“But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they became indignant, and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying? And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast prepared praise for Thyself”?’ ” Matthew 21:15-16
This Old Testament passage partially cited by our Lord is found in the book of Psalms, chapter eight, verse two.
This exchange with the chief priests and the scribes took place following Jesus’ second cleansing of the temple. The full context of the verse Jesus quoted offers some additional insight into why He specifically chose this one. First, the complete verse: “From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength, because of Thine adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.” (NAS) If you examine the context of Psalm 8 as a whole, it seems the inference of verse two is of God using what is deemed weak or less honorable to establish the majesty and glory of His name, high above all else, as mentioned in verse one, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!” Considering this is a psalm of David, that interpretation makes logical sense. Did not David, considered insolent and wicked by his own brother Eliab (1 Sam. 17:28) for coming to the battlefront and perceived as a weak “youth” (1 Sam. 17:33) by Saul, take out the seemingly unbeatable adversary of Israel (and of the LORD) Goliath, through the strength of the LORD? Yes! Once Goliath was down, the army of the Philistines, the enemy and adversaries, ceased fighting and fled! Considering David and his brother Eliab, who was the one that was insolent, haughty, and maybe a little jealous? Remember, David had been anointed by Samuel in the presence of his brothers prior to the scrap with Goliath. How about Saul? Wasn’t long after David saved the nation from a possible Philistine whooping that his reputation rose above that of Saul’s. The people saw David for what he was. Saul’s response? He tried to kill David in order to secure his place as ruler and prevent “his” nation from being taken from him. Do you see how this fits with Jesus’ experiences as a whole with the chief priests, scribes, and religious leaders of Israel? What happened after Jesus started to heal people, raise the dead and cleanse the Temple? The rulers of Israel became jealous and sought to kill Him. The multitudes? They saw Him for Who He was. So when the children recognized Jesus and began crying out “Hosanna (meaning “do save, we beseech thee”) to the Son of David” (whether they were imitating their elders’ previous proclamations or actually understood what they were saying) the rulers became indignant. All sounds pretty familiar. When challenged to deny the children’s acclamations, Jesus shut them down with a passage they would have known well (as “scholars” of the law). He chose to only quote it partially letting them draw the conclusion by not stating the last part of the passage- that they had shifted into adversaries and enemies of God’s plan. Sure enough, their desire to kill Him only intensified after this event (See Mark 11:15-18). The rulers were ultimately successful in putting Jesus to death, but unsuccessful in thwarting God’s plan. Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, displaying His splendor (glory) above the heavenly luminaries, and given the name high above all other names; O Lord how majestic is Thy name in all the earth! The Lord’s plan has always been to use those deemed weak, ignorant or less honorable to establish His strength and silence the adversaries. Didn’t Jesus say, “unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3) Consider those to whom He entrusted the mission of getting the gospel off the ground, the apostles. Were they not considered “uneducated and untrained men” ?(Acts 4:13) Infants and babes in learning according to the religious elite, but confident and strong in the Lord. What about those who were to follow the example and teaching of the apostles, continuing the mission of the church in each successive generation? Well, the Spirit of Jesus said it through Paul this way: “God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” 1 Cor. 1:27 Not many wise, mighty, or noble according to the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destroying of spiritual fortresses!