Praise from the little children (Mt 21:16-21:16)

“The chief priests

And the Scribes

Said to Jesus.

‘Do you hear

What these little children

Are saying?’

Jesus said to them.


Have you never read.

Out of the mouth

Of infants

And nursing babies

You have prepared praise

For yourself!’”


καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ Ἀκούεις τί οὗτοι λέγουσιν; ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς Ναί· οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ὅτι Ἐκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων κατηρτίσω αἶνον;


This is also unique to Matthew.  The chief priests and the Scribes asked Jesus (καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ) if he had heard what these little children were saying (Ἀκούεις τί οὗτοι λέγουσιν)?  Jesus responded to them that yes, he had heard them (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς Ναί).  However, he asked them if they had never read (οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε) that out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies praise has been prepared for him (ὅτι Ἐκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων κατηρτίσω αἶνον).  This indication of a Scripture reading was a reference to Psalm 8:1-2.  The mouths of little nursing children would resound to bring praise to God.

Yahweh has given mortals dominion over the earth (Ps 8:5-8:8)

“Yet you have made them a little lower than God.

You crowned them with glory and honor.

You have given them dominion

Over the works of your hands.

You have put all things under their feet,

All sheep,

All oxen,

Also the beasts of the field,

The birds of the air,

The fish of the sea,

Whatever passes along the paths of the sea.”

Thus we have mortals as a little lower than God, crowned with glory and honor. We have dominion over the works of Yahweh, our sovereign creator. All things are under our mortal feet. Thus all sheep, oxen, and the beasts of the field are under the dominion of us mortals. However, added to that are the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, or whatever is in the sea. In this enumeration, there are only a few animals specifically mentioned, sheep and oxen, giving us a hint at what David and his friends considered domesticated animals.

The heavens reveal Yahweh (Ps 8:3-8:4)

“When I look at your heavens,

I see the work of your fingers.

I see the moon and the stars.

You have established them.

What are human beings?

Why are you mindful of them?

Why do you care for mortals?”

When David would look to the heavens, he would see the hand work of Yahweh, who had established the moon and the stars. This was the fine finger work of the hand of God. He wondered who are we, us human beings? Why does God care for us? Why is he even mindful of us?

The magnificent creator (Ps 8:1-8:2)

To the choirmaster leader, according to the Gittith, a psalm of David.

O Yahweh, our Sovereign!

How majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens!

Out of the mouths of babies and infants,

You have founded a bulwark.

Because of your foes,

You silence the enemy and the avenger.”

Once again this Psalm 8 has a remark about the leader choirmaster with this being a psalm of David in general. It is to be played on a Gittith, a stringed instrument like a harp, guitar or ukulele, something the Philistines might have used. Once again this is addressed to Yahweh, the king of all the earth. His glory was above the heavens. Then we have the famous phrase about “out of the mouths of babies,” who obviously could not talk, but that Jesus Christ will use in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2. Finally, there was the stinger against the foes, the enemies, and the avengers.