When I read Scripture, I approach it with certain suppositions. First, I believe it is God’s word. I am a Christian who is convinced that God wants us to care for the environment, or his creation. Because of this, when I read scripture certain words or phrases about creation speak to me that may or may speak (or stick out) to everyone. This psalm engages in Old Testament theology. That is, it provides comment and interpretation of a text in the Old Testament, and presents theology from that earlier text. That being said, lets begin our study.

Psalm 8 begins and ends with the same phrase – “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth” (NASB for quotes unless otherwise noted). The relational aspect of God as communicated in the giving of his name, shines forth from the earth – or environment. I say environment because I think that earth here refers to the whole of creation, not just the land (because v8 alludes to what is above and below the land).

Verse 2 “From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength.” I’m reminded of my daughter who is nursing. She is very strong for a 7mo old, but very weak when compared to her daddy. This verse is also used by Christ to justify the time that he spends with children in Matthew 21:16. I think this verse communicates something of the irony that is inherent in the way God reveals himself.

Verse 3 and 4 have been the subject of a thorough study by Louie Giglio (video). Verse 5 drives home the point – we are lower than God, but still given a special place! The writer of Hebrews takes the fact about humanity in general and applies it specifically to the person of Jesus. Hebrews 2 quotes verses 3-5 as a way of showing that Christ is similarly not God the Father, but unique and divine. I think that the special position which the psalmist has in mind here is further expounded in the following verses.

“You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet (verse 6).” This is obviously an allusion to Gen 1:26 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth., and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth”. Gen 2:15 also alludes to Gen 1:26, and also expands on it, calling for humanity to work and keep the garden. I think that ruling over creation in Gen 1:26 and here in Psalm 8:6 (it’s drawing on Gen 1:26) both have in mind the idea of a loving rule, a caring rule, not a reckless domination. I don’t think it can carry that meaning in light of the tender picture in Gen 2:15.

Then, in verse 7 there is a restatement of the things which humanity is to rule, which is in agreement with Gen 1:26.

From this psalm I think we can conclude that the writer wanted to communicate to the worshipers (psalms were probably used as liturgy, in a worship setting) that even though God is so big and scary – transcendent, God also cares deeply about humanity and has a special place for humans (communicating his immanence perhaps?).

For one who reads the psalm in our time, the same truth can be drawn. Additionally though we face a time when humans may be the root cause of the impending doom of the planet (I say ‘may be’ because it is not a settled fact). For readers in our time, this psalm can offer the encouragement (or grave reminder) that humanity is in charge of caring for God’s creation. We have a responsibility to not only observe the wonders of God that are on display, but to guarantee that our children can see the majestic works of God also! After all we want them to be able to sing, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth” and experience firsthand what that means! As a Christian, that means that I have an environmental responsibility. Christians need to care for the environment because it is God’s creation which displays his Glory.

One comment on “Psalm 8 Bible Study; Old Testament theology example

  • great post! i love that psalm. it gels so well with gen 1-2, chapters which i believe clearly show humankind’s position of authority in AND responsibility of stewardship over creation. it probably gels well with gen 3, i.e. the fall, when you consider that psalm 8:2 mentions those who are enemies with God, foes and avengers and such.

    anywho, great thoughts man

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