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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 2

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations




The penman of this Psalm was David, as is affirmed, Acts 4:25. As for the matter or subject of it, it may seem to have some respect unto David, and to his advancement to and settlement in the throne of Judah and Israel; but the chief design and scope of it, and the primary intention of the Holy Ghost in it, was to describe the Messiah and his kingdom, as is manifest,

1. From express testimonies of the New Testament to that purpose, as Acts 4:25; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 5:5; and

2. From the consent of the ancient Hebrew writers, who did unanimously expound it so, as is confessed by their own brethren, particularly by Rabbi Solomon Jarchi upon this place; who hath this memorable passage, Our doctors expounded this Psalm of the King Messiah, but that we may answer the heretics (by which he means the Christians, as all know) it is expedient to interpret it of David’s person, as the words sound; which words, although they are left out of the latter editions of that book, either by the fraud of Jews, or carelessness or mistake of others, yet are extant in the ancient editions of it.

3. From divers passages of the Psalm, which do not agree to David, but to Christ only, the title of Son, of which see Hebrews 1:4,Hebrews 1:5, the extent of his kingdom, Psalms 2:8, and Divine worship, Psalms 2:11,Psalms 2:12.

The kingdom of Christ, and the opposition of the heathen foretold, Psalms 2:1-7. God giveth him the earth for his possession, Psalms 2:8,Psalms 2:9. He summons all the kings and judges of the earth to submit themselves to him, Psalms 2:10-12.

Verse 1

Why? upon what provocation, or to what end or purpose?

The heathen, or, Gentiles; who did so against David, as we see, 2 Samuel 5:6,2 Samuel 5:17; 1 Chronicles 14:8, &c.; and against Christ, Luke 18:32; Acts 4:25, &c.

And the people: this is either another expression of the same thing, as is usual in Scripture; or as the former word notes the Gentiles, so this may design the Jews or Israelites, who also combined against David, 2 Samuel 2:8, &c., and against Christ, Acts 4:27, though they were all of one nation, and descended from one and the same mother, as this word signifies, and it is used Genesis 25:23.

Imagine a vain thing; what they shall never be able to effect; and if they could, it would do them no good, as they fancy, but great hurt.

Verse 2

The kings; either those mentioned 2 Samuel 5:0; 2 Samuel 8:0; or rather Herod the Great, and the other Herod, and Pilate, and others with or after them.

Of the earth; so called in way of contempt, and to show their madness in opposing the God of heaven.

Set themselves: the word notes their firm purpose and professed hostility, and the combination of their counsels and forces.

Against the Lord; either directly and professedly; or indirectly and by consequence, because against his anointed, and against his counsel and command. And; or, that is, as that particle is oft used; the latter clause explaining the former, and showing in what sense they fought against that God whom they pretended to own and worship.

Against his anointed; against such a king whom God hath chosen and exalted, and wonderfully accomplished and set up for his work and service, who therefore will certainly defend him against all his enemies.

Verse 3

Their, i.e. the Lord’s and his anointed’s,

bands, which they design to put upon our necks, that they may bring us into subjection. They mean the laws of God, which the king would oblige them to observe, which though easy and pleasant in themselves and to good men, Matthew 11:29,Matthew 11:30; 1 John 5:3, yet are very grievous and burdensome to corrupt nature, and to men of wicked lives.

Cast away their cords from us; the same thing expressed with a little more emphasis. Let us not only break off their yoke, and the cords by which it is fastened upon us; but let us cast them far away, that they may never be recovered, and we may never be brought into bondage again.

Verse 4

He that sitteth, as the Judge upon his tribunal, and as the King of the whole world upon his royal throne; who, without stirring from his place, can with one look or word destroy all his enemies.

In the heavens: this is opposed to their being and reigning upon earth, Psalms 2:2, and is mentioned here, as it is in other places of Scripture, as an evidence both of God’s clear and certain knowledge of all things that are done below, as is noted, Psalms 11:4, and of his sovereign and irresistible power, as is hence gathered, Psalms 115:3. See the preface to the Lord’s prayer.

Shall laugh, i.e. shall both despise and deride them, and all their crafty devices, which he shall manifest to the world to be ridiculous and contemptible follies. Compare 2 Kings 19:21; Psalms 37:13.

Verse 5

Then; in the midst of all their plots and confidences of success.

Shall he speak to them in his wrath; he shall severely rebuke them, not so much verbally as really, by dreadful judgments. For God’s speaking is oft put for his actions; and so here it is explained by vexing in the next branch. Or, he shall pronounce a terrible sentence against them.

Verse 6

Yet; notwithstanding all their artifices and powerful combinations.

Have I set, Heb. I have anointed, i.e. designed, appointed, or constituted, as this word is commonly used in Scripture, as of priests, 1 Chronicles 29:22, and of prophets, 1 Kings 19:16,1 Kings 19:19,1 Kings 19:20; so also of kings, Judges 9:8,Judges 9:15; 2 Samuel 2:4,2 Samuel 2:7; 2 Samuel 3:39; Ezekiel 28:14.

My king, in a singular manner, who hath not his kingdom by succession from former kings, nor by election of the people, as other kings have, but by my special and extraordinary destination; and who ruleth in my stead, and according to my will, and for my service and glory.

Upon my holy hill of Zion, i.e. over my church and people. Zion properly and strictly taken was a hill on the north Part, of Jerusalem, Psalms 48:2, where there was a strong fort which when David had taken he called it the city of David, 2 Samuel 5:7,2 Samuel 5:9, and made it the head of his kingdom. But in a more large and improper sense it is frequently put for the city Jerusalem, Psalms 48:12; Psalms 87:2; Psalms 110:2; and for the temple of Jerusalem, Psalms 137:3; Isaiah 18:7; Jeremiah 51:10, which was built upon the hill of Moriah, which was either a part of Mount Zion, or another hill adjoining to it; and for the church of the Jews, Psalms 65:1; Psalms 69:35; Psalms 97:8; and for the Christian church, Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 14:1. And by these things it is plain why Zion is here called God’s holy hill.

Verse 7

I will declare, or publish, that all people concerned may take notice of it, and submit to it upon their peril. Publication or promulgation is essential to all laws or statutes.

The decree, or, concerning the decree, i.e. the will or pleasure and appointment of God concerning my advancement into the throne, and the submission and obedience which the people here following shall yield to me.

Thou art my Son; which though it may in some sort be said to or of David, who was in some respects the son of God, and begotten by him, as all believers are, John 1:12; 1 John 3:9; James 1:18; yet much more truly and properly belongs to Christ, who is commonly known by this title both in the Old and New Testament, as Proverbs 30:4; Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 4:3,Matthew 4:6, and oft elsewhere; and to whom this title is expressly appropriated by the Holy Ghost, who is the best interpreter of his own words, Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 5:5, and to whom alone the following passages belong.

This day have I begotten thee: this is also applied by some to David, and so this day is the day of his inauguration, when he might be said to be begotten by God, inasmuch as he was then raised and delivered from all his troubles and calamities, which were a kind of death, and brought forth and advanced to a new kind of life, of royal state and dignity; and so this was the birthday, though not of his person, yet of his kingdom, as the Roman emperors celebrated a double birthday; first the emperor’s, when he was born, and then the empire’s, when he was advanced to the empire. But this is but a lean, and far-fetched, and doubtful sense; and therefore not to be allowed by the laws of interpretation, when the words may be properly understood concerning Christ. And so this may be understood either,

1. Of his eternal generation.

This day; from all eternity, which is well described by this day, because in eternity there is no succession, no yesterday, no to-morrow, but it is all as one continued day or moment, without change or flux; upon which account one day is said to be with the Lord as long as a thousand years, and a thousand years as short as one day, 2 Peter 3:8. Or rather,

2. Of the manifestation of Christ’s eternal sonship in time; which was done partly in his birth and life, when his being the Son of God was demonstrated by the testimony of the angel, Luke 1:32, and of God the Father, Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5, and by his own words and works; but principally in his resurrection, which seems to be here mainly intended, of which day this very place is expounded, Acts 13:33; when Christ was in a most solemn manner declared to be the Son of God with power, Romans 1:4. And this day or time Christ might very well be said to be begotten by God the Father; partly, because the resurrection from the dead is in Scripture called a regeneration or second birth, Matthew 19:28, as well it may, being a restitution of that very being which man received by his, first birth, and that by the peculiar and mighty power of God; partly, because in this respect Christ is called the first begotten of the dead, Revelation 1:5; and partly, because of that common observation, that things are oft said to be done in Scripture when they are only declared or manifested to be done; of which see instances, Genesis 41:13; Jeremiah 1:10; Ezekiel 43:3, and elsewhere.

Verse 8

Ask of me; claim or demand it of me, as thy right by my promise, and thy birth and purchase.

For thine inheritance; to be possessed and enjoyed by thee in a manner of an inheritance, to wit, constantly, surely, and perpetually.

The uttermost parts of the earth; either,

1. The whole land of Canaan, from one end of it to the other, as this phrase is used, Psalms 61:2; Psalms 72:8; which is but a very narrow sense, and that was but a very small kingdom, and no way agreeable to those magnificent expressions here used. Or rather,

2. The whole world, not only the Jewish nation, but the Gentiles also, as this phrase is almost universally used in the Old Testament, as Psalms 19:4; Psalms 22:28; Psalms 46:10; Psalms 65:5; Isaiah 40:28; Isaiah 45:22, &c. And so these words declare the great amplitude of the kingdom of the Messiah.

Verse 9

Thou shalt break them, i.e. those people that will not quietly submit to thee, shall be crushed and destroyed by thee.

With a rod of iron; with thy mighty power, which they shall never be able to resist.

Verse 10

Be wise; understand your true interest. Now, whilst you have time and space for repentance and submission.

O ye kings; you and your people. But he speaks of and to kings only; partly, because they most needed the admonition, as presuming upon their own power and greatness, and thinking it below them to submit to him; partly, because their authority and example could do much with their people; and partly, to intimate the greatness of this monarch, and that he was King of kings, and Lord of lords. Ye judges, or rulers, or governors; the same called kings in the former branch.

Verse 11

With fear, i.e. with reverence, and an awful sense of his great and glorious majesty, as very careful and diligent to please him, and afraid to offend him.

Rejoice; do not esteem his yoke your dishonour and grievance; but know that it is a greater glory and happiness to be the subjects of this King, than to be emperors of the greatest empire; and accordingly rejoice in it, and bless God for this inestimable grace and benefit.

With trembling: this is added to express the quality of this joy to which he calls them, and to distinguish it from that carnal and worldly rejoicing which is usually attended with security, and presumption, and licentiousness, and to warn them to take heed that they do not turn this grace of God into wantonness, nor slacken their dread of God’s tremendous majesty, and of his terrible judgments, if they should hereafter revolt from him, or rebel against him; but, on the contrary, work out their salvation with fear and trembling, as it is prescribed, Philippians 2:12; compare Matthew 28:8.

Verse 12

Kiss, in token of your subjection and adoration; whereof this was a sign among the Eastern nations, as is manifest both from Scripture, as 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Kings 19:18; Hosea 13:2, and from heathen authors. Submit to his person and government.

The Son, to wit, the Son of God, as appears from Psalms 2:7, called here the Son, by way of eminency, and in a singular manner; which agrees much better to Christ than to David, who is never particularly called by this name.

And ye perish from the way, i.e. be taken out of the way by death or destruction; or, perish out of the way, i.e. by losing the right way, by taking wrong and evil courses, the end of which will be your certain and utter ruin; or, for the way, i.e. for your evil way or manner of living, for your perverse and foolish course of opposing my Son instead of submitting to him. Or, in (which particle is oft. understood) the way, i.e. in your wicked way or course, in the midst of your plots and rebellions against him; and so you will die in your sins, as it is expressed, John 8:24, which is a sad aggravation of their death, and therefore here fitly proposed as a powerful argument to dissuade them from such dangerous and destructive courses.

But a little, i.e. the least degree, of his anger is very terrible, much more the heat and height of it, caused by such a desperate provocation as this is. Or, for his wrath will be kindled shortly, or suddenly, or within a very little time, as this word is used, Psalms 81:14; Song of Solomon 3:4; Isaiah 26:20. His patience will not last always, but will shortly be turned into fury; and therefore take heed that you neither deny nor delay subjection to him, but speedily comply with his offers and commands before it be too late.

They that put their trust in him; who put themselves under his power and protection, believing in him, and expecting safety and happiness from him; which cannot with any colour be applied to David, who always dissuades all men from putting their trust in princes, or in any men or thing besides or below God, Psalms 20:7; Psalms 44:6; Psalms 62:6-8; Psalms 118:8; Psalms 146:3, and every where; and therefore it would very ill have become him to invite others to put their trust in him. And he is pronounced cursed that trusteth in man, Jeremiah 17:5. But Christ is every where propounded as an object of trust, not only in the New Testament, but also in the Old, as Isaiah 28:16; and therefore they are most truly and fitly said to be

blessed that put their trust in him. Under which sentence the contrary is implied, that they are most cursed and miserable creatures that provoke and oppose him; and so cursed and miserable that David dreaded the very thoughts and mention of it, and therefore expresseth it by the contrary and blessed condition of his friends and subjects. And such-like significations of the miseries of sinners by the blessedness of others opposed to them we have Matthew 23:39; Revelation 14:13.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 2". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/psalms-2.html. 1685.
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