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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Psalms 2

 

 

Verses 1-12

DISCOURSE: 495

OPPOSITION TO CHRIST VAIN

Psalms 2:1-12. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 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.

THIS psalm, in its primary sense, relates to David: it declares the opposition which should be made to his establishment on the throne of Israel, and the final subjugation of all his enemies: both of which events took place according to this prediction [Note: 2 Samuel 5:6-7; 2 Samuel 5:17 and 2 Samuel 8:1-15.]. But beyond a doubt a greater than David is here. There are several expressions in this psalm which are not at all applicable to the typical David, and which can pertain to none but the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Not even the highest angel could have that said of him, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee [Note: Hebrews 1:5.]:” and, as that august title was inapplicable to David, so it could never be said of him, that he had “the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.” Moreover, when it is considered, that the expression, “Kiss the Son,” imported an act of divine worship; and that to “trust in” David would have been to give to a man the honour which was due to the Most High God alone [Note: Jeremiah 17:5.]; it will be clear, that the psalm was intended to describe, not earthly, but heavenly things, even the reign of Messiah himself, “the Lord’s Anointed.” And of him the Jews, before the coming of Christ, interpreted this psalm; as the modern Jews are constrained to acknowledge. Indeed it is manifest, that the Apostles understood it in this sense; not only because immediately after the day of Pentecost they so interpret it [Note: Acts 4:25-27], but because in their controversy with the Jews they quote it in this sense, and argue upon it as accomplished in Christ’s victory over death and the grave [Note: Acts 13:32-33.]. In reference to Christ, then, we will explain it, and shew,

I. The opposition that is made to him—

Christ is still, as formerly, opposed by all ranks and orders of men—

[No sooner was he born into the world than Herod sought to destroy him. During his ministry upon earth the attempts made upon his life were very numerous; and it was only by repeated miracles that he was saved. When the time for his being delivered into the hand of sinners drew nigh, the whole Jewish nation, as it were, rose up against him, to put him to death. His resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, were calculated to rectify the mistaken apprehensions of his enemies, and to disarm their malice: but no sooner was his Gospel preached by his disciples, than the same opposition raged against them also, and every possible effort was made to suppress the rising sect: not even death itself, in all its most tremendous forms, was deemed too severe a punishment for those who professed to believe in Christ. In this opposition all ranks and orders joined: the learned Scribes, the self-righteous Pharisees, the unbelieving Sadducees, all the highest orders both in Church and State, as well as the profane and licentious populace, were of one heart and mind in relation to this matter: they who agreed in no other thing under heaven, agreed in this, a deadly hatred to Christ, and an inveterate opposition to his cause.

And is not the same ph ζnomenon seen at this day? In this one point there is perfect unanimity, wherever we come. As Herod and Pontius Pilate, who were before at variance, united cordially with each other for the purpose of oppressing Christ, so now persons who are most remote from each other in political and moral sentiment, or even in the general habits of their lives, all unite in decrying the Gospel as visionary in itself, and as injurious to the world. Let the Gospel be brought into any place, and this universal hatred to it immediately appears: nor can the Gospel be cordially embraced by any individual, without exciting in the minds of his friends and relatives a measure of indignation against him [Note: Matthew 10:22-25; Matthew 10:34-36.].]

This opposition is founded on an aversion to his strict and holy laws—

[Had the Apostles brought forward the Gospel as a matter of speculation only, they would never have been so bitterly persecuted in every place. The Jews were ready enough, of themselves, to follow false Apostles and false Christs: and the Gentiles would have welcomed the inventors or advocates of a new philosophy. It was the requiring of all persons to submit entirely and unreservedly to the dominion of Christ that irritated and inflamed the whole world against the preachers of Christianity. Thus, at this time, if we only brought forward the great truths of the Gospel in a speculative and argumentative way, no man would be offended with us: (multitudes of preachers do this without exciting any hatred or contempt in the minds of their hearers:) but the practical exhibition of divine truth, the shewing that all men must receive it at the peril of their souls, the insisting upon an entire surrender of their souls to Christ, to be washed in his blood, to be renewed by his grace, and to be employed for his glory, this is the offence: we are then too earnest, too strict, too enthusiastic, too alarming: we then are represented as “turning the world upside down,” and are deemed little better than “the filth of the world and the off-scouring of all things.” Nor will any thing screen us from this odium: we may be as learned, as blameless, as benevolent, as active as Paul himself, and yet, if we have any measure of his fidelity, we shall be sure enough to have some measure also of his treatment from an ungodly world.]

But the experience of all ages abundantly attests,

II. The vanity of that opposition—

Notwithstanding all the exertions of his enemies, Christ was exalted—

[It was “a vain thing that the people imagined,” when they supposed that they could defeat the purposes of the Most High in relation to the establishment of his Son upon the throne of Israel. “He that sitteth in the heavens laughed at them, and had them in derision.” In vain were the stone, the seal, the guard: at the appointed hour, Christ rose triumphant from the grave; and, on his ascension to the right hand of God, sent forth his Spirit to erect, in the hearts of men, that spiritual kingdom that shall never be moved: “Yet,” says God, “have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” As the purpose of Jehovah respecting the typical David was fulfilled in due season, so was that “decree which Jehovah had declared” respecting “his anointed Son.” “The word grew and multiplied” in every place: and “the stone that had been cut out of the mountain without hands, broke in pieces” all adverse powers, and filled the whole Roman empire [Note: Daniel 2:34-35.]. The opposition raised by the Jewish nation against the Lord and his Christ, terminated only in the confusion of the opponents, on whom “the wrath of God” soon fell, and who are to this hour the most awful monuments of “his displeasure.”]

In due time his exaltation shall be complete—

[God having, in the resurrection of Christ, borne witness to him as his only-begotten Son [Note: Romans 1:4.], has engaged, in answer to his requests, to “give him the utmost ends of the earth for his possession.” And this he is gradually accomplishing: in every quarter of the globe is the Redeemer’s kingdom extending on the right hand and on the left: and though there is very much land still unsubdued before him, yet shall he “go on conquering and to conquer,” “till every enemy is put under his feet.” The enmity of the human heart, indeed, will still vent itself against him; but all who will not bow to the sceptre of his grace, “shall be broken in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Whether we look to the world at large, or to any particular individual in the world, the final issue of the contest will be the same: he must prevail, and “all his enemies shall become his footstool [Note: Matthew 22:44.].”]

Let us then contemplate,

III. Our duty with respect to him—

If He be “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords,”

Our duty is, to submit to him and serve him—

[A “holy reverential fear” becomes us in his presence: “He is greatly to be feared, and to be had in reverence of all them that are round about him.” Our fear of him should swallow up every other fear, and annihilate every desire that is contrary to his will. An external conformity to his laws will not suffice: he should reign in our hearts, and our “every thought should be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Not that our fear should be of a slavish kind: it is our privilege, and even our duty, to rejoice in him [Note: Philippians 3:3; Philippians 4:4.]: yea, we should rejoice in him with most exalted joy, even “a joy that is unspeakable and glorified [Note: 1 Peter 1:8.]:” yet should our joy be tempered with humility, and our confidence with contrition. We should never so contemplate him as to forget ourselves, nor ever so triumph in him as to lose a jealousy over ourselves: we should “rejoice in the Lord always;” but still we should so temper this heavenly feeling as to “rejoice with trembling.”

With this reverential fear we should also maintain towards him a devout affection. Idolaters were wont to kiss their idols, in token of their entire and affectionate devotion to them [Note: 1 Kings 19:18. Hosea 13:2.]: hence it is said, “Kiss the Son,” that is, let us consecrate ourselves to his service affectionately and with our whole hearts. A constrained service is altogether unacceptable to him: obedience would lose all its worth, if we accounted his yoke heavy or “his commandments grievous.” His law should be in our hearts, and a conformity to it should be our supreme desire and delight.]

This is the duty of all, without exception—

[It is a common sentiment, that religion is only for the poor, and that the rich and learned are in a good measure exempt from its restraints. But in the sight of God all men are on a level: all are equally dependent on him; all must give up an account to him; and “kings or judges of the earth” are quite as much subject to the command of Christ as the meanest of the human race. O let this awful delusion be banished! Let none imagine that a superiority of rank or station at all lessens their responsibility to God, or absolves them from the smallest measure of obedience to Christ — — —]

This is also our truest wisdom and happiness—

If we say to any, “Serve the Lord,” we say, in effect, “Be wise:” for “the fear of the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom.” Those only who have never tasted of true piety, deride it as folly: and they only do it, because they do not like to confess their own folly in neglecting it: in their serious moments, and when their conscience is permitted to speak, the very despisers of godliness are constrained to say in their hearts, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!”

Moreover, it is the only true path of happiness: for, what happiness can they have who are obnoxious to the wrath of God? “If his wrath be kindled, yea, but a little,” can they endure the thought of meeting his displeasure? “Are they stronger than he,” that they can feel themselves at ease, when they “have provoked him to jealousy?” No: the most careless of mankind, if he reflect at all, must be sensible, that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” We say then, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him:” they shall be protected by his power; they shall be preserved by his grace; they shall be enriched by his bounty; they shall be blessed by him with all spiritual blessings; and in the last day they shall be seated with him on his throne, and be partakers of his glory for evermore.]


Verse 12

DISCOURSE: 496

REGARD TO CHRIST ENFORCED

Psalms 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.

TO so great a degree do the Psalms abound with prophecies relating to Christ, that all the most important circumstances of his life and death, his resurrection and glory, might be narrated from them with almost as much precision as in the Gospels themselves. The psalm before us has but a partial reference to David. It may be considered indeed as a triumphant proclamation of his establishment on his throne, notwithstanding all the opposition that had been made to him by Saul and by the Jews themselves. But it principally points to the exaltation of Jesus to his throne of glory: and it concludes with an address to all the monarchs of the earth to submit themselves to his government.

In considering the words of the text, we shall call your attention to,

I. The injunction—

Who “the Son” is, we are at no loss to determine; since an inspired commentator has expressly declared him to be Christ [Note: Compare ver. 7. with Hebrews 1:5.]. By “kissing” him, we are to understand,

1. Submission to his authority—

[Samuel having anointed Saul to be king of Israel, kissed him, in token of his submission to the power that was now vested in him [Note: 1 Samuel 10:1.]. Now Jesus is “seated as King upon God’s holy hill in Zion [Note: ver. 6.]:” and he demands that all should acknowledge him as their supreme Lord and only Saviour [Note: Compare Isaiah 45:23-24. with Romans 14:11.]. His yoke in every view is hateful to us by nature; but most of all are we averse to “submit to his righteousness [Note: Romans 10:3.].” But this we must do, renouncing every other ground of dependence [Note: Philippians 3:9.], and trusting in him as “The Lord our Righteousness [Note: Jeremiah 23:6.].”]

2. Love to his person—

[When Mary desired to express her love to Jesus, she “kissed his feet [Note: Luke 7:38.]:” and we also must feel in our hearts, and express, in every possible way, a fervent attachment to him. The characteristic mark of his disciples is, to “love him in sincerity [Note: Ephesians 6:24.].” Destitute of this mark, we have nothing to expect but speedy and everlasting destruction [Note: 1 Corinthians 16:22.]. We must therefore account him precious to our souls [Note: 1 Peter 2:7.], yea, “fairer than ten thousand, and altogether lovely.” We must delight ourselves in contemplating his beauty, and maintaining fellowship with him [Note: 1 John 1:3.].]

3. Devotion to his service—

[Idolaters used, in worshipping their gods, to kiss their images [Note: Hosea 13:2. 1 Kings 19:18.], or to kiss their hands in token of their devout regard to them [Note: Job 31:20; Job 31:27.]. In this sense also we are to “kiss the Son,” exercising the same faith in him that we do in the Most High God [Note: Acts 9:6. John 14:1.], and honouring him in every respect as we honour the Father [Note: John 5:23.]. — — — To kiss him, like Judas, and betray him, will fearfully aggravate our condemnation.]

The vast importance of this injunction will appear, if we consider,

II. The arguments with which it is enforced—

And here we notice,

1. The danger of disobeying it—

[Gracious and loving as the Saviour is, he is susceptible of anger on just occasions, and feels a holy indignation against those who slight his love. And “if once his wrath be kindled, yea, but a little,” it will utterly destroy us [Note: Revelation 6:15-17.]. It will be but little consolation for us to see others suffering under his heavier displeasure: the person who feels the smallest portion of his wrath in hell, will be inexpressibly and eternally miserable: and therefore it becomes us to offer him the sincerest tribute of our affection without delay. Nothing but this can prevent our ruin. In whatever “way” we are walking, we shall “perish from it,” if we do not embrace him with the arms of faith, and “cleave to him with full purpose of heart [Note: Acts 11:23.].”]

2. The benefit arising from obedience to it—

[What was before metaphorically represented by “kissing the Son,” is here more simply expressed by “trusting in him.” In fact, a cordial and entire confidence in him, as “our wisdom, righteousness, Sanctification, and redemption,” comprehends all the duties which we are capable of performing towards him in this world.

Now such a trust in him renders a man inconceivably blessed. It brings peace into his soul: it obtains for him the forgiveness of all his sins; it secures “grace sufficient for him,” and “strength according to his day.” It makes him “blessed” in every state; in health or sickness, in wealth or poverty, in life or death. It entities him to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance in heaven. No creature that possessed it, ever perished. Glory and honour and immortality are the portion of “all that trust in Christ.” Whatever may have been their past conduct, or however they may doubt their own acceptance with God, they “are” blessed, and shall be blessed for evermore.]

Application—

[Here then is the direction which in God’s name we give to all; “Kiss the Son.” If you have any desire to escape the wrath to come, or to lay hold on eternal life, this is the sure, the only way of attaining your end. Neglect Christ; and, whatever else you either have or do, it will avail you nothing: you must “perish” everlastingly [Note: Luke 14:24 and John 3:36.]. Love the Lord Jesus Christ, and give yourselves up unto him; and, notwithstanding your past sins, or present infirmities, “you shall never perish, but shall have everlasting life [Note: John 3:15-16.].”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 2:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-2.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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