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Psalm 8[a]

Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

For the leader; “upon the gittith.”[b] A psalm of David.

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

I will sing of your majesty above the heavens
    with the mouths of babes(A) and infants.[c]
You have established a bulwark 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—
[d]What is man that you are mindful of him,(B)
    and a son of man that you care for him?(C)
Yet you have made him little less than a god,[e]
    crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,(D)
    put all things at his 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.

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


  1. Psalm 8 While marvelling at the limitless grandeur of God (Ps 8:2–3), the psalmist is struck first by the smallness of human beings in creation (Ps 8:4–5), and then by the royal dignity and power that God has graciously bestowed upon them (Ps 8:6–9).
  2. 8:1 Upon the gittith: probably the title of the melody to which the Psalm was to be sung or a musical instrument.
  3. 8:3 With the mouths of babes and infants: the psalmist realizes that his attempts to praise such an awesome God are hopelessly inadequate and amount to little more than the sounds made by infants. Established a bulwark: an allusion to lost myth telling how God built a fortress for himself in the heavens in primordial times in his battle with the powers of chaos. This “bulwark” is the firmament. Enemy and avenger: probably cosmic enemies. The primeval powers of watery chaos are often personified in poetic texts (Ps 74:13–14; 89:11; Jb 9:13; 26:12–13; Is 51:9).
  4. 8:5 Man…a son of man: the emphasis is on the fragility and mortality of human beings to whom God has given great dignity.
  5. 8:6 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. Hb 2:9, translating “for a little while,” 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 Ps 8:7.