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Psalm VIII

The word "Gittith," in the title of this Psalm, is : supposed by some commentators to mean a harp brought from Gath; by others, a wine-press, and by others a song sung at the vintage. Either of these meanings is spiritually applicable to this Psalm, which describes the blessed state of internal peace and outward tranquillity, which man enjoys when he is regenerated, or spiritually born again of the Lord. At the beginning therefore, and at the end of the Psalm, the Lord's name is said to be excellent, or magnificent, in all the earth; for then spiritually speaking, the Divine Truth, or all those Divine-Human Qualities by which alone the Lord can be worshipped, and which are signified, because they are suggested to the mind, by His name, Jesus Christ, then that Divine Truth reigns from first to last, or as the Alpha and the Omega, through all the faculties of man.

Verse 1. "O Jehovah our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth." The word which here, and in other places, is rendered "earth," ought correctly to be rendered "land." For the land of Canaan was in an especial manner referred to by the writers of the Old Testament when they spoke of the land, and not the terraqueous globe, which is the usual acceptation of the word "earth" Of the terraqueous globe they knew nothing, but conceived of those countries which they did know, that they consisted of one vast plain, circumscribed by a supposed horizon.

"Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens." The glory which the Lord sets above the heavens, is the union of the Divine Truth with the Divine Goodness, which union is the only source of that state of heavenly love and light,"the heavens" of the spiritual sense, from which man is enabled to behold the Divine Glory. The glory is above the heavens, when man is brought to a sense of his own nothingness, when he claims no power to himself of acquiring truth, or of becoming good. but ascribes all his gifts to the Lord, by the subduing of the hells in him, and the glorification of the Divine Truth in its ultimate or representative form. Hence the more spiritually-minded a man becomes, by a pure and disinterested love to the Lord and to his neighbour, he is the better able to see and acknowledge the Divine Super-eminence, for the glory of the Divine Presence is in proportion to the humility of the recipient.

Verse 2. " Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast ordained strength, because of Thine enemies ; that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."

And the whole of this Psalm is descriptive of the order into which the human mind is brought by regeneration, therefore, in the very form in which it is written, it marks the descent of the Divine Influx through the discriminated degrees of which the mind is composed, beginning with the celestial, or inmost state of innocence, of love, and of wisdom, which, in respect to the condition of the will, is called "a .babe," and in respect to the intellect, in the nourishment of it by heavenly truth, "a suckling." This state of purity and happiness, which is the inmost condition of the regenerated mind, is attained when we love with our whole heart the Lord's will, to the utter renunciation of all selfish motives and worldly considerations, and when we desire to be instructed .from His Word in that will, that we may be led, like little children, by our Heavenly Father. Then, whichever way we spiritually turn or direct our minds, we shall have the Lord's glory above us and before our eyes. It is by this innocence of the mind that the Lord has power in man to still His spiritual "enemy and avenger," or to rule over and to eternity keep in subjection, the love of ourselves, and the false delusions of the intellect by which that love is strengthened and confirmed. For it is by profound self-abasement that man co-operates with the Lord in successfully conquering the evils to which he is prone, or, more correctly speaking, the Lord is a conqueror when man does not resist the blessed influences of His love.

Verse 3. " When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained." Next, after the description of the celestial man, follows a description of man's spiritual or rational state, which flows from the Lord through the celestial, as an effect through the efficient cause. This state is signified by the work of the fingers of Jehovah, and the moon and the stars, which He has ordained. Man is said to behold them, and the sight of the eye corresponds to a perceptive state of the reason. The heavens are spiritually all states of heavenly charity which form the life of the spiritual man, and these are said to be the work of the Lord's fingers, because they are effects produced by a reception of the Divine Truth in the ultimate plane of the rational mind. It is in relation to this plane that it is said to be the work of His fingers ; for His fingers spiritually signify the Divine Truth in operation, and the operation is felt and perceived only when it comes forth into its ultimate form. "The moon " corresponds to a state of faith, or the perceptive acknowledgment of truth; and "the stars" correspond to the knowledge of goodness and truth of all kinds, in and by which he is able to trace the order and harmony which reign throughout the voluntary and intellectual system of His universe.

When man interiorly beholds this, the operation of the Divine Love and Mercy, he looks down upon his natural condition with deep humility and self- abasement : he sees that all the natural propensities of his will are nothing but evil, and the natural condition of his intellect prone to embrace the darkness of falsehood, rather than comprehend the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He is convinced that he owes everything to his Saviour and Redeemer, and nothing to himself. This humility, which is the effect of his interiorly beholding the Lord's heavens, the work of His fingers, and the moon and the stars, which He has ordained, is signified in this verse by the inquiry, " What is man, that Thou art mindful of him," which, in its spiritual signification, relates to the natural will; " or the son of man, that Thou visitest him," which spiritually signifies the natural intellect in connection with such a will. Abstracted from person, the will of man is signified by man, for he is a human being preeminently by the capacity of his will; and the son of man, abstracted from person, is the intellect, or product, of such a will.

Verse 5. "For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour." In this humility and subordination consists the regeneration of the natural man, or the crowning him with glory and honour. All his natural thoughts and delights, even down to the very senses, are brought into submission, so as to serve the interior truths of the spiritual man, which is signified by his being made by the Lord "a little lower than the angels," and by such a free-will service he is crowned with glory and honour. The glory and honour with which the natural man is crowned, are the wisdom of the celestial man, signified by glory, and the rational perception of the spiritual man, which is signified by honour. This then is the effect produced by the subordination of the natural man to the celestial and spiritual, and when these three degrees of life are submitted to the Lord.

In the next verse follows a more particular description of the happiness and tranquillity which man, even in his natural condition, enjoys under the government of the Divine Love and Wisdom. "Thou hast made him to have dominion over all the works of Thy hands ; Thou hast put all things under his feet." Here the power, which man exercises, of correcting his naturally fallacious impressions, and of controlling his natural propensities and the delights of his senses, is ascribed to the Lord as their source. The correction of the former is called the work of His hands, and the control over the latter, the putting all things under man's feet.

Verse 7. "All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field" The natural affections, both interior and exterior, are here described by their representative forms, and these are brought under his feet when they are made to minister to heavenly motives and perceptions, to heavenly love and wisdom, and first and chief of all to the Lord Himself. Nay, the very beast is a beast of the field, for it is domesticated, or, spiritually, it is serviceable to the church in man.

Verse 8. "The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas." When man is spiritually reborn, or when his spiritual Canaan is a land flowing with milk and honey, and everything which he does, in the true sense of the word, prospers, then his natural propensities and delights, being hallowed and purified, precede, in the order of the description, both the fowl of the air, which represent the truths of faith, and the fish of the sea, which represent scientific truth, or truth in the memory, together with the life of the" sensual man, which is signified by that which passeth through the paths of the seas.

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