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Psa 2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
Ver. 1. Why do the heathen rage? ] WHY? or for what reason? The psalm beginneth abruptly, with an angry interrogation; q.d. What? are they mad to attempt such things, as whereof they can neither give any good reason, nor expect any good effect? The Lord Christ, of whom David was both a father and a figure (as here appeareth), shall surely reign, maugre all the rage and resistance of his enemies, who may seem to be ambitious for their own destruction, and are therefore in this psalm schooled, and counselled to desist. Nothing is more irrational than irreligion. Why do the heathen tumultuously rage, or hurtle together, Fremunt et ferociunt? When the Philistihes heard that David was made king in Hebron, they came up to seek him, and to dethrone him, 2 Samuel 5:17 ; so the heathen and people, that is, Gentiles and Jews, would have dealt by Christ, Acts 4:25-26 . The devil, ever since he was cast out of heaven, tumultuateth and keepeth ado; so do unruly spirits acted and agitated by him. Daniel 6:15 , Then those men kept a stir with the king against Daniel; it is the same Hebrew word that is here, and possibly Daniel’s spirit might think of David’s terms. John 11:33 , Jesus troubled himself, but after another manner than these his enemies; his passions were without mud, as clear water in a crystal glass; what was an act of power in Christ is an act of weakness, if not of wickedness, in others. The apostle’s Greek word for this in the text denoteth rage, pride, and fierceness, as of horses that neigh, and rush into the battle, εφρυαξαν , Acts 4:25 .
And the people imagine ] Heb. meditate, or mutter a vain thing, an empty design, that shall come to nothing.
Niteris incassum Christi submergere puppem:
Fluctuat, at nunquam mergitur illa ratis.
Dipped may the Church’s ship be, but not drowned;
Christ will not fail her enemies to confound.
Some think that by this muttering people are meant, such as act not open outrages against Christ, but yet in words murmur and mutiny, whispering treason.
Psa 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, [saying],
Ver. 2. The kings of the earth set themselves ] Or, stand up, as if they would do the deed, and bear down all before them. The many had acted their part, Psalms 2:1 , and now the mighties show themselves, but go off again with shame enough. The Spanish friar used to say, there were but few princes in hell; and why? because there were but few in all. It was a poor comfort to our Henry VIII to be told upon his death bed that he was now going to the place of kings. Some such there have been as proved nursing fathers to the Church, and propagated the kingdom of Christ in their generations, Isa 49:23 but what a vain vaunt was that of those bloody tyrants in the primitive times, who sounded the triumph beforehand, and thus engraved the victory upon pillars of marble, Nomine Christianorum delete qui Remp. evertebant? What was all this but a blaze before their last light went out? or like some bulging wall that was swollen immediately before it fell? Have any ever yet waxed fierce against Christ and prospered? Job 9:4 .
And the rulers take counsel together ] Or, have laid their foundation; for counsel is to action saith Aben Ezra here, the same that the foundation is to a building. The Chaldee hath it they consociate to rebel before the Lord, and to fight against his anointed, Syncretismum ineunt, et quasi se fundant consiliis suis. But with what success, see Isaiah 8:9-10 . Immanuel will overly match them.
Psa 2:3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
Ver. 3. Let us break their bands asunder, &c. ] Here these rebels are brought in proclaiming their treasonable decrees against Christ, and his adherents, who seek to promote his kingdom. Resolved they were to run riot, as lawless and aweless, and therefore they slander the sweet laws of Christ’s kingdom, as bonds and thick cords (those signs of slavery, Jeremiah 27:2 ; Jer 27:6-7 ), as burdens and grievances. So the Popish clergy of Collen told their good Archbishop Albert (who had made use of Bucer and Melancthon to bring things into better order), that they had rather live under the Turkish government than under such a reformation (Melch. Adam in Vit. Bucer). But what saith our Saviour? "My yoke is easy, and my burden light." No more burden it is to a regenerate person than the wings are to the bird. He delighteth in the law of God after the inward man, Rom 7:22 It is not to him now, as once, bands and cords, but as girdles and garters, which gird up his loins, and expedite his course the better. It confineth him to live in that element where he would live; as if one should be confined to paradise, where he would be, though there were no such law.
Psa 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Ver. 4. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them ] Videt, ridet. He seeth and smileth, he looketh and laugheth, at these giants. He sitteth in heaven, far above their reach; neither doth he much trouble himself about the matter. No more should we; but trust in him, and know that there is a council in heaven that will dash the mould of all contrary counsels upon earth; as the stone cut out of the mountain did the four great monarchies, Daniel 2:34 . See an instance hereof in latter times. Luther, that heroic reformer, was excommunicated by the pope, proscribed by the emperor, hated and cursed all Christendom over almost, yet he prospered, and the work of Christ went on in his hands. And when the Elector of Saxony, his only patron, was much afraid what would become of him, and of the business of religion, Luther out of his Patmos (as he called it), where he lay hid, writeth him a rousing letter, wherein is read this among many other brave passages: Sciat celsitudo tua et nihil dubitet longe aliter in coelo quam Noribergae de hoc negotio conclusum est, Let your Highness rest well assured of this, that things are far otherwise carried and concluded in heaven, than they are at the Imperial Diet held at Norinberg. After this, in the year of grace 1526, there conspired against the gospel, and the professors thereof, the emperor and his prisoner in Spain, the French king, the princes also and bishops in Germany, stirred up by the pope. The French king was set at liberty, upon the condition that he join with the emperor to root out Lutheranism, that is, true religion. This was the agreement, but God broke it; for the French king was no sooner home but he made a league with the pope and the Venetians against the emperor. The pope excuseth his falling off from Caesar by a petulant and malapert epistle. Caesar, by another letter, lay open to the world the pope’s perfidy, exhorting him to peace, and concluding that they had more need to unite their forces for the extirpation of Lutheran heresy. By this means the Church had a happy halcyon, while these great ones were out, and at it.
The Lord shall have them in derision ] Adonai, that is, the sustainer and upholder of all. Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, Revelation 19:16 . Lords and lowlies are all his vassals and underlings, as Constantine, Theodosius, and Valentine, those great emperors, called themselves. This name or style Christ hath written on his vesture, that all may see it, and on his thigh, where hangs his sword, to show his absolute dominion, his unlimited empire, got and held out of the hands of his enemies, with his mind, and with his bow, Genesis 48:22 . And when he is said to deride them, this is no more than to laugh at them, as the following effects show.
Psa 2:5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Ver. 5. Then shall he speak unto them, &c. ] Heb. He shall tell them, viz. a piece of his mind, to their small comfort. As a great prince sitting on a lofty throne berateth his rebels when once he hath brought them before him, and pronounceth sentence upon them in fierce wrath, see Jeremiah 52:9 , so will the King of heaven do by his sturdy refractories. Whether he will speak unto them by his words or by his rods, Job 33:14 ; Job 33:19-21 , and when he will do it he hath reserved in his own power and pleasure, Acts 1:7 , but sooner or later he will not fail to do it; and
Poena venit gravior, quo mage sera venit.
And vex them ] Or trouble them, as he did the builders of Babel, Pharaoh, Sennacherib, others; either by horror or conscience or corporal plagues, one way or the other he will have his penny worth of them, as he had of the old and late persecutors of his people.
Psa 2:6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
Ver. 6. Yet have I set my king ] Heb. And I have set. Heb. I have anointed; where the sign of his inauguration, or entrance into his kingdom, is put for the possession and enjoying thereof. David was anointed by God’s appointment; Christ was also anointed and appointed by his Father to the office and work of a mediator; and is therefore here called his king. And, is here a sign of indignation stirred.
Upon mine holy hill of Zion ] David’s strong hold, and a figure of the Church, Heb 12:22 Rev 14:1 Isaiah 60:14 , as being the seat of the kingdom, a sanctuary. Out of Zion also went forth the law, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem, Isaiah 2:3 : it signifieth a watch tower. In the Church Christ, angels, ministers, common Christians, watch against enemies visible and invisible.
Psa 2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou [art] my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ver. 7. I will declare the decree ] That irrevocable decree of the Father, for the setting up of his Son’s sceptre contra gentes, point blank opposite to that decree of theirs, Psalms 2:3 . This ordinance or decree of his Christ is still declaring in his Church by the ministers of the gospel, whose office it is to set forth Christ to the world in all his offices and efficacies, and to bring as many as may be to the obedience of the faith.
Thou art my Son ] David was so by adoption and acceptation, Psalms 89:26-27 ; but Christ, 1. By eternal generation, Pro 8:22-23 Hebrews 1:5 Hebrews 1:2 . By hypostatical union, and so God had one only Son (as Abraham had his Isaac), though otherwise he were the Father of many nations.
This day have I begotten thee ] Understand it either in the day of eternity, or else of the fulness of time wherein God brought his first begotten Son into the world, and afterwards mightily declared him to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead, Rom 1:3 Acts 13:33 , whence he is called the first begotten of the dead, Colossians 1:18 Revelation 1:5 .
Psa 2:8 Ask of me, and I shall give [thee] the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth [for] thy possession.
Ver. 8. Ask of me, and I will give thee ] All things are conveyed to Christ by asking; shall we think to have anything without asking? Or, are we not worthily miserable that will not make ourselves happy by asking? Now, through Christ’s passion and intercession, it is but ask and have; open thy mouth, and I will fill it. If at any time we ask and miss, it is for the most part because we ask amiss, James 4:2-3 .
The heathen for thine inheritance ] The kingdom of grace (the object whereof are all nations) Christ hath by donation from his Father; for his natural kingdom he hath as God coequal with his Father from all eternity.
Psa 2:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
Ver. 9. Thou shalt break them, &c. ] sc. Those that will not bend thou shalt thus break. Thou shalt roughly rule them (Ainsworth). Christ’s gracious government of his obedient people, though not so fully expressed here, yet it is to be necessarily understood; and in the last words of the psalm it is plainly held forth, "Blessed are they that trust in him."
Thou shalt dash them in pieces (or, scatter them abroad, being already broken) as a potter’s vessel] i.e. Without any hope of repair and recovery. It is a fearful thing to fall into the punishing hands of the living God, Heb 10:31 He that will not be warned in hearing shall be crushed to pieces in feeling, said that martyr, Aut faciendum aut patiendum. God will be obeyed either actively or passively. Look to it.
Psa 2:10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Ver. 10. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings ] Redeem your own sorrows by trembling at God’s judgments, while they hang in the threatenings; this is a high point of heavenly wisdom.
Ergo Dei tandem verbo subscribite reges:
Ne rapiant Stygiae vos Acherontis aquae.
These kings were not without wit and learning. Julian the apostate, for instance (who said unto the King Christ, Apostate), but they wanted, godly wisdom, and are therefore here called upon to behave themselves prudently, and to play the wise men. For as wicked men are fools in print; so, on the contrary, in our old English books a righteous man is printed a right wise man, and righteousness right wiseness. For it is the only true both wisdom, Psa 111:10 Proverbs 1:7 , and honour: for the righteous are princes in all lands, Psalms 45:16 ; yea, they are kings. Compare Mat 13:17 Luke 10:25 . Many righteous, saith the one, many kings, saith the other evangelist.
Be instructed, ye judges ] Be nurtured, ye sages; submit to Christ’s discipline, acknowledge his prophetic office, here, his priestly, Psalms 2:11 , his kingly, Psalms 2:12 . Estote ligati, so Aben-Ezra rendereth it, Be ye bound, in opposition to that evil decree of theirs, Psalms 2:3 , "Let us break their bonds," &c. And this they are advised to do forthwith, while it is called today. Now, therefore, before God the Father vex you, God the Son bruise you, with his iron mace.
Psa 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Ver. 11. Serve the Lord with fear ] Timore non servili sed amicali, with reverence and godly fear, Hebrews 12:28 . Say to Christ, as the people did to Joshua, Joshua 1:16 , and as the rulers and elders of Israel did to Jehu, 2 Kings 10:5 , "We are thy servants, and will do all thou shalt bid us."
And rejoice before him with trembling ] A strange mixture of contrary passions (for base fear hath torment, 1Jn 4:18 ), but such as is usual with God’s servants, whose task it is to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12 . Agreeable whereunto is that of Bernard, Laeti simus sed non securi; gaudentes in Domino sed caventes a recidivo. Those good women went from Christ’s sepulchre with fear and great joy. We should come to him in his ordinances similarly affected.
Psa 2:12 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.
Ver. 12. Kiss the Son ] That Son of God, Psalms 2:7 . Bar is a Hebrew word also, see Pro 31:2 as R. Abraham confesseth, though other Rabbis deny it; and therefore render this text, Osculamini pure, Kiss purely, and Osculamini eum qui selectus est, Kiss him who is selected, or set apart. Christ is God’s elect, Isa 42:1 Matthew 12:14 . Him men must kiss with a kiss of adoration and subjection, with a kiss of faith and love, 1 Peter 5:14 . Osculo homagii, as Samuel kissed Saul, 1 Samuel 10:1 Genesis 48:10 . Kiss his holy wounds, as Constantine did the eye of Paphnutius, that was bored out in Maximinus the tyrant’s time; so shall he kiss us with the kisses of his mouth, Song of Solomon 1:2 , and with his kisses suck out the sting of death, and take away our souls with a kiss, as the Rabbis, from Deuteronomy 34:5 , say he did Moses’s soul. Mortuus, est Moses ad os Iehovae. Maimonides. The ancient patriarchs saluted Christ afar off, and were interchangeably saluted by him, ασπασαμενοι , Hebrews 11:13 , for they saw by faith him who is invisible, Hebrews 11:27 . Oh get a patriarch’s eye, study Moses’s optics; for here the northern proverb is found true, Unkent unkist. Men know not the Son of God, and therefore love him not, kiss him not, unless it be Osculo Iscariotico, as the traitor kissed him. See a lofty and lively description of him Hebrews 1:2-3 .
Lest he be angry ] For meek though he be as a lamb, and will not break the bruised reed, yet so angry he can be, that the kings and great ones shall be glad to flee from the wrath of this lamb, Revelation 6:16 , who hath feet like burning brass and eyes like flaming fire, Rev 1:14-15 Plato saith of the king of bees, that although he hath no sting, yet he ruleth and governeth his commonwealth with great severity and justice. So doth the Lord Christ; and every good soul is ready to say as the poet did,
Ut mala nulla feram nisi nudam Caesaris iram,
Nuda parum nobis Caesaris ira mali est? (Ovid.)
And ye perish from the way ] Or, in the way; that is, in medio studio, before ye come to your journey’s end, to the full accomplishment of your purposes and practices, destruction shall suddenly seize you, 1 Thessalonians 5:3 .
When his wrath is kindled but a little ] It is sometimes let out in minimums, as Hosea 5:12 , but if timely course be not taken, it grows to a great matter, as thunder doth, and as fire, that at first burns a little within upon a few boards, but, if not quenched, bursteth out in a most terrible flame.
Blessed are all they that put their trust in him ] That is, in Christ, John 14:1 . Now to trust in him is so to be unbottomed of thyself and of every creature, and so to lean upon Christ, that if he fail thee thou sinkest; it is to rely upon him alone for safety here and salvation hereafter. This is to secure a man’s title to true blessedness; and with this grave sentence the prophet shutteth up the whole psalm, showing the different condition of the godly from the wicked. See Trapp on " Psa 2:9 "
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29