Praying the Psalms: Psalm 2

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer.

“And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “ ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’” (Acts 13:32–33, ESV)

We are hard wired for a King. God has designed us is to long for a good and just ruler to bring victory. Although it is hard to recognize in a democratic society, there is still great evidence that human beings naturally long for a King. Consider our love for celebrities, our passionate cheering for our sports teams, or the messianic anticipation we put on political leaders to bring justice and change. Each reveal that within the deep recesses of the human heart we long to rejoice in the fame of the victory of a King who brings true justice and change.

Psalm 2 is what is classified as a royal Psalm. It is a psalm about the royal line of Israel and the celebration of God’s blessing on the line of David. This psalm might have been used at the coronation of a King of Judah. However, as we look at Psalm 2 through the revelation of Jesus Christ, we see how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises God has made both to Abraham and to David. Jesus is the begotten of God who rules and reigns over the earth.

Commentary

v. 1–3. The world naturally revolts against the Lord’s anointed. God’s kingdom is continually being questioned and attacked by the nations. The starting question here is one that is always on the minds of God’s people. “Why do the nation rage and the peoples plot in vain?” Why does the world resist the reign and rule of God’s chosen king? As we look at the world all around us the world seems to be conspiring against God. Their sinful prideful hearts refuse to be ruled by another. The wicked want the autonomy that comes with independence. They refuse to submit to the true King. As a result, they conspire together against the anointed one of the Lord. Like wild horses they refuse to submit to the will of the rider.

The Christian must never forget that this world is in rebellion against God. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes, and there is great need for a righteous King. The struggle throughout the whole bible has been between the offspring of God and the offspring of the serpent. Since sins entrance into the world there has only been two sides to take – the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light. There is no third way. As the nations continue to rage against one another they also rage against God. In violence, deceit, oppression, and murder they force their own way while rejecting the rule of the anointed of God.

v. 4–5. The second stanza is a foil of the previous one. While the nations are raging below, God above is laughing. Their efforts of rebellion are laughable to him. It is a war they cannot win. For God is God over the universe. He holds the nations like a drop in the bucket. Even the mightiest of empires and the vilest violence of earthly kings are but a bucket of water to kick over. The people’s plotting is no threat to God. Rather, He sits above and speaks to them in anger. God’s just wrath comes out for his mouth, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

God’s solution to the raging of the peoples of the earth is to set a King above them. However this isn’t just any King. God is going to place this king as ruler over ever kingdom of the earth. God is going to squash the rebellion of humanity.

This is important for us to remember as we see the wicked revolting in the world this very day. Justice will be had. God’s wrath will be poured out. Justice will come by his mighty right hand through the anointed of the Lord. No matter how dark it might get in our age, the Lord will come to execute justice – justice administered by this king.

v. 7–9. In this stanza the anointed king of God opens his mouth. He speaks of the divine decree of God, a decree which is fixed by His will. “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” The Davidic King is established by God himself. He is the son of God, and begotten by Him. 2 Sam 7:14 tells us that God is going take the son of David as His own son. The promise God makes to the Davidic dynasty is fixed by the decree of God.

As we look through the lens of the New Testament, we see clearly how this son of David is the son of God. Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises God made to the line of David and Jesus is the true son. As a result, he receives all the privileges outlined in this royal Psalm. He will receive the nations as his inheritance. He will own the ends of the earth as his possession. He is the one filled with the power of God to shatter his enemies like a steel rod against a clay pot. This son of God will rule over everything. All the earth will be under his reign and rule. Those who rebel and reject his reign, he will destroy.

v. 10–12. The last stanza turns back our attention to the nations raging and their kings. The psalmist gives them some counsel in light of God’s rule through His son. They are told to be wise and be warned. The conspiring nations are up against a force they do not realize. For as they conspire against the Lord’s anointed, they conspire against the Lord himself. The nations are called to serve and fear the Lord. The nations of the earth are called to recognize the anointed of the Lord as Lord over all. They are urged to kiss the son as a sign of their submission to him and their loyalty. If they do no recognize the rule of the King then his anger and wrath will destroy them. Yet, for those who recognize his divine authority and love him, they will be blessed as they take refuge in the true King. Our eternity is decided by our relationship to the King. If it is one of rebellion it will be our eternal ruin. If it is one of love and fear, then it will be for our eternal blessing.

Gospel Application. As we think about Psalm 2, it is easy to see Jesus as the fulfillment. In fact the early church saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this Psalm and it is even quoted directly in the opening of Hebrews (Heb 1:5) and referred to later on in the book describing him as the appointed Kingly high priest of God in the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:5). It is also referenced by Paul in Antioch seeing Jesus as the direct fulfillment of Psalm 2 (Acts 13:33). For Paul, just as Psalm 2 was probably sung at the coronation of a new King, Jesus coronation was at his resurrection. He has ascended to his throne and reigns and rules even now.

Jesus is the king over all. He is coming again with all divine authority to bring about his kingdom in total. As we wait for the full arrival of the kingdom of God, we do so knowing that the raging and plotting of the wicked is futile. Yes, the kingdom of darkness might have moments of brief victory, but their destruction is fixed. The wicked may win a skirmish here or there, but the war is lost. Every human being must decide, “Will I live in the blessedness and forgiveness of the King or will I resist, rebel, and be crushed by Him?” Those who take refuge in Jesus will be blessed, because he is the shelter from the wrath of God as he takes it on himself on the cross. By the blood of Jesus he provides not only victory but peace for those who trust Him and live under his benevolent rule.

Prayer Guide

  • Pray longing for the Kingdom of God to come. Pray in anticipation longing for Jesus’ return. Pray that God’s “kingdom would come and his will be done”.
  • Thank God in your prayers that as a just God he will not allow the wicked to go unpunished.
  • Praise God for sending the King that our broken world needs.Thank God for Jesus the King that both brings the Father Glory and you refuge.
  • Ask God to help you serve Jesus with both fear and joy.
  • Confess areas of your life that you struggle to submit to Jesus. What areas is he not Lord over? Take some time in your prayers to “Kiss the son”, showing both love and devotion to him.