In this beautiful expression of praise to God, David stands amazed that the God of creation, the great and glorious Jehovah, would pay any attention to frail people on earth. David understands that God glorifies Himself in the heavens, but how can He glorify Himself on earth through such weak, sinful people? This is a "nature psalm" (see 19, 29, 65, 104), but it is also a Messianic psalm (Matt. 21:16; Heb. 2:6–8; 1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:22). The answer to the question "What is man?" is ultimately answered by Jesus Christ, the "Last Adam," through whom we regain our lost dominion. "Gittith" means "winepress" and may identify a vintage tune (see 81 and 84). As they worship and serve Him (Matt. 5:13–16), the faithful people of God glorify His name on earth (vv. 1, 9) and help to defeat His enemies (v. 2). That God, in His remarkable condescension, should focus attention on us is proof of our dignity as creatures made in the image of God. The grandeur of men and women is found only there. Apart from knowing God, we have no understanding of who we are or what we are to do in this great universe.
God Created Us (vv. 1–2, 5a)
The phrase "our Lord" is a threefold confession of faith: there is but one God, all people were created by God, and the Jewish people in particular are "his people and the sheep of his pasture" (100:3). They can call Him "our Lord." See 135:5, 147:5, and Nehemiah 10:30. However, Jehovah was not a "tribal god" who belonged only to Israel, for He wanted His name (character, reputation) to be known "in all the earth" (66:1; 83:18; Ex. 9:14, 16; Josh. 3:11). Not only has the Lord set His glory "above the heavens" (beyond the earth’s atmosphere), but He has also deigned to share His glory with His creatures on earth. The glory of God dwelt with Israel in the tabernacle and temple, and it was especially revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 1:14). Wicked people crucified "the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. 2:8), but He was raised from the dead and has returned to heaven in honor and great glory (Phil. 2:5–11).
In verse 2, David moved from God’s transcendence to His immanence. Jehovah is so great that He can entrust His praise to infants and children and still not be robbed of glory! Jesus quoted this verse after He cleansed the temple (Matt. 21:16). Words are only sounds plus breath, two very weak things. Yet words of praise even from sucklings (not yet weaned) and babes (children able to play in the streets) can defeat God’s enemies! The cry of baby Moses ultimately brought Egypt to her knees, and the birth of Samuel was used by God to save Israel and bring David to the throne. Of course, it was the birth of Jesus that brought salvation to this world. Indeed, God has used the weak and helpless to praise Him and help defeat His enemies (1 Cor. 1:27). David himself was but a youth when he silenced Goliath and defeated him (1 Sam. 17:33, 42–43), and he brought great glory to the name of the Lord (17:45–47). God didn’t need us, yet He created us and prepared a wonderful world for us. As the Westminster Catechism states it, our purpose is to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever," and if we leave God out of our lives, we miss life’s greatest opportunity.
God Cares for Us (vv. 3–4)
The sun rules the day, but its blinding light usually blots out anything else we might see in the heavens, but at night, we are overwhelmed by the display of beauty from the moon, stars, planets, and galaxies. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that if the stars came out only once in a century, people would stay up all night gazing at them. What we know today about the size of the universe makes the earth and its inhabitants look even more insignificant than they appeared in David’s day. Our knowledge of light years and the reaches of outer space gives us even more reason for appreciating our insignificance in the solar system and God’s wonderful concern for us. In His great love, the Lord chose the earth for Himself (Ps. 24:1) and created us in His own image. "Man" in verse 4 is enosh, "weak man," and "son of man" is "son of adamah—son of the earth, earth-born" (Gen. 2:7). Both titles emphasize the weakness and frailty of humankind.
God spoke the worlds into existence, but David saw creation as coming from God’s fingers (v. 3; see Ex. 8:19 and 21:18) and hands (v. 6), the work of a Master Craftsman. It was evil for the Jews to worship the heavenly host (Ex. 20:4–6; Deut. 4:15–19; 17:2–7), but they understood that creation was proof of a caring Creator who prepared the world for the enjoyment and employment of mankind. God is mindful of us ("remembers," see Gen. 8:1; 19:29; 30:22) and cares for us ("visits," see Jer. 29:11; Job 10:12). God completed His creation before He made Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden, so everything was ready for them, to meet their every need.
God Crowns Us (vv. 5–8)
Why does God pay attention to "frail creatures of dust"? Because He has made them in His own image, and they are special! Instead of humans being "a little higher than animals," as science believes, they are actually "a little lower than God." The word elohim can mean angelic creatures (see Heb. 2:7), but here it definitely means "God." The Lord crowned Adam and Eve and gave them dominion over the other creatures (Gen. 1:26–27). We are co-regents of creation with the Lord! The angels are servants (Heb. 1:14), but we are kings, and one day, all who have trusted Christ will be like Him (1 John 3:1–3; Rom. 8:29).
People today live more like slaves than rulers, so why aren’t we living like kings? Because our first parents sinned and lost their crowns, forfeiting that glorious dominion. According to Romans 5, sin is reigning in our world (v. 21) and death is also reigning (vv. 14 and 17), but Jesus Christ has regained the dominion for us and will one day share it with us when He reigns in His kingdom (Heb. 2:6–8). When Jesus ministered here on earth, He exercised the dominion that Adam lost, for He ruled over the beasts (Mark 1:13; 11:1–7), the fowl (Luke 22:34), and the fish (Luke 5:4–7; Matt. 17:24–27; John 21:1–6). Today He is on the throne in heaven and all things are "under his feet" (1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:22; Heb. 2:8). The phrase means "completely subjected to Him" (47:4; Josh. 10:24; 1 Kings 5:17). Through the exalted Christ, God’s grace is reigning today (Rom. 5:21) so that God’s children may "reign in life" through Jesus Christ (v. 17). He has made us "kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Rev. 1:6). By faith, "we see Jesus" (Heb. 2:8–9), crowned in heaven, and that assures us that one day we will reign with Him and receive our crowns (Rev. 20:1–6).
To summarize: God the Father created us to be kings, but the disobedience of our first parents robbed us of our crowns. God the Son came to earth and redeemed us to be kings (Rev. 1:5–6), and today the Holy Spirit of God can empower us to "reign in life by one, Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:17). When you crown Jesus Christ Lord of all, you are a sovereign and not a slave, a victor and not a victim. "O Lord, our Lord, how excellent in your name in all the earth!"