How Excellent Is Thy Name!

“O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.” —Psalm 8:1

DAVID might have viewed the Heavenly Father’s name as being excellent at the time he wrote this psalm. At least he, personally, considered it excellent. But from a historical perspective, the Lord’s name was anything but excellent in the time of David. This was also the case in the world that existed before the Flood, as well as in this present evil world. Even Israel, the nation called to be God’s special people, was guilty of profaning God’s name.

Consider Ezekiel’s words: “I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.” (Chapt. 36:21) Israel profaned God’s name by forsaking him and going after the gods of their heathen neighbors. Continuing in verse twenty-four, the Lord prophesied that at a future time he would bring Israel back into their own land, and replace their stony hearts with hearts of flesh, and put his spirit within them. Then he said why he would do this: “Not for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake.” (vs. 22) God intends to restore his name to the preeminent position it rightly deserves.

God’s Name in the Future

When we see how God’s name has been, and continues to be profaned, we must interpret these words of David in the eighth psalm as a prophecy of the future—of a time when mankind will be restored to their lost dominion, and like Adam in the beginning, will come to appreciate the true glory of God. The Prophet Zephaniah says this will happen because God “will turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent.”—Zeph. 3:9

As David looked into this future time, where he saw a wonderful picture of unity and peace with God, he was transported, and wrote: “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” He continued: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”—Ps. 8:2

These words are similar to those used by our Lord when he characterized those who willingly heard and accepted his message: “I thank thee, O Father, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Matt. 11:25) The Apostle Paul had a similar thought, when he wrote, “After that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”—I Cor. 1:21,23,24

All those who have accepted Jesus as their personal savior and have consecrated their lives to his service see what the world cannot see. They recognize God’s wisdom in his methods. If we were to build a new government, we would select the most capable men and women we could find, those with the best education, and most exceptional talent. But that is not the way God has been working. He has been calling the foolish in the world’s estimation to confound the worldly wise. “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.”—I Cor. 1:26,27

The Heavens

The psalmist continues: “…when I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained …” (Ps. 8:3) Undoubtedly David was thinking about the literal heavens and their impressive majesty. But there is also a prophetic significance to the use of this word, heavens. Reflect upon Isaiah’s words, “I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”—Chapt. 51:16

God has been planting, and continues to “plant the heavens,” through the “babes and sucklings” he has called out of the world, and to whom he has given his Spirit. As expressed by the prophet, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”—Zech. 4:6

The Spirit of God is essential to the understanding of his plan and his will for us. Those who have not received his Holy Spirit simply cannot understand, as Paul observed: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment.”—I Cor. 2:14, 15, NIV

Not one of us can say our knowledge of God and his plan came from our own innate capabilities. Everything we know we have received from God through the guidance of his Holy Spirit. Even Daniel, when he was about to reveal the king’s dream to him, took no credit to himself. He began by saying, “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets.” (Dan. 2:28) Out of the mouths of babes God performs his mighty works.


After introducing the excellency of the Lord’s name, David continues with the rhetorical question: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beast of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.”—Ps. 8:4-8

In these words, David is describing father Adam, and the dominion God gave to him which he and his children would have retained had he remained faithful. But Adam only had a taste of what might have been. He never stepped outside the garden until he was thrust out. He never saw the sea, much less exercised dominion over its fish and what passes in the sea. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews, provides an explanation of David’s words.

“One in a certain place [Psalm 8] 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 honor 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 …”—Heb. 2:9

It has always been God’s plan to put all things under the dominion of man, but because of Adam’s transgression this did not happen, and the promise remains unfulfilled. But we do see something that gives us a great hope. We see Jesus, “who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor [like father Adam in his human perfection]; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”—Heb. 2:9

Because Jesus died as a ransom for Adam, man will someday walk upon this earth as its master. Through the death of Jesus, the human race is assured of a resurrection back to life and an opportunity to gain everlasting life. This is exactly what God promised Adam. There was, and will be, only one condition: man must obey and trust God who gives him life with all its many blessings.

The plan which brings God’s blessings to mankind is based on love. As the well-known scripture declares, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) God does not love this present evil world with all its sin, sickness, and death, but he looks forward to the perfected world of the future, and knows it will be good!

How marvelous is God’s love toward man. Truly we can echo the words of the psalmist as he brings the eighth psalm to a close:

“O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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