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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Psa 8; A Messianic Song

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Portraits of Christ in the Psalms
“A Messianic Song” - Psalm 8

No name in history is as sacred or as controversial as the name of “Jesus.”

  • He was given the name above every other name.
  • At the mention of His name demons quake, kings bow, and nations war.
  • There are more than 100 names and titles in the Bible ascribed to Him.
  • Some titles characterize His deity, while others His humanity.
  • He is called “Emmanuel” because He is “God with us.”
  • He is called the “Son of God” because He is the “Son of the Highest.”
  • He is called “the Son of Man” because He is the “Son of Adam.”
  • This title is used 80 times in the Gospels, yet only Jesus directly used this title to refer to His life and ministry.
  • He claimed the Son of Man came “To seek and to save that which was lost.”
  • At His trial in Jerusalem, Pilot publicly introduced Jesus to the mob as “Ecce Homo,” which means “Here is Man.”
  • Jesus is truly “The Man.”
  • David in Psalm 80:17-19 prayed that the Lord would send a deliverer. “Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. Then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name. Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!”
  • The Apostle Peter declared at Pentecost that Jesus of Nazareth was a Man.
  • Paul asserted, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Jesus Christ.”

The church never seems to learn from its history.

  • We are constantly remaking the wheel and it is still never round.
  • There is either an over emphasis on Christ’s divinity at the expense of His humanity or vice versa.
  • Christ’s humanity is as important to our salvation as His divinity.
  • Our salvation required a perfect mediator between God and sinful man.
  • He had to perfectly keep the Law so that it could no longer condemn us.
  • He had to take upon Himself our sin that we might become the righteousness of God.
  • He had to suffer and die in our place so that the just wrath of His Holy Father might be satisfied.
  • He had to be raised victorious from the grave so that sin and death could no longer have its power over us.

Psalm 8 gives us vital insights into these things.

  • Interestingly, it is the most quoted Old Testament reference in the New Testament.
  • Its prominence is based upon its clear anthropological, as well as Christological teaching.
  • This Psalm reinforces humanities significance in God’s eternal plan.
  • Likewise, it anticipates the mystery of the incarnation, God taking on our human nature.
  • So let us begin the study of Psalm 8 by looking at David’s words of praise in verses 1-3.

David expressed his utter amazement at God’s transcendent glory, which has been revealed to the sons of men. (Psalm 8:1-3)

  • This Davidic psalm was intended to be sung in worship accompanied by a harp or guitar.
  • You can almost imagine David as a young shepherd boy composing this psalm as he lay on his back gazing up at the dark starry sky.
  1. “This short exquisite lyric,” as it was called by C. S. Lewis, begins with the refrain, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth.” (Psalm 8:1)
    • With heartfelt adoration he joyfully worshiped the God of creation.
    • God’s excellent name is LORD or Adonia meaning “the Sovereign One.”
    • It was His covenant name given to Israel.
    • That is why David could say, “Our Lord.”
    • His name and attributes have been clearly displayed in the cosmos for all the inhabitants of earth to see.
    • These thoughts prompted him to write other praise songs like Psalm 148:1-6.
    • “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever; he made a decree which shall not pass away. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; his glory is above the earth and heaven. And He has exalted the horn of His people, the praise of all His saints—of the children of Israel, a people near to Him. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 148:13-14)

    There is a reverence and awe in David’s song that seems to be absent in our generation.

    • Great thoughts of God’s glory and splendor, give our songs and prayers wings.
    • They give priority to praise above self-centered petitions.
    • When we have learned to praise God in everything, we have come to believe in the supremacy and sovereignty of God.
    • Praise therefore in any and all things is the ultimate measure of our faith in God.
  2. God’s glory is not only obvious to earthlings but is even greater above the heavens.
    • The Lord is the transcendent God of heaven and earth. (Psalm 113:4-5)
    • He resides in exceeding eternal glory far beyond anything we can imagine. (Revelation 4)
    • Heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him. (1 Kings 8:27)
    • God’s infinite greatness is shown not only in the skies, but also in human finitude.
    • He has not revealed His divine mysteries to the wise or to the prudent, but to the weak and helpless.
    • When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, children sang His praises.
    • He explained their excitement by quoting Psalm 8:2.
    • For “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants God has perfected praise.”
    • That also explains why the world marveled at the boldness of Christ’s untrained and uneducated apostles after Pentecost.
    • That is why Paul wrote to the Church to remind them of these things in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.
    • “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”
    • David believed God had chosen to work through human weakness to glorify God and to silence the Enemy.
    • Satan, the Enemy of the Seed, is bound and silenced through men and women with simple faith in God’s strength.
    • For He has promised that His grace will be sufficient in every situation, for when we are weak then we shall be strong.
  3. David further extrapolated from his observation of the cosmos that the same God Who ordained the universe had also chosen to display His power through human weakness. (Psalm 8:2; Matthew 11:25-26; 21:15-16; Acts 4:13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
  4. When David considered the majestic expanse of the heavens God ordained, he realized the greatness of God’s glory. (Psalm 8:3; Psalm 19; Isaiah 40; Romans 1:19-20)
    • He could not be accused of having an inadequate appreciation for God’s sovereignty.
    • He believed the heavens were declaring God’s glory and the firmament His handiwork.
    • “Since creation God’s invisible attributes, even His eternal power and Godhead, have been clearly seen and understood by earthlings through the things God created so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
    • By God’s creative power, all these things were made.
    • If He had the power to do this with His fingers; He also had the power to use human weakness to glorify Him.
    • Having an adequate and appropriate appreciation of God’s sovereign power enables us to persevere through adversity, as we learn to depend upon His strength to get us through.
    • David was in awe of God’s transcendent glory, which He revealed to the sons of men.

But as David further contemplated God’s immensity, he began to feel infinitesimally small and insignificant in comparison to the brilliant, giant Nova’s burning in the universe.

However, this thought led him to the conclusion that God not only revealed His transcendent glory in the cosmos, but also His unfathomable love in the sons of men. (Psalm 8:4-8)

Two perplexing questions sprung from his mind for all humanity to ponder. (Psalm 8:4)

  1. Why would this transcendent God be mindful of the sons of men? (Job 7:17-21)
    • Creation calls out for an explanation of all that exists—especially man’s existence.
    • It is perplexing to think of God’s greatness and believe He still cares about our human predicaments.
    • Job was up to his eyeballs in disappointment and despair when he asked a similar question:
    • “What is man, that You should exalt him, that You should set Your heart on him, That You should visit him every morning, and test him every moment?”
    • Have you ever questioned your significance in the sight of God?
    • If so, you are in good company with Job and David.
  2. He further asked why this transcendent God would ever bother to take a condescending leap out of His glory in heaven into time and space to visit the sons of men?
    • The word “visit” means to care enough to exercise judgment or give recompense to humanity.
    • In Psalm 144:3-7, David pondered this same question, “LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”
    • Yet in troubling times David did not hesitate to call upon the Lord to visit him.
    • In Psalm 106:4-5, he prayed, “Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people; Oh, visit me with Your salvation, That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance.”
    • Believing he was chosen of God gave David confidence in God’s care for him.
    • We must conclude with David that to have an accurate opinion of ourselves, we must first look into the face of God as revealed in Christ.

David then gave three Biblical reasons why the sons of men are significant to God. (Psalm 8:5-8)

  1. He made them special and unique in the created order, becoming temporarily “a little lower than the angels.” (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 1:14)
    • God has presently ordained that angels administer much of His authority on the earth.
    • But when the Redeemed are finally glorified, they shall rule with Christ and His angels shall be their ministers.
    • As God’s image bearers, man enjoys a unique status unknown to any other creature.
    • However, sin has marred God’s image in man, yet he remains the object of His divine love.
  2. At creation, God initially crowned man with unparalleled glory and honor. (Psalm 8:55)
    • The creation account recorded in Genesis 1-2 unfolds in such a way so that everything was prepared by God for His Image Bearers to inhabit the earth. (Genesis 1:26-27)
    • On the sixth day, creation awaited the crowning moment when God created Adam and Eve.
    • Man did not evolve out of primeval ooze.
    • He was the object of all God created.
    • Earth is God’s incubator for those He chose to be Christ’s eternal bride.
  3. God ordained for Adam to have unrivaled dominion over the works of His hands. (Psalm 8:6-8)
    • God blessed Adam’s race with instructions to, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
    • Man’s dominion was dramatically altered by the Fall, yet he remains the crown of creation.
    • David therefore realized God’s transcendent glory had been revealed to man through creation and His unfathomable love revealed in the sons of men.”

But the greatest evidence of God’s transcendent glory and unfathomable love was revealed to the sons of men when the Son of God took on human form and flesh.

  • The New Testament applies Psalm 8 to Christ’s visitation in the incarnation.
  • God was pleased for the fullness of the Godhead to dwell in Him.
  • This same transcendent God veiled His glory in human flesh when He visited planet earth.
  • Hebrews 2:6-10 quotes Psalm 8, as evidence of Christ’s incarnation and work of salvation.

The Title “The Son of Man” was used by Jesus in three distinct ways:

  1. The Son of God became the Son of Man to fulfill God’s purposes as the Suffering Servant.
    • The title “Son of Man” was used to show Christ’s identity with Adam.
    • Christ’s identity with Adam was full and complete yet without sin.
  2. Numbers 23:19 clarifies this “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
    • Rather, Christ was truly God and truly man.
    • As man He identified with sinners. “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Matthew 11:19)
    • But Christ came to offer His life a ransom for many.
    • Jesus said in Luke 9:22, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
  3. The Son of God humbled Himself in assuming our humanity that He might be our perfect, sinless representative. (Psalm 80:17-19; 1 Timothy 2:5; Philippians 2:6-9)
    • For the duration of the incarnation, Christ lived dependent upon His Father’s providential care.
    • His condescension was temporary.
    • Like the sons of men, Jesus was temporarily made lower than the angels.
    • On various occasions, God the Father provided for His beloved Son through angels.
    • Yet Christ is the Lord of hosts.
    • Philippians 2:6-11 describes His visit this way: “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
  4. The Son of God, who was crowned with glory and honor, tasted our death as the Son of Man to redeem lost humanity from their sin. (Luke 19:10; Ephesians 2:4-6)
    • The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.
    • His glory was made manifest on the cross.
    • But His intention was to raise up a remnant from the earth that He may glorify them in heaven, and they in turn will behold the glory He enjoyed with the Father before the foundation of the world.
    • Ephesians 2:4-7 cements these thoughts in our mind: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ [by grace you have been saved], and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
    • By His death He destroyed the devil who had the power of death, and released the elect from their former bondage to the fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
    • Christ has now ascended and been crowned and exalted at God’s right hand.”

    God was pleased to use weak and fallen humanity to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples.

    • We do so knowing that all authority was given to Christ and bestowed upon the Church to preach the Gospel, depend upon the Holy Spirit and pray for lost souls.

    Our transcendent God visited the earth and yielded His life as a sacrifice for our sin. (Psalm 8:9).

    • “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!”
  5. Finally, Jesus used the title “The Son of Man,” in anticipation of the day He would return the earth, to bring many sons and daughters to glory (Daniel 7:13-14; Mark 13:26; 14:62; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
    • Jesus said, “The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.” (Mark 2:10)
    • “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28)
    • “The Son of Man is coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26)
    • “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
    • “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness.”
    • Even though the church awaits His return, we who believe in Christ by faith are exalted with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly places.
    • Therefore, all dominion once lost by Adam’s race has been regained through the Son of Man.
    • This power is granted to God’s people through the Cross, the Word and prayer.
    • When He revisits the earth in glory, He will destroy all dominion, authority and power.
    • The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
    • We must remain until He has put all his enemies under His feet. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
    • But while we wait, our mission was stated by Christ in Matthew 28:18-20.
    • “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

God was pleased to use weak and fallen humanity to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples.

  • We do so knowing that all authority was given to Christ and bestowed upon the Church to preach the Gospel, depend upon the Holy Spirit and pray for lost souls.

Our transcendent God visited the earth and yielded His life as a sacrifice for our sin?

  • “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!”

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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