could be an accurate translation of the Hebrew; however, the Hebrew word is “Elohim.” This is also the word for “God.” This word is used of God at the beginning of Genesis and I think in the context of this Psalm, “God” might be a better translation of this word. We are a “little lower” than God. This phrase “little lower” actually means to be deprived of something. It’s not simply that we’re just a little bit under God, but it’s that we lack divinity! That’s significant.
- This psalm also teaches us that we are also not animals. All animals are under our domain. We are not called to be violent for violence sake. We are to use animals in such a way that displays God’s glory. Animals help us with farming, food, companionship, and many other things. Yet, we are over the animals.
This psalm sets things straight. God has crowned mankind with glory and honor. To crown is to set apart and elevate something. The King of Creation has crowned humanity to be His Ambassadors, and we need to recognize that human beings even in their fallen state (not seeking His glory) are still crowned with some semblance of glory and honor. They are fallen image bearers, but they are image bearers nonetheless, and they are tasked by God to fulfill the qualifications of one who is crowned by God.
What does all of this have to do with Jesus?
We’ve seen that God’s blueprint for humanity is being torn to shreds by human beings – including our own selves. As I mentioned a moment ago, Jesus entered into the human scene. He became a human being to visit this earth in order to fulfill and be the representative for human beings. In order to get a fuller understanding of this psalm, let’s look at how the New Testament authors quote this psalm.
15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?”
And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read,
‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise’?”
17 Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there. 
The Word of God was being fulfilled when Jesus was walking into Jerusalem in triumph. Jesus’ enemies were indignant at what was taking place and yet Jesus says that the children are right in praising Him. The children, the weak and the vulnerable, are ones who are rejoicing in the culmination of Yahweh’s rescue plan. The chief priests and scribes, on the other hand, are proving themselves to be the enemy. When we see these verses from a saving perspective we see all the more clearly that those who are dependent like children on the Lord find a sure refuge (Matt. 18:3). When God’s children call out on the Lord, it also shames the enemy.
One more passage in the New Testament we must mention:
5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
7 You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. 
While Psalm 8 is a passage for us as humans, telling us how we ought to be and act, we know we’ve failed. Hebrews 2 reveals to us that Jesus stepped into the cesspool of humanity and became the representative of humanity. Philippians 2 says that Jesus humbled himself and became a human being. And, God the Father was very mindful of Jesus. Jesus, the Son of Man, was taken care of by God. Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for a time, and according to verse 9 he was crowned with glory and honor because of his suffering death. Upon His resurrection, Jesus was vindicated as the Messiah and He rules and reigns today as the Risen Lord of all – everything being subjected to Him. He, tasting death for everyone, provides life to all who come to Him in faith. Therefore, God is not only majestic in creation, but He is majestic in salvation!
Jesus fulfills the blueprint of humanity. And, He is the representative of all who call out to Him! Won’t you call out to Him? He’s ruling over all, revealing His glory. Jesus has appeared. He is the perfect Mediator! He relates to the human race and is God! Meditate on His glorious splendor.
 The New King James Version. 1982 (Ps 8:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 The New King James Version. 1982 (Mt 21:15–17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 The New King James Version. 1982 (Heb 2:5–9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Colonel Jeff Williams—a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod—has seen this first hand. He has orbited the earth over 2,800 times, more than any person in history. He has also captured more photographs of earth than any person in history. You can view his 2006 photos and biblical reflections and commentary in the book The Work of His Hands: A View of God’s Creation from Space. He says, “Spaceflight definitely gave me a new perspective on the world around us and provided a transcendent view of things above and beyond the immediate elements of life . . . viewing the earth from space brought a new significance to the truth of many familiar biblical texts.” You can look inside the book here.
Click here to see more images of God’s creation from space: What Would It Look Like to Orbit the Earth?.
I thought this was a helpful and mind-blowing visual. Makes me think of the awesome, limitless, incomprehensible power of God.
(You can click on the pictures below to make them bigger.)
“Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!” (Psalm 150:2)