" 'From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise'" (Matthew 21:16)

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, " 'From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise'?" (Matthew 21:16)

Is Jesus referring to one of David's Psalms here?

Let’s read the full context of the Psalm of David that Jesus is referring to in his statement above:
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth! (Psalms 8)
The key phrase they use to interpret that David is discussing Jesus is:
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?

Is Psalm 8 about Jesus?

Some have interpreted that Jesus quoted this phrase from Psalm 8 because Jesus was trying to indicate that David's Psalm was prophesying about Jesus.

This is simply a stretch of the imagination. There is no indication from the Psalms or from Jesus that this was about Jesus.

As detailed below, David is referring to himself as the "son of man," just as Daniel and Ezekiel were both referred to as the "son of man." 

Furthermore, the crowds were not praising Jesus as the son of David as has been inappropriately translated from the Greek word υἱός. David was not Jesus' ancestor as has been sometimes acclaimed.

In this context, this Greek word translates to, "one who depends on another or is his follower." Thayer further defines the Greek word as "representative."

In other words, Jesus was a follower of David and the representative of David. This is why he often quoted David's Psalms in his preaching.

In other words, they were proclaiming Jesus to be a teacher within David’s teaching lineage - and the focus of David’s teachings was the praise of God, as he illustrated throughout the Psalms.

Was David referring to himself as the 'son of man'?

Yes. David referred to himself as the "son of man" in these verses. In fact, many other statements in the Bible refer to different people outside of Jesus as "son of man." Consider these verses:
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

"how much less man, who is but a maggot — a son of man, who is only a worm!" (Job 25:6)

He [God] said to me, "son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you." (Ezekiel 2:1)

He [God] said: "son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. (Exe. 2:3)
(God referred to Ezekiel as the servant of humanity ("son of man") continuously, as evidenced by over 80 verses in Ezekiel).
As He came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. "son of man," He said to me, "understand that the vision concerns the time of the end." (Daniel 8:17)
So here we can see that Daniel was also referred to as a "son of man" (servant of humanity), as was Ezekiel, Job, and David - and of course, Jesus.

(Note that these are from NIV 1984. In 2011, NIV editors edited out "son of man" from many of these verses. These "son of man" translations still exist in most other Bible versions.)

Is 'son of man' a mistranslation?

In Hebrew, "son of man" is being translated from the phrase, בֶּן־אָדָם - which breaks down into בֵּן (ben) and אָדָם ('adam). The word בֵּן (ben) can mean "son" but also "a member of a guild, order, class" according to the lexicon. And אָדָם ('adam) refers to "man" or "mankind" or humanity."

When translated from the Greek - as spoken by Jesus regarding himself - the phrase is υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. The word υἱὸς means "son" or "devoted follower" or "loving servant" while τοῦ means "of" and ἀνθρώπου means "man" or "mankind" or "humanity."

Thus we find the translation to "son of man" actually has no real meaning - as every male is a son of a man and thus has no reference to prophets such as David, Job, Daniel, and Ezekiel, nor to Jesus - we find the more appropriate translation of both the Hebrew and the Greek phrases to be: "servant of humanity"

As truly these prophets, as well as Jesus, were in a position where they were serving all of humanity by giving others knowledge of the Supreme Being.

And this is the ultimate service to humanity because we are lost without the Supreme Being. Our life has no meaning without our relationship with God.

In other words, Jesus was not the only servant of humanity ("son of man"). A servant of humanity is someone who is sent by God (as in Ezekiel) to save people by bringing them home to God.

The phrase also indicates humility - just as the phrase "civil servant" indicates a government employee who considers himself a servant of the people.

Jesus illustrated his position as a servant to others in his washing the feet of his disciples. He also said specifically:
“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
Certainly, Jesus included himself in this instruction, as he considered himself to be υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου - servant of humanity.

The bottom line is that the meaning of David's 8th Psalm was not to predict Jesus' coming as misinterpreted by ecclesiastical sectarian teachers. It was clearly intended to praise God and give thanks to the Supreme Being.

With ‘From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise" David is saying (and Jesus is referring to this) that God deserves praise from even the children - let alone everyone else.

David is saying that he is in awe of God David is amazed that God would care about even the most humble of men such as himself, relatively insignificant compared to the gigantic universe. David then goes on to discuss man’s position on the earth - that man rules over the flocks and herds and so many other animals. This is confirmed in Genesis:
“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)
Remember that according to these ecclesiastical translations and interpretations, Jesus is being referred to as the “son of David” and the “son of God,” as well as the “son of man.” How is Jesus the “son” of all these at the same time?

Factually, he was the son (physical male offspring) of none of them. Even with regard to David, Jesus' genealogy only established a supposed family tie (although given differently in Matthew and Luke) with Joseph, who was according to the texts, Jesus' adoptive father and not his hereditary father. So if we are to accept that Mary was a virgin or at least Jesus was not Joseph's son, then Jesus could neither be David's physical son - or even great, great.... grandson according to the texts.

God wants us to return to Him. He knows that we will be happy only when we are back in His loving arms. So He calls to us from within our hearts. He sends His loving servants to try to convince us to come home. He calls us from within the scriptures. All of these activities are because loving God is not an empty phrase. Loving God means returning to our loving relationship with our Best Friend and Soul Mate - the Supreme Being. This is the consistent teaching of all the prophets as evidenced by Jesus' and Moses' very clear instruction:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38 and Deuteronomy 6:5)