Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Psalm 8 - The manifestation of Jehovah's name in the dominion of the Son of man

Psalm 7 closed with "the name of the Most High" and this Psalm commences with it. Who can hesitate to say of this song of Zion, that its subject is none other than "The Name that is above every name"? For Hebrews 2:6-9 has claimed it for Jesus, and claimed it for him, too, in speaking of his exaltation in the New Earth, "the world to come."

Paul in 1 Cor 15:24 refers to a clause of it for fulfilment in the day of his return, and it is interesting to find our Lord himself quoting verse 2 in reference to the hosannas that welcomed him as Israel's King on the day when he proved his power over man and over the creatures, riding a donkey amid the sounds of thousands upon thousands.

Whether the Psalmist David knew distinctly the glorious burden of his song does not matter to us. The Holy Spirit taught his heart and harp to sing it and he gave it over the the chief musician to be used in the temple, sung or played on the Gittith. He may have had only a dim view of its real reference, as we do of the certain meaning of its title Gittith.

The original readers knew its meaning, the Tabernacle singers knew to what it referred... a vintage song or instrument of Gath perhaps, from the land of the Philistines. The original readers may not have seen what any child can confidently see today: that the crown that fell from our heads is seen on the head of the Second Adam.

Led by Hebrews 2, we find in this Psalm the manifestation of the Lord's name in the dominion of the Second Adam, when he reigns over a restored world. It has been said that this Psalm might be called "Genesis 1 turned into a prayer" but is more truly "Genesis 1 of the NEW Earth". It corresponds to Isaiah 11:6-7, by the scene it exhibits.

It contains a general view of God's dealings with the earth, from Genesis to Revelation. He  whose glory crowns the heavens, chooses the earth for a theatre in which to display his name. That is, his character, his very being, of which the name is a manifestation. Amid the ruins of the fall, He finds as sweet notes of praise ascending as from his angelic choirs; he finds he can confound his foes - all the seed of the serpent, in hell and on earth (Psalm 44:16) - by hosannas from "babes and sucklings." 

While "he sets his glory above the heavens," He finds no less glory to His name on earth.

  • Glorious grace appears in choosing earth as the place of this manifestation (v1). 
  • Glorious grace appears again in his working amid the feeblest of our feeble race, and in confounding the enemy and avenger by this display (v2). 
  • Glorious grace is seen dealing with man, the worm, the sorry man, whose dwelling and whose place in the scale of creation seem so low when compared with the heavens by day, lit up by the blazing sun, or the moon and stars by night, in their silent majesty (v4). 
  • Glorious grace lifts up man from his inferiority to angels (v5). Glorious grace gives man exaltation above angels, in giving him a Head, to whom that whole world is subject, and on whom it leans. 

All that was lost in Adam is gathered up in this Head: you made Him to have dominion - you have put all things under his feet.

It is a sight that, seen even from afar raises in the prophetic Psalmist adoring wonder and delight so that like the "Amen" in Rev 7:12, that both prefaces and concludes the angelic song, he begins and ends with the rapturous exclamation - "Jehovah, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth!"

One difficulty in this Psalm may be solved by attending to its apostolic use in Hebrews 2. The clause "you made him a little lower than the angels". In Exodus 22:28 the word signifies judges; and so it seems to have been used for other beings who are high and noble, like angels.  For Hebrews 1:6 renders the word "angels." Some however would keep this in the sense of God and explain it to this effect: you made him lack little of God, raising him to a super-earthly dignity.

But let it be noted, these interpretations are all inconsistent with Hebrews 2:6-9. That passage quotes this clause as referring to our Lord's humiliation, not to his exaltation. "We see Jesus, who has been crowned with glory and honour because of his suffering death, we see this Jesus made a little lower than angels, in order to taste death for everyone."

The "made lower" is thus placed beyond doubt as signifying humiliation; the comparison is not how little was between him and God, but how there was a little between him and angels, and that little on the side of apparent inferiority during the days of his humiliation - thought only as a scaffolding for his rising after in our nature far beyond every angel.

One other difficulty remains. At what point does this Psalm leave off the subject of man in general, and begin to speak of man's Head? We think it is at the word: you visited. Out of this visiting emerges nothing less than man's exaltation in his Head; and this sense of visiting seems referred to in Luke 1:68.

As the "manifesting" Jehovah's "name" was our Lord's unvarying design in all his work at his first coming (John 18:6,26) so shall it be his design at his second. Isaiah 30:27 introduces that event by "Behold, the name of the Lord comes." To this, indeed, he may refer, when John 18:26 he says that he not only has declared that name but he will declare it. Is there not a link of connection here?

Our Psalm and that wondrous prayer in which he looked onward to coming glory, both speak much of that Name. The dominion of the Second Adam shall carry on this discovery to the praise of his glory; and viewing the Psalm as pointing to this we may say, that it contains - the manifestation of Jehovah's name in the dominion of the Son of man.

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