|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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?
Verse 5. - For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels; rather, thou hast made him but a little lower than God (אלהים). There is no place in the Old Testament where Elohim means "angels;" and, though the LXX. so translate in the present passage, and the rendering has passed from them into the New Testament (Hebrews 2:7), it cannot be regarded as critically correct. The psalmist, in considering how man has been favoured by God, goes back in thought to his creation, and remembers the words of Genesis 1:26, 27, "Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (compare the still stronger expression in Psalm 82:6, "I have said, Ye are gods"). And hast crowned him with glory and honour; i.e. "and, by so doing, by giving him a nature but a little short of the Divine, hast put on him a crown of glory such as thou hast given to no other creature." There is a point of view from which the nature of man transcends that of angels, since
(1) it is a direct transcript of the Divine (Genesis 1:27); and
(2) it is the nature which the Son of God assumed (Hebrews 2:16).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,.... Than Elohim, "than God", as this word usually signifies: and could it be interpreted of man, as made by God, it might be thought to refer to the creation of him in the image and likeness of God; but as it must be understood of the human nature of Christ, it may regard the wonderful union of it to the Son of God, on account of which it is called by the same name, Luke 1:35; and so made but a little lower than God, being next unto him, and in so near an union with a divine Person; and which union is hypostatical or personal, the human nature being taken into a personal union with the Son of God: and so these words give an instance of God's marvellous regard to it; and contain a reason, proving that he has been mindful of it, and visited it. Though rather this clause refers to the humiliation of Christ in his human nature, as it is interpreted in Hebrews 2:9; and so it removes an objection, as it is connected with the following clause, which might be made against what had been observed in Psalm 8:4, on account of the low estate of Christ's human nature, when here on the earth; and the sense is, that God has been mindful of it, and visited it, notwithstanding its state of humiliation for a little while, seeing he has crowned it with glory and honour, &c. Christ was made low as to nature, place, estate, reputation, and life; he who was the most high God, in the form of God, and equal to him in the divine nature, was made frail mortal flesh, and was in the form of a servant in the human nature. He who dwelt on high, and lay in the bosom of his Father, descended into the lower parts of the earth, was formed in the womb of a virgin, and when born was laid in a manager, and dwelt and conversed with sinful mortal men upon earth: he who was Lord of all, whose is the earth, and the fulness of it, had not where to lay his head: he whose glory was the glory of the only begotten of the Father, became a worm and no man in the esteem of men, was despised and rejected of men, and was of no reputation: and he who was the Lord of life and glory was crucified and killed; becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Such is the nature of Christ's humiliation, expressed by being "made low"; the degree of it is, "lower than Elohim", than God: he was equal to him in the divine nature, but inferior to him in the human nature, John 14:28. As Mediator he was the servant of God, and the servant is not greater than his master; nor as such so great: and he was in his low estate in such a condition as to need the help and assistance of God, which he had in the day of salvation: and especially he was lower when he, was deserted by him, Matthew 27:46. Agreeably to which, some render the words, as they will bear to be rendered, "thou didst make him want God", or "didst deprive", or "bereave him of God" (i); that is, of the gracious presence of God: and so Christ was made lower than God in nature, office, and condition. Sometimes the word "Elohim" is used for civil magistrates, as in Psalm 82:6; because they are in God's stead, and represent him; and, on account of their majesty, authority, and power, bear some resemblance to him. Now Christ was made lower than they, inasmuch as he not only taught obedience to them, but obeyed them himself, was a servant of rulers, paid tribute to them, and suffered himself to be examined, tried, judged, and condemned by them; but since the word is rendered "angels" by the Chaldee paraphrase, the Septuagint interpreters, the Jewish commentators, Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, and in the Arabic, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, and above all by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, it is best to interpret it of them: and Christ was made lower than they by assuming human nature, which is inferior to theirs, especially in the corporeal part of it; and more so, inasmuch as it was attended with infirmities, and subject to sorrows and griefs; and as it was sometimes reduced to great extremes, and to want the comforts of life; and sometimes was in such distress as to need the assistance and ministration of angels, which it had, Matthew 4:11; and particularly it was lower than they when deserted by God, whose face they always behold. To which may be added, that Christ was made under, a law given by the disposition of angels, ordained by them, and is called "the word" spoken by them; some parts of which they are not subject to; but the particular instance the apostle observes is suffering of death, Hebrews 2:9; which angels are not liable to, they die not. The duration of this low estate was "a little while"; for so the Hebrew word may be rendered, as it is in Psalm 37:10, and the Greek , used by the Septuagint, and the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, as it is in Acts 5:34; which refers either to the time of suffering death, and lying under the power of that and the grave, which was but a little time; or at most to the days of his flesh, reaching from his incarnation to his resurrection; which was a course but of a few years, and may very well be expressed in this manner. And to this low estate was Christ brought by Jehovah the Father, who is the person spoken of throughout the psalm; he preordained him to it, prepared a body for him, sent him in the fulness of time, made of a woman, made under the law, and had a very great hand in his sufferings and death: though all was with Christ's full consent, and with his free good will;
and hast crowned him with glory and honour; by raising him from the dead, and setting him at his own right hand, committing all judgment to him; and requiring all creatures, angels and men, to give worship and adoration to him. And this being in consequence of his sufferings, after he had run the race, and endured a fight of afflictions; and because of the greatness of his glory and honour, with which he was as it were on all sides surrounded, he is said to be "crowned" with it; who a little before was crowned with thorns, and encompassed with the terrors of death and hell. This respects his mediatorial glory.
(i) "et deficere facies" ("vel facisti", Pagninus) "eum paululum a Deo", Montanus; "destitui quidem eum voluisti paululum a Deo", Michaelis; "carere eum fecisti Deo parumper", Gejerus.
The Treasury of David
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea.
These verses may set forth man's position among the creatures before he fell; but as they are, by the apostle Paul, appropriated to man as represented by the Lord Jesus, it is best to given most weight to that meaning. In order of dignity, man stood next to the angels, and a little lower than they; in the Lord Jesus this was accomplished, for he was made a little lower than the angels by the suffering of death. Man in Eden had the full command of all creatures and they came before him to receive their names as an act of homage to him as the vicegerent of God to them. Jesus in his glory, is now Lord, not only of all living, but of all created things, and, with the exception of him who put all things under him, Jesus is Lord of all, and his elect, in him, are raised to a dominion wider than that of the first Adam, as shall be more clearly seen at his coming. Well might the Psalmist wonder at the singular exaltation of man in the scale of being, when he marked his utter nothingness in comparison with the starry universe.
Thou madest him a little lower than the angels - a little lower in nature, since they are immortal, and but a little, because time is short; and when that is over, saints are no longer lower than the angels. The margin reads it, "A little while inferior to." Thou crownest him. The dominion that God has bestowed on man is a great glory and honour to him; for all dominion is honour, and the highest is that which wears the crown. A full list is given of the subjugated creatures, to show that all the dominion lost by sin is restored in Christ Jesus. Let none of us permit the possession of any earthly creature to be a snare to us, but let us remember that we are to reign over them, and not to allow them to reign over us. Under our feet we must keep the world, and we must shun that base spirit which is content to let worldly cares and pleasures sway the empire of the immortal soul.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
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