- A psalm of David. Note to music leader: use the gittith.1
From here to high heaven, God shines
- 1 LORD and master,
There’s a majesty to your name throughout the earth.
Your glory shines from here to high heaven.
- 2 Out of the mouths of mere humans2 speaking your name
You build strength while your enemies watch.
Your enemies, the destroyers, fall speechless.
- 3 When I look at the sky you created with your fingers,
And the moon and stars you hung there,
- 4 I have to ask why you bother with people.
Why do you care about us at all?
- 5 You created us just a little less than yourself.
And then you glorified us with high honors.
Humanity: earth’s caretaker
- 6 You put us in charge of everything you made.
Gave us control of all of your creatures:
- 7 Every sheep and cow in the fields
Every wild critter in the woods,
- 8 Every bird in the sky and fish in the sea,
And any other animal that gets wet in the water.
- 9 LORD and master,
There’s a majesty to your name, spread throughout the earth.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm. And the possible byline “of David,” isn’t necessarily a byline. The vague phrase could mean the song was written by David, about David, or was inspired by David. Almost half of the psalms are attributed to David in this way, 73 of 150. Ancient Jewish history tells of David playing a lyre and writing songs. For one, he wrote a song of mourning at the battlefield death of King Saul and his sons: “How have the mighty fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19-27 New American Standard Bible). An ancient Jewish scroll from about the time of Jesus, discovered among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, reports that David wrote 3,600 songs.
Scholars can only guess what the writer meant by gittith. Some guesses scholars offer: It could have been a type of instrument, like a unique style of a harp or a flute, perhaps named after the city where it was made. It might have been the name of a melody that fit the lyrics.
Bible experts say this is a hard verse to translate, as anyone can see by comparing Bible versions. A more traditional translation of the first line: “From the mouths of infants and nursing babies.” Some scholars say the babies are a symbol of human weakness. Scholars add that God turns this weakness to strength once the people recognize the name of God and work all that it represents into their vocabulary and their lives. It’s a theory, one of many. Whatever the details, the message is that God is stronger than his enemies.