Another Psalm written by David, this time to the “chief musician upon Gittith”. This either means a musical instrument used by the giants of Gath (the root, Gittiy, means a person who lives in Gath), or, one used for the songs sung at harvest time by wine-pressers (the root of Gittiy means ‘winepress’, a reference to the chief city of the Philistines).
This Psalm wishes to only praise God for being so wonderful. This is something most of us miss doing because of the various woes we always bring to Him. But, it is essential, not only that we praise God for being Who He is, but because it lifts our spirits to do so. It is insulting to want something from God and yet not praise Him, whether we want something or not.
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
David begins: “O LORD our Lord”. The first use of ‘LORD’ (in capitals, a proper noun; His name), Jehovah, is an acknowledgement of Who God is – the one true God, the existing one. The second ‘Lord’, ‘adown, acknowledges God’s function or role as Master or ruler of the Hebrew people. (Note that when you have the same words in your own-language Bible, even when spelt the same way, they do not necessarily mean the same thing, much like ‘Abba-Father’).
David says that the name of God is “excellent” – majestic, great. How noble and great should we all be? Not to be as God, but because we should emulate God’s character attributes as closely as possible. David speaks of God’s “name”, shem. In other uses of ‘name’ it means a person’s total character and life, everything he is. In this text the word reinforces the word ‘excellent’, for it means God’s reputation and fame as the One True God. It refers to His glory as God “in all the earth”.
Critics will scoff and say that God and His glory are not known throughout the earth. This is not the point David is making, but the criticism is wrong anyway. David is saying that God is known everywhere; we find this stated in Romans 1, for example, where we are told that even created things prove a personal God as Creator. So, no man has an excuse to ignore the fact or disclaim God. Do not tell me about the distant tribes locked away in a remote location, who have ‘never heard of Jesus’!! They are as intelligent as we are, and know that everything they see must have been made by a personal God! That they do not is a sign of Satan in their midst, not of the lack of a personal God Who they could come to know in some way if they rejected their satanic influences. Those who plead for these people do so from an Arminian stance, for they think that the Gospel depends on human preaching. It does not – it depends solely on God and His will. If a distant tribe are to be saved, then He will do it, with or without us. The Gospel will still be needed, but He may begin the ‘process’ in a remarkable way.
The final statement in this first verse tells us two things: that God is in an abode separate from ours – “the heavens”, and that His glory is above all the creation, not a part of it. God’s “glory”, howd, is His majesty and honour. ‘Heavens’ is usually taken to mean the sky and outer space, but it does not mean that here. Shamayim can mean the sky and space/the universe, but it also can mean God’s abode, Heaven. Because God is not part of His creation, then, the word cannot mean the sky or the universe, but can only mean the spiritual realm of God.
Some might think I am labouring a minor point, but it is not minor! It is of vital importance to understand that God is NOT a part of what He created, otherwise we degenerate into pantheism. He is outside creation completely, which means His abode is ‘somewhere else’. The universe does not just end somewhere. It continues on and on to infinity, never ending (that is, if we apply logic: the alternative is absolute nothing). God’s abode is not part of this space, but is in a very different dimension. Once you suggest God’s abode is part of His creation, you are making Him less than God.
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
The enemies of God make God their enemy! ‘Enemies’ is not simply the plural of ‘enemy’. ‘Enemies’, tsarar, intend to cause distress and danger to a person, showing great hostility (and Christians have many of these). But, by arrogantly facing-off to God (which they also automatically do when they face-off to us as believers), they make God their enemy in return. In this case, ‘enemy’ is ‘oyeb, meaning both a personal and a national enemy. That is, God turns on them with ferocity, as the root, ‘ayab, signifies… they become His enemy, and that spells disaster for their whole nation. It does not just mean that God ‘hits back’ but that He treats them as an adversary and actively hates and destroys them.
Recently, laws have been devised by wicked men to protect homosexuals, not just from physical attacks (a myth) but also from verbal retort. They think that by doing this, homosexuality will not just be protected but will grow in strength. This is not so. God has already visited them with a vile disease, killing them in their millions. He also says He hates them with a vengeance for what they do - an abomination.
When God becomes your enemy you have no chance at all, but will perish. Thus, many homosexuals are perishing already on this earth. They will, on judgment day, then see God and be told they lived a vile life worthy of death, before they are cast into hell forever, a just reward for their awfulness and disdain for God. No earthly law can prevent that.
The same applies to all wicked people (anyone unsaved) who scorn God and His laws. God’s laws remain solidly in place even when earthly rulers declare otherwise! They are petty rulers with sinful ways, and nothing they say or do can dislodge God’s commands and laws. They can use human laws, and even violence, but they cannot remove God from His position as King of kings and Lord of lords. They are just fools ready for slaughter. If you do not like this kind of representation of God, then I suggest you read your Bible carefully, for there you will find the same God, hating wicked people and condemning them both on this earth and in the life to come.
God will avenge His enemies. That is, He will take revenge and punish them as promised. Unlike humans, God WILL punish if that is what He says He will do. He will do so in the midst of cries of ‘unfair’ from those who hate Him.
There is another side to this coin. God also “ordained strength” for His people. This strength is in all things – political, social, spiritual, material. The wild claims of charismatics are dismissed out of hand, but it is true that God can and does give material gain to many Christians. Not because they ask for it or because they deserve it, but because God is gracious and gives to some for His own reasons. Therefore, when we are given such gains we must use them wisely and in godly manner. However, the main gain here is against the enemies of God (and so enemies of His people).
Again, to rebuke Arminian thinking, we are told that God does this because he has “ordained” it. Yacad means to establish a foundation, to appoint, to prepare beforehand. Throughout scripture we find this principle ‘writ large’, where God predestinates what will happen. Often, these things will happen UNLESS the person or nation turns back to God. Other times, the fate of a person or nation is forever fixed, for good or for evil. Those who reject this predestination also tend to reject election to salvation, because they hate the idea that they do not control their own destiny. These are the true ‘Arminians’ – humanists by another name, who use religious language but are unsaved.
As if to add ‘insult to injury’ (to use a popular phrase), God tells us, through David, that He conveys these truths “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings” (a famed saying). This is indeed an insult to those who oppose God. They think their keen minds are a match for any command of God! They think they can outwit Him. They argue persuasively to demolish the arguments of God’s people. Yet, God laughs at them, for they are empty vessels making a lot of noise but saying nothing of value! God’s laugh, though, is hemmed by cast-iron vengeance and His utter wrath.
He WILL destroy those who reject His word and refuse to obey through repentance and a life of godliness. Those they scorn, the people they think are dimwitted or just plain ignorant - like ‘babes and sucklings’ because they believe in Almighty God - are condemned by them on this earth. In return God condemns them to hell.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
David contemplates the amazing stars and planets, predestinated into being by God, and asks an obvious question: ‘Against these glorious things, why should God bother with men?’ The reason has nothing to do with people themselves, for we are just created beings. It has to do with the fact that God created people for His own pleasure and therefore has a special interest in them. He bothers to think of them because that was His purpose. Really, the sentence could read thus: ‘ We are nothing compared to the heavens, so why do you bother to think about us? And why do you visit us?’
Remember what is said earlier: two words that spell exactly the same might not be the same at all? In verse 4 we have two instances of the same word – man; but the first is ‘enowsh and the second use is ‘adam. Both can mean mankind in general, but ‘enowsh, a verb, also has the idea of being sick, frail and wicked, and this is the main meaning. On the other hand, ‘adam has a prime meaning of ‘mankind’, and ‘son of man’ probably refers to how common men are, so unworthy of note. It is possible that David is speaking of himself as the worthless ‘son of man’, but we cannot be sure. “Visitest” means to take note of, or give help to, as one trusted (there are other meanings).
David explains why he thinks this way, marveling that God has given mankind so many roles of trust and honour, despite their penchant for sin. He begins with man’s position in God’s creation before listing some of the roles God gave to man.
Here we see that man is made a “little lower” than angels. In another place we are also told that we were made above the animals. Those who insist in the unbelieving hypothesis that we are “all animals” are blaspheming God’s creatorial act.
The word ‘little’ signifies a difference that is very small. Thus, there is very little difference between us and angels in terms of status. Even so, the difference exists and we should remember it. The word “lower” adds to this difference, because it means to have a lack or to decrease. The word for angels will surprise many – it is ‘elohiym, the same word that is used for God. However, there is no mistake, nor are angels given the same status as God. This is because, as with most Biblical words, the same word has several possible meanings, depending on intent and context.
In this verse David is clearly referring to angelic beings and not God. It means beings made by God to live in Heaven and to be spiritual in form and type. They also have something we lack – actual spiritual powers which are abilities not given to mankind. In other words, the differences are God-made for His own reasons, so men are not inferior to angels; they are just different. (Though we may possibly argue that unsaved men are inferior to angels in a certain sense).
Though ‘lacking’ and second to angels, mankind has nevertheless been accorded special status, above the animals, for God has “crowned him with glory and honour.” This was God’s plan, and it is why He treats those who disregard it with contempt and wrath, sending them to hell. Those who prefer filth, violence and self to God and godliness will fall foul of God, because they reject His gifts to them and wish instead to claim their own desires, thus casting glory and honour back into God’s teeth.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
Part of this glory and honour was to give us (through Adam) dominion over everything God had created, whether animate or inanimate. Everything made is lower than mankind, hence the words “thou hast put all (things) under his feet”. ”Dominion” means total control, to rule. Many who like to think environmentally, interpret this to mean to rule beneficially towards the earth! This is not so, but can include it.
Dominion also includes the power to do anything we wish with created things… and this is hated by environmentalists/’animal rights’ extremists who, for their own reasons, prefer to think that we are all equal – animals and earth. But, we are not! We are made higher than animals (and everything else, apart from angels), and the whole of creation (not including mankind) is under our feet!
To put it bluntly, if we wish to eat animals or cut down whole areas of forest, we have God’s authority to do so. Of course, it would not be to our advantage to do so indiscriminately or gratuitously, but the rule has been made clear – we have total dominion over everything and can do what we like with it. It is this latter fact that environmentalists hate. Yet, God said it; it is final.
To emphasize the fact of total dominion, David lists a few of the things we have control over: sheep and oxen and other animals. These represent not just domestic animals but all animals, as shown in Genesis. It includes all birds and fish and any animals that use the sea but do not live in it. These all include what we think of as ‘prehistoric’ animals and birds, etc.
So amazing is this dominion given to mankind, David says “O LORD our Lord, how excellent (is) thy name in all the earth!” He repeats what he began the Psalm with, making sure that God gets all the glory and not mankind.
As human beings we often want God to act on our behalf. Yet, we forget Who He really is and His gifts and benefits toward us. We forget because we lean towards our own strength. David never forgot where his own power and life’s benefits came from! He praised God constantly, even when in the throes of fear or misery. That should be our attitude and actuality. If we do not praise Him, why should He give us anything? Of course, any praise from us must come from the heart, not just from our heads because we want something.
© October 2010
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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