O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
[Thou] hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet!
All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
During the season of Advent Christians meditate and prepare to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus. There are a handful of psalms in the Psalter traditionally and historically used by Christians to meditate on the Nativity, e.g., Psalms 8, 24, 72, 96, 122, 146. Of these Psalm 8, for several reasons, is especially affecting.
First, Psalm 8 is nothing less than a meditative-song on the greatness and glory of God which is addressed to God, i.e., note the inclusio prelude and postlude, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” And the psalmist kicks-off his meditative-song with the outrageous claim that “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” The psalmist is proclaiming that God’s name is made excellent in all the earth by way of babies! Contrast that with the common and hasty conclusion: our first reflex oftentimes is to point to righteous and powerful men and say, “There! Those men are making God’s name excellent throughout this terrestrial ball!” But that isn’t what the psalmist does here. Rather, the psalmist is thinking much more linearly; he remembers that before men grow up and do mighty deeds they must first be vulnerable, dependent little babies, and even with the consequences of sin and the marring effects of the fall, the imago Dei in man has not been entirely obliterated—genuine knowledge of God and revelation stills shines through. By way of babies God again and again and every new day creates little men and women who bear the image and likeness of their Creator. Thus, God is the Master and Creator of the Universe who graciously gives the gift of life, creates babies, and daily makes his name excellent in all the earth!
Second, by way of Incarnation God made Jesus lower than the angels, but by doing so God ultimately exalted and gave Jesus dominion over the works of his hands and put all things under the feet of Jesus (see vv. 4-5 and compare with the predictive-description of the Messiah’s rule in Psalm 2). In the beginning, God gave Adam the cultural mandate, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”(Genesis 1:28). Adam rebelled and abdicated that ethical duty… thus “death reigned by one.” Jesus, however, is the Second Adam who fulfilled the cultural mandate… thus “the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). Righteousness reigns through redemptive history and in the world by one, Jesus Christ! And because Jesus has made a way for his fellow-man to be righteous, we can go out into the world and get dominion for God (the cultural mandate has transmuted into the great commission, see Matthew 28:18-20).
Third, everything above is underscored by the progression from “man” to “son of man” in verse 4. The incarnate and humanization of Jesus, the “babe” through whom God has ordained strength (verse 2), is the front-end revelation of the Salvation of God. And the back-end revelation of the Salvation of God is the fulfillment of the Prophet Daniel’s prediction: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14). The New Testament authors confirm this prediction, that the Father in Heaven has exalted the son of man to be the cosmic Christ… as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:27 and Philippians 2:7-11,
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
[Jesus] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Father exalted Jesus for his obedience. Christ’s obedience first led him to earth to become a man, and once he became a man, the obedience of Christ led him unto death. For his obedience, the Father exalted/raised Jesus from the grave. The Father also exalted/raised Jesus by giving him a “name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Indeed, Jesus has been given a name above every name. Jesus is the “Salvation of Jehovah” who teaches us to give glory to God the Father. In the final analysis, it is because of and only because of the incarnate Jesus that we joyfully proclaim “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”