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The Biblical Illustrator Psalm 8

The Biblical Illustrator Psalm 8

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Published by glennpease
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Commentary by many authors

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 10, 2011
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12/25/2012

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THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR PSALM 8PSALM VIII.Yebs. 1-9. How excellent is Thy name In all the earth ! — David's poetical sensitive'ness : — In all probability this Psalm is the first, or at all events one of the veryfirst,David ever wrote. It breathes the spirit of those lonely nights which he most sooften have passed keeping watch over his father's sheep on the wild hills of Bethlehem. To a lad of his strong poetical temperament, the glory of the Syriansunset, the gradual assembling of the stars, as of an innumerable fiock in thesilent pastures overhead ; the moon, "like a fair shepherdess," walking in herbeauty ; and, as night began to wane, " the bright and morning star," flashing overthe hills of Moab, must have spoken in a language which he was inspired to under-stand of the excellence of the great Creator of all — of the nothingness, yet at thesame time the dignity, of man. In after life how often had he to " tune his harp tonotes of woe " ? but its first recorded strains are those of adoring praise. Davidappears to me to stand out eminently from other men, as hearing a voice in thephenomena of nature. I account him as the first of the prophets of nature, of whom, in some sense, Wordsworth was the last. The lessons once learned havebecome obvious ; but to utter them for the first time required inspiration. {HenryHousman.) The excellence of the Divine name and nature universal: — JoshuaReynolds closing his lecture on art said, "And now, gentlemen, there is but onename which I bring to your attention, it is the name of Michael Angelo." And soin all the spheres of art, science, and discovery, there are names which rise peerlessabove all others. But names which are known in one land are unknown inanother, or their right to distinction is often disputed. You would not getuniversal unanimity about any one celebrity, however wortliy. Only concerningChrist can it be said, " How excellent is Thy name in all tJie earth." The gloryof God in His works: — The glory of God in His creatures, rightly considered,should, for the excellency of the work, strike an astonishment into us on the oneside, and inforce us on the other to be thankful unto Him, that maketh His powerand providence appear so clearly in them, and that not only for His glory, but forour good. God's power and providence seen in His creatures serveth for a doubleend — the comfort of His children, and the terror and confusion of the wicked. Ver.4serveth to humble man, and to beat him down ; for if he be compared with othercreatures, there is no such excellency and durableness in him as in them ; neitheryet such as he himself imagineth to be in himself. Vers. 5-8 set forth the gracesand blessings that God hath bestowed upon man, not to the end that man thereby
 
should wax proud, and swell above measure, but to inforce him — 1. Tothankfulnessto the giver ; 2. To a right use of them ia himself and for others ; 3. The moreand more to humble him. Let man consider what excellency he hath lost throughAdam's fall, and bewail his misery ; and, let him, on the other side, well weigh thegrace bestowed on him in Christ, and be joyful and thankful for mercy : knowingthis, that if the creatures be not now subject to us, it is by reason of the body andrelics of sin which yet remain in us ; and that therefore, if we would have a con-quest over the creatures, we must begin first to get a victory upon sin, or else weshall never profit or prevail that way. If any man will object and say that manycreatures are subdued to many people that are without a God in the world, andwhich notwithstanding remain in their sin, I answer, that God's dispensing inmercy with our iniquity, or other men's, is no impeachment of the truth of thisdoctrine ; nay rather, it should the more further us, not only in thankfulness toHim for His goodness, but in valiancy and courage to combat against iniquity, andthat imto blood, because we already have half a victory, and may be sure of allneedful supply in order to complete the victory. {Thomas Wilcocks.) Thesupremely excellent name: — Was "Gittith" a tune or instrument brought fromGath ? (1 Sam. xxvii. 2.) This exquisite ode, which can only reach its fulfilmentin Christ (Heb. ii. 6-9), was evidently composed at night. It probably dates fromthe early shepherd days, when wild creatures crept around the fold, and night-birds screamed, reminding the singer of the animal world, as constituting thehuman kingdom. L The inscription (ver. 1). Jehovah our Lord. Our LordJesus is here. II. Thk ascription (vers. 1, 2). His name excellent, and somighty that His strength communicated to babes is more than enough to vanquishand silence His foes (1 Cor. i. 25 ; Matt. xxL 16). III. The compakison(vers. 3, 4). At first sight there is a great descent from the glory of the heavens tofrail man. But we may not confound size and greatness. There are as manyPSALM viii.] THE PSALMS. 123worlds of wonder too minute for our vision as there are which are too great for ourunderstanding. IV. The compensation (vers. 5-8). Man, though so seeminglyinsignificant, was only a little lower than the angels, and is invested with the vice-gereucy of the lower orders of creation (Gen. i. 26). As yet the Psalm is fulfilledonly in Jesus. But it shall be restored to man (Isa. xi. 6-9). [F. B. Meyer, B. A.)Goodreasonsfor ])raising God:— I. As filling the universe with His glory. — 1. His excellence fills the earth — in its natural constitution, in its human history,and in its redemptive economy. 2. His excellency is above the heavens. Howhigh are the heavens ! II. As honouring the feeblest instrumentality.
 
He does not depend, like human sovereigns, on the great and mighty. Historyabounds with examples of God accomplishing great ends by feeble means — suchas,the exodus of the Jews by Moses, the redemption of the world by Christ, the propa-gation of the gospel by feeble men. This truth serves to check an unholy humility,and also an unholy pride. III. As cre.\ting the wonders of the stellarHEAVES. Here is a figurative mode of representing the skill and delicacy of thework — "the work of Thy fingers." How does the study of the heavens impressman with the glory of God ! IV. As eeoardino mankind with His specialfavour. The Psalmist seems to be impressed with God's infinite goodness to manin three respects. 1. In the greatness of the attention He pays him. 2. In thegreatness of the nature He has given him. 3. In the greatness of the authority Heintrusts to him. This Psalm reminds us of our heavenly origin, wonderfulnatures, and sublime destinies. {Homilist.) The excellency of the Divinename : — How affecting to the mind is the traditional and immemorial suppressionof the name "Jehovah." Though false in principle and destitute of Scriptureauthority, it cannot be denied that this reticence has something almost sublimeabout it, and is far better than the frivolous levity with which God's holy name istossed from mouth to mouth, not only in profane discussion, but even in courts of  justice, not to say in the pulpit and in ordinary religious speech. Religious awewas no doubt indicated by the suppression of this name, and could not have beenassociated with a more legitimate or worthy object than that pregnant tetragram-maton, in the four characters of which, as in a sacramental symbol, is wrapped upthe germ, or rather the quintessence, of that wonderful preparatory system whichexcited and sustained the expectation of the Saviour until He came. We cannot tellall the reasons for the use of the two principal Divine names by the sacred writersin specific cases, but there can be little doubt that Jehovah is distinguished in theHebrew Scriptures from all other names of the Godhead as the name of the God of Israel, His Church, His chosen people. Elohim was a generic name which wascommon to the true God with all others, but Jehovah was the name of God as inespecial covenant with His people. It suggested no vague idea of divinity, but wasa much warmer name, telling of God as making Himself known to and dwelling inthe midst of them. But the name itself does not signify anything of this singularrelation, it suggests nothing of a local or national kind, but only tells of God as theself-existent, independent, and eternal essence, "I am what I am." This mayhave been in order to remind Israel that He was not a God distinct from theCreator of the universe, but the one sole self-existent one. And there was need forsuch precaution, for never was a people more prone to arrogate to themselvesexclusive possession in God. They would not allow that He was the God of theGentiles also, and from this the fatal step was almost unavoidable to the conclusionthat their God was not the God of nature or the universe, but either the

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