The Majesty of God and the Dignity of Human Beings
1 For the director.[b] “Upon the gittith.” A psalm of David.
2 O Lord, our Lord,
how glorious is your name[c] in all the earth!
You have exalted your majesty above the heavens.
3 Out of the mouths of newborn babes and infants[d]
you have brought forth praise
as a bulwark against your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
4 When I look up at your heavens
that have been formed by your fingers,
the moon and the stars
that you set in place,
5 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man[e] that you care for him?
6 You have made him a little less than the angels[f]
and crowned him with glory and honor.
7 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands
and placed everything under his feet:
8 all sheep and oxen
as well as the beasts of the field,
9 the birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and whatever swims in the paths of the sea.
10 O Lord, our Lord,
how glorious is your name in all the earth!
- Psalm 8:1 In the midst of disconsolate supplications, here is a hymn that chants the splendor of God. But is not the best reflection of the divine majesty the grandeur of the human being? For the Lord has made this tiny being lost in the immensity of the world the crown of all creation. In the man “crowned with glory” Paul and the author of the Letter to the Hebrews see the glorified and risen Christ, who, while on earth, was for a time made lower than the heavenly creatures, the angels (see 1 Cor 15:25-27; Eph 1:22; Heb 2:5-9).
- Psalm 8:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation. Gittith: possibly a musical instrument from the Philistine city of Gath, or else a song for the harvest and the winepress.
- Psalm 8:2 Name: according to Semitic usage, this word designates the person with all its essential qualities. See also note on Ps 5:12.
- Psalm 8:3 Out of the mouths of newborn babes and infants: Jesus cites this passage with reference to the children who acclaim him on the day of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (see Mt 21:16).
- Psalm 8:5 Son of man: a phrase used here and elsewhere as a synonym for human (see Ps 80:18; Ezek 2) and a sign of humility. Later it became a Messianic title in Daniel (7:13f) and Jewish apocryphal tradition (see 1 Enoch, 2 Esdras, and 2 Baruch). Eventually, Jesus made use of it to express his twofold destiny of suffering (see Mk 8:31; 9:13, 31; 10:33; 14:21) and of glory (see Mk 8:38; 12:36; 14:62).
- Psalm 8:6 A little less than the angels: that is, a little lower than the beings who comprise the heavenly court. The text for heavenly beings is elohim, that is, “God”; in effect, God created human beings in his own image and likeness. Some translate: “a little less than godlike”; and in Heb 2:9 this passage is said to be eminently fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the God-man. See also 1 Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22, where Paul applies to Christ the words “you have . . . placed everything under his feet” (v. 7).