The purpose of this research is to examine the ecological issues arising from a part of Psalm 8, verses 4-6, which deal with the relationship between mankind and the rest of the elements of Creation. The plan of the research will be to set forth the text of this brief biblical passage and then to discuss the scope and limit of meanings that can be derived from it, with a view toward identifying a moral stance regarding how the text intends the status of human agency and presence in the biblical Creation scheme to be interpreted.
At first glance, the language of Psalm 8:4-6 seems a simple and straightforward articulation of a moral sense of the human existence, posing a question about a possible linkage between mankind and the Creator's engagement with it.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou has made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet (Psalm 8:4-6).
The assertion of a human-divine linkage is hardly all that is captured by this passage, for it also brings in the idea of humanity's place in the cosmos. The text is asking what is so special about humanity, then apparently proceeds to supply an answer: Human beings are less exalted than angels, which are spirits, and more exalted than the rest of the things that God created, since they have dominion over them. That is an allusion to Genesis 1:26, which expands specifically on the scope of human dominion fish, fowl, cattle, earth, and the full range of God's creepy-crawly creatures. At Psalm 8:5, it is clear that human beings do not control the spirit world, which belongs to the angels. In Psalm 8:6, however, the psalmist can be said to marvel that it essentially validates and reinforces the Creator's original intent to give humanity a privileged place in respect of the Creator's ...