O LORD; OUR LORD; HOW EXCELLENT IS THY NAME!
(FOR THE CHIEF MUSICIAN; SET TO THE GITTITH. A PSALM OF DAVID).
“Set to the Gittith.” Only three Psalms have this instruction in the superscription, namely, this one, Psalms 81 and Psalms 82. Dummelow gave the meaning as, “perhaps an instrument or a tune, of Gath.” At best, however, such scholarly opinions are merely educated guesses. There is much uncertainty with regard to all of these superscriptions.
“A Psalm of David.” There is nothing whatever in the Psalm itself that is contrary to the ancient opinion that David wrote it, and we find a few things that support such a view. For example, the mention of the night sky with the moon and the stars might indeed be expected from one who often kept watch at night over his father Jesse’s flock.
“O Lord, our Lord How Excellent is thy Name in all the Earth.” We have chosen a part of this opening line as the title of the Psalm itself. Many other titles have been suggested, as a glance at the various versions will indicate; but I have followed Maclaren’s declaration that:
“The exclamation that begins and ends this Psalm, enclosing it as a jewel in a setting, determines its theme as being neither the nightly heaven with its moon and stars, nor the dignity of man, but the Name of the Lord a proclaimed by both.”
“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth,
Who hast set thy glory upon the heavens!
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou established strength,
Because of thine adversaries,
That thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”
It will be noted that we went back to the KJV in the first line of Psalms 8:1. As I have grown older, I have found my respect for the word “Jehovah” as used in place of “God” or ‘Lord” more and more difficult to maintain. In no sense whatever is it an inspired word. It is a scholarly guess at what the word actually was; and there are more and more variations of it available in the scholarly writings continually demanding our attention. Another “guess” is “Yahweh”; but neither of these is as glorious, meaningful, or acceptable as “Lord.”
Furthermore, the American Standard Version of 1901 made no improvement at all in the second line of Psalms 8:1, when they substituted the word “upon” for “above,” but retained the latter in the margin. The KJV is the superior rendition, because the glory of the Creator is not merely upon the heavens, it is likewise above them.
“Out of the mouth of babes, etc.” Jesus Christ himself quoted from this passage in Matthew 21:16, where we find the account of the Pharisees’ objection that the children in the temple were chanting Hosannas to Christ, singing of him as “The Son of David.” Christ responded, saying, Yea, have ye not read that, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise.” This, of course is a verbatim quotation from the LXX; and, by reason of Jesus’ acceptance of that rendition, it may be considered superior to other translations of the passage.
Regarding the “babes and sucklings,” the passage may be a metaphor for all mankind, who in their frailty and weakness are as “babes and sucklings” in the eyes of God. Jesus’ application of the words to children singing his praises in the temple falls far short of a contradiction of that view.
There is another view also which more strongly commends itself to us, namely, that –
(1) when God decided to rescue Israel from Egyptian slavery, it was a babe, indeed a suckling, that was placed in the little ark of bulrushes and cast upon the boundless waters of the Nile river. That “babe” was Moses, and through him, God destroyed the enemy and the avenger.
(2) Once more, when the third judicial hardening of humanity had taken place, and the whole world lay “in the evil one,” as an apostle expressed it, “a babe,” “a suckling,” indeed THE BABE of Bethlehem entered our earth life in a stable, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. He did indeed destroy Satan himself, “the great enemy.” The Prince of this world was cast out by the Christ; and, it seems to us, that in such examples as those of Moses and of our Lord, we have the true and eternal fulfillment of this second verse.
Dummelow noted that “God’s employment of such feeble instruments to display his glory (and to achieve his purposes on earth, J.B.C.) puts his adversaries to silence.” Paul made mention of this very principle in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29.