The psalmist here sets himself to give to God the glory due to his name. Dr. Hammond grounds a conjecture upon the title of this psalm concerning the occasion of penning it. It is said to be upon Gittith, which is generally taken for the tune, or musical instrument, with which this psalm was to be sung; but he renders it upon the Gittite, that is, Goliath the Gittite, whom he vanquished and slew (1 Sam. 17:1-58); that enemy was stilled by him who was, in comparison, but a babe and a suckling. The conjecture would be probable enough but that we find two other psalms with the same title, Ps. 81:1-16; 84:1-12. Two things David here admires:—
I. How plainly God displays his glory himself, Ps. 8:1. He addresses himself to God with all humility and reverence, as the Lord and his people’s Lord: O Lord our Lord! If we believe that God is the Lord, we must avouch and acknowledge him to be ours. He is ours, for he made us, protects us, and takes special care of us. He must be ours, for we are bound to obey him and submit to him; we must own the relation, not only when we come to pray to God, as a plea with him to show us mercy, but when we come to praise him, as an argument with ourselves to give him glory: and we shall never think we can do that with affection enough if we consider, 1. How brightly God’s glory shines even in this lower world: How excellent is his name in all the earth! The works of creation and Providence evince and proclaim to all the world that there is an infinite Being, the fountain of all being, power, and perfection, the sovereign ruler, powerful protector, and bountiful benefactor of all the creatures. How great, how illustrious, how magnificent, is his name in all the earth! The light of it shines in men’s faces every where (Rom. 1:20); if they shut their eyes against it, that is their fault. There is no speech or language but the voice of God’s name either is heard in it or may be. But this looks further, to the gospel of Christ, by which the name of God, as it is notified by divine revelation, which before was great in Israel only, came to be so in all the earth, the utmost ends of which have thus been made to see God’s great salvation, Mark 16:15, 16. 2. How much more brightly it shines in the upper world: Thou hast set thy glory above the heavens. (1.) God is infinitely more glorious and excellent than the noblest of creatures and those that shine most brightly. (2.) Whereas we, on this earth, only hear God’s excellent name, and praise that, the angels and blessed spirits above see his glory, and praise that, and yet he is exalted far above even their blessing and praise. (3.) In the exaltation of the Lord Jesus to the right hand of God, who is the brightness of his Father’s glory and the express image of his person, God set his glory above the heavens, far above all principalities and powers.
II. How powerfully he proclaims it by the weakest of his creatures (Ps. 8:2): Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, or perfected praise, the praise of thy strength, Matt. 21:16. This intimates the glory of God, 1. In the kingdom of nature. The care God takes of little children (when they first come into the world the most helpless of all animals), the special protection they are under, and the provision nature has made for them, ought to be acknowledged by every one of us, to the glory of God, as a great instance of his power and goodness, and the more sensibly because we have all had the benefit of it, for to this we owe it that we died not from the womb, that the knees then prevented us, and the breasts, that we should suck. “This is such an instance of thy goodness, as may for ever put to silence the enemies of thy glory, who say, There is no God.” 2. In the kingdom of Providence. In the government of this lower world he makes use of the children of men, some that know him and others that do not (Isa. 45:4), and these such as have been babes and sucklings; nay, sometimes he is pleased to serve his own purposes by the ministry of such as are still, in wisdom and strength, little better than babes and sucklings. 3. In the kingdom of grace, the kingdom of the Messiah. It is here foretold that by the apostles, who were looked upon but as babes, unlearned and ignorant men (Acts 4:13), mean and despicable, and by the foolishness of their preaching, the devil’s kingdom should be thrown down as Jericho’s walls were by the sound of rams’ horns. The gospel is called the arm of the Lord and the rod of his strength; this was ordained to work wonders, not out of the mouth of philosophers or orators, politicians or statesmen, but of a company of poor fishermen, who lay under the greatest external disadvantages; yea, we hear children crying, Hosanna to the Son of David, when the chief priests and Pharisees owned him not, but despised and rejected him; to that therefore our Saviour applied this (Matt. 21:16) and by it stilled the enemy. Sometimes the grace of God appears wonderfully in young children, and he teaches those knowledge, and makes those to understand doctrine, who are but newly weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts, Isa. 28:9. Sometimes the power of God brings to pass great things in his church by very weak and unlikely instruments, and confounds the noble, wise, and mighty, by the base, and weak, and foolish things of the world, that no flesh may glory in his presence, but the excellency of the power may the more evidently appear to be of God, and not of man, 1 Cor. 1:27, 28. This he does because of his enemies, because they are insolent and haughty, that he may still them, may put them to silence, and put them to shame, and so be justly avenged on the avengers; see Acts 4:14; 6:10. The devil is the great enemy and avenger, and by the preaching of the gospel he was in a great measure stilled, his oracles were silenced, the advocates of his cause were confounded, and unclean spirits themselves were not suffered to speak.
In singing this let us give God the glory of his great name, and of the great things he has done by the power of his gospel, in the chariot of which the exalted Redeemer rides forth conquering and to conquer, and ought to be attended, not only with our praises, but with our best wishes. Praise is perfected (that is, God is in the highest degree glorified) when strength is ordained out of the mouth of babes and sucklings.