Psalm 81NIV New International Version Translations
1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
When he was young David kept sheep. He was with his sheep on the hills at night. The sheep were safe with him. David saw the moon and the stars in the sky. God made them all. God was strong and powerful. But God had enemies. These enemies fought God. They also hurt the people of God. David felt very small when he looked at what God had made. David felt that he was not important. But David also knew that God would make people strong. As Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, ‘God said, My power works best when you are weak’. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Later David wrote Psalm 8. Perhaps it was when he lived in Gath. Gath was a Philistine city. It was 30 kilometres west of Bethlehem. David came from Bethlehem. In the psalm David remembered:
- the sheep, the hills and the wild animals
- the moon and stars at night
David also remembered that he felt very small. David put all that he felt into Psalm 8. Perhaps he used music from Gath.
The New Testament of the Bible tells us that David was a prophet. A prophet speaks for God. He also says what will happen in the future. In Psalm 8 David said that God would visit the earth. He came as Jesus.
Biblical Truths3Matthew Henry – http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=19&c=8
Verses 1-2: The psalmist seeks to give unto God the glory due to his name. How bright this glory shines even in this lower world! He is ours, for he made us, protects us, and takes special care of us. The birth, life, preaching, miracles, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus are known through the world. No name is so universal, no power and influence so generally felt, as those of the Saviour of mankind. But how much brighter it shines in the upper world! We, on this earth, only hear God’s excellent name, and praise that; the angels and blessed spirits above, see his glory, and praise that; yet he is exalted far above even their blessing and praise. Sometimes the grace of God appears wonderfully in young children. Sometimes the power of God brings to pass great things in his church, by very weak and unlikely instruments, that the excellency of the power might the more evidently appear to be of God, and not of man. This he does, because of his enemies, that he may put them to silence.
Verses 3-9: We are to consider the heavens, that man thus may be directed to set his affections on things above. What is man, so mean a creature, that he should be thus honored! so sinful a creature, that he should be thus favored! Man has sovereign dominion over the inferior creatures, under God, and is appointed their lord. This refers to Christ. In Hebrews 2:6-8, the apostle, to prove the sovereign dominion of Christ, shows he is that Man, that Son of man, here spoken of, whom God has made to have dominion over the works of his hands. The greatest favor ever showed to the human race, and the greatest honor ever put upon human nature, were exemplified in the Lord Jesus. With good reason does the psalmist conclude as he began, Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth, which has been honored with the presence of the Redeemer, and is still enlightened by his gospel, and governed by his wisdom and power! What words can reach his praises, who has a right to our obedience as our Redeemer?
Items for Discussion
- David shows us that early experiences in life can affect our view of God. What were your experiences that helped frame your belief and mental picture of God?
- In what ways can experiences serve to be a negative influence?
- Why were David’s experiences positive?
- What do you think David learned from sheep?
- What have you learned from observing the heavens?
- Of the places you have lived, which ones were the most influential on your faith? Why?
10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
The author of this book does not tell us his name. There is nothing in the book to say who wrote it. For centuries the church thought that the author was the apostle Paul. But Paul always begins his letters with his name. The way that the author uses Greek words is unlike the way Paul uses them. The first readers were probably Christian Jews. The author did not write for all Jews. He wrote to a group, whom he knew well, that had become Christian. The book shows that they were not strong in their belief. They were in danger of going back to their old religion. The writer argues from the Old Testament to keep them trusting in Jesus.
From early times the church believed that the readers lived in Jerusalem. The title, the letter to the Hebrews, could show that they were Jews in Israel who spoke Hebrew. Many Jews who did not live in Israel spoke Greek. Another suggestion is that the readers lived in Rome. There is in fact so little evidence in the book itself that we have to say that we do not know where the readers were living.
A bishop of Rome named Clement knew this letter and used it in his own writing. He wrote in about AD 96. The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote his letter before then. From what is in the book we could argue that the Jews were still carrying on the temple ceremonies in Jerusalem. We know that the Romans destroyed the temple in AD 70. If the date of writing was later, the author would have noted that event. So the date of the letter was probably before AD 70. (The ceremonies that he speaks about did not take place in fact from the temple. They refer to the special tent that was in use before the Jews built the temple).
These Christian Jews had to make a choice. They could not continue in Judaism and be Christians. They must decide which way to go. It was either to go back to being Jews or to go on to be Christians. It seems that their nation had now turned against Christians. They could not now go to the temple as the Jews would not let them. The writer tries to show his readers that the right choice was to continue to trust in Jesus. That was much better than all the ceremonies of their former religion, which Jesus had replaced.
The way the author has written the book is not like any other book in the New Testament. We call it a letter, but it does not start like one. It does finish like a letter, but the author does not give us his name. The writer knows the readers and is eager to see them again (13:19, 23). He thinks well of them (6:9), but they should by now have been able to teach (5:12). He knows all about their past and their needs. The way he writes is almost like a speech or a lesson. He cares about his friends and wants to advise them in the choices they have to make.
Verse 10 – God made all things. He made all things for himself. In other parts of the Bible it says that Jesus made all things and all things are for his pleasure. There is no problem here. God the Father and God the Son are both God. Together they made the heavens and the earth. It is only in Jesus that all things find their purpose. In order to make us clean from sin there had to be a sacrifice. It was right that Jesus should come to earth and become one of us. He was then able to suffer on behalf of us all. He died a terrible death on the cross of wood. This death was not for any sins that he himself had done, for he was perfect. That is, he was all that God intended him to be. When he died, he accepted all our sins. Because of this he can give to us a new life. He is able to bring many sons and daughters to be with God in heaven. We become God’s sons and daughters when we trust in Jesus and in his work for us. By his death for us, Jesus was able to make us clean from sin. Now we can go to be with God.
Verse 11 – Jesus makes us holy when we trust in him. He brings us into the family of God and makes us his sons and daughters. All who trust in Jesus receive a new birth from the Spirit. In this way they have the same Father as Jesus and the same life. Jesus is so great, yet he is happy to call the weakest Christian brother or sister. He is the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. He is the firstborn from the dead and all who trust in him will also rise from the dead.
Verse 12 – Jesus calls us his brothers and sisters. In the Old Testament the Messiah says that he will tell the name of God to his brothers and sisters (Psalm 22:22). To the Hebrews the ‘name’ meant more than just a name. It meant the whole person. Jesus is the Messiah and he showed men and women the nature of God. As a human among humans Jesus praised God. He praised God with them in the temple of the Jews in Jerusalem and their other holy buildings. Now as we praise God, Jesus in spirit is there with us. He promised that when two or three of those who follow him meet together, he too will be there (Matthew 18:20).
Items for Discussion
- Verse 10 may be the most important verse ever to a Christian – Why should we take so much comfort in what it says?
- It is easy to agree with verse 11, humans are imperfect and limited – Why do so many fight accepting Christ’s offer of forgiveness?
- Comparing the idea that on April 19, 1775, a single gun shot was to be called the “shot heard round the world,” how is Christ’s message of complete and total forgiveness resonate as the “shout heard round the world?”
- How does a church help its members accept Christ’s forgiveness?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations
- 3Matthew Henry – http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=19&c=8