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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 2

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

Why - expressing indignant astonishment and horror.

The pagan - the Gentile nations [ gowyim (H1471)], as distinguished from the Jews.

The people - Hebrew, plural [ lª'umiym (H3816)]: the Hebrew singular is limited to the elect people, Israel: but in the plural it is used of the mixed multitudes.

Rage - Hebrew, 'tumultuously assemble' [ raagªshuw (H7283)]: the kindred noun is translated "insurrection" in Psalms 64:2.

Imagine - Hebrew "meditate," as in Psalms 1:2: another instance of the close connection of the two psalms. The righteous "meditate" in the law of the Lord; the ungodly "meditate" a vain thing, a project which shall come to nought: their revolt against Messiah is a revolt against Yahweh Himself (for Messiah is His Representative on earth), and must therefore prove vain, as the psalm proceeds to show (cf. the parallel, Isaiah 8:8-10; also 7:14-16).

Verse 2

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

Set themselves - implying their determined attitude in array "against Yahweh:" used of Goliath presenting himself in hostile attitude before Israel (1 Samuel 17:16).

Rulers - `princes.' Subordinate governors conspire with the superior kings against Messiah (Luke 19:14). The spirit of anti-Christianity, which has long leavened the world secretly, shall break out into open hostility in the last days (Revelation 16:14; Revelation 18:12-14; Revelation 19:10-20; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-10). The incipient fulfillment in Acts 4:25-27 is a pledge of the final one. His anointed - `His Messiah:' anointed with the plenitude of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2-3; Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18; John 3:34, end), as prophet, priest, and king (the three functionaries who used to be anointed: cf. the anointing of David, the type, 1 Samuel 16:12-14). The only other passage where "Messiah" occurs, in respect to the Redeemer, is Daniel 9:25-26. This psalm is quoted as to Messiah in Acts 4:24-25; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 5:5; Revelation 2:27; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15. Jarchi and the older Jewish writers refer this psalm to Messiah. And that such is its reference appears from the two names of the Redeemer current in Christ's time-namely, Messiah ("Anointed") and Son of God (the latter applied to Him by Nathanael, John 1:49; and by the high priest, Matthew 26:63), both derived from this second psalm (Psalms 2:2; Psalms 2:6; margin, Psalms 2:7; Psalms 2:12).

Verse 3

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

The easy yoke of Jesus seems to natural men a galling chain. The law of Yahweh, and especially the Gospel law of Messiah, which to the godly is his "delight" and continual subject of "meditation" (Psalms 1:2), is to the ungodly insufferable bondage (Jeremiah 5:5). (Contrast Matthew 11:29-30; 1 John 5:3.)

Verse 4

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

The scene passes from earth to heaven, from Antichrist and his confederate hosts to Yahweh on His throne above, laughing to scorn their purpose and then proceeding to execute judgment.

Sitteth in the heavens - and therefore exercises exalted sovereignty over "the kings of the earth."

Verse 5

Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

Then - at the moment when their might and profanity are at their height, and seemingly "nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do" (Genesis 11:6), as at Babel, when "the Lord came down." When they seemed to triumph (as at the death of Jesus, Acts 4:27-28), they were but furthering God's purpose.

Vex - Hebrew, 'affright,' 'confound:' margin, 'trouble' [ baahal (H926)]. Sore displeasure - `hot anger.'

Verse 6

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

Yet - notwithstanding the opposition, of the anti-Christian confederacy.

Set - margin, 'Anointed' (cf. Psalms 2:2). literally, 'poured out.' But in Proverbs 8:23 the Hebrew is translated "set up." In Micah 5:5, end, the cognate noun is translated "principal men." Hengstenberg is probably right in maintaining the English version, "set," appointed, or constituted. The "I" in the Hebrew stands in emphatic contrast to the confederate rebels. They reject His dominion (Psalms 2:4), whereas I, Yahweh, have set Him as "MY King," the King who stands in closest, relation to me, "the man that is MY FELLOW" (Zechariah 13:7). Thus "MY KING" answers to "MY Son," Psalms 2:8. For God's own King nothing short of the whole earth can be a fitting empire (Psalms 2:8): whence appears the vanity of the conspiracy (Psalms 2:1-2).

My holy hill - the hill Zion, in which David had deposited the ark of the covenant, and which thereby was constituted the holy center of the kingdom of God (Psalms 48:1-2). From it, as the center seat of empire (Isaiah 31:4; Isaiah 1:2-3; Jeremiah 3:16-17), Messiah shall reign over the whole earth (Psalms 132:13; Ezekiel 43:7; Luke 1:32-33). Israel shall no longer reject her King, as she did at His advent in lowliness, but shall say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:38-39; cf. Psalms 21:5; Rev. 11:25-26; Isaiah 59:20-21). While the Pentateuch refers prophetically to the people, the Psalms delineate also the Messiah Priest-King (Psalms 110:4). Not merely Christ's person, but His kingdom on earth, is foretold. Israel in the Psalms means literal Israel, not the spiritual Israel the Church, except in a secondary and intermediate application. Rationalists rightly hold this, in opposition to the false spiritual interpretation: but denying, like the spiritualizer, the coming of a literal kingdom, they maintain the prophets were mistaken in expecting one (Auberlen). Thus spiritualizers play into the hands of Rationalist. As the whole earth is to be the Redeemer's kingdom, so the seat of government. "the place of His throne, the place of the soles of His feet, where He will dwell in the midst of Israel forever" (Ezekiel 43:7) is "chosen" by Yahweh to be "Mount Zion" (Psalms 48:1-2, "The city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness ... the joy, of the whole earth ... the city of the great king;" Psalms 132:13). At the time of Judah's and Israel's joint restoration "they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it" (Jeremiah 3:17-18; cf. Isaiah 2:2-3).

Verse 7

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

The Messiah-King, so appointed by God, reiterates in His own words what already had been said by God (Psalms 2:6), and further develops the same truth. Declare the decree. [The preposition 'el (H413) merely indicates the object of declaration (Psalms 69:26), and is not to be translated, as Rosenmuller, 'I will declare according to (or in terms of) the decree:' but simply as the English version. However, choq (H2706) is 'the law' or 'statute,' not merely "decree."] Yahweh's resolution respecting Messiah's universal kingdom on earth has the force of LAW eternally established, so that it is vain for the pagan peoples to oppose it. Messiah is Yahweh's Interpreter, by whom He declares His unalterable will.

Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee - quoted by Paul (Acts 13:30-33) as fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ. From eternity He was the Only-begotten of the Father (John 17:5), 'God OF God, Light OF Light' (Nicene Creed). At the incarnation the First-begotten was brought into the world (Hebrews 1:6). But it was only at and by His resurrection that His Divinity, as the Only-begotten of the Father, was manifested and openly attested by God. "Made of the seed of David according to the flesh," He was then "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4). It was only after the resurrection that He gave the commission, "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them," etc., in accordance with the Father's grant to the Son (Psalms 2:8), "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the pagan for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." The Son's installation as "the Only-begotten of the Father" (John 1:14), in the day that God published to the world His unalterable law concerning Him-namely, the day of His resurrection-is what is here referred to: This day have I manifested to the world thy divine Sonship, which is the ground of my grant to Thee of the Kingdom.

Verse 8

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

For God's King and Son nothing short of the whole earth is a proper dominion.

Heathen - the nations. All that the Father hath is the Son's; yet here a particular and limited inheritance is specified-namely, the earth.

Verse 9

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

Break them with a rod of iron. Whichsoever of the pagan nations will not obey thee willingly as their rightful King, shall be broken by thee with a sceptre, not of ivory, silver, or gold, the ordinary materials, but of iron, crushing the anti-Christian faction (Psalms 2:2-3) with ponderous force. Compare Matt. 20:44 , "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder;" also, the kingdom of the great mountain issuing from the stone, which smote the image on the feet-namely, the fourth or iron kingdom "breaking in pieces," and consuming it and all other kingdoms, but itself standing "forever" (Daniel 2:34-35; Daniel 2:44). The iron kingdom shall be broken as clay before Christ's iron sceptre. [The Septuagint, Syriac, and the Vulgate, etc., read tir`eem, from raa`ah (H7462), to feed or tend, 'rule' (cf. Micah 7:14, "Feed thy people with thy rod"). So Revelation 2:27; Revelation 19:15, quotes the passage. Here, however, the parallelism to "dash in piece" requires the reading tªro`eem (H7489), from raa`a` (H7489), 'break.' I think the Spirit designed in allusion to raa`aah (H7451), 'feed,' or 'rule' as a shepherd.] Christ, who would have ruled therewith the pastoral staff as the good shepherd, if they had been obedient, will break them to pieces with the sceptre of iron, because refractory.

Verse 10

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

Be wise ... O ye kings - offers of grace ever accompanying threats against sinners in this day of God's long-suffering.

Now therefore - seeing that ye cannot by opposition overthrow Messiah's kingdom, but must be "dashed to pieces" in making the attempt.

Be instructed - take warning.

Verse 11

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Serve the Lord - instead of 'taking counsel together' to cast away the bands of Yahweh and His Messiah (Psalms 2:2-3).

Rejoice, [ giyluw (H1523)] - be ready with joyous acclamations to hail Him as your King at His second Advent (cf. Numbers 23:21; Psalms 89:15-16; Matthew 21:9.

Verse 12

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Kiss the Son. Adore is derived from kissing with the mouth the hand (ad os, 'to the mouth') in token of homage. A kiss has always in the East been a mark of subjection and reverence. So Samuel, after having anointed Saul as king, kissed him (1 Samuel 10:1). It was used also in religious adoration (Job 31:27; 1 Kings 19:18; Hosea 13:2). [The Chaldaic or Aramaic bar (H1248) is used for ben (H1121) here, as in Proverbs 31:2, and often in Ezra and Daniel. It is a form retained from the primitive common stock from which both Hebrew and Chaldaic sprung; here used to avoid the inharmonious juxtaposition of ben (H1121), and pen (H6435). Since ben (H1121) is derived from baanah (H1129), to build, so bar (H1248) is from baara' (H1254), to create or beget. Ben (H1121) expresses the building up in the womb, or the building up of the father's house: and so is applied to Christ's conception as Man in the womb, or His Headship of the Church (Hebrews 3:3-4; Hebrews 3:6). Bar (H1248) expresses that Christ is the Only-begotten of the Father in respect to the Godhead.] The Messiah is in a sense special to Him alone "the Son." Others are so by creation and adoption; He alone by eternal generation.

Perish from the way - namely, from the right way; or 'as to the way; i:e., in the way that ye have entered on, the God-opposed way. Compare Psalms 1:6, "the way of the ungodly shall perish:" a confirmation of the connection that subsists between the first and second psalms.

But a little, [ kimª`at (H4592)] - rather, 'in but a little time; 'shortly' (Hengstenberg). When He shall come, His wrath shall not be merely a little, but it shall be "the great day of His wrath" (Revelation 6:17).

Blessed ... - or, happy; as in Psalms 1:1; literally, 'Oh the happinesses of all,' etc. The grand conclusion drawn from the second psalm is the similar sentiment, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsels of the ungodly ... but whose delight is in the law of the Lord," as the introduction to the first; another confirmation of the close connection of the two psalms, the general statements in the first, as to the righteous and sinners, being repeated in the second, with special reference to Messiah, the King appointed by Yahweh.

Put their trust in him - in the divine though human KING: as opposed to trusting in earthly kings (Psalms 118:9; Psalms 146:3): and especially opposed to the confederate anti-Christian kings (Psalms 2:2; Psalms 2:6), whom the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet shall seduce with spirits of devils, "to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (Revelation 16:4).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-2.html. 1871-8.
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