Reading with a questioning mind
Psalm 8 is quoted by Jesus (Matt 21:16), Paul (1 Cor. 15:27) and the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 2:6-8). A seemingly straightforward piece, its wisdom is hidden. The psalm can be divided into five parts: directions to the director of music; an ecstatic opening; wisdom concealed in an ornate phrase; a praise poem; and a closing that echoes the ecstatic opening.
Lectio. For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.
1a O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
1b. You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 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,
7 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
8 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Meditatio. A few facts may be noted in introduction. The meaning of “gittith” is unknown, but according to a commentary by A.R. Faussett may be derived from “Gath”, meaning “wine press” and suggesting a joyful tune. Commentator Matthew Henry notes that two other psalms, 81 and 84 also use this phrase. The name of God referred to here probably is best understood as God’s reputation. The “glory” of the Lord in line 1 (Hebrew: “howd”) is not the same word as the “glory” crowning man in line 5 (Hebrew: “kabowd”). “Howd” has alternate meanings of honor, majesty and beauty, while “kabowd” has alternate meanings of abundance, riches, dignity and reputation.