Psalm 8:5—A Little Lower Than God?

Discover some of the Bible's deeper meanings in Abarim Publications' Biblical Commentary

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Psalm 8:5

— A Little Lower Than God? —

Psalm 8:5

NAS Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God...

NIV You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings...

King James For thou hast made him a little lower than the angel...

Green For You have made him lack a little from God...

Young And causest him to lack a little of Godhead...

NBG Toch hebt Gij hem bijna goddelijk gemaakt...

Statenvertaling En hebt hem een weinig minder gemaakt dan de engelen...?

Schlachter Du hast ihn ein wenig Gottes entbehren lassen...

Psalm 8:5—Some do it right

Some do it right (Green, Young, Schlachter) but the most popular translations have it flat wrong. What does it mean to be 'a little lower than God'? Entire theologies have been derived from the notion that man is a little lower than God, but the essence of the statement fails the essence of Scriptures, namely that man has fallen and is fully separated from God, and through Jesus Christ man is forgiven, and returns to God.

It's a principle of binary simplicity: yea or nay, you're in or you're out. There's no half way, no almost there.

See our article on the First Commandment for a discussion of the word elohim. It means 'mighty one(s)' and is used to denote God as mighty one (and Creator), or angels or human judges or perhaps even natural forces.

The verb hasar appears in the Bible predominantly in the sense of God's mercy and providence being sufficient. Hence man requires little. See also 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

Psalm 8:5 celebrates mankind's autonomy and sovereignty. The word elohim should here (if not always) be translated with 'powers that be' (after Romans 13:1) and the verb hasar should not be ignored:

Psalm 8:5—Abarim Publications translation:

"And You made him so that he requires little from the powers that be."

Note: Paul's usage of Psalm 8:5 in Hebrews 2:7 is neither a translation nor an interpretation but an application, namely to Jesus. In this case Paul inserts the Greek word for angels for Elohim. Two things should be taken into consideration:

1) An angel is a messenger of any kind, not just the spirit beings we know as angels. The word aggelos, the Greek word for angel, is used for John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10), the disciples of John (Luke 7:24), some people that worked for Jesus (Luke 9:52), some people that worked for the king of Jericho (Galatians 2:25).

2) Paul himself writes that angels are ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14) and that we will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).

In general and applied to mankind, Psalm 8:5 shows a motion by man from the animal realm upward, to be stationed as governors over and heirs of earth, just below angels or the powers that be. Paul in Hebrews 2:7 shows a motion by Jesus Christ from the heavenly realm downwards, to be stationed among men.

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