This psalm is the last of the series MAN and the SON OF MAN. This is the fifth 'Psalm of David,' so superscribed. The number five is the number for GRACE in the Scriptures of truth. When the psalm is examined it will be found to exhibit abounding grace. It points back to creation and from the application of the quotation of verses four to six, it will be seen to carry one forward to the distant future. As redemption is the outcome of grace, it looks forward to the final redemption of mankind and the whole creation that is eagerly awaiting that great day.
As it has such important bearing on the proper understanding of the psalm, one cannot go further without examining the subscription:
* "To the chief musician upon Muth-labben."
MUTH-LABBEN, one word in the Hebrew, of which the C.B. says, 'Upon muthlabben — relating to the death of the champion (Goliath). Cp. 1. Samuel 17:4, 46, etc., and Psalm 144 where the LXX., in the superscription says, "A psalm of David, concerning Goliath." More about this psalm will be brought up later.
O JEHOVAH our ADONIM is to give the Hebrew titles of the words Lord and LORD in the A.V. JEHOVAH is the covenant God of Israel, the Eternal. He who was, is and is to come.
*(For more information see
article by J.G.H.S. on Psalm 3
"To the chief musician." More
detailed definition is given in
the Companion Bible App. 64).
Israel could say 'My God' but never 'My Jehovah.' They had to say 'JEHOVAH is My God.' ADONIM is the plural of ADON—God as over-lord, ruler in the earth. ADONI is the Lord in relation to the earth; and as carrying out His purposes of blessing in the earth. ADONIM carries with it all that ADON does, but in a greater and higher degree; and more especially as owner and proprietor (C.B. App. 4). So, David is giving to the Lord praise, to whom he is beholden as owner and in relation to the covenant eulogy, for what He is rather than for what He does.
How excellent is Thy name—Jehovah Himself, the word 'name' being put, by Figure of Speech, for His person character, and attributes. In all the earth, the great subject of this psalm (C.B. in situ).
"Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens." Glory stands for majesty and excellence, which are over above the heavens and the earth which He has created, owns and rules and is in process of redeeming. Redemption is from the subservience to sin and its consequence death and from him who has "the power of death, that is, the devil."
Attention was drawn to the meaning of the number five and in looking through this psalm, other numbers are found to be prominent. Thus, Thy name, Thy glory, Thine enemies, Thy heavens, Thy fingers, Thy hands and again Thy name, appear; seven 'Thy' in all. Also we read, hast Thou ordained, Thou mightest still, Thou art mindful, Thou visitest, Thou hast made, Thou hast crowned, Thou madest, and Thou hast put, eight times 'Thou.' Six times 'him' occurs (the last 'his feet'—the feet of 'him.'), and six forms of living creatures are put under man's feet—Sheep, oxen) beasts of the field, fowl of the air, fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea (mammalia).
Where five stands for Grace, six is the number of man, and seven is a number pervading Scripture, indicating spiritual perfection. Eight is the number specially associated with resurrection and regeneration and these are characteristics of man alone and that by the grace of God, through the" cutting off of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." that is His crucifixion, when the head of Satan was bruised.
But behind the adversaries was THE enemy, the avenger, Satan; him will God 'cause to cease' (SHABATH).
Having cleared the ground, let us return to David himself and Goliath and examine the Psalm in the light of this piece of history that is recounted in much detail in 1. Samuel 17. The Philistines were gathered at Shochoth. Saul and the men of Israel were gathered by the valley of Elah and set in battle array against the Philistines. Each army was encamped on a mount on either side of the valley. The Philistine champion Goliath came out and challenged anyone from the army of Israel to join mortal combat with him in order to decide the issue of the battle. None came forth to oppose him until the arrival of David. David was the youngest of eight sons of Jesse, the three eldest of whom were at the front. He must, therefore, have been but a mere stripling. In verse 33 he is called by Saul "but a youth" and again in verses 55 and 58 he is called a stripling and a young man. It would appear that he was barely out of boyhood. Disdaining the armour provided and the weapons offered he advanced with his shepherd's sling and picking up five (the number for grace) smooth stones from the brook, he put them in the shepherd's bag. Advancing at the run to his most effective range he took one of the stones and slung it at the giant, hitting him in his forehead so that he fell on his face to the earth. Then he took the sword of Goliath and slew him. It is in the midst of this contest, when taunted by the Philistines that David declares,
"Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, Whom Thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee, and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's and he will give you (emphatic) into our hands."
Goliath was the champion of the Philistines. David was the man (ENOSH, mortal) and son of man—(ADAM, mankind) of God's own choice. He distrusted the armour and weapons of man, but put his whole trust in JEHOVAH—SABAIOTH—Lord of hosts, the God (ELOHIM) of Israel, to Whom he belonged by creation and by covenant. In this story the Philistines were the enemies, the adversaries, Goliath was their Champion (Hebrew-ISH-HABBENAYIM), the man between the two (hosts), or the duellist. David, on his side, went in to do battle on behalf of Israel, out of whose armies there was none who could" by any means redeem his brother" until he, David, who trusted in the Lord his God, came forward, without fear, and in the strength of the Lord conquered and delivered Israel. Truly,
Now let us turn to Psalm 144 and in verse three we find, virtually, the same words.
All sheep and oxen, Yea, and the beasts of the field;
The fowl of the air and the fish of the sea,
And whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas
"To the overseer concerning the death of the man in
or the 'separator.' (See App. 65, xiii. C.B.).
As man, Jesus, the son of God, by Mary, His mother, son of David, son of Adam, by His Baptism identified Himself with His brethren of Israel and went up to Jerusalem to die on the cross, where His heel was bruised. There He who was "tempted like as we are, yet without sin," was "made to be sin (offering) for us," stood in between for us and gained the victory, bruising the head of the adversary, or as it is put in Heb. 2:14-16: