Below is a commentary by Andrew Bonar (1810-1892) on Psalm 8 from Christ And His Church In The Book Of Psalms. I’ve bolded a few quotes that stood out to me.
To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David
1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel!
4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
6 But I am a worm, and no man: a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn:
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him:
Let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb:
Thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
11 Be not far from me: for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of my bowels.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws;
And thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me:
They pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.
20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.
21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren:
In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.
23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him;
All ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.
24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation:
I will pay my vows before them that fear him.
26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied:
They shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.
27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord:
And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations.
29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship:
All they that go down to the dust shall bow before him:
And none can keep alive his own soul.
30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness
Unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
WHAT a change! Instead of the songs of victory, we hear the moaning of one in anguish. It is not the voice of those that shout for the mastery, as were the preceding songs of Zion, but the voice of one that cries in weakness. And yet this abrupt transition is quite a natural one. We saw the warrior – we saw the fruits for his victory – we saw the prospects of yet farther glorious results from that victory. Now then we are brought to the battle-field and shewn the battle itself – that battle which virtually ended the conflict with Satan and all his allies. We hear the din of that awful onset. Our David in “the irresistible might of weakness” is before us, crying in the crisis of conflict,
“Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani!”
the words uttered on Calvary, and preserved in every syllable as they were used by the Saviour then.
Some have sought to mingle the believer’s confidence with Christ’s in this Psalm. But it is too awful in its strain to admit of this application, though we may learn from Christ’s example, as well as words, on the cross; as Peter is fond of shewing us in his first epistle. The words of verse 1st may indicate that such cries were uttered more than once during the Redeemer’s days of anguish. There were other seasons besides the cross when the Father was near to lay on Him the weight of the burden of guilt, and when, for a time, he left Him, forsake. These were seasons of the hottest trial ever known in warfare, for it was warfare wherein nothing could exhaust the resources brought up against the champion, while also there were divine supplies on his side.
The scheme of this Psalm is evident at a glance. There are two parts in it; the one from verse 1 to the middle of verse 21; the other from the middle of verse 21 to the end. The first part is Messiah’s sufferings; the second is his entering into his glory. His first coming is the theme of the one; his glorious kingdom, established fully at his second coming, is the theme of the other; and this is so very obvious, that we shall be very brief in our remarks, leaving the reader to meditate for himself, with the history of the Lord in the Evangelists* before him for the first part, and his eye glancing through the Apocalyptics visions for the second.
The title is strange: “On Aijeleth Shahar,” – literally, “The hind of the morning.” This was probably some instrument used for compositions of a peculiar cast, wherein joy gave place to anguish, and then anguish to joy. The hind leaps from height to depth, from valley to hill-top, rising up from its quiet lair, where it had reposed till morning, when met by the hunters’ cry. That there was such an instrument used we cannot tell – it is a mere conjecture; at the same time it is interesting to notice how truly the scene of the hind, roused at morning from its rest (not to bound at liberty like Naphtali in Gen. xlix. 21, but) to be chased by the hunters, corresponds to the tale of persecution related here, when “dogs encompass him about.”
Without attempting to explore the riches, the unsearchable riches, of these mournful cries, let us listen to a few of their sad echoes. In verse 3, “But thou art holy, O thou who inhabitest the praises of Israel,” we have a declaration that Israel’s Holy One shall be praised more than ever for his holiness, because of his impartial treatment of Him who cries, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Strange as it may seem, it shall turn out to be an illustration of his holy character; and if before this He inhabited Israel’s praises, much more hereafter. In verse 4, that note, “OUR fathers,” (as in Psalm xl. 5) from such lips may well touch our hearts. He is not ashamed, reader, to call you and me his brethren! He identifies with us! Our fathers are His fathers, that His Father may be ours. How like Him who afterwards (ver. 22), calls us “my brethren;” and who on earth did say, after resurrection, “Go and tell my brethren,” (Matt. xxviii. 10).
We do not dwell on the ample field of remark opened to us from verses 6-22. “The people,” in verse 6, is specially “His own” Israel. The taunt, ver. 8, is equivalent to He was fond of saying “Roll on the Lord!” what Psalm xxxvii. 5 expresses more fully. In verse 20, “My only one” is understood to be the soul described as dear like an only son.* How appropriate is the lips of Him who asked the memorable question, in Matt. xvi. 26.
It is in verse 21 that the tide turns. The clause
“Thou hast heard me”
ought to be taken by itself. It is a cry of delight. It is like Luke xxii. 43. The lamentation of ver. 2 is over now – He is heard now! And his being now heard is not a blessing to Him alone; he runs to bring his disciples word:
“I will declare thy name to my brethren,” (ver. 22);
words characteristic to the full of Him who spoke, John xvii. 26, and whose first resurrection-act was to send word to his disciples, by the name “my brethren,” and then to send them to all the earth. His special love to Israel, too, is apparent, as when He said, “to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” – “Both in Jerusalem and in all Judea.” Here he calls to them,
“Ye seed of Jacob, glorify Him –
For He has not abhored the affliction of the poor.” (V. 23, 24.)
He has not treated the poor sinner as an unclean thing to be shrunk from (Levit. xi. 11), passing by on the other side. (Luke x. 31.) All shall yet praise Him who makes their heart live for ever by feeding them on this sacrifice (verse 26). Verse 28 shews us the Kingdom come, and Christ the Governor among the nations; at which time we find a feast partaken of by all nations, and observed by sinners that were ready to perish: –
“All they that be fat (the rich) on the earth shall eat and worship. (V. 29.)
Before Him shall bow all that go down to dust, (the poor)
And he who could not keep alive his soul,” (the most destitute of the poor).
The essence of the feast is indicated at verse 26, as consisting in knowing and feeding upon Him who is our Paschal Lamb; even as in Isaiah xxv. 8, the feast of fat things is Christ Himself, seen and known, eye to eye. The people of that millenial time are “the seed” of ver. 30. If men do not at present serve Him, yet their seed shall – there is a generation to rise who shall so do. (“Hoc semen illi serviet,” says Buchanan.)
“Posterity shalt serve Him,
It shall be related of the Lord to the generation to come.
These shall go forth (on the of the world) and declare his righteousness
To a people then to be born. (Ps. cii. 18)
For He has done it!”
The Hebrew is very elliptical. It seems as if [Hebrew characters] were here intentionally used in an absolute and indefinite way in order to fix our thoughts on the thing being done. A finger points to the scene, and a voice says [Hebrew characters]! q.d. “He has performed!” Here is deed, not word only. Here is fulfilment, not promise only. The meek may eat and be filled! For lo! there is the things done! performance of all that this Psalm describes, of all that Jesus meant when he cried, “It is finished.” In that hour He saw his sufferings ended and his glory begun, and could proclaim victory through suffering. What a song of Zion is this! Messiah at every step! beginning with “Eli, Eli,” and ending with [Greek characters] “It is finished.”
Messiah bearing the cross, and wearing the crown.
* This Psalm is quoted in Hebrews ii. 11, where verse 23 is the passage referred to. The piercing of hands and feet,” verse 17, may be considered as referred to in such passages as Luke xxiv. 39, John xx. 27, when he carefully shewed his hands and his feet. The attempt of the modern Jews to translate [Hebrew characters] “like a lion,” admits of a very complete and satisfactory refutation. Whether we adopt the Keri [Hebrew characters] or retain the Ketibh [Hebrew characters] the sense is the same, only in the former case the literal rendering is, “They have pierced,” in the latter, it is to be understood participially, “They are piercing.” See an article in No. IV. of Bibliotheca Sacra and Biblical Repository, 1852 (combined series), where it is shewn that the Masora on Numbers xxiv. 9, plainly states that the text read, “They pierced,” and Jacob bon Haiim says it was so “In many copies.” All the ancient versions, e.g., Septuagint and Syriac, and such critics as De Wette, Winer, Bahr (in Tholuck’s Lit. Anzeig. 1853), agree in this rendering.
* The word is the fem. of [Hebrew characters] used in Gen. xxii. 2 and elsewhere, for a thing that is precious because the only one of its kind. Is there any thing of this idea in Homer’s [Greek characters] (Iliad iii. 31, &c.), his own dear heart?