Psalm 8 is a favorite psalm of many. At a quick glance, it would seem that this particular psalm is all about the majesty of God and the value of mankind. David looks into the heavens and is amazed that the God of the universe would care for the frail human race. The remaining verses of the chapter continue to describe how humanity is lower than God, but above all of creation.
Or do they?
Recently, I have taken special note of instances in which the New Testament quotes the Old Testament. In a study of the book of Hebrews, I came upon Hebrews 2:6-9 for the umpteenth time. And saw it as if for the first time.
The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 8 and then gives an explanation. Quite convenient and not at all what I was expecting.
It has been testified somewhere,
‘What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?
You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
I thought “son of man” could be defined, “humanity.” But here, the author says that this One who was made lower than the angels is Jesus himself.
After a quick search, I discovered that, in the Old Testament, “son of man” most often refers to the human race, those born of Adam. In the New Testament, “son of man” always refers to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Upon careful examination, it’s not hard to see that Psalm 8 is referring to Jesus Christ, beginning with the phrase, “…and the son of man that you care for him?” (8:4).
Jesus was the One made lower than the heavenly beings, having become flesh so that he could die and so that he could help us in our time of need (Heb 2:14, 17).
Jesus was the One crowned with glory and honor by his suffering and death (2:9).
Jesus was the One given dominion over everything, including his enemies. This idea that “everything is in subjection under his feet” can be seen throughout Scripture, even other times in Hebrews (1:13, 10:13), always referring to Christ as the King to whom all peoples would bow.
As in so many unsuspecting places in Scripture, we see that the point of the passage is Christ. Rather than a focus on the greatness of humanity, it seems that the acknowledgement of the human race is only leading to a greater point, which is the Christ to come.
And so David’s reflections take an interesting and curious turn when David looks at the heavens.
He is amazed that God would care for humanity.
He is even more amazed that God would care for Jesus.