Psalms 2


This Psalm treats of the opposition raised, both by Jew and

Gentile, against the kingdom of Christ, 1-3.

Christ's victory, and the confusion of his enemies, 4-6.

The promulgation of the Gospel after his resurrection, 7-9.

A call to all the potentates and judges of the earth to accept

it, because of the destruction that shall fall on those who

reject it, 10-12.


Verse 1. Why do the heathen rage] It has been supposed that

David composed this Psalm after he had taken Jerusalem from the

Jebusites, and made it the head of the kingdom; 2Sa 5:7-9. The

Philistines, hearing this, encamped in the valley of Rephaim, nigh

to Jerusalem, and Josephus, Antiq. lib. vii. c. 4, says that all

Syria, Phoenicia, and the other circumjacent warlike people,

united their armies to those of the Philistines, in order to

destroy David before he had strengthened himself in the kingdom.

David, having consulted the Lord, 2Sa 5:17-19, gave them battle,

and totally overthrew the whole of his enemies. In the first

place, therefore, we may suppose that this Psalm was written to

celebrate the taking of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of all the

kings and chiefs of the neighbouring nations. In the second place

we find from the use made of this Psalm by the apostles, Ac 4:27,

that David typified Jesus Christ; and that the Psalm celebrates

the victories of the Gospel over the Philistine Jews, and all the

confederate power of the heathen governors of the Roman empire.

The heathen, goyim, the nations; those who are commonly

called the Gentiles.

Rage, rageshu, the gnashing of teeth, and tumultuously

rushing together, of those indignant and cruel people, are well

expressed by the sound as well as the meaning of the original

word. A vain thing. Vain indeed to prevent the spread of the

Gospel in the world. To prevent Jesus Christ, the King of kings,

and Lord of lords, from having the empire of his own earth. So

vain were their endeavours that every effort only tended to open

and enlarge the way for the all-conquering sway of the sceptre of


Verse 2. Against his anointed] al Meshichiah,

"Against his Messiah."-Chaldee. But as this signifies the anointed

person, it may refer first to David, as it does secondly to


Verse 3. Let us break their bands] These are the words of the

confederate heathen powers; and here, as Bishop Horne well

remarks, "we may see the ground of opposition; namely, the

unwillingness of rebellious nature to submit to the obligations of

Divine laws, which cross the interests, and lay a restraint on the

desires of men. Corrupt affections are the most inveterate enemies

of Christ, and their language is, We will not have this man to

reign over us. Doctrines would be readily believed if they

involved in them no precepts; and the Church may be tolerated in

the world if she will only give up her discipline."

Verse 4. He that sitteth in the heavens] Whose kingdom ruleth

over all, and is above all might and power, human and diabolical.

Shall laugh. Words spoken after the manner of men; shall utterly

contemn their puny efforts; shall beat down their pride, assuage

their malice, and confound their devices.

Verse 5. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath] He did so

to the Jews who rejected the Gospel, and vexed and ruined them by

the Roman armies; he did so with the opposing Roman emperors,

destroying all the contending factions, till he brought the empire

under the dominion of one, and him he converted to Christianity

viz., Constantine the Great.

Verse 6. I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.] Here the

Gospel shall be first preached; here the kingdom of Christ shall

be founded; and from hence shall the doctrine of the Lord go out

into all the earth.

Verse 7. I will declare the decree] These words are supposed to

have been spoken by the Messiah. I will declare to the world the

decree, the purpose of God to redeem them by my blood, and to

sanctify them by my Spirit. My death shall prove that the required

atonement has been made; my resurrection shall prove that this

atonement has been accepted.

Thou art my Son] Made man, born of a woman by the creative

energy of the Holy Ghost, that thou mightest feel and suffer for

man, and be the first-born of many brethren.

This day have I begotten thee.] By thy resurrection thou art

declared to be the Son of God, ενδυναμει, by miraculous power,

being raised from the dead. Thus by thy wondrous and supernatural

nativity, most extraordinary death, and miraculous resurrection,

thou art declared to be the Son of God. And as in that Son dwelt

all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, all the sufferings and the

death of that human nature were stamped with an infinitely

meritorious efficacy. We have St. Paul's authority for applying to

the resurrection of our Lord these words, "Thou art my Son; this

day have I begotten thee; "-see Ac 13:33; see also Heb 5:5;-and

the man must indeed be a bold interpreter of the Scriptures who

would give a different gloss to that of the apostle. It is well

known that the words, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten

thee," have been produced by many as a proof of the eternal

generation of the Son of God. On the subject itself I have already

given my opinion in my note, See Clarke on Lu 1:35, from which I recede

not one hair's breadth. Still however it is necessary to spend a few

moments on the clause before us. The word haiyom, TO-DAY, is

in no part of the sacred writings used to express eternity, or any

thing in reference to it; nor can it have any such signification.

To-day is an absolute designation of the present, and equally

excludes time past and time future; and never can, by any figure,

or allowable latitude of construction, be applied to express

eternity. But why then does the Divine Spirit use the word

begotten in reference to the declaration of the inauguration of

the Messiah to his kingdom, and his being seated at the right hand

of God? Plainly to show both to Jews and Gentiles that this Man of

sorrows, this Outcast from society, this Person who was prosecuted

as a blasphemer of God, and crucified as an enemy to the public

peace and a traitor to the government, is no less than that

eternal Word, who was in the beginning with God, who was God,

and in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily: that this

rejected Person was he for whom in the fulness of time a body was

prepared, begotten by the exclusive power of the Most High in

the womb of an unspotted virgin, which body he gave unto death as

a sin-offering for the redemption of the world; and having raised

it from death, declared it to be that miraculously-begotten Son of

God, and now gave farther proof of this by raising the God-man to

his right hand.

The word yalidti, "I have begotten," is here taken in the

sense of manifesting, exhibiting, or declaring; and to this sense

of it St. Paul (Ro 1:3, 4) evidently alludes when speaking of

"Jesus Christ, who was made of the seed of David according to the

flesh, τουορισθεντοςυιουθεουενδυναμεικαταπνευμααγιωσυνης

εξαναστασεωςνεκρων; and declared (exhibited or determined)

to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of

holiness." This very rejected Person, I this day, by raising him

from the dead, and placing him at my right hand, giving to him all

power in heaven and earth, declare to be my Son, the beloved one

in whom I am well pleased. Therefore hear him, believe on him, and

obey him; for there is no redemption but through his blood; no

salvation but in his name; no resurrection unto eternal life but

through his resurrection, ascension, and powerful intercession at

my right hand. Thou art my Son; this day have I declared and

manifested thee to be such. It was absolutely necessary to the

salvation of men, and the credibility of the Gospel, that the

supernatural origin of the humanity of Jesus Christ should be

manifested and demonstrated. Hence we find the inspired writers

taking pains to show that he was born of a woman, and of that

woman by the sovereign power of the everlasting God. This

vindicated the character of the blessed virgin, showed the human

nature of Christ to be immaculate, and that, even in respect to

this nature, he was every way qualified to be a proper atoning

sacrifice and Mediator between God and man. I need not tell the

learned reader that the Hebrew verb yalad, to beget, is

frequently used in reference to inanimate things, to signify their

production, or the exhibition of the things produced. In Ge 2:4:

These are the generations, toledoth, of the heavens and

the earth; this is the order in which God produced and exhibited

them. See Heb. and Eng. Concord., Venema, &c.

Verse 8. Ask of me, and I shall give thee] Here a second branch

of Christ's office as Saviour of the world is referred to; viz.,

his mediatorial office. Having died as an atoning sacrifice, and

risen again from the dead, he was now to make intercession for

mankind; and in virtue and on account of what he had done and

suffered, he was, at his request, to have the nations for his

inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his

possession. He was to become supreme Lord in the mediatorial

kingdom; in consequence of which he sent his apostles throughout

the habitable globe to preach the Gospel to every man.

Verse 9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron] This may

refer to the Jewish nation, whose final rejection of the Gospel

was foreseen, and in whose place the Gentiles or heathen were

brought into the Church of Christ. They were dispossessed of their

land, their city was razed to its foundations, their temple was

burnt with fire, and upwards of a million of themselves were

slaughtered by the Romans! So heavily did the iron rod of God's

judgments fall upon them for their obstinate unbelief.

Verse 10. Be wise-O ye kings] An exhortation of the Gospel to

the rulers of all kingdoms, nations, and states, to whom it may be

sent. All these should listen to its maxims, be governed by its

precepts, and rule their subjects according to its dictates.

Be instructed, ye judges] Rather, Be ye reformed-cast away all

your idolatrous maxims; and receive the Gospel as the law, or the

basis of the law, of the land.

Verse 11. Serve the Lord with fear] A general direction to all

men. Fear God with that reverence which is due to his supreme

majesty. Serve him as subjects should their sovereign, and

as servants should their master.

Rejoice with trembling.] If ye serve God aright, ye cannot but

be happy; but let a continual filial fear moderate all your joys.

Ye must all stand at last before the judgment-seat of God; watch,

pray, believe, work, and keep humble.

Verse 12. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry] It is remarkable that

the word son ( bar, a Chaldee word) is not found in any of the

versions except the Syriac, nor indeed any thing equivalent to it.

The Chaldee, Vulgate, Septuagint, Arabic, and AEthiopic, have a

term which signifies doctrine or discipline: "Embrace discipline,

lest the Lord be angry with you," &c. This is a remarkable case,

and especially that in so pure a piece of Hebrew as this poem is,

a Chaldee word should have been found; bar, instead of

ben, which adds nothing to the strength of the expression or the

elegance of the poetry. I know it is supposed that bar is also

pure Hebrew, as well as Chaldee; but as it is taken in the former

language in the sense of purifying, the versions probably

understood it so here. Embrace that which is pure; namely, the

doctrine of God.

As all judgment is committed to the Son, the Jews and others are

exhorted to submit to him, to be reconciled to him, that they

might be received into his family, and be acknowledged as his

adopted children. Kissing was the token of subjection and


Is kindled but a little.] The slightest stroke of the iron rod

of Christ's justice is sufficient to break in pieces a whole rebel

world. Every sinner, not yet reconciled to God through Christ,

should receive this as a most solemn warning.

Blessed are all they] He is only the inexorable Judge to them

who harden their hearts in their iniquity, and still not come unto

him that they may have life. But all they who trust in him-who

repose all their trust and confidence in him as their atonement

and as their Lord, shall be blessed with innumerable blessings,

For as the word is the same here as in Ps 1:1,

ashrey, it may be translated the same. "O the blessedness of all

them who trust in him!"

This Psalm is remarkable, not only for its subject-the future

kingdom of the Messiah, its rise, opposition, and gradual extent,

but also for the elegant change of person. In the first verse the

prophet speaks; in the third, the adversaries; in the fourth and

fifth, the prophet answers, in the sixth, Jehovah speaks; in the

seventh, the Messiah; in the eighth and ninth, Jehovah answers;

and in the tenth to the twelfth, the prophet exhorts the opponents

to submission and obedience.-Dr. A. Bayly.


The prime subject of this Psalm is CHRIST; the type, DAVID. The

persons we are chiefly to reflect on are three, and which make

three parts of the Psalm: I. The enemies of Christ; II. Christ

the Lord; III. The princes and judges of the earth.

I. The enemies of Christ are great men, who are described here,

partly from their wickedness, and partly from their weakness.

First, Their wickedness is apparent. 1. They furiously rage.

2. They tumultuously assemble. 3. They set themselves-stand up,

and take counsel, against the Lord and against his anointed. 4.

They encourage themselves in mischief, saying, "Come, and let us

cast away their cords from us." All which is sharpened by the

interrogatory Why!

Secondly, Their weakness; in that they shall never be able to

bring their plots and conspiracies against Christ and his kingdom

to pass; for, 1. What they imagine is but a vain thing. 2. "He

that sits in heaven shall laugh, and have them in derision." 3.

"He shall speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore

displeasure." 4. For, maugre all their plots, "God hath set up his

king upon his holy hill of Zion."

II. At Ps 2:6 begins the exaltation of Christ to his kingdom,

which is the SECOND PART of the Psalm; in which the prophet, by a

προσωποποιια, or personification, brings in God the Father

speaking, and the Son answering.

First, The words of the Father are, "I have set my king;" where

we have the inauguration of Christ, or his vocation to the crown.

Secondly, The answer of the Son, "I will preach the law;" which

sets forth his willing obedience to publish and proclaim the laws

of the kingdom; of which the chief is, "Thou art my Son, this day

have I begotten thee."

Thirdly, The reply of the Father, containing the reward that

Christ was to have upon the publication of the Gospel; which was,

1. An addition to his empire by the conversion and accession of

the Gentiles: "Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for

thine inheritance," &c. 2. And the confusion of his enemies: "Thou

shalt break them," who would not have thee reign, that did rage

and stand up against thee, "with a rod of iron; and break them in

pieces as a potter's vessel."

III. In the third part the prophet descends to his exhortation

and admonition, and that very aptly; for, Is Christ a King? Is he

a King anointed by God? Is he a great King, a powerful King? So

great that the nations are his subjects? So powerful that he will

break and batter to pieces his enemies? Besides, Is he the only

begotten Son of God? Be wise, therefore, O ye kings. In this we


First, The persons to whom this caveat is given: kings and


Secondly, What they are taught. 1. To know their duty. "Be wise;

be learned." 2. To do their duty: "Serve the Lord with fear;

rejoice with trembling; kiss the Son."

Thirdly, The time when this is to be done; even now. The reason

double: 1. Drawn from his wrath, and the consequent punishment:

"Lest he be angry, and ye perish from the right way, when his

wrath is kindled but a little." 2. From the happy condition of

those who learn to know, and fear, and serve, and adore him:

"Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." There must be

no delay; this is the time of wrath, and the day of salvation.

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