In this week’s lessons we look at how mankind is described in relationship to God, and note how the Lord Jesus Christ fulfills this psalm.
Scripture: Psalm 8:1-9
Yesterday we concluded by making the observation that it is quite astonishing that the God who created this vast universe should actually care for us. Yet that is what he does. And not only that. Not only does God think of us and care for us, which is what verse 4 asserts. He has also crowned us with "glory and honor" (v. 5), which means that he has given mere human beings, mere specks in this vast universe, a significance and honor which is above everything else he has created.
David makes this point in two striking ways. First, he uses the word "glory," which he first used of God, of mere man. Verse 1 says, "You have set your glory above the heavens." This is a glory which surpasses even the great and overwhelming glory of the heavens. But then in verse 5 he says, speaking of men and women, "You . . . crowned him with glory and honor." This is an effective way of identifying man with God and of saying that he has been made in God's image, reflecting his glory in a way the other parts of the creation do not.
The second way David emphasizes man's special significance is by speaking of his role as "ruler" over the world and its creatures. Rule is something normally ascribed to God. He is the "blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords," according to the Apostle Paul (1 Tim 6:15). Psalm 8 says that God shared this rule with man, making him ruler over creation, particularly in respect to intelligent life on earth.
In my opinion, the most interesting aspect of Psalm 8 is that way in which it places man in what has been called "a mediating position" in the universe. Thomas Aquinas, the great Catholic theologian, was one of the first to stress this, saying that Psalm 8 places man midway between the angels, which are above him, and the beasts, which are below. Man is a spirit/body being, according to Aquinas. Angels have spirits but no bodies. Animals have bodies but no spirits. Man, however, has both a spirit and a body and so comes between. He is midway on the scale of intelligent creation. This is exactly what Psalm 8 describes. It begins and ends with God ("How majestic is your name in all the earth"). It speaks of the heavens. Then it says, speaking of man, “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the sea” (vv. 5-8).
In this section of the psalm the allusions to the first chapter of Genesis are inescapable, which shows that David was thoroughly acquainted with this book.
What does David mean when he says that mankind has been crowned with glory?
Explain what is meant by man being created in a “mediating position.”
Application: What is the proper way by which mankind is to rule over creation?
For Further Study: Whether for personal study, devotional reading, or discipleship groups, James Boice's three-volume set on the Psalms would make a great gift for Easter. And for a limited time, you can order your set from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals at 40% off the regular price, in addition to free shipping.
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