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8. Psalm 8

O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

2Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

3When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

7All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

8The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

9O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

The preceding question, with respect to the extent of man’s dominion over the works of God, seems not yet to be fully answered. If the prophet here declares, by way of exposition, to what extent God has put all things in subjection to us, this subjection, it seems, must be restricted to what contributes to the temporal comfort and convenience of man while he continues in this world. To this difficulty I answer, That the Psalmist does not intend in these verses to give a complete enumeration of all the things which are subjected to man’s dominion, and of which he had spoken generally in the preceding verse, but he brings forward an example of this subjection only in one part or particular; yea, he has especially chosen that part which affords a clear and manifest evidence of the truth he intended to establish, even to those whose minds are uncultivated and slow of apprehension. There is no man of a mind so dull and stupid but may se if he will be at the trouble to open his eyes, that it is by the wonderful providence of God that horses and oxen yield their service to men, — that sheep produce wool to clothe them — and that all sorts of animals supply them with food for their nourishment and support, even from their own flesh. And the more that this dominion is apparent, the more ought we to be affected with a sense of the goodness and grace of our God as often as we either eat food, or enjoy any of the other comforts of life. We are, therefore, not to understand David as meaning that it is a proof that man is invested with dominion over all the works of God, because he clothes himself with the wool and the skins of beasts, because he lives upon their flesh, and because he employs their labor for his own advantage; for this would be inconclusive reasoning. He only brings forward this as an example, and as a mirror in which we may behold and contemplate the dominion over the works of his hands, with which God has honored man. The sum is this: God, in creating man, gave a demonstration of his infinite grace and more than fatherly love towards him, which ought justly to strike us with amazement; and although, by the fall of man, that happy condition has been almost entirely ruined, yet there is still in him some remains of the liberality which God then displayed towards him, which should suffice to fill us with admiration. In this mournful and wretched overthrow, it is true, the legitimate order which God originally established no longer shines forth, but the faithful whom God gathers to himself, under Christ their head, enjoy so much of the fragments of the good things which they lost in Adam, as may furnish them with abundant matter of wonder at the singularly gracious manner in which God deals with them. David here confines his attention to God’s temporal benefits, but it is our duty to rise higher, and to contemplate the invaluable treasures of the kingdom of heaven which he has unfolded in Christ, and all the gifts which belong to the spiritual life, that by reflecting upon these our hearts may be inflamed with love to God, that we may be stirred up to the practice of godliness, and that we may not suffer ourselves to become slothful and remiss in celebrating his praises.


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