I don’t know about you, but for me, without just being a pessimist, the words of David in this Psalm seem not to match the majority of mankind as I know it. He says that we as humans are “crowned …with glory and honor…[and] made…rulers over the works of [God’s] hands [and that God has] put everything under [our] feet”.
Sure, some humans have accomplished some pretty impressive things over the years, some have even shown just how compassionate and just and merciful humans are capable of being. And there is no doubt that there have been/are some people who are very passionate about the earth and the “flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea” and about our responsibility to care for it/them for future generations to enjoy.
But sadly, these ones are too often more the exception than the rule, and I’m sure I don’t need to suggest examples of those who fit “the rule” to convince you.
So, how do we reconcile these words of this psalm with what we know of humans generally throughout history, and even what we know concerning our own hearts and activities?
Part of the answer, maybe, is answered by a comment in the NIV Study Bible concerning this psalm. It says, “Man’s rule is real – a part of his ‘glory and honor’ – and it is his destiny … but it is not absolute or independent. It is participation, as a subordinate, in God’s rule; it is a gift, not a right.”
Too often in history, God as Creator and Sustainer of his creation has been forgotten or totally ignored. And when we as humans have forgotten the truth of the words in Bold above and gone our own way, the result has been that things have gone very wrong.
But, it seems, there is more to this truth, as there often is in the Bible. The N.T. has something to say as well. You see, as we read the letter to the Hebrews 2:6-9 the author applies the words of this psalm to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is speaking in Hebrews 2:1-4 of our “great salvation” in Christ and this leads him to quote Psalm 8:4-6 followed by, “In putting everything under him [humans], God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:8-9)
NIV Study Bible comments on these verses as follows:
“2:8 everything. God’s purpose from the beginning was that man should be sovereign in the creaturely realm, subject only to God. Due to sin, that purpose of God has not yet been fully realized. Indeed, men are themselves ‘in slavery’ (Heb. 5:15).
2:9 Jesus…now crowned with glory and honor. Psalm 8 is here applied to Jesus in particular. As forerunner of man’s restored dominion over the earth, he was made lower than the angels for a while but is now crowned with glory and honor at God’s right hand. By his perfect life, his death on the cross, [his resurrection], and his exaltation, he has made possible for redeemed man the ultimate fulfilment of Psalm 8 in the future kingdom, when man will regain sovereignty over creation.”
As is so often the case, as we read the OT, it leads to fulfillment in Jesus. So here, the real “glory and honor” mentioned in Psalm 8 is actually found in Jesus, the One whose “name … is above every name” and “at the name of Jesus every knee” will bow and “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Father, thank you that we may not yet see the fulfillment of Psalm 8 in mankind, but we do “see Jesus” in all his “glory and honor.” Continue your work of grace in each of our lives so that we will be day by day conformed to the image of your Son. Amen.