Psalm 8

Psalm 8  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The Son of Man set over all the works of God’s hands
We have now come to Psalm 8 which closes this unfolding of the condition of the remnant, and the counsels of God as to the rejected Anointed of Jehovah. What is said is still by the mouth of the now delivered remnant. “O Jehovah, our Lord!” In vain have the heathen risen up against Him! “How excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.” It is not now a king in Zion-though surely that will be true; but a glory set above the heavens. It is not now merely the people of the great King blessed; but wherever the children of men dwell, Jehovah’s name, Israel’s Lord, is great. Is it now as setting the Christ on His holy hill of Zion? No, it is in setting the Son of Man, not merely over the children of men, but over everything His hand has created in all places of His dominion. He is set over all the works of His hand; none are excepted. He only is excepted who put all things under Him. And who is this Son of Man? It is one made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned now with glory and honor, and set (which the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 2, shows us is not yet accomplished) over all the works of God’s hands.1 He could not be rejected as Christ (even if that title was afterwards to be made good by Him who laughs from heaven at the impotent rage of the kings of the earth) without His having a yet more glorious place destined to Him in the counsels of God-the being gloriously crowned in heaven, and set over all things. Son of God and (Son of David) King in Zion was His title on earth.2
(1. The littleness of man compared with the creation on high, gives occasion to the revelation of God’s counsels in man.)
The wider glory of the Son of Man consequent on His rejection
But His first rejection in this character throws Him out into this wider glory He had faithfully acquired too-what belonged by divine committal to the Son of Man. Hence we see in the Gospels the Lord charging His disciples to say no more that He was the Christ (for He was now virtually rejected by Israel), because the Son of Man must suffer and be rejected, delivered to the Gentiles, die, and rise again (Luke 9). This was grace to Israel therefore; but to man, to man in Christ. Still Israel’s Lord, Jehovah, was thus excellent in all the earth. This is that with which the psalm closes, as the proper result in the mouth of the remnant, though it was brought about by, and dependent on, a much higher glory. God, in the presence of the rage and ill-will of His enemies, and to silence the oppressors and the pride of the enemy, and of the relentless pitiless persecutors of His saints and people, has chosen the weakest things of the earth to perfect praise.
We have had an example of this-a little anticipative example of this-in the reception of the rejected Christ riding into Jerusalem. It shall be fully accomplished in the last day. Then He had witness given to Him, as Son of God in raising Lazarus, as Son of David in thus riding into Jerusalem, as Son of Man when the Greeks came up. But then He must die to have this last glory (John 11-12). In the last days all shall not thus fail on earth. It shall be accomplished in power. Meanwhile He is crowned with glory and honor in a better place. The psalm has an elevated and enlarged energy, as is suited to the great deliverance celebrated. Creation makes man so little in himself. What is he when we consider this vast and shining universe? But glance at Christ, and you see all its glories grow dim before the excellency of Him under whose feet all is put. Yea, they are lighted up again by that glory. Man is indeed great and above all in Him, the Son of Man set over all things.
It is not the place here to enlarge on the use of this psalm in the New Testament; but it makes its use and import very clear. In 1 Corinthians 15 we see that it is accomplished in resurrection. In Hebrews 2 we see that the subjection of all things is in the world to come-that they are not yet put under Christ’s feet, but that He is crowned already with glory and honor. Ephesians 1 shows that the church is united to Him in this place of glory, but that does not at all enter into the scope of the psalm. It was part of the mystery hid from ages and generations.
Review of the introductory psalms (Psalms 1-8)
Before passing on, I would briefly review the ground we have gone over in these introductory psalms. First, the remnant in the latter day is set before us; then the counsels of God as to Messiah, but the kings of the earth and the rulers setting themselves against Jehovah, and His Anointed. Yet He will be set king in Zion. Then Psalms 3-7 present the great principles on which the remnant will have to walk under the circumstances in which they find themselves, Christ being rejected. They do not afford us the deep expressions of feeling which the extent of distress brings out, but only the sentiments produced by grace in their position, so far as they are needed to give a voice to the feeling of grace and faith in it: Psalms 3-5, confidence; Psalms 6-7, bowing of heart under distress; Psalm 3, simple confidence; Psalm 4, appeal to the God of righteousness, and the path of the righteous marked out; Psalm 5, he cries to Jehovah, because He discerns between the evil and the good, and the wicked thus must be removed, and Jehovah bless the righteous that trust in Him; Psalm 6, mercy is appealed to, as, distressed in spirit, he entreats Jehovah not to rebuke him in anger, and Jehovah has heard him in his distress to save him from death; Psalm 7, he appeals against his persecutors, contrasting their conduct and his own towards them, but Jehovah judges His people.
The future value of the Psalms to the remnant; the difference between them and Christ in evil
These are the great elements of relationship between Jehovah and the remnant of His people in that day. How precious it will be for the remnant to have their faith sustained and given words to, above their fears, by these gracious witnesses of the Spirit of Christ, to guide them, and justify their best hopes, and calm their justest fears! It is not difficult, I think, to understand why Christ could not personally have the feelings and desires here expressed, and yet animate by His Spirit prophetically these same desires in the remnant, and enter into all their circumstances in sympathy. He came from heaven, and never lost the spirit that breathed there, though He was in the circumstances which earth brought upon Him; but that spirit is love. He was above evil in the power of love, and the consciousness of divine feelings which the Son of Man who is in heaven would have, though He passed through every sorrow which the Son of Man on earth could be subject to. He went through all the distress that sin and man’s relentless enmity and the insensibility even of His disciples1 could bring upon Him; but, while only the more sensible of it and feeling it the more deeply because He was perfect, He was above all the evil in love in the personal perfection of good. The remnant will not be so. They will be sustained of God, yet not only in the midst of evil, but under it, pressed by it, by the sense of guilt, by fear of wrath-not merely the deep sense of wrath, but a personally sifting dread of it. There is no deliverance for them without the destruction of their enemies; and they desire it. These are Jehovah’s enemies too, and their desire is right. (See Psalm 6:5,7,105For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalm 6:5)
7Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies. (Psalm 6:7)
10Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly. (Psalm 6:10)
(1. Not once did they understand what He said to them.)
This Christ, as we have said, did not. He was above all this enmity in heavenly love and through known communion with His Father, whose will He had peacefully to do in known approval: until, in the end, He entered into that dark valley, where, for our sakes and Israel’s, He was indeed to meet wrath, but there His converse was with God. As to His human enemies, He only says, “If . . . ye seek me, let these go their way,” and all were prostrate before Him, and it is His to tell them in peace, “This is your hour and the power of darkness.” Hence Himself, love divine, passing through every sorrow that Israel or we may have to pass through, He did so personally in love. All was felt, but He was above the evil in love to men, being in perfect communion with heaven and its loving favor. In this He is a pattern for Christians, not for Israel. But He really went through all that the remnant can ever go through, yet was free enough from any power over Him to feel for others in it. This He does perfectly, and prophetically inspires the expressions of faith to those who, not knowing yet heavenly love and deliverance, are pressed under it; and gives utterance, by the prophetic Spirit towards God (as the Spirit would in such), to the sense of their oppression of heart which circumstances give occasion to, when divine favor and deliverance are not known.
The perfect sympathy of Christ
No one can enter into another’s sorrows under this oppression so well as one who knows the cause of it, and what that produces in respect of relationship with God, but is not in it. Christ has been in all their affliction, and felt it, but not felt, as to others, what those who are under it, and necessarily and rightly occupied with themselves, feel. He felt for His oppressors with heavenly love. His sympathy, being perfect, has, by the prophetic Spirit, entered into all the remnant’s circumstances and feelings, and given divinely-furnished expression to them. The heart may rise up and say, It is an easy thing to give it by the prophetic Spirit if He is not really in it. I answer, He was in every part of the affliction to the full, and infinitely more than the remnant ever will be, having suffered, withal, that which they never will because He has. But does His having a better feeling in that into which He entered hinder His having perfect sympathy with them? It enables Him to have it, as regards all the distress, which came from Satan, and from God when it was not merely a question of feeling for those from whom the distress came, when He was suffering Himself. He went through all in the same way (only much more deeply) than they; and, as to a part and the deepest part of it, took on Himself what they never will have.
When the remnant are in the same sorrows, not knowing divine favor, He will minister to them, and through these psalms, all the feelings which God can look upon with approbation and listen to. He will conduct their souls through them. How often in trial when we hardly dare to express what we feel (for fear of offending God, in the uncertainties of a cloudy faith) does a text which utters our sorrows in a way which, being in the Word, must be right, assuage the heart and give confidence in looking up to God! So will it be then.