Psalm viii. (Domine Dominus noster.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. The presses. In Hebrew Gittith, supposed to be a musical instrument: (Challoner) or, “the musicians from Geth,” who were famous, and might follow David, 2 Kings i. 20., and xv. 18. The Septuagint must have read a v for i. (Calmet) Gothuth. Yet St. Jerome and Pagnin agree with them; (Haydock) and that sense seems as plausible as any other. The psalm relates to Christ alone; (Matthew xxi. 16., 1 Corinthians xv. 26., and Hebrews ii. 6.) who is represented treading the wine-press, Isaias lxiii. 3., and Apocalypse xix. 13. (Berthier) — The Jews confess that it speaks of the Messias. (Ferrand.) — We may explain it also of the natural prerogatives of man, (Calmet) though (Haydock) this weakens the force of the prophecy. (Berthier) — St. Augustine applies the expressions to the good and bad in the Church. (Worthington) — It might be sung during the feast of tabernacles, after the vintage. (Menochius)
Ver. 2. O Lord, (Jehova) our Lord, (Adonenu). (St. Jerome) Dominator noster, “our Ruler.” (Haydock) — God is Lord of all by creation, and still more of those who believe. (Worthington) — Adonai is pronounced by the Jews, and sometimes applied to men. But they have lost the pronunciation of the first term, which some read Jehovah, (Calmet) or Jaho, (St. Jerome) Jave, &c. (Haydock) — Admirable. It expresses all that He is. (Exodus iii. 14.; Berthier) Essence itself. (Haydock) — Earth. This was verified after the incarnation; (St. Chrysostom) for before, the Gentiles knew it not, and the Jews caused it to be blasphemed. (Berthier) — Now all confess the glory of Jesus Christ, the master-piece of God. (Calmet) — Heavens; which are nothing in comparison, (Menochius) for he hath created them. (Worthington) (Habacuc iii. 3.)
Ver. 3. Praise. But why does the prophet take notice of this proof of Christ’s being the Messias, while he passes over his curing the sick? &c. St. Chrysostom answers, because the other miracles had been performed in the old law, but God had never before opened the mouths of infants to proclaim “praise the Lord,” as they did when they bore witness to Christ entering the temple. Other commentators greatly weaken this proof. (Berthier) — We read that after the passage of the Red Sea, wisdom opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of infants eloquent; (Wisdom x. 21.) which may be a figurative expression. The prophets and apostles, whom the world looked upon as fools, were chosen to declare the highest mysteries. All nature so clearly proves the existence of Providence, that, if other things were silent, infants would open their mouths to confound the incredulous. The condition of man from his infancy is, in effect, one of the plainest proofs of the divine wisdom. His imitative powers, the ease with which he takes his mother’s milk, &c., are something surprising. Hippocrates even, concludes hence, that the child must have sucked, even in the womb, as the art is soon lost, and not easily recovered. God seems to be particularly pleased with the praises of children, Micheas ii. 9., and Joel ii. 16. St. Augustine admires how the Scriptures have been proportioned to the capacity of infants. Hebrew, “Thou hast founded strength.” (Aquila) (Calmet) — But St. Jerome retains praise, as our Saviour himself quotes it, Matthew xxi. 16. (Haydock) — Avenger. The old Vulgate read defensorem (Haydock) in the same sense. St. Chrysostom explains it of the Jews; and other Fathers understand heretics and the devil. (St. Augustine, &c.) (Calmet) — Arnobius (contra Gent. i.) seems to think that all have an innate idea of Providence, ingenitum. The poor and simple confessed Christ, whom the proud doctors of the law, and Pharisees, rejected, despising his followers as children or fools. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Fingers, as if they had been formed in play, while the Incarnation is the work of God’s right hand. (Eusebius) (Calmet) — Heavens, moon, and stars, denote the Church. No mention is made of the sun, because it is the emblem of Christ, who was the Creator. (Berthier) (Apocalypse xii. 1.) — This text proves that the world was not formed by angels, as some ancient heretics asserted. David, perhaps, wrote this at night; and the sun and stars are not seen together. (Menochius)
Ver. 5. Him. The prophet considers the nature of man at such a distance from the divinity. Being, nevertheless, united with it in Jesus Christ, it is raised far above the angels, Hebrews ii. 6. (Berthier) — When we reflect on the meanness of our nature, on the one hand, and on what God has done for it on the other, we are lost in astonishment. The pagans were aware of the corporal infirmities of man, (Seneca Consol. xi.) but not of his spiritual disorders. Hebrew has here, the son of Adam, or one of the lowest class; and not of ish, which means a person of nobility, vir, Psalm iv. 4. (Calmet) — Yet Christ applies to himself the former appellation, to shew us a pattern of humility. (Haydock) — St. Augustine inquires, what difference there is between man or the son. The Hebrew v, means, likewise, and; yet or would have been better, Exodus xxi. 16. — “Whether he have sold him, or he be in his hand.” (Amama)
Ver. 6. Angels. Elohim means also “God,” as St. Jerome, &c., explain it. Thou hast placed man like a deity upon earth. But St. Paul adopts the sense of the Septuagint. (Calmet) — St. Jerome doubted whether the epistle to the Hebrews belonged to him or he would have done the same. Some of the Fathers suppose, (Berthier) that the prophet speaks of man before the fall. (Theodoret) — Yet he has Christ principally in view. (Calmet) — A little less may be better rendered, “for a little while:” brachu ti, Acts v. 34., and Isaias x. 25.; modico, Hebrews ii. Notwithstanding the prerogatives of Adam, before his fall, what is said by the prophet and St. Paul can be true of none but Christ; who was subject to death only for a short space, and quickly rose from the tomb, Lord of all, 1 Corinthians xv. 26. If we do not see it yet, (Hebrews ii. 8., and Psalm lxix. 2.) our faith must not waver. He is crowned, and will one day assert his dominion. (Berthier) (Matthew xxviii. 18., and Ephesians i. 19.) (Calmet) — In his assumed nature, Christ became less than the angels; but he has raised it above them, and is appointed Lord of angels, men, and creatures of every description. The sea and the winds obey him, Matthew viii. (Worthington)
Ver. 8. All sheep. St. Paul did not judge it necessary to specify these things, as they are included in the word all. (Berthier) These tame cattle designate the believing Jews; beasts, the Gentile converts; birds, the proud; fishes, the voluptuous. (St. Athanasius) — The birds may also be put for men of genius, who dive into the secrets of theology; and fishes, for anxious worldlings. (Hesychius) — Sts. Augustine and Jerome understand that people who labour not for their salvation, or who are attached to the earth, men who rise up against God, or never elevate their thoughts to heaven, are emblematically specified by these creatures.
Ver. 9. Sea. All things are subjected to man’s dominion., Genesis i. 26., and ix. 2. (Calmet) — “The Stoics are in the right, who say that the world was made for us. For all its parts and productions are contrived for man’s benefit.” (Lact. ira. xiii.)
Ver. 10. Earth. This repetition of the first verse insinuates, that as God was admirable in giving man the power to avoid sin and death; so he is wonderful in raising him again, in such a state that he can sin no more. (Worthington)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
God is wonderful in his works; especially in mankind, singularly exalted by the incarnation of Christ.
1 Unto the end, for the presses: a psalm for David.
2 O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth!
For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens.
3 Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.
4 For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded.
5 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
6 *Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: 7 and hast set him over the works of thy hands.
8 *Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover, the beasts also of the fields.
9 The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea.
10 O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole world!
6: Hebrews ii. 7.
8: Genesis i. 28.; 1 Corinthians xv. 26.