Psalm 8: Part 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Psalms)
by John Lowe
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
If the whole universe is diminutive in the sight of God, how much less is the significance of man! The Hebrew words that have been translated ‘man’ and ‘son of man’ denote man’s lowly origin and human frailty. Hence, the question arises, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” Why would God have concern for any man, and indeed, never leave him alone. There is no reasonable answer to this question. It can only be answered through divine revelation; a revelation which discloses a concept of man that seems entirely incompatible with man’s own reasoning. David provides in the following verses a threefold peculiarity which lifts man from a position of insignificance to a position of amazing eminence.
There are still people around today working on this problem of, “What is man?” Many have concluded he is only a highly developed animal, but God’s Word says he was created in the image of God. Dear reader, our ancestors didn’t just decide one day to come down from the trees and start walking around on two feet. Our first parents were created with great intelligence and with a capacity to love God. Spiritually speaking, man has not progressed and become better, rather, man has become worse because of sin until we are what you have today—men and women who manifest very little of the image of God.
‘Art mindful’ means literally, ‘remember,’ that is, ‘act on his behalf.’
It should be mentioned that in the New Testament Jesus’ favorite self-designation is ‘Son of Man.’
‘Visitest’ means literally, ‘care for’ or, ‘pay attention to.’
Man is an insignificant creature in the universe, and yet, God cares for him immensely. It amazed David that the Lord of the universe even thought about man.
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Here we have the place of man in God’s creation, and the answer to the question asked in the previous verse, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” Why does God pay attention to frail creatures made out of dust? It’s just as simple as this, He made them in His image and they are special to Him. Instead of human beings, a little higher than animals, as science believes, they are actually, “a little lower than God.” There was a demonstration of just how special we are to Him—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). He loves you and me so much that He could not bear to think of us being separated from Him, so He sent Jesus! THANK YOU, FATHER!
“Little lower than angels” would be better translated ‘little lower than divine’ or ‘little less than divinity.’ Three things designate man’s position; his relation to divinity, his dignity (glory and honor), and his dominion. Man has been created by God as ‘but a little lower than God’ Himself. It is the ‘image of God’ imparted to man, which is accompanied by the attributes of glory and honor which make man superior to all other creatures.
The angels were created to serve God (Heb. 1:14), but we are kings, and one day, all who have turned to Christ will be like him—“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Rom. 8:29).
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
Jesus is on the throne in heaven and “all things are under His feet”—“For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ (1 Cor. 15:27). The phrase means “completely subjected to Him.” Through the exalted Christ, God’s grace is reigning today (Rom. 5:21) so that God’s children can “reign in life’ through Jesus Christ. He has made us “kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:6). Today, we see Jesus by faith (Heb. 2:8-9), crowned in heaven, and that gives us assurance that one day we will reign with Him and receive our crowns (Rev 20:1-6).
“Sheep, oxen, beasts, fowl, and fish” represent the ‘all things’ of verse 6. The world and all of its various forms of life have been placed under man’s authority—“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:26-28). Man has sovereign dominion over the inferior creatures, under God, and is appointed their lord.
David reflected on man’s position as God’s representative in His Creation. As insignificant as man is, yet he is no accident as science claims. Like the moon, the stars, and the firmament, he has been created by God for a high purpose. After God made Adam and Eve, He commanded them to have dominion over all the earth (Gen. 1:28). All living creatures were to be under them. But because of sin that dominion has never been fully realized. In fact, it was through a subordinate, the serpent that man rebelled against God’s order.
Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, is the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45, 47); all things will be subjected to him when He comes to fulfil God the Father’s intended plans for the Creation.
9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
The greatest favor ever showed to the human race, and the greatest honor ever put upon the human nature was exemplified in the Lord Jesus. David has good reason to conclude as he began, ‘Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth.’
Man has dignity, but God alone is majestic. God’s majesty has been displayed in His care and design for finite man.
To summarize; God the Father created us to be kings, but the disobedience of our first parents robbed us of our crowns. God the Son came to earth and redeemed us to be kings (Rev. 1:5-6), and today the Holy Spirit of God can empower us to “reign in life by one,” Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). When you crown Jesus Christ Lord of all, you are a sovereign and not a slave, a victor and not a victim. “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”