New American Standard Bible
From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
King James Bible
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
Darby Bible Translation
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou established praise because of thine adversaries, to still the enemy and the avenger.
World English Bible
From the lips of babes and infants you have established strength, because of your adversaries, that you might silence the enemy and the avenger.
Young's Literal Translation
From the mouths of infants and sucklings Thou hast founded strength, Because of Thine adversaries, To still an enemy and a self-avenger.
Psalm 8:2 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Out of the mouth - This passage is quoted by the Saviour in Matthew 21:16, to vindicate the conduct of the children in the temple crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David," against the objections of the Pharisees and Scribes, and is perhaps alluded to by him in Matthew 11:25. It is not affirmed, however, in either place, that it had an original reference to the times of the Messiah, or that it was meant, as used by the psalmist, to denote that children would be employed in the praise of God. The language sufficiently expressed the idea which the Saviour meant to convey; and the princip e or great truth involved in the psalm was applicable to the use which he made of it. The language would, perhaps, most naturally denote that infant children would give utterance to the praises of God, as the word "mouth" is used; but still it is not quite certain that the psalmist meant to convey that idea. It is probable, as we shall see, that he meant to say, God had conferred great honor on men - men so humble and weak that they might be compared to infants - by making them the means of overthrowing his enemies, thus showing the greatness of the divine condescension.
Babes - The word used here - עולל ‛ôlêl - means properly a boy or child, and is usually connected with the word rendered sucklings, Jeremiah 44:7; Lamentations 2:11. It is applied to a boy playing in the streets, Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 9:21; asking for bread, Lamentations 4:4,; carried away captive, Lamentations 1:5; borne in the arms, Lamentations 2:20; and once to an unborn infant, Job 3:16. It refers here to a child, or to one who is like a child; and the idea is that those to whom it is applied were naturally unable to accomplish what was done by them, and that God had honored them, and had shown his own condescension, by making them the instruments of doing what they had done.
And sucklings - The word used here - יונק yôneq - means a suckling, or a suckling child, a babe, Deuteronomy 32:25. It may be used literally, or employed to denote one who, in respect to strength, may be compared with a babe. The latter is probably the use made of it here.
Hast thou ordained strength - The word rendered ordained - יסד yâsad - means to found, to lay the foundation of, as of a building, Ezra 3:12; Isaiah 54:11. Then it means to establish, appoint, ordain, constitute, etc. The meaning here is, that in what is referred to, there was, as it were, some basis or foundation for what is called "strength;" that is, that what is here meant by "strength" rested on that as a foundation - to wit, on what was done by babes and sucklings. The word "strength" is rendered by the Septuagint as "praise" - αἷνον ainon - and this is followed in the quotation in Matthew 21:16. The same rendering is adopted in the Latin Vulgate and in the Syriac. The Hebrew word - עז ‛ôz - properly means strength, might; and the idea here would seem to be, that even from babes and sucklings - from those who were in themselves so feeble - God had taken occasion to accomplish a work requiring great power - to wit, in "stilling the enemy and the avenger;" that is, he had made those who were so feeble the instruments of accomplishing so great a work.
Because of thine enemies - In respect to thine enemies, or in order to accomplish something in regard to them, namely, in stilling them, as is immediately specified. The idea is, that there were those who rose up against God, and opposed his government and plans, and that God, in overcoming them, instead of putting forth his own power directly, had condescended to employ those who were weak and feeble like little children. Who these enemies were is not specified, but it is most natural to suppose that the reference is to some of the foes of the author of the psalm, who had been subdued by the prowess of his arm - by strength imparted to him, though in himself feeble as an infant.
That thou mightest still - Mightest cause to rest, or to cease. The original word - שׁבת shâbath - from which our word Sabbath is derived, means to rest; to lie by; to sit down; to sit still; and in the Hiphil, to cause to rest, or to cause to desist; to put an end to, Ezekiel 34:10; Joshua 22:25; Psalm 46:9; Proverbs 18:18. Here it means to bring to an end the purposes of the enemy and the avenger; or, to cause him to desist from his designs.
The enemy - The enemy of the writer, regarded also as the enemy of God.
And the avenger - One who was endeavoring to take revenge, or who was acting as if determined to avenge some imaginary or real wrong. This, too, may refer either to some one who was seeking to revenge himself on the author of the psalm, or who, with the spirit of revenge, stood up against God, and had set himself against him.
In regard to the meaning of this verse, which I apprehend is the key to the whole psalm, and which contains the original germ of the psalm, or the thought which suggested the train of reflection in it, the following remarks may be made:
(a) There is no evidence that it was designed to refer originally to infants, or to children of any age, as stating anything which they would do in contributing to the praise of God, or as defeating sceptics and cavillers by "their instinctive recognition of God's being and glory," as is supposed by Calvin, DeWette, Prof. Alexander, and others. What is said here to be done by "babes and sucklings" has reference to some mighty enemy that had been overcome, not to anything which had been effected by the influence of the recognition of God by little children. It may be doubted, also, whether there is any such "instinctive admiration of his works, even by the youngest children," as would be "a strong defense against those who would question the being and glory" of God, as is supposed by Prof. Alexander and others; and, at all events, that is not the manifest thought in the passage.
(b) Nor does it refer merely to praise as proceeding from children, as being that by which the effect referred to is accomplished. It is true that this idea is in the translation by the Septuagint, and true that it is so quoted in Matthew 21:16, and true, also, that, as quoted by the Saviour, and as originally applied, it was adapted to the end which the Saviour had in view - to silence the chief priests and Scribes, who objected to the praises and hosannas of the children in the temple, for the psalm, on any interpretation, originally meant that God would accomplish good effects by those who were feeble and weak as children, and this principle was applicable to the praises of the children in the temple. But it does not appear that it originally referred to praise, either of children or others. It was to some manifested strength or prowess, by which some enemy, or some one who was seeking revenge, was overcome by the instrumentality of those who might be compared with children on account of their feebleness. From this the psalmist takes occasion to make his reflections on the exalted honor conferred in general on a creature so weak and feeble as man, especially in the wide dominion granted him over the inferior creation.
(c) This was, not improbably, some enemy of the author of the psalm; but who it was is not mentioned. David was often, however, in the course of his life, in such circumstances as are here supposed. Might it not refer to Goliath of Gath - a mighty giant, and a formidable enemy of the people of God, overcome by David, quite a stripling - a child? Would not the language of the psalm agree with that? Was it not true that he was an "enemy" and an "avenger," or one socking revenge? and was it not true that God had, from one who was a mere child, "ordained strength" to subdue him?
(d) God had, then, condescended to honor one who was in himself weak and feeble as a child - who had no power of himself to accomplish what had been done.
(e) This was great condescension on the part of God; and especially was it to be so regarded when the eye looked out - as the author of the psalm appears to have done at the time of its composition - on the starry heavens, and contemplated their greatness and grandeur. What astonishing condescension was it that he who marshalled all those hosts should bestow such honor on man!
LibraryWhat is Man?
"When I consider thy heaven, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man?" Psalm 8:3, 4. How often has it been observed, that the Book of Psalms is a rich treasury of devotion, which the wisdom of God has provided to supply the wants of his children in all generations! In all ages the Psalms have been of singular use to those that loved or feared God; not only to the pious Israelites, but to the children of God in all nations. And this book has been of sovereign …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
Since the Case is So, what is Man...
The Knowledge of God Conspicuous in the Creation, and Continual Government of the World.
At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.
and said to Him, "Do You hear what these children are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, 'OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF'?"
1 Corinthians 1:27
but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
A Psalm of David. Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles, Because of the presence of the enemy and the avenger.
The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
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