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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 8


1 2 For the leader; "upon the gittith." A psalm of David.


O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! You have set your majesty above the heavens!


3 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have drawn a defense against your foes, to silence enemy and avenger.


When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place


4 What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?


5 Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.


You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet:


All sheep and oxen, even the beasts of the field,


The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas.


O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!


1 [Psalm 8] While marvelling at the limitless grandeur of God ( Psalm 8:2-3), the psalmist is struck first by the smallness of human beings in creation ( Psalm 8:4-5), and then by the royal dignity and power that God has graciously bestowed upon them ( Psalm 8:6-9).

2 [1] Upon the gittith: probably the title of the melody to which the psalm was to be sung or a musical instrument.

3 [3] Babes and infants: the text is obscure. Some join this line to the last line of Psalm 8:2 (itself obscure) to read: "(you) whose majesty is exalted above the heavens / by the mouths of babes and infants." Drawn a defense: some prefer the Septuagint's "fashioned praise," which is quoted in Matthew 21:16. Enemy and avenger: probably cosmic enemies. The primeval powers of watery chaos are often personified in poetic texts ( Psalm 74:13-14; 89:11; Job 9:13; 26:12-13; Isaiah 51,9).

4 [5] Humans . . . mere mortals: literally, "(mortal) person". . . "son of man (in sense of a human being, Hebrew 'adam)." The emphasis is on the fragility and mortality of human beings to whom God has given great dignity.

5 [6] Little less than a god: Hebrew 'elohim, the ordinary word for "God" or "the gods" or members of the heavenly court. The Greek version translated 'elohim by "angel, messenger"; several ancient and modern versions so translate. The meaning seems to be that God created human beings almost at the level of the beings in the heavenly world. Hebrews 2:9 finds the eminent fulfillment of this verse in Jesus Christ, who was humbled before being glorified. Cf also 1 Cor 15:27 where St. Paul applies to Christ the closing words of Psalm 8:7.

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