This Bible study on Psalms contains outlines, extensive cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, lessons to learn, and applications. Visit our inductive Bible studies for more studies on this and other books of the Bible.
Psalm 8 Inductive Bible Study With Discussion Questions
I. God’s glory and majesty (1-2)
II. Man is insignificant compared to the Creator (3-4)
III. Man is significant because God honors him (4b-8)
IV. God’s glory and majesty (9)
I. God’s glory and majesty (1-2)
- What is the different meaning represented by these two names for God, “LORD” and “Lord?”
- List out several synonyms for the word “majestic.”
- What names/people does the world often look up to?
- What does the phrase mean “you have set your glory above the heavens?”
- Why does God desire glory and honor for Himself while people should not? Is that prideful?
- What can we learn from David here about praising God in our prayers?
- How do you praise God in your own prayer life?
- What is one way you can focus more on God’s glory?
- What is the meaning of verse 2?
- In what way do children and infants show forth God’s strength?
- How do these still or silence the enemy and avenger?
2 Corinthians 3:18 – And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Habakkuk 2:14 – For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 43:7 – Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
Matthew 19:14 – But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
1. LORD our Lord – David uses two different names for God. The first, “LORD,” is His covenant name used in Exodus 3:14. It is Yahweh and means “I AM WHO I AM.” The second use of “Lord” is another name for God which emphases His sovereignty.
Notice that David does not just say “a Lord” or “the Lord.” He says, “our Lord.” He had a relationship with Yahweh, the eternal Creator of the universe. It was not a peer relationship of equals. The Lord is still sovereign. But it is nonetheless a personal relationship. And from these three words we get a preview of what the rest of this Psalm will be about. It will highlight God’s greatness, while at the same time showing that people are valuable and Creator God loves and cares for us.
2. How majestic is your name – David gives us a good example in this Psalm about praising God. He both starts and ends this prayer with praise.
The word majesty means “impressive stateliness, dignity, or beauty.” To David, God is the most wonderful and the most beautiful being anywhere in the universe, worthy of respect and admiration. He realizes that God is Supreme, higher and more powerful of anyone anywhere. From David’s prayer, you can feel his love for God. To him, God is not a force. Neither is He an angry judge or a strict rule giver. He is someone to love and admire.
Application: Do you pray in this way? Do you often praise God in your prayers? What is something you can do praise the Lord on a regular basis?
2. In all the earth – People often idolize and look up to certain people. For some it is celebrities. Others think that politicians are the answer. Sometimes it is athletes. David recognized the truth that there is no one else to look up to and worship besides God. He alone is worthy to be praised. To Him is all the glory (not just part) forever.
3. You have set your glory above the heavens – Is God prideful?
If we ask people to praise us or if we tell people how great we are, then that is pride. But God does this all the time? How can a perfect God seek His own glory.” We see that He has His angels constantly singing His praises. Is that right?
This is a good question. Sooner or later, most Christians will ask it. I answered with an illustration.
Let’s say that I am an author. I spend thousands of hours to write a book. It’s a very good book. But just before I get it published someone steals my manuscripts. They then publish the book in their own name as if it is theirs. After that they get the credit and the profit from the book that I wrote. As the rightful author, what should I do? Am I justified in taking up the case, going to the bookstores or to the court and showing proof that I wrote the book? I believe I am. It is my work, my creation. It is right and just that I receive the credit. Is that pride? No, that is justice. On the other hand, the person who is trying to steal the credit is sinning. He is trying to take what is rightfully mine and that is not just.
The same is true for a painting. If you painted a beautiful picture, you would not like it if someone erased your signature and added their own.
This can help us to understand why God seeks praise and glory for all the things He has done. He is the Creator. He is the redeemer. He is the King. He deserves the glory for what He has done. If someone else tries to take glory for themselves, it is unjust and robbing God.
When we try to glory to ourselves for our successes or achievements we are taking it away from its rightful owner, God.
Isaiah 42:8 – I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
4. Out of the mouth of babies and infants you have established strength – At first glance this verse is a bit hard to understand. How does He establish strength from the mouth of babies?
It is helpful to first note the context. When we look at the previous verse, David says “you have set your glory above the heavens.” Thus the topic is God’s glory. And verse two he continues with this idea, saying that God is glorified even through the weakest of His creation, babies. It is not only kings or rulers who give God glory. Everyone and everything does from the highest to the lowest.
Next it is helpful to note that Jesus quoted this verse and to see how and when He used it.
Matthew 21:15-16 – But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
When Jesus came He did miracles. The children recognized this and praised Him, but the scribes and priests only ridiculed Him. And Jesus uses this verse in Psalm 8:2 in this exact moment to show that it was being fulfilled in front of their very eyes. The children glorifying Him was an example of the truth taught in Psalm 8:2.
One question sometimes asked is, “did Jesus misquote this Psalm?” In our English Bibles it is normally interpreted as “strength,” but Jesus used the word “praise.” This is explained by the fact that Jews at the time of Jesus primarily read from the Greek Septuagint. In that Greek translation, it did read as “praise.” Different translations of the same text into different languages may be slightly different as here.
So Jesus has shown us clearly the meaning of Psalm 8:2. It means that even young children will praise Him, telling of His strength and glory. Children often recognize what highly intelligent adults may miss. Enemies of God often use their intelligence to attack God or mislead people with false teachings. Whereas children may humbly trust in Him with simple faith.
Richard Dawkins, and atheists like him, have a high IQ. But they say in their hearts “their is no God,” which makes them fools (Psalm 14:1). My three year old and seven year old trust in God and enjoy singing songs to Him. God is pleased when He sees them and they will be singing to Him forever (provided they are saved), but the intelligent atheists will be silenced.
II. Man is insignificant compared to the Creator (3-4)
- Describe a time when you were most amazed at God’s creation.
- How did you feel about God at that time? How did you feel about yourself?
- What do the heavens, moon, and stars show us about God?
- How did David feel when he thought about these amazing aspects of God’s creation?
- So are people significant or insignificant? Why?
- Who often used the title “Son of Man?”
Romans 1:20 – For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Colossians 1:16 – For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Nehemiah 9:6 – You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
Psalm 144:3-4 – O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
Job 10:9 – Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?
Daniel 7:13 – I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came.
1. David contemplates the universe – David was a busy man. For many years he was a fugitive, fighting just to survive. Then he was a king, concerned with the affairs of a nation. But here we see him take time to reflect on the universe, and his own role in it. It is an important lesson.
Many people never really take time out to look up. They are too busy thinking about all the tasks they have to complete. Free time is sucked up by social media. Every spare second is crammed full. Noise is all around. Television. Politics. News. Noise. In their busyness to finish their daily routine, they never stop to think about why they are doing these things. Little time is spent on meditation or reflection. Important questions about the origin and meaning of life are forever pushed aside while trivial and temporal things take priority.
God does not want us to be like this.
Psalm 63:6 – I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.
We need to have some quiet time when turn off distractions and meditate, not just meditate on the word, but meditate on God. During these times we can think of His character and His relationship to us. We also can consider the big questions of life. What are we here for? Where did we come from? How did the universe get here? What will happen after we die? And the question that David asked, “what is man?”
John 4:35 – Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already.
Jesus said, “lift up your eyes!” Do not always keep your eyes down focused on your own little world. Look. See. Think. Meditate. Reflect. Pose important questions to yourself and then pursue the answer until you find it.
Application: Is your life too busy to spend meditating on God? Do you find that you have no quiet time to spend contemplating about important questions? If the answer is, “yes,” then you are too busy. Make some time in your schedule. Go out to a natural spot like a park or a river or a mountain. Don’t fill the time with loud music or selfies. Instead, just pray and reflect on God.
2. David understood God’s greatness – When David contemplated about the universe, what did he realize? He realized how great God is. The huge universe has an even bigger God. David was not exalting the universe in verse 3. We already have seen in verse 2 that he connects the heavens with God’s glory. He is not saying, “Wow, the universe is awesome.” He is saying, “Wow, the universe is so amazing, God is awesome!” We will see this further in verse 4 when David starts to compare man to his Creator.
When is a time you have observed nature and felt overcome by God’s power?
My family lives in a big city with over ten million people. When we travel, we like to get out and visit nature, oceans or mountains. It is during these times when I sit on the beach and look up at the night sky that I feel the closest to God. Seeing the universe He has designed in all of its splendor reminds me how big He is and how small I am. He is bigger than all of my problems. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Praise starts to flow in prayer and song as I marvel at our majestic Lord.
3. David understood man’s insignificance in comparison –
When David realized how big God was (to make the universe), he instantly came face to face with his own insignificance in comparison. What is man, after all?
It is healthy and humbling to come face to face with our smallness. Isaiah had the same feeling when he saw a glimpse of God’s throne room in Isaiah 6. As soon as he saw God, he said “woe is me.” Words couldn’t express how he felt as the weight of his own sin and guilt overcame him.
From one perspective, people are very insignificant. If you were to look at eternity past in linear from and then put man’s history onto the graph line, you wouldn’t even be able to see it. We are newcomers to this universe, as everything else except for God is.
Genesis 2:7 – Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
We come from dust. Think about that for a minute. Without God, you are dust. How can dust have an ego? How can dust test or challenge God? How can dust trust in itself? How can dust provide for itself? People these days often say, “I believe in myself.” If you believe in yourself, apart from God you are dust. You can do accomplish nothing meaningful in God’s sight (John 15:5).
Some people need that healthy dose of reality. Maybe you are successful. You have achieved some milestones. People are praising you. In times like those, remember that you are a blob of mud, lifeless without God’s life giving power.
III. Man is significant because God honors him (4b-8)
- Who is the “him” in verse 5?
- What is David’s main point in verses 5-8?
- Does being a “little lower than the heavenly beings” show people’s importance or insignificance?
- In what ways did God crown people with glory and honor?
- When did God give people dominion over creation?
- What do people have dominion over?
- Knowing that you are God’s representative as manager of His creation, what should you do?
- Are there any specific ways you need to take care of creation?
- How can you be a better steward of the earth?
- How can you encourage those around you to be better stewards?
- Should people pursue self-esteem?
- Where should our sense of esteem and self-worth come from?
- After studying the passage today, how does what we learn affect our view of ourselves?
- Are you insignificant or significant?
- How could you use this passage to encourage those who are depressed?
- How can this passage encourage you when you are feeling low and worthless?
Psalm 139:14 – I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 138:8 – The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 119:73 – Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
Romans 8:31 – If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
Romans 8:35-39 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:17 – And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
1. Man is significant – Wait a minute. We just saw that man is insignificant. Now we are saying he is significant. Which is it? The answer is both. It depends on your perspective.
Compared to God, we are nothing. We are weak, limited, immature, dumb, sinners. And yet that is not the end of the story. Yes, humans were made from dust. But (that word is always so important), God breathed into him the breathe of life and man became a living soul. With God’s breath, that dust is now an eternal soul, the height of God’s creation on earth.
David says that people are made a “little lower than heavenly beings.” Angels are tremendously powerful, supernatural beings. People are only a little lower than that. David goes on to say that we are crowned with “glory and honor.” God honors people. He makes us significant. He makes us important. He makes us valuable. He cares for us and loves us.
Genesis 1:26-28 – Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
God has made us in His image, giving us an eternal soul, morals, meaning, and purpose. Here are a few other things God has done for us that shows He values us:
- He has given us His Word, revealing to us His plans.
- He educates us.
- He is patient with us.
- He disciplines us.
- He redeemed us by sacrificing His Son (if that doesn’t show we have value in God’s sight, then nothing does.)
- He makes us His sons and daughters.
- He makes us co-heirs with Christ.
- He gives us a heavenly inheritance.
- He seals us with the Holy Spirit.
The list goes on and on. God cares for you. You have great value in His sight. Jesus died for you. He did not only die for the world. He died for you. I believe if you were the only person who needed salvation, He would have done the same.
2. Our esteem and sense of self-worth come from God – The world looks many places to find esteem. Sometimes we are tempted to do the same. We may get our sense of value from others. When they criticize us and tear us down, it hurts. It may even cause us to become depressed.
Others get their sense of self worth from their career. When it fails, they feel useless.
Some get it from their children and the success of their children. In the Bible Rachel felt like a failure when she didn’t have any children.
But the places that the world goes to and promotes are wrong. How would you use this passage to encourage someone who was feeling depressed and unimportant?
Here are some lies Satan may tell you:
- You are useless. LIE. God values you.
- You are stupid/dumb. LIE. Fools in the Bible are people who don’t believe in God (Psalm 14:1). If you believe in God, you are not a fool and He gives you the wisdom you need.
- You are worthless. LIE. God has given you spiritual gifts, gifts which only you have. He has given you these and natural talents for carrying out a specific purpose in the church. You have a definite and important role to carry out for God.
- You have no future. LIE. You have an inheritance in heaven and co-heirs with Christ.
- Nobody loves you. LIE. God loves you.
- You are alone. LIE. God is always with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.
Whenever you are starting to feel discouraged and believing any of these lies, come back to this passage. Remember that God loves you. God cares for you. God will never leave you.
Application: Do not go to the world for self-esteem. New age self-help books are rubbish. Walk with your head held high because you are a child of the King. Yes, be humble. Do not exalt yourself. But be confident. Be confident to serve the Lord and fulfill the calling to which He called you. Is there someone around you who is discouraged that you can comfort with this passage? This week make an appointment to visit them and encourage them with the principles found here.
3. You are a steward of God’s creation – Another way God has shown us He values us is to put us over His creation. Our job is to take care of this world and use it for His glory.
Some environmentalists go to extreme when they value the lives of animals over people, supporting abortion, but doing anything to save a whale. Obviously this is wrong.
But believers should take care of the world God has given to us. As well as we can, we should try to ensure that God’s beautiful nature is around for future generations to enjoy. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Practice recycling.
- Don’t be wasteful of natural resources including: food, electricity, materials, etc.
- Don’t litter.
- When you go hiking or to the beach, you can pick up some trash and leave it nicer than when you arrived.
- Don’t be cruel to animals (Proverbs 12:10).
- Don’t hunt for fun. If you hunt, eat what you kill.
- Do not engage in a lifestyle that encourages poaching or trading of endangered animals.
IV. God’s glory and majesty (9)
What can we learn from the fact David starts and ends his prayer with praise?
1. David starts and ends his Psalm with praise – It would be a good idea to start and end your prayers with praise! Also, you can start and end your day with prayer. God should be the focus of everything we do.
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