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Psalms 8

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Psalm 8 1 

For the music director, according to the gittith style; 2  a psalm of David.

8:1 O Lord, our Lord, 3 

how magnificent 4  is your reputation 5  throughout the earth!

You reveal your majesty in the heavens above! 6 

8:2 From the mouths of children and nursing babies

you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries, 7 

so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy. 8 

8:3 When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made,

and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place, 9 

8:4 Of what importance is the human race, 10  that you should notice 11  them?

Of what importance is mankind, 12  that you should pay attention to them, 13 

8:5 and make them a little less than the heavenly beings? 14 

You grant mankind 15  honor and majesty; 16 

8:6 you appoint them to rule over your creation; 17 

you have placed 18  everything under their authority, 19 

8:7 including all the sheep and cattle,

as well as the wild animals, 20 

8:8 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea

and everything that moves through the currents 21  of the seas.

8:9 O Lord, our Lord, 22 

how magnificent 23  is your reputation 24  throughout the earth! 25 

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1 sn Psalm 8. In this hymn to the sovereign creator, the psalmist praises God’s majesty and marvels that God has given mankind dominion over the created order.

2 tn The precise meaning of the Hebrew term הגתית is uncertain; it probably refers to a musical style or type of instrument.

3 tn The plural form of the title emphasizes the Lord’s absolute sovereignty.

4 tn Or “awesome”; or “majestic.”

5 tn Heb “name,” which here stands metonymically for God’s reputation.

6 tc Heb “which, give, your majesty on the heavens.” The verb form תְּנָה (tÿnah; an imperative?) is corrupt. The form should be emended to a second masculine singular perfect (נָתַתָּה, natatah) or imperfect (תִתֵן, titen) form. The introductory אֲשֶׁר (’asher, “which”) can be taken as a relative pronoun (“you who”) or as a causal conjunction (“because”). One may literally translate, “you who [or “because you”] place your majesty upon the heavens.” For other uses of the phrase “place majesty upon” see Num 27:20 and 1 Chr 29:25.

7 tn Heb “you establish strength because of your foes.” The meaning of the statement is unclear. The present translation follows the reading of the LXX which has “praise” (αἶνος, ainos) in place of “strength” (עֹז, ’oz); cf. NIV, NCV, NLT.

8 tn Heb “to cause to cease an enemy and an avenger.” The singular forms are collective. The Hitpael participle of נָקַם (naqam) also occurs in Ps 44:16.

9 tn Heb “when I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and stars which you established.” The verb “[and] see” is understood by ellipsis in the second half of the verse.

10 tn Heb “What is man[kind]?” The singular noun אֱנוֹשׁ (’enosh, “man”) is used here in a collective sense and refers to the human race.

11 tn Heb “remember him.”

12 tn Heb “and the son of man.” The phrase “son of man” is used here in a collective sense and refers to human beings. For other uses of the phrase in a collective or representative manner, see Num 23:19; Ps 146:3; Isa 51:12.

13 tn The two imperfect verbal forms in v. 4 describe God’s characteristic activity.

14 tn Heb “and you make him lack a little from [the] gods [or “God”].” The Piel form of חָסַר (khasar, “to decrease, to be devoid”) is used only here and in Eccl 4:8, where it means “to deprive, to cause to be lacking.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive either carries on the characteristic nuance of the imperfect in v. 5b or indicates a consequence (“so that you make him…”) of the preceding statement (see GKC 328 §111.m). Some prefer to make this an independent clause and translate it as a new sentence, “You made him….” In this case the statement might refer specifically to the creation of the first human couple, Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 1:26-27). The psalmist does appear to allude to Gen 1:26-27, where mankind is created in the image of God and his angelic assembly (note “let us make man in our image” in Gen 1:26). However, the psalmist’s statement need not be limited in its focus to that historical event, for all mankind shares the image imparted to the first human couple. Consequently the psalmist can speak in general terms of the exalted nature of mankind. The referent of אֱלֹהִים (’elohim, “God” or “the heavenly beings”) is unclear. Some understand this as a reference to God alone, but the allusion to Gen 1:26-27 suggests a broader referent, including God and the other heavenly beings (known in other texts as “angels”). The term אֱלֹהִים is also used in this way in Gen 3:5, where the serpent says to the woman, “you will be like the heavenly beings who know good and evil.” (Note Gen 3:22, where God says, “the man has become like one of us.”) Also אֱלֹהִים may refer to the members of the heavenly assembly in Ps 82:1, 6. The LXX (the ancient Greek translation of the OT) reads “angels” in Ps 8:5 (this is the source of the quotation of Ps 8:5 in Heb 2:7).

15 tn Heb “you crown him [with].” The imperfect verbal forms in this and the next line describe God’s characteristic activity.

16 sn Honor and majesty. These terms allude to mankind’s royal status as God’s vice-regents (cf. v. 6 and Gen 1:26-30).

17 tn Heb “you cause [i.e., “permit, allow”] him to rule over the works of your hands.”

18 tn The perfect verbal form probably has a present perfect nuance here. It refers to the continuing effects of God’s original mandate (see Gen 1:26-30).

19 tn Heb “under his feet.”

sn Placed everything under their authority. This verse affirms that mankind rules over God’s creation as his vice-regent. See Gen 1:26-30.

20 tn Heb “and also the beasts of the field.”

21 tn Heb “paths.”

22 tn The plural form of the title emphasizes the Lord’s absolute sovereignty.

23 tn Or “awesome, majestic.”

24 tn Heb “name,” which here stands metonymically for God’s reputation.

25 sn Using the poetic device of inclusio, the psalmist ends the psalm the way he began it. The concluding refrain is identical to v. 1.



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