Crowned with Glory and Honour

Thanks Shaun for your word about riches yesterday. Psalm 8 is a simple exhortation of praise to our God and a beautiful statement about the dignity of mankind. As I meditated on it throughout the week I felt intuitively that I was missing something, that it wasn’t that simple. For one it didn’t resonate strongly with my new identity in Christ. I felt the ‘glory’ emanating from God to glow upon mankind was somewhat disembodied. So I went digging in a quest for this daily read to be more faithful.

The first volume of the Psalms – Psalms 1 to 41 – is thought to parallel themes of the first five books of the bible. In this instance, we have several echoes of Genesis – the foundations of life and the nature of man. God’s ‘fingers’ (v3) imply detailed and careful design. In Genesis 1:26-28 man was made in God’s image and given rule over the animals. By caring for man, God ascribed him dignity and implies an ongoing relationship[1]. These echoes in Psalm 8 make it clear that the core of God’s design for man was to bear His image and to share his glory and honour by participating in the role of creative stewardship[2]. Throughout the bible God has also been concerned for His reputation reflected back on Him by the behaviour of Israel’s leaders.

Apparently there are several word-plays that play on different shades of meaning for Hebrew words in verses one to four[3]. This leads me to believe that the double meaning of verse 4 is not an accident:

V4. ‘What is man / the son of man that you care for him?’

In Hebrew the word ‘man’ is the same as ‘adam’ so the psalmist (David) also wonders why God would care for the ‘Son of Adam’[4]. Ouch! When Adam sinned the Master’s design was broken. Since then hordes of people have fallen out of relationship with God and have lost touch with what it means to be truly human (Romans 1). Genesis 1 shines a very old light upon Psalm 8, casting a shadow of The Fall, which explains to some extent why I felt on face value quite inadequate to accept what it says here about God’s design for my role in the world. If we stopped digging today at the end of the Psalms then we would see King David holding the baton for redeeming the destiny of mankind – and that would be rather awkward because we know David was pretty good but not good enough! How can we ever be restored as fully human again? God’s majesty and man’s need for redemption combine here to imply prophetic rumblings of restoration. We need to see God’s glory in a victorious “Son of David”! Later on that is the cry of people hailing Jesus as he enters Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21). The Pharisees were indignant but Jesus quoted this very psalm in reply – deftly equating himself with God. What should we make of this collision?

The writer of the letter to Hebrews provides the answer. Hebrews 2 shines a blazing light back on Psalm 8. There Jesus is fully described as the ultimate universal man. He fulfills the prophetic yearning of Israel’s narrative. We too will participate in His resurrection life both now[5] and then fully in the age to come.  In 1 Corinthians 15 we are told “as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (v.22) and that all enemies will be brought under his feet (v.25). Christ has truly restored God’s majesty to the royal throne of Israel.[6]

By looking at Psalm 8 from both ends of the bible I came to see that only by acknowledging the dual significance of mankind – in terms of original Creation and the New Covenant in Christ – can we fully understand the depth of what it says about us as humans. God not only cared about us from day one, but He died for us and now raises us up to amazing heights of glory – beyond anything that David or his peers could have imagined! I love this description of redeemed humanity by Douglas Green:

“So who are we? In unfallen Adam, we once were a little lower than God. We once ruled creation. But through Adam’s sin we have fallen from that lofty position. Compared to what we once were, we are no longer “truly human.” In fact, we became, as it were, beasts as much as human….We who were once a little lower than God became a little higher than beasts…. whatever dignity humans have through being in Adam looks like bestial dishonor when viewed from the perspective of the true humanity of the risen Christ.” [7]

In Christ we have had our dignity restored. We have been liberated to praise Our Saviour and nurture justice[8] in the world. By doing these things we are participating in God’s glory! How majestic is His name!

Matt Broadbridge

ps. If you’ve read this far down the page here’s an early Easter egg (link).


[1] Segal, B. Psalm 8 – Partnership.

[2] Apple, P. Psalm 8: Reaching For the Stars: God’s Glory and Man’s Dominion.

[3] Segal, B. Psalm 8 – Partnership.

[4] Green, D.J., 2003, ‘Psalm 8: What Is Israel’s King that You Remember Him?’ Westminster Theological Seminary Chapel, Philadelphia.

[5] We can reclaim our rule over Creation to some extent in this present age by the conducting spiritual warfare as described in Ephesians 6. See Cole, S.J. 2003, Our Glorious Destiny In Christ: Hebrews 2:5-9, www.fcfonline.org.

[6] Cole, S.J. 2003, Our Glorious Destiny In Christ: Hebrews 2:5-9, www.fcfonline.org

[7] Green, D.J., 2003, ‘Psalm 8: What Is Israel’s King that You Remember Him?’ Westminster Theological Seminary Chapel, Philadelphia.

[8] By living in faith and following the example of Jesus we can participate in the progressive but limited inauguration of the royal priesthood of believers until Jesus returns and his Kingdom is fully established (1 Corinthians 15:25). Just as God rules over the heavens, we have been created to rule over the earth together with Him. Being created in His image we should seek to establish right order, promote life and fight against injustice wrought by God’s enemies.

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5 thoughts on “Crowned with Glory and Honour

  1. Thanks Matthew. I have previously read Psalm 8 as a simple but beautiful poem about God’s greatness – about his ‘bigness’ (The fact that he made the universe and everything in it) and his ‘smallness’. (Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Luke 12:7). It was interesting to read it in the light of your ‘digging’.
    You write that ‘echoes in Psalm 8 make it clear that the core of God’s design for man was to bear His image and to share his glory and honour by participating in the role of creative stewardship[2]’.
    I wonder how our ‘creative stewardship’ is going in God’s eyes. How are we going as individuals; as a country; as a planet?

  2. Thank you for your digging Matthew. I too have read this psalm as a simple recognition of God’s greatness. It is good to be reminded that we have a responsibility to care for God’s creation and for each other as his people. I love the early Easter gift. Thank you. I am amazed and awed anew with God’s perfection and creativity in the heavens and in his people.

  3. Hi Lindy and Iris,
    Thanks for your comments! If you or other readers are interested to learn more about how ‘echoes of Genesis’ are seen in the rhythm and structure of Hebrew poetry in Psalm 8, this is a helpful explanation from the “Shechter Institute of Jewish Studies“.

    The poetic devices in psalms are fascinating to me because they often add layers of intricately devised meaning to their themes. A general introduction to the poetry of psalms will deal with “parallelism” and “chiastic structure”. Searching for those phrases will reveal hundreds of online guides. A brief one is available [here]. Isn’t it great to discover more of the richness of God’s word together.

  4. Thanks Matthew. When we question our worth we must remember that we are valuable to God v5. God in His Word has stated how valuable we are to Him so we can be set free from feelings of worthlessness. This is the Sword of the Spirit doing its work setting captives free from the lies of the Enemy.

  5. Thanks Matthew and FAC colleagues. A timely reminder of our place in God’s creation. An esteemed place of responsibility. I am much encouraged.

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