Psalm 8: How Noble is Your Name

The Covenant-literary shape of Psalm 8 allows David to make allusions to some surprising parts of the Torah as well as predicting the Temple of Solomon and even a crucial event in the ministry of Jesus.

The  Bible Matrix enables the king to stow some enormous things in his three-minute song. Secreted away here are the defeat of Goliath (possibly), Jachin and Boaz (quite probably) and even the miracle of Jesus walking on water (definitely). The fractal nature of Scripture gives it heights and fathoms that we can scarcely imagine.

Initiation (Creation / Sabbath / Light / Genesis)

To-the-Chief-Musician: (Transcendence)
Upon (Hierarchy)
the-Gathite-harp, (Ethics)
a-Psalm (Oath/Sanctions)
of-David. (Succession)

  • It seems that where titles are included with Psalms they form part of the literary structure. This title consists of five Hebrew words which possibly follow the Covenant pattern. With that in mind, I have favoured the understanding of the word “Gittith” as the Gathite harp, since its placement at the center of the structure reflects the Triune office as expressed in David’s defeat of Goliath as a serpent or dragon: David as the “blood-filled face” (Table), Goliath as the false king (Lampstand) and the subsequent routing of the Philistine hosts (Incense).

Delegation (Division / Passover / Firmament / Exodus)

O-Yahweh (Transcendence)
Our-adonai, (Hierarchy)
How noble (Ethics)
is-your-Name (Oath/Sanctions)
in all the land. (Succession)

  • The Exodus stanza begins with the name of the Lord given to Moses on Mount Sinai.
  • The Hebrew words translated LORD and Lord in English Bibles reflect the difference between Transcendence (“I AM”) and Hierarchy (“Master” or “Owner”).
  • The Hebrew word translated as “majestic” or “excellent” refers to royalty, and it often describes nobles. The point is that King David understood that God was the true king of Israel. Taking the Lord’s name in vain refers to claiming Yahweh as king but failing to be meek before Him.

Presentation (Ascension / Firstfruits / Land & Fruit Bearers / Leviticus)

[You] who have-given your-glory (Creation / Genesis)
above the-heavens (Division / Exodus)
ETHICS: Priesthood
in-the-mouth of-children and nursing-infants (Ascension / Leviticus)
ETHICS: Kingdom
you-have-established strength (Testing / Numbers)
ETHICS: Prophecy
because-of rivals (Maturity / Deuteronomy)
to-put-at-rest the-enemy (Conquest / Joshua)
and-the-avenger. (Glorification / Judges)

  • The third stanza seems exceedingly strange until it is understood as an allusion to an ascension offering. That pattern was replicated in Israel’s “ascension” from Egypt (as the waters below: the Nile) to Canaan (the waters above: rain), which explains the presence of the pillar of fire and cloud. The entire nation was washed, then “taken up into a cloud” just as Jesus was, the Tabernacle picturing the Lord’s chariot, His cloud of glory.
  • The pattern of the stanza follows the order of events in Exodus 24. The point is that faithful worship (Priesthood) would stay the Lord’s hand against the generations of Israel, who would then enjoy the blessings of the Land (Kingdom). In Exodus 24, the people were sprinkled with half the blood of the sacrifice, the elders ascended Sinai and ate and drank before Yahweh, who did not lay His hand upon them.
  • The “mouth of children and nursing infants” refers to the fruit of the womb and the Land (milk), and is an allusion to the commissioning of Joshua:

And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.” And Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting. And the Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud. And the pillar of cloud stood over the entrance of the tent. And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods.
“Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel. And the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.” (Deuteronomy 31:14-23)

  • Some misuse this verse to support the practice of paedosacraments, with infants being accorded the role of holy warriors, but the reality is very different. The children are not “prophesying” against the enemies of Israel but against their own apostate parents. The words of this song of Moses in the mouths of the children – learned by rote and recited as a catechism – would condemn their own parents, those “warriors” who had taken the Covenant Oath yet turned from Yahweh to His “rivals.” When Jesus quoted this verse (Matthew 21:16) He was condemning the Jewish rulers as apostate Israelites who had put themselves under the curses of the Covenant. The infants and commoners of Israel were testifying against them and God would also bring nations of strange tongues to testify against them. Behind all the attackers, enemies and avengers was the hand of Yahweh Himself. The Jews slew Jesus as Cain slew Abel, but for the slaughter of the Apostolic Church, an army of Abels, the innocent blood of all the prophets would be avenged upon that generation (Matthew 23:34-36). Jesus told the women who wept for Him to weep instead for their children (Luke 23:28), the last generation of Israel-according-to-the-flesh. Jesus Himself would avenge the prophets blood and cut off the idolaters from among the people.
  • The central line of this “Priesthood” stanza is a beautiful and profound allusion comprised of only two words: “establish” and “strength.” These are the respective meanings of the names of the two pillars which flanked the entry to Solomon’s Temple. Symbolising the offices of Priest (a forming) and King (a filling), their construction invited a third pillar, the Shekinah of the Lord, the office of Prophet, the “name” dwelling in the house (a future). When this glory departed (Ezekiel 9:3), the bronze pillars were torn down. As the mighty angel bearing the final words against Jerusalem, Jesus stands with legs like pillars of fire upon the Sea (kingdom) and the Land (priesthood) before calling out with a loud voice like a lion roaring (prophecy). The correspondence between these subtle “Temple pillars” and the two trees in Eden is highlighted by the fact that the trees are the subject of the central stanza in the structure of Genesis 2.1See Covenant Structure in Genesis 2.

Purification (Testing / Pentecost / Governing Lights / Numbers)

When I-consider your-heavens, (Genesis)
the-work of-your-fingers, (Exodus)
the-moon and-the-stars that you-have-prepared – (Leviticus)
what is-enosh that you-remember [him] (Numbers)
and-the-son of-adam that you-visit [him]? (Deuteronomy)

  • The central stanza works subtly through the same architectural process as the Ten Words, and is David’s rejection of all idols “in heaven above, on the land, and in the waters under the land (pictorially, the nations)” (Exodus 20:4). The “fingers” are an allusion to the writing of the commandments on tablets of stone.
  • It may be only a coincidence that Enosh was the son of Seth, the son who “replaced” Abel as leader of the priesthood. The name simply means “human being” as opposed to “earthy” ’adamah.

Transformation (Maturity / Trumpets / Hosts / Deuteronomy)

And-lower a-little (Transcendence)
than-the-angels, (Hierarchy)
and-him-with-glory, (Ethics)
and-honor (Oath/Sanctions)
have-encircled. (Succession)

  • Stanza five lifts us from the earthly court of men in stanza three (the Bronze Altar) to the heavenly court of elders, the legal representatives and courtly advisors (the Incense Altar). The word often translated “crowned” (which is correct) literally means surrounded or encircled, so the double meaning here refers to the glory of Succession upon the earth. The theme is the investiture of the faithful. At this point in the Testing of Adam, he and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves.

Vindication (Conquest / Atonement / Mediators / Joshua)

Made-him-to-have-dominion (Ark of the Testimony)
over-the-works of-your-hands – (Veil)
all you-have-put under-his-feet, (Bronze Altar: the Land)
sheep and-oxen, (Golden Table: the womb)
and also all the beasts of the field – (Lampstand: the kings)
the-birds of-the-heavens, (Incense Altar: Jewish saints)
the-fish of-the-sea, (Incense Altar: Gentile saints)
whatever-passes-through (Laver / Mediators)
the-paths of-the-seas. (Shekinah / Rest & rule)

  • The “Day 6” stanza pictures the dominion of the faithful man as a new creation, the one who combines the Triune office into a single ministry of mediation (Ascension), discernment (Testing) and inspiration (Maturity). Like Exodus 24, and indeed all of Covenant history, the Psalm has moved from cultivation to representation, from external law (childhood) to internal law (judicial maturity).
  • Notice the allusion to Pass-over in line 2 (Moses) and Pass-through in what would normally be line 6 (Joshua). The faithful man bears the sword for God as Priest-King, which is why in Ezekiel 9:4-5 we see a dual process, a priestly Pass-over by the High Priest and then and a Kingly Pass-through by the armed Levites. In Creation/Tabernacle terms, Pass-over (Division) is the installation of the veil and Pass-through (Conquest) is its tearing. In the first century history, this was ramped up: Pass-over was the death of Jesus (as the tearing of the veil, Hebrews 10:20) and Pass-through was the destruction of the Temple, imaged as the splitting of the Mount of Olives in Zechariah 14:4-52See The Festal Structure of Zechariah 12-14.
  • Also notice the double-barreled images at Ascension (Land and womb) and again at Maturity (two witnesses: Israel and the nations).
  • Finally, the Son of God stands with His feet not only on the Land but also upon the Sea (Revelation 10:2), walking on water serving as a sign of Jesus’ imminent dominion over all nations. For Solomon, this included the service of Hiram of Tyre and his fleet of ships. For the Herods and first century Jerusalem, it ended in the rebellious Jews being sold as slaves and deported by sea at the order of General Titus to the mines of Egypt.

Representation (Glorification / Booths / Shekinah / Judges)

O-Yahweh (Transcendence)
Our-adonai, (Hierarchy)
How noble (Ethics)
is-your-Name (Oath/Sanctions)
in all the land. (Succession)

  • In the final stanza, the name by which the Lord joined Himself to Israel under Moses has now become the refuge of all nations, a greater “land.”

On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one. (Zechariah 14:6-9)

Art: Sun, Moon and Five Peaks. “Traditionally placed behind the thrones of Joseon rulers, the Sun, Moon, and Five Peaks screen was the most crucial signifying element of the king as the nexus between the earthly and heavenly realms. As he sat on the throne, the king became the pivot of a balanced universe. The earliest written evidence for the use of a Sun, Moon, and Five Peaks screen in the Joseon palace dates from the mid-seventeenth century. It could have been used earlier, as the Joseon court tried to distinguish itself from that of the Goryeo court.” (Source: Korean National Heritage Online)

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