The Word Made Fresh
(To the worship leader: to the tune of the Gittith. A psalm of David.)
1LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!
You have established your glorious throne above the skies.
2Even little children and nursing babies sing your praise,
and that ought to serve as a wall against your enemies
so that all who seek vengeance against you are silenced.
3When I look at your heavens, at the things formed in your own hand –
the moon and the stars that you have placed there –
4I wonder what we human beings really are that you pay attention to us.
What makes you care about us lowly mortals?
5You made us only a little lower than the angels
and made us glorious and honorable.
6You have given us rule over the things your hands have made.
Everything is under our authority –
7the sheep and oxen, the wild beasts,
8the birds that fly through the air, the fish that swim in the sea,
and everything else that lives there.
9Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!
Superscription: another “Psalm of David” (the 6th). The leader is instructed to lead the psalm “to the tune of the Gittith.” Our best guess is that this is a musical instrument, perhaps related to the city of Gath from which the word is derived. Speculation by older commentaries is that the Gittith is a sort of lyre that David acquired from Gath during one of his visits there. The people of Gath were called Gittites (see 2 Samuel 15:18). Gittith is also a form of the word for “wine press,” and some think the psalm is a joyous song sung during the season in which the grapes were harvested and wine was made.
1a: The opening line is repeated in the last line of the psalm. Many translations have “O LORD our Lord” – the first “LORD” is the name of God, and the second “Lord” is a generic term used for any ruler or sovereign. So, the opening line of Psalm 8 fulfills the promise made in the last line of Psalm 7 – “I will sing praises to the name of the LORD most high.”
1b-2: “Your glorious throne” may be a reference to the sun, since fire and light are often used as metaphors for God’s presence. The reference to “little children and nursing babies” is difficult to interpret. Perhaps the idea is that human beings are so important in God’s creation that even babies have the power to thwart God’s enemies, perhaps by the simple innocence of their speech.
3-4: The night sky is so awesome that it makes us feel small and we wonder why God would bother with us.
5-8: Yet, God has given us dominion over all the earth (see Genesis 1: 28).
9: Repeats the opening line.
Psalm 8 is unique in several ways. It is the only psalm that addresses God solely in the second person – it is addressed directly to and only to God. It is the first psalm of praise contained in the book of psalms. In addition, this psalm has the honor of being the first passage from the Bible to be carried to the moon, on Apollo 11, as part of the message from the Vatican (one of 73 nations that took part in a project to place a message on a silicon disk left on the moon’s surface).