Psalm 2

The main theme of this, the first of the Messianic Psalms, is the reproach and reign of God’s King. Out of this theme emerges the divine reproof of man’s violent hostility to the Lord and His Anointed, and the rejoicing of those who submit to, and trust in, the Son.

Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

David is the author, Acts 4. 25, and while incidents in the military turmoil of his reign may have furnished its background imagery, both the actions portrayed and the true subject of this Psalm find their eventual fulfilment in the experience and person of Jesus Christ. This is clear from the seven references to this Psalm in the New Testament each of which is applied to Jesus of Nazareth, Acts 4. 25-26; 13. 33 R.V.; Heb. 1. 5; 5. 5; Rev. 2. 27; 12. 5; 19. 15. (Note: In Acts 13. 33 R.V., the word “again” (a.v.) is not in the text and indicates that God has fulfilled his ancient promise to Israel to “raise up” Messiah in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The verse therefore refers to the incarnation and not the resurrection of Christ – the latter being taken up by Paul in verse 34.)

The King - Jehovah’s Son

The King meets world opposition to His kingly claims, but by the power of Jehovah He is established as world-Ruler. His seat of government is the holy hill of Zion from which base He subdues and shepherds the nations. The central revelation concerning the King is that He is none other than Jehovah’s Son and therefore divine. Because of this, Jehovah withholds nothing from Him but grants His desire even to the “uttermost”, v. 8.

It is in His character of Son that the nations are called upon to submit to Him, showing the supreme importance of His Sonship to Jehovah; cf. John 5. 20-23. So the Messiah or Anointed One, v. 2, of this Psalm is dramatically presented on the stage of divine revelation as God’s Sovereign, God’s Son and God’s Shepherd.

God’s Purposes for Earth

The action of this Psalm is confined to earth, dealing with God’s purposes for the world and its inhabitants as they are related to the Person and dominion of Messiah His Son. So what is seen here is the inauguration in power of the Messianic kingdom and the glory of God’s Christ upon earth.

Because no king yet inhabits Zion, it is obvious that the whole* Psalm is prophetic and its fulfilment still future. The King is not yet anointed upon Zion. The Son’s request has not yet been made for His inheritance of the nations. His office at present is Head of the Church, which is His Body, Eph. 1. 22-23; Col. 2. 19, not Head of the nations, and His present petition is for His own believing people given out of the world and destined for heaven, John 17. 9, 20, 24, and not for the ungodly nations of earth.


The first few verses of Psalm 2 were partially fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus, Acts 4. 25-27, but its complete fulfilment will not come until the Great God calls all nations “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” at the place called Armageddon, the Mount of Slaughter, Rev. 16. 12-16; 17. 12-18; 19. 11-21; cf. also Joel 3. 2. It is to the events so vividly and terribly depicted in these passages that the opening verses of our Psalm refer.


Rebellion of the Nations, 1-3 – What the Nations say, 3;
Retribution of the Lord, 4-6 – What God says, 6;
Revelation of the Son, 7-9 – What the Son says, 7-9;
Reconciliation offered the World-Rulers, 10-12 – Admonition. Be Wise, 10-12

The Saviour and His Cross appear in the first section where the kings and the rulers take counsel against God and Christ to cast Him out as their rightful King, Acts 4. 25-28. Note: In this first of the New Testament references to the second Psalm the apostles, in their prayer, include “the people of Israel” among those “gathered together’ against the Lord and His Anointed. This suggests that apostate Jews will also join with the Gentile powers in the final rebellion – the “Judas” character reappearing at a national level to betray their Lord even at the very end. But out of Jewish rejection, a “remnant” will be spared, Isa. 1. 9, and, purged from the apostate majority, shall be saved, Rom. 11. 26.

The Sovereign and His Crown are seen in the second section whole, in spite of the rage of men, Jehovah triumphantly sets His King upon Zion, crowned and glorious. The Shepherd and His Crook are marked out in the third section where the Son’s rule of the nations is inflexible and determined. The word “break” in verse 9 is “to shepherd” and His crook is a rod of iron- David, the shepherd-king, ruled a nation; great David’s greater Son will shepherd-rule a universe.

Synopsis of the Psalm

Rebellion of the Nations, vv. 1-3, or The Last Great In-dependence Movement. World tumult and disorder mark the first section of this Psalm. The races of mankind, in the grip of a sweeping political fury, are fused into an unprecedented unity. The objects of their united hatred and fear are Jehovah and His Anointed, the Son Christ Jesus.

Armies are mobilized by kings, intrigue is plotted by princes, and a united nations assembly issues a final, infamous and irrevocable statement of revolt against the overlordship of Jehovah and the regency of His Christ, v. 3. The kings are unwilling to hand over dominion to the King of kings or submit themselves to the restraints (cords and bands) of His government. Their blasphemous slogan is “Let us break with God”, and the creature goes about to sever relations with his Creator by military might.

This passage exposes the end result of world politics and national patriotism. It settles both the true nature of politics and the myth of patriotism, and, to the writer’s mind, provides the most potent argument against participation in either. How humiliating for men to know their most powerful institutions (political and military) end in “vanity"!, v. 1b.

Retribution of the Lord, vv. 4-6. The scene changes from earth to heaven. Far above the rage and tumult of men, occupying the throne and so in complete control, sits the mighty Lord. But what an unveiling of heaven! Here is no quiet sanctuary inhabited by a docile and tolerant God unmoved by the vicious wickedness of mankind. Rather we view a heaven echoing with the thunderous decrees of a wrathful Lord, and the terrible laughter of a derisive and outraged Deity. Offended Omnipotence vents the holy anger of His sore displeasure against the presumptuousness and folly of men who spurn both His love and sovereignty re-vealed in the Christ.

This is “the day of vengeance of our God”, Isa. 61. 2, “the day of his wrath” when He shall “strike through kings” and “wound the heads over many countries”, Ps. no. 5-6. His voice rolls triumphantly across the marshalled rebel hosts of earth declaring His immutable purpose, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion".

Revelation of the Son, vv. 7-9. God’s King now stands forth and boldly presents His credentials and coronation rights to dominion over the nations, and inheritance of the earth. He is the Son, the rightful Heir, through the incarnation claiming universal relationship with the race as Son of man, and by the resurrection declared to be the Son of God possessed with power. Son of man and Son of God, and now Jehovah publicly honours Him with the gifts that His Sonship merits. A true Son, He was first obedient, Heb. 5. 8; 10. 7, to the uttermost of the Father’s will, Phil. 2. 8. The reward for this obedience is now granted; “Ask”, says Jehovah, and thus the King enters into the public glory which His sufferings as the Obedient Son have won for Him.

In this great decree He declares that as to His Person, He is the Royal Son; as to His power, the nations are subject to Him; and as to His possession, He is given the uttermost parts of the earth. He now receives legitimately, with accrued honours, what Satan had tempted Him to acquire illicitly during the days of His flesh, Matt. 4. 8-10.

Reconciliation Offered the World Rulers, vv. 10-12. It is to the “kings” and “judges” of the earth that the admonitory word is addressed. These, as the last representatives of world pomp and power, have been so deceived by their office, corrupted by their power, and blinded by their supposed wisdom (what a commentary on earthly government in general), that they have abrogated to themselves divine rights and lead millions toward a frightful doom.

The word of reconciliation expounds true wisdom to those who set themselves up as its dispensers - “Kiss the Son’. Only by submitting to Him is there refuge from wrath. Serve Him., rejoice in Him, trust Him. It is all Him, He is the only sanctuary from judgment, and apart from Him all will perish. This is the word for rebels in that great day of anger (what a tragedy that they will refuse to accept and so be judged); it is the same word for rebel-sinners today. Oh the happiness of those who find a refuge here!


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