Monday, 20 August 2018
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? Hebrews 2:6
The author is still speaking of the contrast between the authority of angels and that of the Son. In order to show the supremacy of the Son, he now refers to the 8th Psalm. In this though, he uses an unusual literary technique by saying, “But one testified in a certain place, saying.”
The word “testified” gives the sense of an earnest testimony which thoroughly bears witness to something. The word “certain place,” is better translated as “somewhere.” The Greek word is pou. It is the genitive case of an indefinite pronoun pos. It is wholly indefinite. The question raised then is, “Why would the author not simply say, “In the psalms,” or something more definite. It is the same term he uses in Hebrews 4:4 –
“For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.’”
Charles Ellicott gives a sound reason for the wording by saying, “As a rule, the words of Scripture are in this Epistle quoted as God’s own utterances; and though the nature of the quotation (which is an address to God) made this impossible here, the writer seems to gladly avoid the mention of the human prophet, perhaps as distracting the thought from the divine prophecy.”
The author (most probably Paul) is writing to a Hebrew audience. In order to ensure that the citation is carefully handled as the word of God, though spoken through a prophet (who is speaking to God), he defers to this literary technique. It then makes sure that his use of the quote is still rightly considered as from a divine source (thus “testified” is being applied to God’s testimony because it is recorded in His word). He then next cites the intended words, beginning with Psalm 8:4 which says, “What is man that You are mindful of him.”
David is speaking to the Lord (Yehovah). He is in awe of the magnificence of the creation which is so splendid and glorious. And yet, God with all of creation to tend to and to rejoice in, still takes notice of man. It seemed almost incomprehensible to David that God would even consider man at all, much less dwell among him (meaning among Israel in the sanctuary) and reveal His thoughts to him (meaning through prophets). This is especially so because man had rebelled against God, and he continued to do so every chance he could get. David was overwhelmed with the idea that God could direct His attention to man considering all of this.
The author continues to cite David’s words of Psalm 8:4 with the words, “Or the son of man that You take care of him?” The term “son of man” is still speaking of man – the ongoing issue of one man to the next. God created Adam, and the details of Genesis 1 & 2 show that man had special value to, and a purposeful relationship with, God. However, Adam turned from God. How could He still then be mindful of him after that? And more, Adam’s sons continued to rebel, even getting worse and worse. Each time God would intervene and call man back to Himself in a new way, directing the steps of humanity as if there was a greater purpose for him. The Greek word for “take care” is one which indicates divine visitation. It isn’t just that the Lord throws him food to eat and walks away, but that He inspects him, visits him, and ensures that he will be OK. David pondered the matter, realizing that there must be more to man than his simply being an animal that could be slaughtered for food or put in a zoo to be gazed at. Instead, there is a quality of man that actually makes him important to God in a most profound way.
The author will continue citing the psalm, directing our attention to the one Man who is the point and purpose of God’s attention to man.
Life application: When we are told to go out into the world in order to spread the gospel, it is because man (all men, from every tribe and nation) have value to God. It is man who devalues himself through his vile conduct and senseless rejection of God. But if man can be turned from that, there is a great and eternal purpose for him in God’s economy. Let us look at our fellow humans with eyes that match those of the Lord, wanting all to be saved and to eternally fellowship with Him.
Lord God, the gospel is a message intended for all men of every color, culture, and condition. It is not a message which is forced on others, insisting they submit to Your rule. Instead, it is a message of love, calling out that we willingly return to You. This is the greatness of the gospel. You have allowed us to return willingly and to be reconciled to You, even though You have done all that is necessary to make it happen. What a wonderful offer of peace and reconciliation! Thank You for this display of love. Amen.