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Who Is “The Son Of Man” From Psalm 8:4?

By pastorbillwalden

Each Sunday I receive questions from our congregation regarding either what I just taught, or about the Christian life in general.  We read a Psalm corporately at the beginning of each service.  On 2/27/2001, we read Psalm 8, which speaks of “the son of man”, in verse 8.

The question that came was as follows: Is the reference to to “son of man” in Psalm 8:4 a prophecy regarding Jesus?  If so, what does it mean that God would “visit” him?

In the context of the Psalm, I don’t believe that the psalmist is intentionally referring to Jesus, though Jesus did use the title “The Son Of Man” when speaking of Himself.

Regarding the passage in Psalm 8, David Guzik writes:

What is man that You are mindful of him: Considering the greatness of the heavens also made David consider the relative smallness and insignificance of man. David wondered why just a big, great God would bemindful of such small beings.

i. “We gave you but a feeble image of our comparative insignificance, when we said that the glories of an extended forest would suffer no more from the fall of a single leaf, than the glories of an extended universe would suffer though the globe we tread upon, and all that it inherits, should dissolve.” (Chalmers, cited in Spurgeon)

ii. God is so big that He makes the universe with His fingers; man is so small that he is dwarfed by the universe. Yet David did not doubt that God was mindful of man; he simply said “You are mindful of Him” and only wondered why. Before we share David’s question, we should first share his assured confidence that God is mindful of us; He thinks of us and considers what we do.

iii. “Sorry, sickly man, a mass of mortalities, a map of miseries, a mixture or compound of dirt and sin . . . And yet God is mindful of him.” (Trapp)

iv. “David’s question can be asked with many nuances. In Psalm 144:3f it mocks the arrogance of the rebel; in Job 7:17 it is a sufferer’s plea for respite; in Job 25:6 it shudders at human sin. But here it has no tinge of pessimism; only astonishment that thou are mindful and thou dost care.” (Kidner)

And the son of man that You should visit him: Indeed, using the poetic method of repetition, David repeated the idea in a stronger way. Son of man is a title that emphasizes the “humanness” of man, and we might say that visit him is yet stronger than are mindful of him.

i. David was confident that God not only carefully thought about man, but that He had some kind of personal connection and contact with men (that You visit him). He thinks about us and acts in our life.

ii. “The contrast between the stately splendor of the moon and the stars, and man – Enosh – frail man – and the son of man Ben-Adam – of apparently earthly origin. The contrasts are graphic.” (Morgan)

My Final Thoughts On This- The immediate context speaks of the comparative smallness of man compared to the greatness of God, and yet God is interested in man.  I don’t believe that David was writing a direct statement about Jesus.

Ezekiel was also called “son of man” by God  (93 times), as was Daniel.

It is to be noted, however, that Jesus was identified as “son of man” 88 times in the New Testament. When used of Jesus, whether prophetically in the Old Testament, or in real time (Jesus’ time), the title carried the significance of describing the Messiah of Israel.

As David Guzik mentioned the term “son of man” emphasizes the humanness of the one being spoken to or about.  “Son of Man” simply emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, who was both God and men.  The passage in Psalm 8:4 doesn’t seem to speak of Jesus directly, or that God would “visit” him. The “son of man” spoken of in Psalm 8:4 seems to speak of humanity in general.

Good question!

 

2 Responses so far

I was wondering about this topic. Then I read this…

Heb 2:5-18
5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,Or the son of man that You take care of him? 7 You have made him a little lower than the angels;You have crowned him with glory and honor,And set him over the works of Your hands. 8 You have 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 do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:
“I will declare Your name to My brethren;In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
13 And again:
“I will put My trust in Him.”
And again:
“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
NKJV

Heb 2:5-18
5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,Or the son of man that You take care of him? 7 You have made him a little lower than the angels;You have crowned him with glory and honor,And set him over the works of Your hands. 8 You have 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 do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:
“I will declare Your name to My brethren;In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
13 And again:
“I will put My trust in Him.”
And again:
“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
NKJV

My final thoughts on this is…the term applies to both, us and Christ. Whether David knew it or not…the matter is cleared up in these scriptures. I do believe that David was writing a direct statement about Jesus and man. And just as God gave us dominion over every creepy crawly thing on the earth;
Gen 1:26-27
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
NKJV

He gave Jesus dominion over every creepy crawly thing in the heavenly realms…

Heb 2:14 ~ Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Sooo…this is why we are called to pray in Jesus’ Name and no other name. Whoa!…this stuff is all unfolding before my eyes here! Thanks for bearing with me.

Thank you Pastor Bill, for posting this article.
Thank you Brenda for bringing Hebrews 2 to my attention and how it relates to Psalms 8. This is beautiful, and yes I agree everything is unfolding before our eyes.
God Bless you all.

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