Psalm 2

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Psalm 2, Coronation of the Davidic King

Tod Kennedy

January, 2007

1.     Summary Statement of Psalm 2.  God chose David and his heirs to rule as Israel’s kings and to rule from Zion (Jerusalem). This Psalm is a Royal Psalm, also called a Messianic Psalm. It is a psalm about the coronation of the Davidic king. Psalm 2 was written for a particular coronation, but was to be used for all the future coronations of Israel’s Davidic kings. Jesus Christ, Messiah, is the perfect and final Davidic king, and so this Psalm ultimately refers to him. The surrounding nations are rebelling at the coronation of the Davidic king in Jerusalem. An anointed Davidic king ruling in Jerusalem limits the pagan kings’ power over God’ people.  But, they cannot stop God’s king. Though they plan and rage and rebel, Yahweh laughs at them from heaven. He then pronounces that he has installed his king on Zion. His final king, Son King Messiah, will inherit the whole world and will completely break all rebels. The only hope for the rebels, and all people of the earth, is to take to heart the Psalmist’s words: worship Yahweh with reverence, joy, and submission.

2.     Psalm 2 Outline

2.1.          The Psalmist asks a rhetorical question of why the nations and kings are in futile rebellion against Yahweh and his Anointed King (Psalm 2:1-3).

2.2.          The Lord (Adonay) scoffs at them. He has already decreed to install his own king at Zion (Psalm 2:4-6).

2.3.          The Son King states Yahweh’s decree that installs him as king of all nations and of all the earth. The king will completely shatter the rebellion against Yahweh and his king (Psalm 2:7-9).

2.4.          Therefore, the Psalmist warns the heathen kings and judges to worship Yahweh and submit to his Son King to avoid judgment and to gain blessing (Psalm 2:10-12).

3.     Prominent Application Principles of Psalm 2

3.1.          Those who rebel against Yahweh and his king cannot succeed. They only have limited success during the time before God’s Messiah King comes to earth to rule. God’s word and God’s plan for human history are sure. Those who worship him are the victors. For us in the church this is also true. Living the Christian life is necessary and the only way to blessing in time. This includes for us the basic techniques of the Christian life, God’s priorities, and so on.

3.2.          God’s Son King will come to earth in the future and subdue all rulers, nations, and individuals. He will rule the Messianic Kingdom. The doctrines of God’s Historical Plan, Dispensations, and the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom) explain what God is doing and will do. Millennial comes from Revelation 20, “one thousand” used 6 times. Therefore the value of knowing biblical doctrine.

3.3.          Until the time the final messianic king, Jesus Christ, comes to rule and bless, there will be continual raging and scheming against Israel by the Gentile nations. Mankind does not change. The world will be at war of various kinds until the Messiah comes to rule. No king, dictator, Prime Minister, President, or any other person will solve the political, social, economic, or spiritual desires of mankind. Because we know this, we know that only God will solve life’s problems. Therefore learn God’s word, live in fellowship with God, live by the Holy Spirit, Live by faith, and live “looking unto Jesus.”

4.     Hebrew poetry. The Psalms were written with meter (rhythm) and parallelism. The meter has not been determined with any confidence. Most scholars simply count the accented words or groups of words to arrive at a meter. Parallelism in the Psalms is parallelism of expression or ideas. Most parallelism refers to ideas within a verse. There are a number of kinds of parallelism. See the Psalms Walk Through for more details. For example, Psalm 2 has synonymous parallelism in verses 1, 3, 5, 9, and incomplete parallelism 8. Verse 2 has synonymous parallelism in the first half, and the entire verse could be called formal parallelism because the second half completes the thought and adds to it. So much for parallelism right now.

5.     Psalm 2, Historical Background.

5.1.          The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:9-17) was God’s promise to David. God promised to establish his son Solomon’s kingdom. Solomon will build the temple. God will establish the throne of Solomon’s kingdom forever. David’s house and kingdom shall endure forever. Psalm 2 was written and recited with this covenant in mind when a king was crowned in Zion.

5.2.          Messiah is the Hebrew word (4899 מָשִׁיחַ mashiyach). It means the anointed one, and usually refers to the king. It was the term for every Davidic king. Jesus is the supreme and final Davidic king. The title, Messiah, looked forward to him and became the New Testament title for Israel’s coming king. Christos is the Greek translation of Mashiyach. The English form is Messiah. When we say that Jesus is Christ, we are saying that he is the anointed king, Messiah. This psalm looks forward to the final and supreme king in Zion, Jesus.

5.3.          The nations around Israel at the time of this psalm could include the Aramaeans (north of Israel), Ammonites (east of Israel), Mobabites (east of Israel), Edomites (east and south of Israel), Phoenicians (on the Mediterranean coast north of Israel), and the Philistines (on the Mediterranean coast west of Israel). These were continual enemies of Israel.

6.     Comments on Section 1, verses 1-3. The Psalmist questions why the nations and kings are in futile rebellion against Yahweh and his Anointed King (1-3). This is a rhetorical question. The Psalmist asks in amazement. He does not expect the pagan rulers to answer.

6.1.          The verbs in 1-3 indicate the strong and unbending rebellion against Yahweh and his messiah.

6.1.1.         Verse 1, nations 1471 גֹּויִם  goim. Often Gentiles.

6.1.2.         Verse 1,  uproar 7283 רָגַשׁ ragash qal perfect, refers to rage, commotion, or plotting.

6.1.3.         Verse 1, peoples 3816 לְאֹם le’om, people, population, nations, folk.

6.1.4.         Verse 1, devising 1897 הָגָה hagah  qal imperfect, refers to meditating, growling, devise.

6.1.5.         Verse 1, vain thing 7385 רִיק riyq, vain, vanity, empty, no purpose. These are their plans for rebellion. This is a different word from that used in Ecclesiastes. There we have 1892 הֶבֶל hebel which is a vapor, a breath and therefore unsubstantial and is meaningless. Here the emphasis is there is no purpose in what they are doing except rebellion. Then what. People cannot govern rightly without God.

6.1.6.         Verse 2, kings מַלְכֵי־אֶ֗רֶץ  (4428 מֶלֶךְ, melek), the kings of nations.

6.1.7.         Verse 2, take their stand 3320 יָצַב, צָבַע  yatsab in the hithpael imperfect, to station oneself.

6.1.8.         Verse 2, rulers 7336 רָזַן  razan to be weighty, judicious, commanding. These are the so-called important people—rulers, high political leaders, possible even the generals.

6.1.9.         Verse 2, take counsel 3245 יָסַד, יָסַד yasad niphal perfect, to sit in a conclave.

6.1.10.     Verse 2, This joint rebellion is not just against a king in the Middle East. The rebellion  is against Yahweh (3068 יהוה  Yahweh) and Yahweh’s Messiah,(4899 מָשִׁיחַ mashiyach). The rebellion is direct. It is against God. עַל־יְ֝הוָה וְעַל־מְשִׁיחֽוֹ and against his king. This rebellion against God is a constant in history, whether the rebels admit it or not. Today, 2008, kings, leaders, and peoples are rebelling against God. No wonder the world is in such turmoil.

6.1.11.     Verse 3, let us tear, 5423 נָתַק nathaq, piel imperfect cohortative, to tear apart, snap, tear off.

6.1.12.     Verse 3, cast away, 7993 שָׁלַךְ shalak, hiphil imperfect cohortative, to throw, fling, cast.

6.2.          The fetters and cords are probably not literal. They refer to the control over the rebelling nations by Israel.

7.     Comments on section 1, verses 4-6. The Lord (Adonay) scoffs at them. He has decreed to install his own king at Zion (4-6). These kings have no say in the plan of God. He will install his king.

7.1.          Verse 4, He who sits in the heavens refers to one who sovereignly reigns over creation. God is enthroned. By saying “in the heaven” the psalmist strengthens the picture of the total kingship of God over the entire universe.

7.2.          Verse 4, The Lord 36 אֲדֹנָי  Adonay. This title means lord, master, and has the idea of strength and might. It is used of God many times in the Old Testament.

7.3.          Verse 5, Note the words “speak… in his anger” and “terrify… in his fury.” We have cause and effect here. He will speak his will to the rebels and this will terrify them. What God says will oppose and condemn the rebels.

7.4.          The content of God terrifying message is verse 6, the coronation statement. The rebels think that they are simply opposing another Israelite king when in reality they are opposing God, because he is behind the Israelite king. In planning to overthrow the king, they are planning to overthrow God—which they may not realize at the time.

7.5.          Verse 6, I have installed. The verb 5258 נָסַךְ  nasak in the qal perfect. It means to set or install. The word is also used this way in Proverbs 8:23 (established).

7.6.          Mount Zion is where David built his city and planned for the temple. It became the place where the palace and temple stood. God’s king was installed on Mount Zion, the set apart for God place, in the palace.

8.     Comments on section 3, verses 7-9. The Messiah Son King states Yahweh’s decree that installs him as king of all nations and of all the earth. This king will break and completely shatter the rebellion against Yahweh (7-9). The installed Son King speaks.

8.1.          The Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7:9-17 is the basis for the decree. It is the king’s right to rule. Yahweh will be a father to Solomon and Solomon will be a son to Yahweh. That covenant would go on forever--Yahweh promised to establish David’s son’s kingdom. Solomon will build the temple. God will establish the throne of Solomon’s kingdom forever. David’s house and kingdom shall endure forever.

8.2.          Verse 7, “I will tell” 5608 סָפַר,  saphar  piel imperfect chortative, to count, recount, relate. Here is a restating of Yahweh’s decree previously made.

8.3.          Verse 7, “you are my son” is a statement that describes the special relationship between the king and God. As a son the king inherits from his father. This figurative. God does not have a physical son.

8.4.          Verse 7, “today I have begotten you” is another comparison. The Son King is a grown person. It does not refer to physical fathering by God. The word “today” makes it clear that this is spoken on and about coronation day.

8.4.1.   Verse 7, Begotten is the Hebrew word 3205 יָלַד,  yalad, to bear, begat, bring forth. Qal perfect with the 2ms suffix. Yahweh is the subject. Messiah Son King is the object. So in the context of this psalm and in other biblical contexts it does not refer to physical or even spiritual procreation. It is the announcement of the coronation of the king in the Davidic line and in accordance with God’s promise.        The ultimate and perfect messiah king is Jesus Christ, God and man. We know this from many other Scripture passages, and it is summarized in the biblical doctrine of Messiah. This coronation ritual will be repeated with each king until Jesus Christ is crowned as the final king.        In the New Testament Jesus is said to be “My beloved son” (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and “only begotten son” (John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). It speaks of the unique relationship of Jesus to God the Father. Sonship means sharing in the nature of the Father. Jesus Christ shares the exact nature of God the Father. Note the words “only begotten” in John 3:16. He is the only person that shares God’s nature. He is God.

8.4.2.   This text is quoted in Acts 13:33, Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5. The inspired authors used these New Testament texts is to show that Jesus is God and Messiah and that he is fulfilling his priestly ministry as the resurrected Messiah.

8.5.          Verses 8. Yahweh speaks to the Son King. He says ask, Qal imperative of 7592 שָׁאַל  sha’al. This is followed by two cohortatives which gives the sense of certainty. It says, Ask …I will surely give, 5414 נָתַן nathan, to give. Qal imperfect. The objects are the nations and the ends of the earth. This makes what Yahweh gives inclusive of all creation on earth. Yahweh is sovereign; he will give ownership and authority over earth creation to his king.

8.6.          Verse 9. Yahweh then promises that his king shall stop all rebellion. The king will break and shatter. These words picture total control by the king. All rebellion will be challenged and defeated. Both verbs are figures for destruction by the Son King.

8.6.1.   “You shall break them.” Break is 7489, רָעַע ra`a`. Qal imperfect with the 3mp suffix. The Greek translation (LXX) did not have a clear understanding of the Hebrew text and took the radicals to be the verb that means to rule or shepherd. That is incorrect.

8.6.2.   “You shall shatter them.” Shatter is 5310  נָפַץ naphatz, piel imperfect with 3 mp suffix.

8.6.3.   The nations/the ends of the earth (verse 8)/them/them (verse 9)” are the objects. These are the Gentile powers of the world.

8.6.4.   “with the rod of iron” refers to a scepter of iron. The scepter pictures authority, and the iron indicates great power.

8.6.5.   This may indicate present time local domination for the various Davidic kings, but the world wide domination by the Son King seems to go beyond the present king and kings to the final Son King, Jesus Christ. He will be the completely faithful Son King.

8.6.6.   New Testament Scripture that fills in details about the Son King as the future world wide ruler includes Matthew 24:29-51, 25:31-46, and Revelation 19:11-21.

8.6.7.   Old Testament Scripture that fills in details about the Son King as the future world wide ruler includes

9.     Comments on section 4, verses 10-12. Therefore, the Psalmist warns the heathen kings and judges to worship Yahweh and submit to his Son King to avoid judgment and to gain blessing (10-12). Note the verbs in 10-12. We have imperative commands: show discernment, take warning, worship, rejoice, do homage (kiss).

9.1.          Verse 10 warns the kings (4428 מֶלֶךְ, melek) and judges (8199 שָׁפַט shaphat) to listen and obey the message of the Psalm.

9.1.1.   Verse 10, show discernment. 7919 שָׂכַל sakal Hiphil imperative masculine plural. The basic meaning is to be prudent. In the hiphil, to give attention to, ponder, consider, have insight and comprehension. The Psalmist  tells the kings to pay attention, think about the decree, and get the point. Yahweh is in charge.

9.1.2.   Verse 10, take warning 3256 יָסַר  yasar niphal imperative mp. The verb means to discipline, chasten, admonish. In the niphal it means to let oneself be corrected.

9.2.          Verse 11 commands the kings and judges to worship Yahweh and to rejoice. Both acts are hedged around with statements that remind them and us that Yahweh is God and King and we need to keep his greatness in mind. Though he is our God and Heavenly Father, we do not trifle with him or treat him casually.

9.2.1.   Verse 11, worship 5647 עָבַד  `abad qal imperative mp. Note that worship is “with reverence.” The word ‘abad means to work, to serve, to do, to make. It is used for serving others and for serving God (Exodus 3:12; 4:23; 7:16; Job 21:15). The kings are to serve God in a religious sense, to obey him and reverence him. This is the highest sense of service.

9.2.2.   Verse 11, the word translated “reverence” is the noun 3374 יִרְאָה yir’ah, the word used in “fear of the Lord.” It could be translated “worship Yahweh in fear.” Fear of the Lord is the learned, volitional, faith commitment to the Lord.        Old Testament examples of “fear” or “reverence” are Exodus 20:20, 2 Chronicles 19:9, Job 28:28, Proverbs 1:7, Isaiah 11:2 and 3,  and others.        New Testament examples of “fear, phobos” of the Lord, of God, of Christ include Acts 9:31, Romans 3:18, 2 Corinthians 5:11, 2 Corinthians 7:1, Ephesians 5:21.

9.2.3.   Verse 11, rejoice 1523 גִּיל giyl qal imperative mp, with trembling 7461  רְעָדָה  râadah (Exodus 15:15; Psalm 55:5). Note the balance. Rejoice with trembling is not an emotional high. There is rejoicing but rejoicing with the knowledge that one is in the presence of God.

9.3.          Verse 12, the blessing of submission. Who would be angry? Yahweh would be angry if the kings did not submit to his Son King.

9.3.1.   Verse 12, do homage to the son. The verb is 5401 נָשַׁק, nashaq piel imperative mp, to kiss. To kiss one’s hand or foot shows respect and recognition of authority. This verb is found 38 times in the Hebrew text. The word is used for affection, for respect, and even for the meaning “touch.” The use for affection is found in Genesis 33:4 where Esau ran and met Jacob and kissed him, in Song of Solomon 1:2, and others. Genesis 41:40 has it in the Joseph story after Joseph revealed the meaning of the Pharaoh’s dream about the sleek and the lean cows. It is translated in the NASB “do homage.” David kissed Barzillai out of respect for him in 2 Samuel 19:39. Samuel kissed Saul out of respect in 1 Samuel 10:1. Ezekiel 3:13 has the idea of touching—the wings of the living creatures touching each other.        The versions have varying translations. The LXX completely misses the Hebrew. It says, “seize or take the hand of the child,” probably because they did not have the Hebrew vowels or their understanding of the Hebrew was poor at this point.

9.3.2.   The object, “son” is the Aramaic word bar. Why the Aramaic? Probably because the kings were Gentiles. They likely spoke Aramaic and this is a way to jar the reader to remember that Gentile kings are told to submit to and worship the Son King. For those looking at commentaries and other translations, the Massoretic Text, “kiss the son,” is the best text reading.

9.3.3.   The anger and wrath are directed against rebels who refuse to submit to Yahweh and his Son King. God is the ultimate judge. Everyone must answer to his evaluation, whether king, judge, general, worker, housewife, doctor, lawyer, teacher, slave, or whomever. It does not pay to flaunt Yahweh and his Son King.

9.3.4.   Verse 12, “how blessed” 835 אַשְׁרֵי  ’esheray is the plural construct. The word means happiness, blessedness (Psalm 119:1). Blessing and happiness always comes with fellowship and obedience and submission to God and God’s Son King.

9.3.5.   Verse 12, take refuge. 2620 חָסָה chasah, Qal participle masculine plural construct. The word means to seek refuge or a place of protection and calm. See Isaiah 14:32; 57:13; Psalm 5:12; 17:7; 36:8; 2 Samuel 22:31.

9.3.6.   Refuge in the king, and especially in the one Son King, Jesus, produces blessing. He is the creator, king of Israel, Messiah, savior, head of the church, and coming ruler and judge.

10. Summary:

10.1.      The Davidic kings are appointed by God based upon his covenant with David. They are not all good kings, but God has chosen the line of David to provide the kings for Israel.

10.2.      Gentile leaders plan and attempt to wage war against Yahweh and his messianic kings. They refuse to have God rule over them. They reject God, his king, his word, his people, and his savior. This rebellion will find its final form in rebellion against the final and perfect Son King, Jesus Christ.

10.3.      Rebellious Gentile kings and judges delude themselves. The Lord (adonay) laughs and scoffs at them. They cannot succeed. No one can defeat God.

10.4.      The final Son King, Jesus Christ, will at a future point in history, ask and receive from Yahweh-Adonay the nations and the entire earth as his inheritance. Because it is his inheritance he will dramatically and completely break the rebellion.

10.5.      The only way to avoid defeat and judgment by God is to learn God’s plan and God’s sovereignty from Scripture, worship Yahweh, and submit to his Son King.

10.6.      Every king and judge, and all people, who place their faith (refuge) in the Son King will find blessing and happiness because they are protected by the Son King.

10.7.      The message to those in national authority and leadership is threefold:

10.7.1.           Think straight and take God’s correction—be teachable by God’s word.

10.7.2.           Serve Yahweh, reverently and happily, from their position of authority—God conscious in one's duties. Yahweh is the only God.

10.7.3.           Accept God’s Son, Messiah Jesus Christ, and honor him. This begins with faith in Messiah Jesus Christ to forgive one’s sins and grant eternal life. Faith is the inner conviction that what God has said is true.

11. This Psalm is part of the exegetical or biblical basis for many biblical doctrines, some of which include

11.1.      The attacks on Israel are at their root attacks on Yahweh and his king.

11.2.      Israel’s has a God given unique and protected status under God.

11.3.      God will, when all is said and done, defeat the  people, rulers, and nations who reject him and Israel.

11.4.      God has his unique and final Messiah Son King who will finally and completely defeat all people, nations, and powers who oppose God and God’s Son King.

11.5.      This final Messianic (Millennial-New Testament word) Kingdom is part of the Son King’s inheritance.

11.6.      The final Messiah Son King will rule from Jerusalem.

11.7.      We can have confident expectations and hopes about the future because God has his plan.

11.8.      Other Scripture teaches that the final and perfect Messiah Son King is Jesus Christ.

12. Applications or so what?

12.1.      The biblical God is in control of history, not generals or dictators or prime ministers or presidents or parliaments or congresses. Jesus Christ is his son king and Israel is his earthly nation. The world will be at war of various kinds until the Messiah comes to rule. No king, dictator, Prime Minister, President, or any other person will solve the political, social, economic, or spiritual desires of mankind. When we see and hear news events, we need to remember this. The events of history over the last 3500 years have demonstrated this for us. Read the news through the Bible.

12.2.      Biblical prophecy does matter. It is God’s future history. When we study prophecy, we need to be biblical, not sensational, and not speculative.

12.3.      Just as the message to those in national authority and leadership is threefold, so we all can make the same kind of application in our lives.

12.3.1.         Think straight and take God’s correction—be teachable by God’s word.

12.3.2.        Serve Yahweh, reverently and happily, in whatever we do. Most of us are not kings or in national leadership. But, we still serve Yahweh. We continually live with God—Yahweh—in our thoughts.

12.3.3.        If we have never trusted God’s Son, Messiah Jesus Christ, to forgive us and grant us eternal life, we must begin there. The only way to honor the son must begin by faith in him. Faith is the inner conviction that what God has said is true. Following faith in the Son, we then obey the Son.

12.3.4.  Every person who honors the Son King by faith in him, and then obeys him in life can take refuge in him. To take refuge is to trust him to work his will and to protect from the judgment that is coming.