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God’s Son upon His Throne
Psalm 2. This is one of the sublimest of the Psalms, and can find its fulfillment only in our Lord. See Acts 4:25; 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; Rev. 2:27. The mold in which the psalm is cast is highly dramatic.
The determined hate of the peoples, vs. 1–3: Rage conveys the idea of gesticulations and cries of frenzy. For v. 2, see Luke 23:12, 13; Acts 4:25, 26.
The divine tranquillity, vs. 4–6: The scene shifts to heaven. In spite of all, the eternal purpose moves on. I have set—that is, “anointed.” “Messiah” and “Christ” alike mean anointed, Acts 10:38.
The manifesto of Messiah, vs. 7–9: Before time began he was the only begotten Son of God, John 17:5. But his sonship was declared at his resurrection, Acts 13:30–37. The world is his, to be won by the Cross and intercession.
Overtures of peace, v. 12: Kiss, 1 Sam. 10:1. This psalm closes as the first began, “Oh, the blessedness!”
Background and Themes
According to the Talmud (Berakhot 10b), Psalm 2 is a continuation of Psalm 1. 10th-century rabbi Saadia Gaon, in his commentary on the Psalms, notes that Psalm 1 begins with the word “Happy” and the last verse of Psalm 2 ends with the word “Happy”, joining them thematically.
According to the Talmud and commentators such as Saadia Gaon, Abraham ibn Ezra, and the Karaite Yefet ben Ali, this psalm is messianic, referring to the advent of the Jewish Messiah who will be preceded by the wars of Gog and Magog. In this vein, the “king” of Psalm 2 is interpreted not as David but as the future King Messiah from the Davidic line, who will restore Israel to its former glory and bring world peace. The Talmud teaches (Sukkah 52a):
Our Rabbis taught: The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!), “Ask of me anything, and I will give it to you”, as it is said, “I will tell of the decree … this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I will give the nations for your inheritance” (Psalms 2:7–8).
Similarly, the Midrash Tehillim teaches:
Jonathan said: “Three persons were bidden, ‘Ask’—Solomon, Ahaz, and the King Messiah. Solomon: ‘Ask what I shall give thee’ (I Kings 3:5). Ahaz: ‘Ask thee a sign’ (Isaiah 7:11). The King Messiah: ‘Ask of Me’, etc. (Psalms 2:8).”
Rashi and Radak, however, identify the subject of this psalm as David, following his victory over the Philistines. Arenda suggests that Rashi’s view was influenced by that of early Christian commentators who interpreted verse 7 as referring to Christ.
Christian writers such as Hermann Gunkel and Hans Joachin Kras see the psalm as a song of the Judean king himself at the festival of his accession, while Hossfeld sees the psalm as merely being influenced by the Egyptian and Hellenistic royal ideology.
Most Christian scholars interpret the subject of the psalm as Jesus Christ and his role as the Messiah. Matthew Henry interprets verses 1–6 are viewed as threats against Christ’s kingdom, verses 7–9 as a promise to Christ to be the head of this kingdom, and verses 10–12 as counsel to all to serve Christ. Charles Spurgeon and Adam Clarke similarly interpret the psalm as referring to the opposition against Christ’s rulership, the selection of Christ by God as his “own son”, and the eventual victory and reign of Christ over his enemies.
Some verses of Psalm 2 are referenced in the New Testament:
- Verses 1-2: in a speech attributed to Peter and John in Acts 4:25-26.
- Verse 7: in Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 5:5.
- Verses 8-9: in Revelation 2:26,27; 12:5; 19:15.