Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength
because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
Psalm 8:2 ESV
This verse has been in my mind lately for two reasons.
First, Psalm 8 has been much in my thoughts since the author of Hebrews cites verses 4-6 of that psalm in 2:6-8, which is part of the next passage that I am to preach.
Second, there has been a new infant in the Newton household for the past two weeks, which is why my posts have been scarce.
Now, given that Psalm 8 is about man’s status in the cosmos, I agree with C. John Collins that:
Probably the “babies and infants” (v. 2) are the people of Israel, seen as weak in comparison to the mighty unbelieving Gentiles, who would be the “foes,… the enemy and the avenger.” Or perhaps the “babies and infants” are the faithful worshiping congregation and the foes are any who oppose them (whether from inside or outside of Israel). In either case it is through such insignificant and unimpressive mouths that God reveals his majesty.ESV Expository Commentary Vol. 5, 81.
Of course, it is most likely that David was not thinking of literal babies and infants but was using a figure of speech to describe how God uses the weak to shame the strong. However, ever since mankind’s fall into sin, the cry of newborns is a sort of war cry, testifying to the strength and providence of God even the midst of sin and death. In Genesis 3:15, God decreed this judgment upon the serpent for deceiving Eve:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.
There would be a perpetual war between the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the serpent. Indeed, there must be. The serpent longed to lead humanity into death, and every infant represents new life and a new generation in the face of sin’s curse. A newborn’s cry is the cry of hope, piercing the despair that the serpent would envelope God’s image-bearers within. This has been true throughout history. Pharaoh, Herod, worshipers of Molech, and present-day abortionists have sought to gain power through infanticide, whereas God’s people have always sought to protect and defend babies.
Yet each newborn that we welcome into the world ought to also remind us that God Himself did not despise infants but became one Himself. Holding my one-week-old in my arms, I am amazed that the Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the cosmos became an infant this small, this fragile, and this helpless. Some thirty-ish years later, that blessed Infant cried out as a dying man hanging from a cross, “It is finished!” He crushed the serpent’s head “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15). The great path toward stilling the enemy of man began in Bethlehem’s manger, with the God-man being born into the world.
Let us praise our great God who does not despise the small and weak but rather uses them to display His mighty hand of salvation!