Vol. 27 New Series October, 1966 No. 5

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 Lord our LORD,
    How excellent is Thy name in all the earth."
The first verse and the last verse are identical and this sets the psalm apart from those before and those following.

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.

    "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings
    hast Thou ordained strength Because of thine enemies,
    That Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."
The first part of this is quoted by our Lord in Matthew 21:16 after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and overthrowing the tables of the money-changers. His quotation was word for word from the LXX., and so) for 'ordained strength' we find 'perfected praise.' Our Lord used it to confound the chief priests and scribes, His adversaries, or distressers, as the Hebrew word for enemies means.

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 JEHOVAHSABAIOTH—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,

    "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings
    Thou hast ordained strength
    Because of thine enemies,
    That Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."
David then looks up to heaven and considers the moon and the stars the works of God's creation and establishment, and he is struck with awe. God, so Almighty as to have created and established all that; then what am I?
    "What is man (ENOSH—mortal) that Thou art mindful
    of him?
    And the son of man (ADAM—mankind, as we all are) that
    Thou visitest (PAQAD—take notice of) him?"
David seeks here a purpose in the fact of mankind's existence, a purpose in the mind of God supported by the evidence of God taking a personal interest in the ways of man above all other creatures on earth. He searches for the significance of God's choice of himself, when even as a youth he was taken from guarding his father's flocks and placed in the forefront of the army of Israel to face in meekness, but with courage, the champion of the Philistines. This, we have seen, he does, not in his own strength, but trusting in the God of his fathers. In the chapter before this story begins we are given the account of Samuel's search for and anointing of the one of God's choice to be king of His People Israel. One can imagine David's bewilderment when this took place and how he must have pondered over the event as he led out and tended his sheep in the long hours of lonely vigil.
    'What is David, that God should be mindful of him?
    And the son of Jesse that He should visit him?'
These words might well have been upon his mind and even formed upon his lips as he sat meditating on the ways of God. If Saul, the king of Israel, acknowledged as the anointed leader was there with his armies; Saul, described for us in 1. Samuel 9:2 as "a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people;" why was he not out there to meet the challenge of Goliath? Why had God sent him, David?

Now let us turn to Psalm 144 and in verse three we find, virtually, the same words.

    "Lord, what is man, that Thou takest knowledge of him!
    Or the son of man, that Thou makest account of him!"
This psalm should be read through as one appropriate whole, with this contest in view. It is not a compilation of 'fragments' of lost psalms as some would aver (see C.B. notes). "
    For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
    And hast crowned him with glory and honour."
Angels were heavenly beings, spirits, that were messengers of God and, as Israel were the People of God, they were sent by God to minister to those under the Abrahamic covenant. Angels, here ELOHIM in the Hebrew were God's agents who administered the covenant and the law. Because of their heavenly nature and their service to God they were superior to mankind and ruled over Israel, and yet, as earthly beings God endued man with glory and majesty. Not only has God anointed some to rule as had happened to himself, but
    "Thou mad est him to have dominion over the work of
    Thy hands;
    Thou hast put all things under his feet.

    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

Filled with awe and wonder David can now but raise his eyes, and .arms and heart to the heavens above and cry aloud:
    "O Lord our LORD, How excellent is Thy name in all the earth."

    "To the overseer concerning the death of the man in
    or the 'separator.' (See App. 65, xiii. C.B.).

Verses four to six are quoted in Hebrews 2:6-8, word for word from the LXX., which translates the Hebrew ELOHIM, angels. ELOHIM, as God, the creator connotes that He is Ruler over the whole of His creation. As the Word and the Son are designated in the Scriptures as He who created all things (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16 and Heb. 1:2), the Lord Jesus Christ can also be entitled to the name ELOHIM, as well as JEHOVAH. However, ELOHIM is used in the O.T. here of angels once, twice of the goddess Ashtoreth (1. Kings 11:5, 33), 240 times of gods, three times of judges plus twice in the margin, where Exodus 22:28 gives us the evident meaning, "Thou shalt not revile the gods (ELOHIM, but in the margin judges), nor curse the ruler of thy people." It is also translated great, very great and mighty. Hebrews 2 is dealing with the administration of the law by the hand of angels and in Galatians 3:19 it is stated,
    "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of
    transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the
    promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the
    hand of a mediator."
It is interesting to note the connection between this verse and Psalm 8, which is concerning 'the man in between,' challenging and 'the man in between' or mediator, conciliating. First, however, the conciliator has to defeat the challenger, then he, alone, stands in between, conciliating. The type illustrates but falls short of the anti type. In Hebrews we are being shown the anti type, who, in the world (oikoumemE) the inhabited earth) to come will rule effectively.

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:

    "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and
    blood, He also likewise took part of the same; that
    through death He might destroy him that had the power
    of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through
    fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
Here is the kinsman redeemer, the one who has the right, the power and the will, the purchaser and the avenger of blood. This He exercised on behalf of sinful mankind and He awaits now the day of" the redemption of the purchased possession," when He shall reign over all. David was anointed king. David's greater son has been anointed King of kings and in the fulness of time He will come to take up that rule, for the blessing of mankind.
Then shall be said by all,
    "O Lord, our Lord,
    How excellent is Thy name in all the earth."
J.G.H.S. Last updated 26.6.2006