Psalm 8:8
The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
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(8) And whatsoever passeth.—This is more poetical than to render “the fish of the sea who pass,” &c.

Paths of the seas.—Comp. Homer’s ὑγρὰ κέλευθα. The repetition of the first thought of the poem, binding’ the contents together as in a wreath, is the one touch of art it displays.

8:3-9 We are to consider the heavens, that man thus may be directed to set his affections on things above. What is man, so mean a creature, that he should be thus honoured! so sinful a creature, that he should be thus favoured! Man has sovereign dominion over the inferior creatures, under God, and is appointed their lord. This refers to Christ. In Heb 2:6-8, the apostle, to prove the sovereign dominion of Christ, shows he is that Man, that Son of man, here spoken of, whom God has made to have dominion over the works of his hands. The greatest favour ever showed to the human race, and the greatest honour ever put upon human nature, were exemplified in the Lord Jesus. With good reason does the psalmist conclude as he began, Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth, which has been honoured with the presence of the Redeemer, and is still enlightened by his gospel, and governed by his wisdom and power! What words can reach his praises, who has a right to our obedience as our Redeemer?The fowl of the air - Genesis 1:26, "Over the fowl of the air." Genesis 9:2, "upon every fowl of the air." This dominion is the more remarkable because the birds of the air seem to be beyond the reach of man; and yet, equally with the beasts of the field, they are subject to his control. Man captures and destroys them; he prevents their multiplication and their ravages. Numerous as they are, and rapid as is their flight, and strong as many of them are, they have never succeeded in making man subject to them, or in disturbing the purposes of man. See the notes at James 3:7.

And the fish of the sea - Genesis 1:26, "Over the fish of the sea." Genesis 9:2, "upon all the fishes of the sea." This must be understood in a general sense, and this is perhaps still more remarkable than the dominion over the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, for the fishes that swim in the ocean seem to be placed still farther from the control of man. Yet, so far as is necessary for his use and for safety, they are, in fact, put under the control of man, and he makes them minister to his profit. Not a little of that which contributes to the support the comfort, and the luxury of man, comes from the ocean. From the mighty whale to the shellfish that furnished the Tyrian dye, or to that which furnishes the beautiful pearl, man has shown his power to make the dwellers in the deep subservient to his will.

And whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas - Everything, in general, that passes through the paths of the sea, as if the ocean was formed with paths or highways for them to pass over. Some have referred this to man, as passing over the sea and subduing its inhabitants; some, to the fishes before spoken of; but the most natural construction is that which is adotpted in our received version, as referring to everything which moves in the waters. The idea is that man has a wide and universal dominion - a dominion so wide as to excite amazement, wonder, and gratitude, that it has been conceded to one so feeble as he is.

5-8. God has placed man next in dignity to angels, and but a little lower, and has crowned him with the empire of the world.

glory and honour—are the attributes of royal dignity (Ps 21:5; 45:3). The position assigned man is that described (Ge 1:26-28) as belonging to Adam, in his original condition, the terms employed in detailing the subjects of man's dominion corresponding with those there used. In a modified sense, in his present fallen state, man is still invested with some remains of this original dominion. It is very evident, however, by the apostle's inspired expositions (Heb 2:6-8; 1Co 15:27, 28) that the language here employed finds its fulfilment only in the final exaltation of Christ's human nature. There is no limit to the "all things" mentioned, God only excepted, who "puts all things under." Man, in the person and glorious destiny of Jesus of Nazareth, the second Adam, the head and representative of the race, will not only be restored to his original position, but exalted far beyond it. "The last enemy, death," through fear of which, man, in his present estate, is "all his lifetime in bondage" [Heb 2:15], "shall be destroyed" [1Co 15:26]. Then all things will have been put under his feet, "principalities and powers being made subject to him" [1Pe 3:22]. This view, so far from being alien from the scope of the passage, is more consistent than any other; for man as a race cannot well be conceived to have a higher honor put upon him than to be thus exalted in the person and destiny of Jesus of Nazareth. And at the same time, by no other of His glorious manifestations has God more illustriously declared those attributes which distinguish His name than in the scheme of redemption, of which this economy forms such an important and essential feature. In the generic import of the language, as describing man's present relation to the works of God's hands, it may be regarded as typical, thus allowing not only the usual application, but also this higher sense which the inspired writers of the New Testament have assigned it.

No text from Poole on this verse. The fowl of the air,.... These he rained about the tents of the Israelites for their relief, Psalm 78:27, and can command them to feed his people, as the ravens did Elijah, 1 Kings 17:4; or to destroy his enemies, Jeremiah 15:3; see Psalm 50:10;

and the fish of the sea: instances of Christ's power over them, and of their being at his command, and for his service, may be seen in Matthew 17:27;

and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas: some (k) understand this of ships, made by the wisdom and art of men, in which they pass through the paths of the sea, and fish in the midst of it. The Targum paraphrases it, "and leviathan, which passes through the paths of the sea". Compare with this Isaiah 27:1. Some interpret all these things in a figurative and allegorical way; and some of the ancients by "sheep" understood believers among the Gentiles; by "oxen", the Jews; by "the beasts of the field", idolaters and profane persons; "by the fowls of the air", angels; and by "the fish of the sea", devils: but these are much better explained by Cocceius, who, by "sheep", understands common members of the churches; by "oxen", those that labour in the word and doctrine; by "the beasts of the field", aliens from the city and kingdom of God; men fierce and cruel, Isaiah 11:6; by "the fowl of the air", such as are tilted up with pride and vanity; and by "the fish of the sea", such as are immersed in worldly pleasures. But it is best to interpret the whole literally; from whence may be observed, that what was lost by the first Adam is restored by the second; and that believers have a free use of all the creatures through Christ: and not only the things here mentioned are subject to him, but everything else; there is nothing left that is not put under him, only he is excepted that put all things under him, Hebrews 2:8.

(k) Aben Ezra & Kimchi in loc.

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
Verse 8. - The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas; literally, fowl of the air, and fishes of the sea, the passer through the paths of the seas. Every passer through the paths of the seas, whether exactly a fish or no. The cetacea are thus included (comp. Genesis 1:21). (Heb.: 8:2-3) Here, for the first time, the subject speaking in the Psalm is not one individual, but a number of persons; and who should they be but the church of Jahve, which (as in Nehemiah 10:30) can call Jahve its Lord (אדנינוּ, like אדני from אדנים plur. excellentiae, Ges. ֗108, 2); but knowing also at the same time that what it has become by grace it is called to be for the good of the whole earth? The שׁם of God is the impress (cognate Arabic wasm, a sign, Greek σῆμα) of His nature, which we see in His works of creation and His acts of salvation, a nature which can only be known from this visible and comprehensible representation (nomen equals gnomen).

(Note: Cf. Oehler's art. Name in Herzog's Real-Encyklopdie.)

This name of God is certainly not yet so known and praised everywhere, as the church to which it has been made known by a positive revelation can know and praise it; but, nevertheless, it, viz., the divine name uttered in creation and its works, by which God has made Himself known and capable of being recognised and named, ifs אדּיר amplum et gloriosum, everywhere through out the earth, even if it were entirely without any echo. The clause with אשׁר must not be rendered: Who, do Thou be pleased to put Thy glory upon the heavens (Gesenius even: quam tuam magnificentiam pone in caelis), for such a use of the imperat. after אשׁר is unheard of; and, moreover, although it is true a thought admissible in its connection with the redemptive history (Psalm 57:6, 12) is thus obtained, it is here, however, one that runs counter to the fundamental tone, and to the circumstances, of the Psalm. For the primary thought of the Psalm is this, that the God, whose glory the heavens reflect, has also glorified Himself in the earth and in man; and the situation of the poet is this, that he has the moon and stars before his eyes: how then could he wish that heaven to be made glorious whose glory is shining into his eyes! It is just as impracticable to take תּנה as a contraction of נתנה, like תּתּה 2 Samuel 22:41, equals נתתּה, as Ammonius and others, and last of all Bhl, have done, or with Thenius (Stud. u. Krit. 1860 S. 712f.) to read it so at once. For even if the thought: "which (the earth) gives (announces) Thy glory all over the heavens" is not contrary to the connection, and if נתן עז, Psalm 68:34, and נתן כבוד, Jeremiah 13:16, can be compared with this נתן הוד, still the phrase נתן הוד על means nothing but to lay majesty on any one, to clothe him with it, Numbers 27:20; 1 Chronicles 29:25; Daniel 11:21, cf. Psalm 21:6; and this is just the thought one looks for, viz., that the name of the God, who has put His glory upon the heavens (Psalm 148:13) is also glorious here below. We must, therefore, take תּנה, although it is always the form of the imper. elsewhere, as infin., just as רדה occurs once in Genesis 46:3 as infin. (like the Arab. rı̆da a giving to drink, lı̆da a bringing forth - forms to which לדה and the like in Hebrew certainly more exactly correspond).

תּנה הודך signifies the setting of Thy glory (prop. τὸ τιθέναι τὴν δόξαν σου) just like דּעה את־ה the knowledge of Jahve, and Obad. Psa 8:5, שׂים קנּך, probably the setting of thy nest, Ges. 133. 1. It may be interpreted: O Thou whose laying of Thy glory is upon the heavens, i.e., Thou who hast chosen this as the place on which Thou hast laid Thy glory (Hengst.). In accordance with this Jerome translates it: qui posuisti gloriam tuam super caelos. Thus also the Syriac version with the Targum: dejabt (דיהבת) shubhoch 'al shemajo, and Symmachus: ὃς ἔταξας τὸν ἔπαινόν σου ὑπεράνω τῶν οὐρανῶν. This use of the nomen verbale and the genitival relation of אשׁר to תּנה הודך, which is taken as one notion, is still remarkable. Hitzig considers that no reasonable man would think and write thus: but thereby at the same time utterly condemns his own conjecture תּן ההודך (whose extending of glory over the heavens). This, moreover, goes beyond the limits of the language, which is only acquainted with תּן as the name of an animal. All difficulty would vanish if one might, with Hupfeld, read נתתּה. But תנה has not the slightest appearance of being a corruption of נתתה. It might be more readily supposed that תּנה is an erroneous pointing for תּנה (to stretch or extend, cf. Hosea 8:10 to stretch forth, distribute): Thou whose glory stretches over the heavens, - an interpretation which is more probable than that it is, with Paulus and Kurtz, to be read תּנּה: Thou whose glory is praised (pass. of the תּנּה in Judges 5:11; Judges 11:40, which belongs to the dialect of Northern Palestine), instead of which one would more readily expect יתנּה. The verbal notion, which is tacitly implied in Psalm 113:4; Psalm 148:13, would then be expressed here. But perhaps the author wrote תּנה הודך instead of נתתּ הודך, because he wishes to describe the setting out of the heavens with divine splendour

(Note: In the first Sidonian inscription אדּיר occurs as a by-name of the heavens (שמם אדרם).)

as being constantly repeated and not as done once for all. There now follows, in Psalm 8:3, the confirmation of Psalm 8:2: also all over the earth, despite its distance from the heavens above, Jahve's name is glorious; for even children, yea even sucklings glorify him there, and in fact not mutely and passively by their mere existence, but with their mouth. עולל ( equals מעולל), or עולל is a child that is more mature and capable of spontaneous action, from עולל (Poel of עלל ludere),

(Note: According to this derivation עולל (cf. Beduin עאלול, ‛âlûl a young ox) is related to תּעלוּל; whereas עוּל as a synonym of יונק signifies one who is supported, sustained. For the radical signification of עוּל according to the Arabic ‛âl, fut. o. is "to weigh heavy, to be heavy, to lie upon; to have anything incumbent upon one's self, to carry, support, preserve," whence ‛ajjil the maintained child of the house, and (ajjila (Damascene ‛êla) he who is dependent upon one for support and the family depending upon the paterfamilias for sustenance. Neither Arab. ‛âl, fut. o., nor gâl, fut. i. usually applied to a pregnant woman who still suckles, has the direct signification to suckle. Moreover, the demon Ghul does not receive its name from swallowing up or sucking out (Ges.), but from destroying (Arab. gâl, fut. o.).)

according to 1 Samuel 22:19; Psalm 15:3, distinct from יונק, i.e., a suckling, not, however, infans, but, - since the Hebrew women were accustomed to suckle their children for a long period, - a little child which is able to lisp and speak (vid., 2 Macc. 7:27). Out of the mouth of beings such as these Jahve has founded for Himself עז. The lxx translates it the utterance of praise, αἶνον; and עז certainly sometimes has the meaning of power ascribed to God in praise, and so a laudatory acknowledgment of His might; but this is only when connected with verbs of giving, Psalm 29:1; Psalm 68:35; Psalm 96:7. In itself, when standing alone, it cannot mean this. It is in this passage: might, or victorious power, which God creates for Himself out of the mouths of children that confess Him. This offensive and defensive power, as Luther has observed on this passage, is conceived of as a strong building, עז as מעוז (Jeremiah 16:19) i.e., a fortress, refuge, bulwark, fortification, for the foundation of which He has taken the mouth, i.e., the stammering of children; and this He has done because of His enemies, to restrain (השׁבּית to cause any one to sit or lie down, rest, to put him to silence, e.g., Isaiah 16:10; Ezekiel 7:24) such as are enraged against Him and His, and are inspired with a thirst for vengeance which expresses itself in curses (the same combination is found in Psalm 44:17). Those meant, are the fierce and calumniating opponents of revelation. Jahve has placed the mouth of children in opposition to these, as a strong defensive controversive power. He has chosen that which is foolish and weak in the eyes of the world to put to shame the wise and that which is strong (1 Corinthians 1:27). It is by obscure and naturally feeble instruments that He makes His name glorious here below. and overcomes whatsoever is opposed to this glorifying.

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