The Lord of Glory
Tom Wilson, Levin, New Zealand
The Second Psalm is one of eleven 'royal' psalms, that is, those which have a primary reference to the kings of Israel (see also 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 89, 101, 110, 132 and 144).
It is also however a Messianic psalm, with particular reference to the glory of the coming Lord.
Any historical events leading to this psalm being written are not known. It is likely that it does not in fact refer to a particular conflict in Israel's past, but directly to events surrounding the coming earthly kingdom of Christ, as promised to David, 2 Sam. 7. 1-28. On that occasion God, through Nathan, said, 'And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever', v. 16. Notice the repetition, emphasizing the importance of this covenant.
When Israel rejected Christ at His first advent, it was clear that fulfilment could only take place when He returned to earth.
The royal and Messianic interpretations will fit together naturally because Christ will then be revealed as both Messiah and King.
Psalm 2 is one of the most quoted in the New Testament (e.g., Heb. 1. 5; 5. 5), no doubt because of its unique presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ in His glory. This shows that from earliest times the church believed that the once-rejected Messiah would return to reign.
The psalm divides naturally into four equal parts: vv. 1-3, the turmoil of nations; vv. 4-6, the displeasure of the Lord; vv. 7-9, the divine decree; vv. 10-12, the call to repentance.
There are four statements:
(a) Psalmist's introduction: a description of the nations opposing God and His contempt for their wrangling.
(b) Jehovah's pronouncement: Christ to reign as king over them.
(c) The Lord's declaration: dominion is His; the nations His inheritance; the uttermost parts of the earth His possession.
(d) The Psalmist's call: 'Be wise ... Be instructed ... lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way'.
Three aspects of Christ's glory are made known:
The Glory of the Anointed One
In verse 2 we read that He is the Lord's Anointed (Heb. Messiah, Ck. Christ). Of old, Israel's kings were anointed by prophets sent from God (e.g., I Sam. 10. 1). This was God's stamp of authority. As long as they were obedient to Him, they would be blessed and protected. They were above all other kings of earth.
Sad to say, many of these anointed kings were unfaithful, falling short of God's will. Now Jehovah is announcing One who would obey Him to perfection. He would indeed be above all others.
In His first advent Christ was opposed because of who He was. The Father had said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased', Matt. 3. 1 7; men responded, 'We will not have this man to reign over us', Luke 19. 14.
Now, again, the nations would oppose the Lord and His Anointed, 'Let us break their bands (chains) asunder, and cast away their cords (fetters) from us', v. 3. They will not endure the standard of divine righteousness, any more than at Calvary. But the glory of the Lord as God's Anointed will remain. John foresaw this coming day, 'And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, 'King of kings, and Lord of Lords', Rev. 19. 16.
The Glory of the Son
'I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee', v. 7.
The faithful kings of Israel were not only anointed; God called them sons. David had such a relationship: 'He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation,' as Ethan says of him in Psalm 89. 26. Concerning Solomon, Jehovah told David, 'I will be to him for a father, and he shall be to me for a son', 2 Sam. 7. 14, Newberry.
Yet, while God made these kings sons, Christ was different in that He was Son of God by sovereign right. Verse 7, 'This day have I begotten thee', does not concern physical birth, which would make Christ less than God, but is a metaphor describing His position within the Godhead, as demonstrated by His resurrection, Acts 13. 26-33. He who has ever been the Son of God, who became Son of Man, is now exalted to the right hand of God to plead our cause, Rom. 8. 34. But in Psalm 2 He is seen as the One whose right it is to reign and to judge the nations.
The Glory of the fudge
In the face of that authority every nation and ruler shall be brought into judgment before Christ, 'Thou shaft break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel', v. 9.
They have opposed Jehovah and His Anointed to their own destruction. God sees their antagonism as ludicrous, v. 4. How can people, however great, fight the Sovereign of endless worlds?
In the end, if they will not accept His authority they must be judged. And how terrible that judgment will be! Broken as with an iron rod, smashed like a rejected piece of pottery - these are the words of God. However much people 'rage', and whatever they 'imagine', they will never escape the reckoning of the Son of God when they meet Him as Judge. All authority has been given to Him, John 5. 27.
Yet that judgment will not be vindictive. In Psalm 2, as throughout scripture, the call is to repentance, vv. 10-12. The plea goes out to the kings of earth and to all in authority to be wise, to be instructed, to serve the Lord with fear (worshipful, reverent awe), to 'kiss the Son' in reconciliation before It is too late.
When it comes, the judgment will be full and final. Sinners will 'perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little'. It will be sudden, 'his wrath can flare up in a moment', v. 12 N1V.
But the final call is simple, 'Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.' That is the position of many of us who read these words.
In the light of all that we have seen in this psalm, as we view the Lord Jesus Christ in all His glory as God's Anointed, Son of the Most High, and Judge of all the earth, should we not bow in worship before Him with deepest thanksgiving and 'reverent awe'?