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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 2

Introduction

The mention of Zion (Psalms 2:6) as the royal residence shows that the psalm could not have been written earlier than the eighth year of David’s reign, when he had captured that stronghold from the Jebusites, (2 Samuel 5:6-9;) and the internal evidence carries it still forward to the time of his pious intention to build a temple, (2 Samuel 7:4-17.) Though the psalm has an historic foundation in David’s person and kingdom, yet it has always been accepted both by Jews and Christians as prophetic of Messiah, and is repeatedly quoted and applied to Christ in the New Testament. (See the notes.) The fact that the Jews admitted the Messianic application of the psalm and still sought to evade it, is thus tersely given by Perowne: “Kimchi says, ‘Some interpret this psalm of Gog and Magog, and the Anointed is King Messiah, and so our rabbies of blessed memory have expounded it; and the psalm, so expounded, is clear; but it is more natural to suppose that David spake it concerning himself, as we have interpreted it.’ R. Sol. Isaki (Rashi) makes the same statement as to the ancient interpretation, but with remarkable candour adds: ‘In order, however, to keep the literal sense, and that we may be able to answer the heretics, (that is, Christians,) it is better to explain it of David himself with reference to what is said 2 Samuel 5:17.’” The kingship of Christ, his title of “Son of God,” and his profession of Saviour, were the issues in our Lord’s day, restated by the apostles, (Acts 2:0,) and have been brought down through the ages as the great points of controversy between the true Church and the world. And this conflict, which it is the design of this psalm clearly to state predicted Genesis 3:15 will continue until “the last enemy shall be destroyed.” 1 Corinthians 15:26. The psalm is anonymous, but its author must have been himself a king, conscious of being chosen by Jehovah to this honour; and though surrounded by enemies fierce and tumultuous, who were leagued for his overthrow, confident that through Jehovah he would triumph over them. These circumstances meet only in David. The whole force of internal evidence declares for him, and is confirmed by Acts 4:25. The form of the psalm is highly dramatic, animated, bold, and triumphant. It falls into four stanzas of three verses each, of seven, six, seven, and eight lines. Psalms 2:1-3, refer to the conspiracy of the hostile nations; Psalms 2:4-6, show that God shall make void their plans; in Psalms 2:7-9, the anointed one publishes the decree for the establishment of his dominion, and the subjugation of the nations; Psalms 2:10-12, an admonition to kings to submit.

Verse 1

1. The heathen rage The nations tumultuously assemble. The idea is that of a hasty gathering of conspirators, as Daniel 6:6; Daniel 6:11; Daniel 6:15. In Psalms 64:2 the cognate word is rendered conspirators, and is applied to the conspiracy of Jews and Gentiles against Christ, Acts 4:26-27, where see notes.

Vain thing A thing of vanity or emptiness; a thing that shall never succeed, and, by implication, wicked. The interrogative why, or to what purpose, or for what cause, indicates the groundlessness as well as the futility of all this combination, and the question seems asked in astonishment. Neither these purposes of David’s enemies nor of Christ’s ever succeeded.

Verse 2

2. Kings of the earth… rulers The chief powers of the earth are arrayed against Jehovah and his Anointed.

Set themselves Literally, place themselves firmly. The word is often used in a military or hostile sense, as 1 Samuel 17:16, and here denotes an attitude of determined opposition.

The verb is in the future, but imports what is going on at the present time.

Take counsel Have consulted confidentially.

Anointed Hebrew, Messiah, for which the Greek is Christ, (see note Matthew 1:1,) here referring historically to the Hebrew king whom God had anointed with holy oil, (1 Samuel 16:13,) but prophetically to Christ, the royal Son of David, to whom it is directly applied Acts 4:24-27, and who was consecrated, not with oil, but by the fulness of the Holy Ghost at his baptism. Matthew 3:13-17

Verse 3

3. Their bands… their cords The plural suffix their refers to Jehovah and his Messiah. The result of these hostile deliberations is the mutual exhortation to break asunder and cast away the bands of Messiah’s government. “Bands” and “cords “are the restraints and authority of law, and its moral rebuke of sin. The enemies will neither submit to law and obligation nor accept pardon through Christ. Their language implies that they already felt the restraining and reproving power of the Law and Gospel, and were partly under that power, but were bent on freedom in sin and hostility to God. This was the course of the Pharisees and rulers against Christ. See introductory note.

Verse 4

4. Laugh… derision A bold anthropomorphism, here signifying not only exultation, but the infinite ease with which God shall render abortive all their plans, which in Psalms 2:1 are called “vain,” nothing. See Psalms 37:13; Psalms 52:6

Verse 5

5. Then Emphatic. At the moment when their “counsel” was about to be executed: at the crisis when they expected success. See Deuteronomy 29:19-20; where “then” indicates that point where success was looked for. The connexion shows that God had suffered them to prosper for a time, but at length “he arose to judgment.” Psalms 76:9.

Speak God speaks in his acts as well as his words. The context shows that the speaking is in wrathful judgment, and that men shall hear and know.

Vex He will perplex and terrify them by a sudden miscarriage of their plans. See Exodus 14:24-25

Verse 6

6. Set my king The word rendered “set” (a different one from that so rendered Psalms 2:2) means to pour out, as a libation; also, to appoint, anoint. Furst renders it here, “ To appoint with a libation.” David was not anointed king upon Zion, but in Hebron; yet he was “ set,” or established, in Zion as by a new anointing. The Septuagint reads: “I have been made king by him upon Zion, his holy mountain.”

Verse 7

7. I will declare the decree David now prophetically speaks in the person of Christ, or in Christ’s stead, who is called, Psalms 2:2, the “Anointed” of Jehovah, and, in Psalms 2:6, Jehovah’s “King,” and in this verse, Jehovah’s “Son.” The language now passes to the highest reach of prophetico-typical description.

Thou art my Son The “my” denotes the promulgator of the “decree;” the “Son” is he in whose favour the decree is proclaimed David’s royal descendant and yet David’s Lord the Christ. He is “Son,” not by adoption, as are all the true Israel of God, but by being the “only begotten of the Father.”

This day have I begotten thee The expression, “this day,” does not mark the origin of Christ’s Sonship, but the period of the promulgation of this decree, be that when it might. The open manifestation of its fulfilment was, when “Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead.”

Verse 8

8. Heathen Mixed people, Gentiles.

Uttermost parts of the earth The total boundary of the world. The kingdom of Christ embraces the whole world, all worlds, all things visible and invisible. Colossians 1:16-17. The Church is only that part of his kingdom on earth which has publicly submitted to his authority, and has obtained pardon and reconciliation through him. The rest are under him dominion, though in a state of revolt. See on Psalms 2:9

Verse 9

9. Rod of iron The sceptre, which is the emblem of authority, shall be an iron rod, the symbol of severity, called “the rod of thy [Messiah’s] strength,” (Psalms 110:2,) which Jehovah would “send out of Zion.” This severity applies only to Christ’s judgments on his enemies, who refuse submission and despise the gospel. The New Testament abates nothing of this language or doctrine. The gospel is a free amnesty to all who will accept it, and a rule of judgment against all who reject it: (compare Jeremiah 19:11; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15;) “of vengeance on them that… obey not the gospel.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8. “The wrath of the Lamb,” (Revelation 6:16,) is no less than that threatened in Psalms 2:9; Psalms 2:12 of our psalm.

Verses 10-12

10-12. Be wise now An admonition to kings and rulers to make peace with King Messiah.

Be instructed Be corrected, chastened, restrained.

Fear… rejoice… trembling Reverence for the glory and majesty of Messiah’s character, joy at his benignity toward those who receive him, and trembling for all who disobey because of the terror of his iron sceptre.

Kiss Submit, pay homage and obedience to the Son. Kissing the hand was a token of homage and respect. 1 Samuel 10:1.

Trust Take refuge, in the Son of God. The word “trust,” which is here used, is almost universally applied in the Old Testament to saving faith in God. Here it applies to the Son of God, Messiah. See note on Psalms 34:8; and compare John 5:21; John 5:23-27. Those who believe in God must believe also in Christ. John 14:1; John 16:3.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-2.html. 1874-1909.