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Psalm 8[a]

For the music director, according to the gittith style;[b] a psalm of David.

O Lord, our Lord,[c]
how magnificent[d] is your reputation[e] throughout the earth!
You reveal your majesty in the heavens above.[f]
From the mouths of children and nursing babies
you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries,[g]
so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy.[h]
When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made,
and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place,[i]
Of what importance is the human race,[j] that you should notice[k] them?
Of what importance is mankind,[l] that you should pay attention to them?[m]
You made them[n] a little less than[o] the heavenly beings.[p]
You crowned mankind[q] with honor and majesty.[r]
you appoint them to rule over your creation;[s]
you have placed[t] everything under their authority,[u]
including all the sheep and cattle,
as well as the wild animals,[v]
the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
and everything that moves through the currents[w] of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,[x]
how magnificent[y] is your reputation[z] throughout the earth![aa]


  1. Psalm 8:1 sn Psalm 8. In this hymn to the sovereign creator, the psalmist praises God’s majesty and marvels that God has given mankind dominion over the created order.
  2. Psalm 8:1 tn The precise meaning of the Hebrew term הגתית is uncertain; it probably refers to a musical style or type of instrument.
  3. Psalm 8:1 tn The plural form of the title emphasizes the Lord’s absolute sovereignty.
  4. Psalm 8:1 tn Or “awesome”; or “majestic.”
  5. Psalm 8:1 tn Heb “name,” which here stands metonymically for God’s reputation.
  6. Psalm 8:1 tc Heb “which, give, your majesty on the heavens.” The verb form תְּנָה (tenah; an imperative?) should be emended to a second masculine singular perfect (נָתַתָּה, natattah) or imperfect (תִתֵּן, titten) form. The introductory אֲשֶׁר (ʾasher, “which”) can be taken as a relative pronoun (“you who”) or as a causal conjunction (“because”). One may literally translate, “you who [or “because you”] place your majesty upon the heavens.” For other uses of the phrase “place majesty upon” see Num 27:20 and 1 Chr 29:25.
  7. Psalm 8:2 tn Heb “you establish strength because of your foes.” The meaning of the statement is unclear. The present translation follows the reading of the LXX which has “praise” (αἶνος, ainos) in place of “strength” (עֹז, ʿoz); cf. NIV, NCV, NLT.
  8. Psalm 8:2 tn Heb “to cause to cease an enemy and an avenger.” The singular forms are collective. The Hitpael participle of נָקַם (naqam) also occurs in Ps 44:16.
  9. Psalm 8:3 tn Heb “when I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and stars which you established.” The verb “[and] see” is understood by ellipsis in the second half of the verse.
  10. Psalm 8:4 tn Heb “What is man[kind]?” The singular noun אֱנוֹשׁ (ʾenosh, “man”) is used here in a collective sense and refers to the human race.
  11. Psalm 8:4 tn Heb “remember him.”
  12. Psalm 8:4 tn Heb “and the son of man.” The phrase “son of man” is used here in a collective sense and refers to human beings. For other uses of the phrase in a collective or representative manner, see Num 23:19; Ps 146:3; Isa 51:12.
  13. Psalm 8:4 tn The two imperfect verbal forms in v. 4 describe God’s characteristic activity.
  14. Psalm 8:5 tn Heb “him.” The antecedent is “son of man,” so the pronoun is third masculine singular. But since “son of man” is taken in a generic sense, the translation says “them” referring to the human race.
  15. Psalm 8:5 tn Heb “and you make him lack a little from אֱלֹהִים (ʾelohim, “God” or “the heavenly beings”). The Piel form of חָסַר (khasar, “to decrease, to be devoid”) is used only here and in Eccl 4:8, where it means “to deprive, to cause to be lacking.” The verb form is past tense, as confirmed both by the preterite pointing of the initial vav (ו) and by the form of the pronominal suffix (without nun as with the forms in the previous verse). Some see this as an allusion to the creation of Adam and Eve in Gen 1:26-27, but it may also be a general reference to the status of humanity. Any connection is theological as Ps 8:5 does not share any terminology with Gen 1:26-27.
  16. Psalm 8:5 tn The Hebrew term אֱלֹהִים (ʾelohim) can refer to the one true God, to false gods, or the heavenly beings. In this context it would refer either to God or to the angels. The LXX (the ancient Greek translation of the OT) reads “angels” in Ps 8:5 (and is the source of the quotation of Ps 8:5 in Heb 2:7). The term אֱלֹהִים may refer to heavenly beings (angels) in Gen 3:5, where the serpent says to the woman, “you will be like the heavenly beings who know good and evil.” (Note Gen 3:22, where God says, “the man has become like one of us.” Also see the notes at Gen 1:26-27 regarding the plural forms.) In Ps 82:1, 6 אֱלֹהִים may refer to the members of the heavenly assembly (or may be a polemic against false gods).
  17. Psalm 8:5 tn Heb “him.” The antecedent, “son of man” is understood generically as representing the human race. The form of the third masculine singular pronoun on the verb (i.e., without nun connector as in the previous verse) confirms that the verb is a preterite. Although beginning with vav-patakh-dagesh commonly the characterizes the preterite form, it is not always present in poetry. This form of the third masculine singular suffix is used with the short prefixed paradigms, preterite and jussive, of which only the preterite fits the context.
  18. Psalm 8:5 sn Honor and majesty. These terms allude to mankind’s royal status as God’s vice-regents (cf. v. 6 and Gen 1:26-30).
  19. Psalm 8:6 tn Heb “you cause [i.e., “permit, allow”] him to rule over the works of your hands.”
  20. Psalm 8:6 tn The perfect verbal form probably has a present perfect nuance here. It refers to the continuing effects of God’s original mandate (see Gen 1:26-30).
  21. Psalm 8:6 tn Heb “under his feet.”sn Placed everything under their authority. This verse affirms that mankind rules over God’s creation as his vice-regent. See Gen 1:26-30.
  22. Psalm 8:7 tn Heb “and also the beasts of the field.”
  23. Psalm 8:8 tn Heb “paths.”
  24. Psalm 8:9 tn The plural form of the title emphasizes the Lord’s absolute sovereignty.
  25. Psalm 8:9 tn Or “awesome, majestic.”
  26. Psalm 8:9 tn Heb “name,” which here stands metonymically for God’s reputation.
  27. Psalm 8:9 sn Using the poetic device of inclusio, the psalmist ends the psalm the way he began it. The concluding refrain is identical to v. 1.