The Expository Files


 Psalm 8 – The Emotions of the Poet


“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth…”

There are at least two songs I’m aware of, built around this statement of praise. One is #90 Hymns for Worship, Revised. There is another rendition in Great Songs of the Church, #562, by Horatio Palmer (1874). It is also published in Alton Howard’s Sons of Faith and Praise, number 215. Thanks to my nephew, Jeremy Boyd, for this research. He is the “go to” guy for this kind of research.).

In the 8th Psalm, there is very simple structure. David’s offers up this statement of praise, then immediately tells us why God is worthy of such praise:

He has “set” His “glory above the heavens.”

He has “ordained strength.”

He has silenced the enemy and the avenger.

Next, David takes us further into the excellence of God (vss. 3-5). David is so overwhelmed as he contemplates the creative work of God, he expresses his astonishment over God’s attention to man: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” The point of this is not to downgrade man. This is a poetic and emotional expression of his astonishment of the vastness of the divine-made universe.

Note this intriguing thing about Hebrew poetry that English-speaking people may not be familiar with: David visit two things side by side, that seem contradictory: the insignificance of man – but God’s mindfulness of man. This is what happens when the heart of man tries to take in all God has made. One is so overwhelmed, it may be difficult to state in academic, objective terms.

Keep in the forefront, the theme: The excellence of God. Like a good preacher, David ends where he started: “O Lord, O Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth.” I need to make that more of a part of my personal devotion. How about you?

By Warren E. Berkley
The Final Page
From Expository Files 14.6; June 2007