How Hebrews uses Psalm 8

  1. In Hebrews 2 the author quotes portions of Psalm 8? To what man does Psalm 8 historically refer? To whom does Psalm 8 refer prophetically? How does the author of Hebrews use this passage prophetically? What does the author mean that not all things are presently subjected to Jesus? When you think of your own life, what areas is it that Jesus suffered and “tasted death” for you? How should you respond?

Historically Psalm 8 has been seen as referring to humanity. At least that was how the Christians would interpret it. This can be an apt description when seen in light of the creation account in Genesis, and does make sense. When the author of Hebrews uses it in relation to Jesus it is used to emphasis Jesus’ humanity. There is one other historical interpretation we can see which is in relation to Angels which is how the Jews would interpret this passage. “Ancient Judaism held to the belief that angels had been placed by God over the nations of the world. The basis for this belief went back to an interpretation of Deuteronomy 32:8, which referred to the boundaries of the nations as set according to the number of God’s angels.”[1] In Hebrews we see the prophetic interpretation given toward Jesus. In Jesus we see the fulfillment of Psalm 8. “Other NT writers also recognized ‘you have subjected all things under his feet’ as a reference to Christ. Thus the pastor’s use of this psalm may have been a creative development founded on common Christian tradition.”[2] When the author does this it creates the debate of what has been subjected to Jesus. This is essentially the problem of evil, if everything is already subjected to Jesus, why do bad things keep happening to those who follow Jesus?

To solve this dilemma, we need to look at the problem of evil, and while that is a debate for a further discussion, George Guthrie gives a brief overview of what this means. In short, “the authority of Christ is already all-encompassing. Psalm 110:1, on the other hand, means “at present we do not see everything subject to him.”[3] We do know and can be assured that Jesus is sovereign over creation and everything in the future too. In regards to Hebrews 2, the author references Psalm 8 to show everything is subject to Christ. “By quoting this clause he initiates his contention that the one in charge of the future world of salvation is also human. This enthroned heir is also one who became a human being. There is no ambiguity as to the identity of the one to whom the future world of salvation has been subjected.”[4] It is in Jesus we see all authority, and while we don’t specifically see the subjection of creation to Jesus in all aspects, and one day we will see how this plays out.

In regards to my personal application, Jesus has tasted death on my behalf for all my sins and to bring all of my life under his authority as well. In response to Christ dying on my behalf, I need to live my entire life for Jesus.

[1] Guthrie, George. The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998, 97.

[2] Cockerill, Gareth Lee, The Epistle to the Hebrew, Grand Rapids: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2012, 127.

[3] Guthrie, George. The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998, 99

[4] Cockerill, Gareth Lee, The Epistle to the Hebrew, Grand Rapids: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2012, 129.


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