This is a hymn of praise. Its subject is the glory of God and the dignity of man. The Psalm also speaks about how the lost dominion of man is fully restored in Jesus Christ.
The Psalmist cannot find words to describe the glory of God. So he starts by saying, “O LORD, our Lord.” The first LORD refers to Yahweh (the personal name of God, see Exodus 3:14) Who keeps His covenant (or agreement) with His people.
The second Lord refers to God who is Sovereign (or absolute ruler) over everything. That means He has the ability to keep and perform what He has promised. By using the personal pronoun “our” the Psalmist is claiming relationship with God.
In verse 1, we see the majesty of God. His name is majestic. That means God is King. His kingship is over all the earth. To an observing eye, His majesty is seen everywhere. The next thought is about the glory of God. It is indescribable. That glory is above the heavens. That means that the heavens cannot contain the glory of God. The glory of God is a theme that runs throughout the Bible.
Here are some passages that speak of the glory of God: Psalm 19:1, Psalm 29:9, Luke 2:14, John 17:1, 5, 10, 22, 24, Exodus 15:11, Isaiah 6:3, John 12:41, Isaiah 42:8, 1 Peter 4:13, 14, Psalm 24:7 —10, Colossians 1:27, Nehemiah 9:5, 6, John 2:11, Exodus 16:10, Ezekiel 1:28, 1 Kings 8:11, Exodus 40:34, 2 Peter 1:16—18, John 1:14, Revelation 21:23.
Even though the glory of God is great and beyond description, God has put the defence of His glory in the lips of children and infants. This is surprising. Jesus quoted this verse in defence of children who were shouting and praising Him (Matthew 21:14—16). The children were crying “Hosanna to the Son of David.” They recognized that Jesus is the Messiah. But the religious leaders failed to understand the truth about Jesus.
We might not be great in the wisdom of the world and by its standards we might be children like the seventy-two that Jesus sent ahead of Him. When they reported to Jesus all that God did through them, Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure” (Luke 10:21 NIV).
When I consider your heavens: To consider means to think deeply about or to meditate upon. Here is the answer to man’s pride. Stand in an open space and admire the greatness of God’s creation by looking at a clear night sky. It will reveal to you the million billion trillion zillion stars that God has created (the naked eye can see perhaps 6000 stars; that’s all).
This fact alone should humble us. The Bible tells us that God calls each of the stars by name and that by His might and power none of them is missing (Psalm 147:4, Isaiah 40:26).
It is God who created the entire universe. And the heavenly bodies move in its set orbits by the laws of heaven which God commanded. Man has discovered a few of those laws (Job 38:33).
So consider. Though animals have eyes, they don’t look up to consider. Though heavenly bodies occupy Space, they do not have intelligence to think and ponder on the wonders of God’s magnificent creation. But you can consider. Will you?
What is man? Planet earth is a speck of dust in the midst of vast galaxies of space. In spite of its insignificant smallness, God put a value on this planet by creating man to inhabit it. But the question remains, why should God care for man in this fashion?
There are several reasons. One is that God created man in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1: 26—28). The second thought is that God created man to rule; to be a king.
The great thought is that God cares for you. In this vast universe you are not forgotten. God created you unique. There is no one else like you. More than that God thought of you as so valuable and priceless that He sent His Son Jesus to shed His precious blood on the cross for you.
This one thought is the answer to the plague of modern man. He is lonely even in the midst of a crowd of people. He is scared like a rat. He is overawed by technology. But Jesus says, God knows you so intimately that even the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Luke 12:6, 7). So cheer up and thank God, you are so precious to Him.
Bible scholars say that the Hebrew word (enosh) used for man in the verse here expresses man in all his frailty and weakness. Now why should God exalt weak man? Again, man became sinful and rebellious. Why should God even consider him? Think about it.
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings. Many commentators say that this verse should be correctly read as “You made him a little lower than God” (see NIV footnote). It is a mind-boggling thought. But it is true. It is the Bible that teaches this truth about the dignity of man.
Some people teach that man evolved from monkeys, some others think of him as a social animal, others consider man as an economic factor and in today’s world man has become just a number (lot of numbers like social security number, permanent account number and so on are assigned to man in different countries).
But the Bible says that man was created a little lower than God. Possibly in the sense that he was created in a time-governed world and limited in space. But God wanted man to rule over all else that was created on planet earth. So God crowned man with glory and honour. Yes, God wants you to be a king or a queen.
Most young people today live broken lives. They face rejection and criticism. Sometimes they fail to meet the expectations that parents, relatives, friends and society place on them. Often sin mars the plan of God in their lives. If you fall within the scope of this description, know that God does not give up on you.
He cares for you more than you can ever dream of. He is mindful of you. You are not a failure in His eyes. Think about Peter. He failed Jesus. Yet Jesus loved him and brought him again to a place of leadership. It demonstrates the trust that Jesus places in you.
You put everything under his feet. The New Testament makes it clear that this verse ultimately refers to Jesus Christ. God gave the rule to Adam and Eve. But they sinned and lost their dominion.
Then Jesus came down to this earth as the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45—49). He destroyed the dominion of sin and death over man. Now the dominion that was given to Adam, and which he lost because he sinned, is now restored fully in Jesus Christ. So He will rule. Many Biblical passages bear testimony to this: Hebrews 2:6— 9, 1 Corinthians 15:22—28, Psalm 110:1, Ephesians 1:19—23.
The important thought here for you and me is that God wants us to have dominion over all other created things. In a practical sense, everything in the world should be under our feet. In other words, we should not be slaves to the things of this world; instead we should dominate over them.
For example, money. The proper place for all worldly things is at your feet. So keep distance with the world and things of this world. Too much familiarity with them would cause you to lose your dominion over them. Read I John 2:15—17 (very important) in this context.
Life Application: “First, God the Father created us to be kings (Genesis 1:26—28). Second, God the Son redeemed us to be kings. Third, God the Holy Spirit anointed us to live as kings. God never intended that we live like slaves but that we live like kings and reign over our circumstances and feelings. Trust Christ as Saviour to reign in your life.” —
Paraphrased from Prayer, Praise & Promises by Warren W. Wiersbe.
Verses 7 and 8
These verses tell us that the Psalmist was very familiar with the account of creation as described in Genesis 1. It is once more an occasion for us to remember that nothing happened by chance or big bang. It was God who created this world by His power and wisdom. See Colossians 1:16, 17; and 1 Corinthians 1:24 which says, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Note: It is said that the ocean currents were discovered by Matthew Fontaine Maury, who is known by the name “Pathfinder of Sea.” His inspiration came from this verse “all that swim the paths of the seas.”
The Psalmist closes this hymn as he began: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Shall we too raise our voices in praise of His great, awesome and glorious Majesty!
Majesty Worship His majesty
Unto Jesus, be all glory Honour, and praise
Majesty Kingdom authority
Flow from His throne Unto His own
His anthem raise
So exalt, lift up on high
The name of Jesus Magnify,
come glorify Christ Jesus the King
Majesty Worship His majesty
Jesus who died, now glorified
King of all Kings
‘Majesty’ (both words and music) is by Jack Hayford, American pastor and editor of the Full Life Study Bible. He says the opening words came to him while he was driving through England on a vacation in 1977, when the land was filled with symbols of royalty because it was the 25th coronation anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II.
Advanced Notes: “The `first Adam’ (1 Cor. 15:45) prefigures much of that which becomes vital in the life of the `last Adam.’ The true character and essence of the original Adam are manifested most effectively in the life of Jesus Christ. Therefore, if the true dignity of the first Adam is strongly set forth, the whole description obviously finds its fullest realization in Jesus Christ. . . .
The God of history so shaped the details of history that the man originally created is a clear foreshadowing of all the excellencies and marvels of the life of Jesus Christ, our Lord. What was said of the one may well be claimed for the other. . . .
In summary, then: man as created reflects God’s glory. But the Son of man, in whom the original pattern is more fully realized, reflects this same glory far more perfectly.” — H. C. Leupold.
Books of Study Used:
1. The NIV Matthew Henry Commentary (Zondervan Publishing House).
2. Exposition of Psalms by H. C. Leupold (O M Books).
3. Prayer, Praise & Promises (A Daily Walk Through the Psalms) by Warren W. Wiersbe (Authentic Books).
4. The Treasury of David by Charles H. Spurgeon, (Hendrickson Publishers.)
5. Quiet Times For Couples by H. Norman Wright (Devotional Reading of May 4), (Suvartha Bhavan).