by William M. Banks, Scotland
THE EXCELLENT NAME AND ITS SCOPE AND SIGNIFICANCE – vv.1,2
THE SMALLNESS OF MAN – vv.4,5a
THE EXCELLENT NAME AND ITS SCOPE – v.9
The Psalm takes up the refrain of the last verse of Psalm 7: “I will praise the LORD [Jehovah] according to His righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD [Jehovah] Most High.” Psalm 8 sings that praise by extolling the name of Jehovah. It begins and ends with the excellence of that glorious name. The sphere cannot be restricted: “in all the earth”, “above the heavens”, “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings”. Creation evidences the excellence, and even man in his initial state was invested with some of the inherent glory and power. Thus, the excellence of the name is demonstrated in two main spheres: creation and man. It is still evident in the former but not now seen in its initial vigour in the latter. However, God’s purpose for the latter will not be thwarted: it will be fulfilled to the letter in the Person of the Lord Jesus, “the last Adam” 1Cor.15.45.
The Psalm reflects back to Gen.1.26-28 and looks forward to its final fulfilment in the Millennium. It is quoted directly and indirectly several times in the New Testament. Matt.21.16 quotes v.2 from the Septuagint and vv.4-6 are quoted in Heb.2.6-8. In this latter quotation the context is clearly that of the coming Millennial reign of the Lord Jesus, depicted as “the world to come”. This “world to come” has not been subjected to angels: “For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come” Heb.2.5. It has been reserved for “man”. However, man as he came from the hand of God in pristine creation has fallen. In spite of the fact that God had “put all things in subjection under his feet [and] left nothing that [was] not put under him … we see not yet all things put under him.” Has Divine purpose failed? By no means, for “we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” Heb.2.8,9. The “world to come” will be subjected to an unfallen man: He will be supreme and the praise of “babes and sucklings” Matt.21.16, will reverberate through the Kingdom!
There are other direct references to the Psalm, in Eph.1.22 and 1Cor.15.27, but there is surely also an incidental reference to it in 1Cor.1.26-29: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” From such “the enemy and the avenger” Ps.8.2, will be stilled!
It is well known that the superscripts in the Psalms are part of the inspired Word. Three things are clear from the superscript to Psalm 8. It is a subject for “the chief Musician” or ‘choir director’ to employ when he desires his musicians to focus on the excellence of Jehovah. It is also “a Psalm of David”, which gives the distinct possibility that there was a historical occasion to which the Psalm refers. There might be an inkling of what that occasion was from the other detail in the superscript, namely, that it is “To the chief Musician upon Gittith”. The meaning of Gittith is rather difficult to ascertain exactly. It has evidently something to do with music and may refer to a musical instrument or a particular tune. Leupold1 suggests the translation, “after the tune of the treaders of the winepress”. It was clearly something worth singing about. According to Newberry it does mean ‘a winepress’ and comes from Gath. Was David contemplating the day when as a teenager he entered a ‘winepress’: “the valley of the shadow of death”, to quote Ps.23.4, against a formidable enemy from Gath, 1Sam.17.4,23? Perhaps he was still very young when this Psalm was written, as he was keeping the sheep in the stillness of the night watches and observing the wonder of the heavens? Indeed, had the conflict with a Gittite only recently taken place?
- 1. Leupold, H.C. “Exposition of Psalms”. Baker Book House, 1961.
Certainly the repeated reference to the excellence of the name of Jehovah would tie in beautifully to the context of the valley of Elah. The Philistine was coming to Israel and to David boasting about his gods: “the Philistine cursed David by his gods” 1Sam.17.43. David knew the true God: “The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” 1Sam.17.37. David moved towards the giant with absolute confidence in the power of the “excellent name”: “Then said David to the Philistine, ‘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 … that all the earth [cf. Ps.8.1] 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 [cf. Ps.8.2b], and He will give you into our hands’” 1Sam.17.45-47.
Perhaps the superscript of Psalm 9 (or is it a subscript of Psalm 8, as some have suggested?) continues the same theme: “To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben”. According to Newberry, Muthlabben means ‘upon the death of Labbin’. Clarke2 goes a little further and indicates that it means ‘the death of the champion’. It does not leave much doubt as to who the ‘champion’ is, 1Sam.17.4,23,51! In fine, the superscript is already giving us a little prophetic gleam as to the significance of the Psalm. David’s greater Son is going to visit men (see v.4b) and in the very sphere where His adversary moves as an apparent champion (see Eph.2.2), He is going to be victorious as He moves and introduces a reign of absolute dominion over every sphere!
- 2. Clarke, A.G. “Analytical Studies in the Psalms”. John Ritchie Ltd., Kilmarnock, 1976.
THE EXCELLENT NAME AND ITS SCOPE AND SIGNIFICANCE – vv.1,2
The exclamation is one of wonder and worship, “O LORD our Lord”: ‘Jehovah our Sovereign Lord’! It is reminiscent of the language of Ps.110.1: “The LORD said unto my Lord”. However, there is an interesting difference: the word for “Lord” in Psalm 8 is in the plural while in Psalm 110 it is in the singular. The plural in Hebrew is emblematic of emphasis and therefore here of superlative sovereignty, but perhaps there is also more than a hint of tri-unity. Another interesting difference is that David associates others with himself here, perhaps indicating the prospect of absolute sovereignty for all of redeemed humanity, while in Psalm 110 he is presenting a special and unique communication between Divine Persons to which he alone had personal and spiritual access.
The title Jehovah is inextricably linked to creation and the Divine covenants and is, therefore, particularly appropriate in the context of a Psalm which emphasises absolute authority and ability. The title means, according to Newberry, ‘I am that I am’ or ‘I will be that I will be’ or ‘I continue to be, and will be, what I continue to be, and will be’.
It evidences One Who is supreme, eternal (unoriginated, ‘the ever existing One’), ‘the Coming One’, essentially Divine, authoritative, immutable, self-sustained, transcendent (existing apart from and not limited by the material universe), powerful, and controller. The same idea is found in Rev.1.4: “which is” (the ever existing One); “which was” (continuance in the past); “which is to come” (the Coming One, ever to come).
Its Evidence in Creation – v.1b
It is surely not surprising that this name is excellent, and that in a twofold sphere: “in all the earth” and “above the heavens”. Thus, in both the terrestrial and the celestial spheres the greatness of this name is demonstrated. The word “excellent” means ‘worthy, glorious, majestic and mighty’. The Millennial reign of the Lord Jesus will ensure this acknowledgement “in all the earth”. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” Hab.2.14; but even now the glory of the name “above the heavens” is known. These two are of course not disconnected, as Maclaren3 avers: “the apocalypse in the nightly heavens … has set His glory upon the heavens, which stretch their solemn magnificence above every land.” It is evidently a night scene which David is envisioning as he revels in the majesty of God’s creation.
- 3. Maclaren, A. “The Expositor’ Bible: The Psalms”. Available on e-Sword.
An additional feature should be noted in this connection. Since the excellence of Jehovah’s name is not currently acknowledged “in all the earth”, the prophetic nature of the Psalm is being emphasised. Thus, at its very outset, the Psalm is looking forward to the Millennial Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. This fact will help in the further elucidation of the details later in the body of the Psalm.
Its Evidence in Warfare from an Unlikely Source – v.2
“Babes and sucklings” seem an unlikely source as a basis for “still[ing] the enemy”. The quotation of this verse in the New Testament changes the emphasis somewhat. In the Psalm the verse reads, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength”. The quotation in the New Testament reads: “Jesus saith unto them, ‘Yea; have ye never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise’?’” Matt.21.16. The quotation is from the Septuagint. The difference is interesting. Perfect praise is seen to be the source of strength and the stilling of the enemy. It certainly “still[ed] the enemy” in Matthew chapter 21. The enemy in that case, the chief priests and scribes, seemed to be silenced. Perhaps there is a deeper spiritual meaning however. The babes and sucklings may be a picture initially of the nation of Israel, but surely they are applicable to the believers who will accompany Christ during
His Manifestation. In their humble adherence to the Sovereign they will enjoy seeing the stilling of “the enemy and the avenger”: the devil and his cohorts, the Antichrist and his followers, will be overcome as universal praise is ascribed to the King and worship is presented to Him “from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same” Mal.1.11.
Was David also again contemplating the valley of Elah, when the enemy, Goliath of Gath, a picture of the future dictator with the Dragon’s power behind him, was overcome by a “babe” who had praised the “excellent name” and as a result “still[ed] the enemy”?
THE MAJESTY OF CREATION – v.3
This verse seems to confirm that a night scene is being depicted in the Psalm. The moon and the stars are referenced but not the sun. The wonder of the night sky in all its brilliance is being described, but behind it all are the “fingers” of God. There is something majestic here. The source of creation is seen to be the “fingers” of God. There is no thought of anything happening by mere chance or by evolutionary processes. Elsewhere creation is depicted as a result of the spoken word. In Genesis chapter 1 it is the spoken word of God: “and God said”. This is confirmed in Psalm 33: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: He layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” vv.6-9.
In Colossians chapter 1 the relation of Christ to creation is emphasised in vv.15b-17. The title used in this connection is “firstborn of all creation” J.N.D. While the word “firstborn” can have chronological significance (for example in Lk.2.7), when used of the Lord Jesus in the present context it has to do with pre-eminence rather than chronology. This unique title indicates both priority in time and superiority in dignity.
Three Important Prepositions in Colossians 1.16
There are three important prepositions in v.16. In the Authorised Version they are “by” (en), “by” (dia) and “for” (eis). The Revised Version translates them respectively “in”, “through” and “unto”, which gives a more accurate picture of the truths being addressed:
“In Him were all things created” R.V., emphasises that Christ is the Architect, the One in Whom all creative wisdom and forces reside (see also Jn.1.4). Note also that the phrase “all things” is repeated five times in vv.16-18. The verb “created” is in the aorist tense, indicating a historic act, while the repetition of “all things” indicates both the whole sum and the unity of the final product. This includes both heaven and earth.
“All things have been created through Him” R.V., indicates that Christ was the Agent: the medium of the Divine energy in the creation process (see Ps.33.6-9, already quoted above, and Jn.1.3). The verb “created” is now in the perfect tense, indicating permanence, progress and purpose. The same thought is found in Heb.1.2: “through whom also He made the worlds” R.V.
“All things have been created … unto Him” R.V., indicates that Christ is the Aim or final objective of creation. “All things” were brought into being to serve His ends and His kingdom as the Alpha and Omega, Rev.22.13. The same idea is found in Rom.11.36: “for of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen”, and in Rev.4.11: “for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created”. The glad day is yet to dawn when “in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him” Eph.1.10. Note again the reference to “all things”! This paragraph is the exposition of the last words of Ps.8.3. Creation was “ordained” or “established” J.N.D., for the pleasure of God and for the implementation of His purposes in relation to the universe.
The Inherent Power in Colossians 1.17
Two further truths with respect to the Lord Jesus in His relation to creation are emphasised in v.17, namely, His eternality, v.17a, and His energy, v.17b:
His eternality is emphasised by the present tense: “He is [not ‘was’] before all things”. The present tense is most enlightening. It is a reminder of the Lord’s claim, “Before Abraham was, I am” Jn.8.58; compare Ex.3.14. The language of eternality is unambiguous. It parallels also the statement in Jn.1.2.
His energy is emphasised in the second half of the verse (v.17b): “in [en] Him all things consist [hold together]” R.V. This is why there is cosmos instead of chaos: “Christ is the personal means by which all the parts of the universe are maintained in cohesion.”4 Again the idea is paralleled in Heb.1.3: “upholding all things by the word of His power”. The meticulous movements of the heavenly bodies, and their relative positions in the astronomical spheres, are all under the control of the spoken word of Christ, expressing the appropriate Divine energy for their motion and subsistence.
- 4. Vine, W.E. “Colossians” in “The Collected Writings of W.E. Vine” Gospel Tract Publications,
THE SMALLNESS OF MAN – vv.4,5a
The Psalmist now turns from creation to man. He has shown the excellence of the Divine name in the context of creation. He will now demonstrate its excellence in the sphere of man. This, however, will necessitate looking beyond the first man Adam even as created in his pristine beauty at the hand of God. Alas, man has fallen from that sphere of “glory and honour” because of the entrance of sin. It necessitates the introduction of a different kind of man altogether: the Last Adam, One Who displays in the self-disclosure of His personality all the outworking of the “excellent … name”.
Man is Frail and Mortal – v.4
The section begins by asking a relevant question: “What is man [enosh, frail mortal man], that Thou art mindful of him?” Why should such a God with such an excellent name take account of frail, mortal man at all? The answer lies in the implementation of Divine purpose. It was the Divine intention that “the world to come” Heb.2.5, should be subjected to a man. If, as a result of disobedience, man as he came from the hand of God is no longer able to fulfil that Divine intention then God must look to another man. This He has done and the use of Psalm 8 in Hebrews chapter 2 shows that God has not been taken by surprise. He has another Man in mind! Where the first Adam failed the “last Adam” will succeed. The wonder, however, is that He will not be alone: a redeemed and resurrected humanity will accompany Him, and what was true of Adam in innocence will be true of them! The beasts will lose their wildness, and Eden-like conditions will be restored! The visitation by God (v.4) will provide the righteous basis!
Yet “mind[ed]” (remembered) and “visit[ed]” by God – v.4
There are two words for “man” in v.4. The first, as referenced above, indicates frailness and mortality while the second, in the title “son of man [adam]”, indicates humanity, in contrast to Deity, and lowliness of origin, as being from the dust. This second title also has some dignity attached to it, inasmuch as he was going to be the representative of God in his ‘vice-regency’ of creation, albeit failing in his responsibility. Yet even in his frailness and failing God remembers him and visits him. Both ideas are with a view to his blessing. In particular, the remembering is not that there is a possibility of forgetting (compare Gen.8.1; 30.22). It does not have negative connotations but indicates a positive interest in his condition. Similarly, the idea of visiting is to provide the necessary basis for his spiritual enhancement: his care, comfort and transformation.
This visiting was pre-eminently seen in the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus. “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” Jn.1.14, J.N.D. The glory that was “above the heavens” Ps.8.1, was demonstrated in time and John could say, “(… we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”. The visit provided the basis for the blessing of such fallen men!
“A little lower than the angels [Elohim].” v.5a
A second indication of man’s smallness is evidenced in the hierarchy of creation. Elohim is rendered “gods” in the Newberry margin, but perhaps the Authorised Version and the Septuagint renderings quoted in Heb.2.6 give sufficient indication of the reality. Unfallen angels seem to have direct access to the Divine presence (see for example Job 1.6). In addition, they can move swiftly to any geographical location at the Throne’s bidding, Heb.1.14; Dan.7.10. Man, in comparison, is limited to earth and is geographically constrained. He is certainly “lower than angels”!
THE DIGNITY OF MAN – vv.5b-8
In his initial creation God invested man with significant dignity. This was seen in several spheres, both inherently and relatively. The Divine purpose in the creation of man was that God as Creator would enjoy his company. Indeed, the Westminster Shorter Catechism articulates this beautifully when it asks and answers, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.” This was the Divine objective; the reciprocal enjoyment lasted for a brief spell in Eden but, alas, was destroyed by sin.
However, what was lost in Eden will be restored in its fullness. It was anticipatively depicted in several ways throughout history. God desired that the children of Israel should build a Tabernacle: “let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” Ex.25.8. This was followed by the Temple for a similar purpose, 1Kgs.8.11, and was seen in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus: “Emmanuel … God with us” Matt.1.23. The assembly today serves the purpose of the Divine dwelling place, but the fulness is still to be realised in eternity: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” Rev.21.3.
Crowned with Glory and Honour – v.5b
This was true of Adam in his unfallen state: “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” Gen.1.26. Thus the glory was to depict the splendour of his relation to his Maker and the greatness of the One from Whom he came, while the honour was to reflect the worship due to his Creator. As all of creation was to be subject to him; it would recognise that he was the representative of the Creator.
Given Total Dominion in his Unfallen State – vv.6-8
These three verses indicate that as man came from the hand of God, His purpose was that all of creation, both inanimate and animate, would be under his total control. Man would have absolute sway under the supervision of his Creator. He would be totally responsible to Him for the administration of the earth. Everything would be “under his feet”.
The Extent of the Dominion
The dominion was to be “over the works of Thy [the LORD’s] hands”. This suggests a little extension of “the work of Thy fingers” in v.3. It seems the latter has particular reference to the “heavens”, while the former seems to cover the earth and its created inhabitants at that stage, namely beasts, fowl and fish. The activity of the Creator is similar in both cases: the word for “work” in v.3 and “works” in v.6 is the same. The difference seems to lie in the emphasis on the celestial and the terrestrial aspects respectively.
The threefold sphere over which the dominion is particularly stated is interesting. There would be no wild animals at that time and Adam would have complete interaction and control over “all … oxen … and the beasts of the field”. They would be subject to his commands and obey his dictates. It would be similar with “the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea”.
The Loss of the Dominion
It is evident that this is not the case today. What has happened? Satan was evidently envious of Adam’s kingship over creation. He coveted it for himself. How was he going to obtain it? He hatched the diabolical plot later enacted in the garden of Eden as detailed in Genesis chapter 3. He had already fallen from his pristine state as the “anointed cherub” Ezek.28.14. He knew that if man succumbed to him he would have the “dominion” given to Adam. His plot was successful and now “the whole world lieth in wickedness [‘in the evil one’ R.V.]” 1Jn.5.19. The ordered pre-fall cosmos has become chaos!
The Restoration of the Dominion
Does all this mean that the Divine purpose for man as sovereign of the universe has failed? Will man no longer have the dominion that God had intended? Is there no further answer? Thankfully there is an answer and as always the answer is to be found in Christ! Eph.1.10 has the details: “that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him”. But how will it be realised in detail?
The Fulfilment in Christ – Hebrews 2.5-9
The language of Hebrews is unequivocal, as the writer quotes from our Psalm and shows that, while the first man failed, all will be fulfilled in the Person of Christ: “For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, ‘What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” Heb.2.5-9.
“But now we see not … But we see”! Where the first man failed Christ succeeds!
“The world to come” is a reference to the Millennial Kingdom. God had left nothing that was not put in subjection to man, but currently we do not see all things put in subjection to him. The beasts are wild, the fowl of the air are not under his control and the fish of the seas are not obedient to him! Thankfully our eyes turn in another direction: “we see not … But we see”.
The Incarnation of the Lord Jesus in the “visit” v.4b, depicted earlier, has provided the basis upon which the prophetic purposes of God can be fully implemented. He became for a little while lower than the angels (not personally or morally but temporally) “that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man”. He is now crowned with glory and honour in virtue of His victory over death and therefore capable of becoming the Sovereign to take control of “the world to come”. However, the wonder of it is that having “taste[d] death for every man [‘every thing’ J.N.D.]”, on the basis of that victory, He is additionally going to have a vast multitude of redeemed humanity with Him, and that over a rejuvenated creation.
The wildness of the beasts will be gone: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatted beast together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the she-bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the adder, and the weaned child shall put forth its hand to the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea” Isa.11.6-9, J.N.D. Note the reference to the “little child” and the “sucking child”, reminiscent of our Psalm!
Inanimate creation will be restored as well: “For the LORD shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” Isa.51.3. Listen to Ezekiel as well: “And they shall say, ‘This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited’” Ezek.36.35. Eden restored; the Sovereign reigning; His people enjoying Adamic pre-fall conditions; Divine prophecy fulfilled; Psalm 8 in motion!
It is interesting to observe that the dominion man lost in the Fall was evidenced by the Lord Jesus during the days of His flesh. Adam had dominion over unfallen beasts; the Lord Jesus was with the wild beasts in a wilderness: “He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him” Mk.1.13. The fowl of the air were under His control as He said to Peter; “Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied Me thrice” Jn.13.38. Likewise the fish of the sea obeyed Him as He said to unsuccessful though experienced fishermen, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find” Jn.21.6.
In passing, it may be observed that God used this threefold sphere, made subject to Adam, to challenge erring men: a beast for Balaam; a fish for Jonah and a fowl for Peter! Our God is supreme in every sphere!
The Fulfilment in Christ – 1Corinthians 15.25,27; Ephesians 1.22
In both these passages the quotation from the Psalm is from v.6: “Thou hast put all things under his feet”. The context in each case is interesting. There seems to be an extension of the details in the Psalm, or at least a further affirmation of the absolute and final authority of Christ: there is nothing left to be put under His feet; His sovereignty and supremacy are absolute!
We move now to the end times, to eternity: “then cometh the end”! The details are as follows: “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath ‘put all enemies under His feet.’ The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath ‘put all things under His feet.’ But when He saith ‘All things are put under Him,’ it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” 1Cor.15.24-28.
The language of Ephesians chapter 1 is equally authoritative: “That ye may know what is … the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” Eph.1.18-23.
In Ephesians chapter 1, “all things under His feet” refers to the present, whereas in 1Corinthians chapter 15 it refers to the future. In Ephesians chapter 1 it is a risen Man Who has subjugated death, in confirmation of which He is now exalted at the right hand of God. In virtue of His victory He is “the head over all things”. In 1Corinthians chapter 15 He has “destroyed [‘abolished’ R.V.; ‘annulled’ J.N.D.]” death. Since death is the last enemy and it has been “abolished”, there are no further enemies to be overcome! All is under His feet (with the exception of the One Who put all under His feet)! All is subdued to Him! Thus the New Testament quotations take us to the ultimate of the Psalm’s prophecy: even the Millennium has run its course, death has been defeated and abolished; Christ is absolutely supreme!
Both of these passages end in a beautiful way: “all in all”. Christ fills “all in all” in Ephesians; God is “all in all” in Corinthians. Perhaps they are a fitting end to a Psalm that is emphasising “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Thy name”! It is seen in the limitless universe; the unexplored galaxies; the endlessness of space; each knowing something of the pervasive wonder of the “All in All”. In both cases “all” is in the plural. The fulness cannot be explored! God, the triune God, is “All in All”, and Christ in virtue of His victory over death becomes the Administrator of the eternal Kingdom!
THE EXCELLENT NAME AND ITS SCOPE – v.9
The Psalm ends as it began: “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!” Nothing else needs to be said. The self-disclosure of the Almighty has indicated His supremacy in creation and over man. If the first man failed to implement the Divine purpose, the Sovereign Lord would not be thwarted. The Second Man will implement fully all that the Excellent had in mind and will reign supreme in His Millennial Kingdom together with redeemed men and women! All the earth will come under the blessing of His beneficial reign and join in their united worship to Him!