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Psalm 8 Part 5: We are Crowned in Majesty!
Psalm 8:5 We are spiritual beings first and foremost.
“Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!”
Psalms 8:5 NASB1995
The Creator of the incredibly vast Universe thinks of us and cares for us. He made us in His image and we are just a little lower than Him, crowned in glory and majesty. If you look at different Bible translations of this verse of Psalm 8, there are some interesting variations from this translation in the NASB1995:
KJV (King James Version): For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
NIV (New International Version): You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.
ESV (English Standard Version): Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
A big difference! These three popular translations say that we are a little lower than the angels or heavenly beings, whereas the NASB1995 (and NASB2020) say that we are a little lower than God Himself! Commentary from Enduring Word by David Guzik focuses on the aspect of “lower than angels”:
For You have made him a little lower than the angels: David saw that God made man a little lower than the angels, and this is evident in the way that man is beneath the angels in present glory, power, and nearness to God.
The word translated angels is Elohim, and most often refers to God Himself. There are some (such as James Montgomery Boice) who believe that David meant to say that man is a little lower than God, stressing the idea that man is made in God’s image.
Yet the ancient translators of the Bible from Hebrew to Greek understood elohimhere to speak of angelic beings; more importantly, that was how the writer to the Hebrews understood it. “The Hebrew for [angels] is simply ‘God’ or ‘gods’ (‘Elohim’). It may refer to angelic beings.” (William VanGemeren)
Significantly, David did not say that man was “a little higher than the beasts,” though one could say that is true. Theologians since Thomas Aquinas have noted that man is in a middle position between the angels and the animals: lower than the angels yet higher than the animals. Yet David rightly makes us look upward and not downward, though many think of mankind as more animal than angelic, David wrote that You have made him a little lower than the angels.
“Although made in God’s image and ordained to become increasingly like the God to whom they look, men and women have turned their backs on God. And since they will not look upward to God, which is their privilege and duty, they actually look downward to the beasts and so become increasingly like them.” (James Montgomery Boice)
This very passage is quoted in Hebrews 2:5-9 to reinforce and build upon this exact point. In it he notes that man’s low estate relates only to this world, and not the world to come (Hebrews 2:5). More pointedly, the writer of Hebrews used this passage from Psalm 8 to show that Jesus really did add a genuinely human nature to His divine nature and thus also became a little lower than the angels.
David makes us look up in aspiration as His special creation to the heavenly beings and to God. James Montgomery Boice is cited in this commentary (fourth sub-bullet) and he has a really good point. People today have turned their backs on God and look downward to the animals and have become increasingly like them.
I confess that I am probably still an old-earth creationist, but I have also had many doubts about the theory of evolution (even more so now), dating back to when I was wandering in the wilderness of secularism. I believe that the ages of this solar system, our planet and the universe have probably been correctly measured by science. Then something marvelous and unique happened not that long ago in the history of our planet with a special species called humans; we were created and made to be in a relationship with God and we long for it. But we are teaching our children that humans are nothing special (just another species of animal) and there is no God, only blind processes that started in a pool of genetic material that came from “somewhere”.
We are spiritual beings first and foremost. God crowns us with majesty and glory, if only we would look towards Him and away from a worship of science and self. Here is more commentary from Enduring Word:
You have crowned him with glory and honor: Though for a little while set lower than the angels, man’s destiny is one day to be crowned with a glory and honor that surpasses even the angels. It is the destiny of redeemed men and women to one day be lifted above the angels (1 Corinthians 6:3, Revelation 1:6, 5:10).
“Little can sometimes mean ‘for a little while’ in both Hebrew and Greek, which is the sense probably implied in [Hebrews].” (Derek Kidner)
“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.” (Charles Spurgeon)
God’s glory is above the heavens; yet He put this same glory and honor on man as a crown. “This is an effective way of identifying man with God and of saying that he has been made in God’s image, reflecting God’s glory in a way other parts of the creation do not.” (James Montgomery Boice)
As the writer of Hebrews points out, it seems that this divine call and gift given to man of great dominion over the whole earth is tragically unfulfilled; fallen man seems so weak and incapable of dominion over his own thoughts and desires, much less crowned with glory and honor. Yet, as Hebrews properly says, but we see Jesus (Hebrew 2:9).
“In Him we have had the full revelation of the greatness of man. But we have seen more than that. We have seen Him ‘crowned with glory and honour, that by the grace of God He should taste death for every man.’ That vision creates our confidence that man will at last realize the Divine purpose.” (George Campbell Morgan)
“Satan is no doubt filled with scorn of man when he looks at him and measures him with himself. ‘Is this the creature that is to be set over all the works of God’s hands, made of earth and water, phosphates and metals? I am nobler far than he. Can I not flash like lightning, while he must creep about the world to find himself a grave?’” (Charles Spurgeon)
As I journey deeper into faith, I am slowly putting away more and more of the desires to accommodate human-centered views on our physical world. I cherish the belief that I am made in His image, something that I used to mock. Interestingly, even when I thoroughly mocked belief, I had a still, small voice in my head telling me that I was wrong. That voice (thank you Lord) has won out and I eagerly anticipate fulfilling my divine purpose.
My next devotional examines Psalm 8 verse 6.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord: Thank you for creating us to be in a special relationship with you through eternity, through the sacrifice of your Son on the Cross. May I always look upwards in anticipation of that divine purpose. Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Commentary from Enduring Word by David Guzik is used with written permission.