What in the Heck is a Gittith? (Psalm 8)

Psalm 8

For the music leader. According to the Gittith. A psalm of David.

8 Lord, our Lord, how majestic
    is your name throughout the earth!
    You made your glory higher than heaven!
From the mouths of nursing babies
    you have laid a strong foundation
    because of your foes,
    in order to stop vengeful enemies.
When I look up at your skies,
    at what your fingers made—
    the moon and the stars
    that you set firmly in place—
        what are human beings
            that you think about them;
        what are human beings
            that you pay attention to them?
You’ve made them only slightly less than divine,
    crowning them with glory and grandeur.
You’ve let them rule over your handiwork,
    putting everything under their feet—
        all sheep and all cattle,
        the wild animals too,
        the birds in the sky,
        the fish of the ocean,
        everything that travels the pathways of the sea.
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth! (Psalm 8:1-9, Common English Bible.

From time to time, we encounter a word in the Bible and we don’t know its meaning. In reality, some of these words, we haven’t a clue as to what they might mean. When we encounter one of these words, it is my intention to pause and give you a background meaning I have found in my research of that word.

Today we encounter one of those words. The word Gittith is one of those words. It is believed to be either a musical stringed instrument or a certain style or genre of music.

Gittith can be found in three places in Scripture, Psalm 8, Psalm 81, and Psalm 84. In each case, Gittith is part of the instructions at the very beginning of each psalm.

The largest group of opinions states that word points to a stringed instrument. It easily could have been one that looks something like the picture at the top. I find that an interesting instrument. Much like an acoustic guitar, the body those sound holes are important. That box on the body of the instruments serves much like the body of a guitar. So the sound needs a place to come out of the body hence, the sound hole. I did find pictures of what some scholars to believe the instrument that did not have sound holes.

When someone strikes up a heavy metal song, Christian or not, they know the heavy metal sound. If a Gittith was a particular genre or styles, you likely would have known when the choir started singing the song.

These two opinions are not the only ones available. The word is often, as it is in the Common English Bible, left untranslated. Others translate it as we have already seen it, into a Hebrew word meaning “wine.” Another translation uses the Philistine city of Gath.

One final possibility says that Gittith might have been a popular song tune in the Hebrew world. Putting new lyrics to an old favorite is nothing new. I do that pretty regularly these days. I know others do that too. In the United Methodist Hymnal there is a hymn titled “The Gift of Love.” There is one other in the hymnal using that tune in they hymnal, “Where Love is Found.” The third is a pretty recent addition to songs going with that tune titled, “Hymn of Praise.” The fourth song is one I wrote. If you are interested, let me know.

We may never know what Gittith means this side of eternity. And I have a basic theory that when we get there we are going to be too busy with a gillion other things to even care. So who is right? Only God know.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission is given for non-commercial purposes.

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Source: Bible Odysesey

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