Although not identified here, David is declared to be the author of this Psalm in Acts:
Acts 4:25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
Psa. 2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
“Heathen” is a reference to the Gentile peoples.
“rage” = Violent excitement; eager passion; extreme vehemence of desire, emotion, or suffering, mastering the will.
It would seem that the Psalmist is referencing a time when the Gentiles are eagerly plotting something that is doomed to failure? The next verses define the plan.
Psa. 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Psa. 2:3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
The rulers of the nations are plotting against “Yhwh” and His anointed, the Messiah, Jesus. They are planning a way to be free from His chastisement (according to the Hebrew) and His controlling hand. This is an interesting thought in and of itself. It means that there is a time yet future, since I don’t think this has ever been true in history before (except maybe at the time of the tower of Babel) when the nations of the world have recognized God as the ruling power in the world and have united in an effort to usurp His authority. The most logical reference in my mind would be to the final battle of Armageddon, since the anointed one is going to be placed on the throne as King over the whole earth subsequent to this “vain thing” (v6).
Psa. 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
The One Who dwells in the heavens, the Lord God, will look on them with scorn and mockery. Who do they think they are to think they can overpower Me?
Psa. 2:5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
The Hebrew for the word “speak” includes “to subdue or destroy.” The word “vex” includes the idea of causing fear. The key is that the Lord is going to cause fear and destruction when He responds in anger to the heathen as they attempt to overpower Him.
Psa. 2:6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
In God’s eyes His victory is certain and is declared as already accomplished. He has set His king upon Zion (the temple mount in Jerusalem), the place He has chosen for His throne on earth.
Psa. 2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Now we have the Son, speaking the decree (appointment, commandment) of the Father. It would seem that the Father is declaring the fulfillment of all He had planned for His Son being brought to fruition as He places Him on the throne in Jerusalem as King and Lord.
Psa. 2:8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
“Ask of me” – This was interesting wording to me. It is a father’s joy to bless his child. The Son is aware of the Father’s plan and His place in it. He can ask with confidence and assurance that the Father will delight in fulfilling His desire.
Interestingly, the Hebrew for the word “possession” includes the idea of something seized. The sin of man allowed Satan to take possession as god of this world.
2Cor. 4:4a In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,
Though allowed to continue for the time allotted to accomplish God’s plan of redemption, Jesus will “seize” possession once again when He comes in victory to rule as King and Lord.
Psa. 2:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
At Armageddon the heathen will be thoroughly destroyed like a piece of pottery that has been broken into many tiny pieces.
Psa. 2:10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Psa. 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Psa. 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
“wise” – be circumspect, intelligent, consider, understand
“instructed” – chastened, chastised, corrected, reproved
The Psalmist is closing with words of advice and wisdom for those in positions of authority and judgment. Think carefully on what is about to be said. Let it serve to chasten you and correct your actions.
“Serve the Lord with fear” – This statement implies that the rulers and judges have not been serving the Lord. They have not treated Him with respect. They have not respected His power and authority. The thought of God’s power should cause us to tremble in fear at the thought of ever being disobedient. When we serve the Lord with a proper respect and awe of Who He is, we are in a position to be able to rejoice because we are in a position of fellowship instead of disobedience.
It is really sad and even scary to think of how little fear of God there is in this world and our own nation—and, if we are honest, even in our own lives. If we truly feared God, our actions would certainly be more selfless, loving and God-centered. Our words would be more thoughtful, uplifting, and full of praise to God. If we truly feared God, we would serve Him.
I thought the Hebrew for the word “kiss” was interesting. It included the idea of attachment to and catching fire. This paints a picture to me of one who is extreme in his desire to stay connected to and in fellowship with the Son, Jesus, the King. Why? He has a healthy fear of His power and authority. He doesn’t want to be the recipient of even the smallest expression of God’s wrath.
The last phrase in this Psalm makes an immediate connection to Psalm 1. Happy is the man who places his trust in the Lord. Trust involves expectation of protection and confidence of a place of refuge and safety. How do we get to such a position? By delighting in the Word of God and meditating on it day and night.
The more I read the scripture, the more clearly I see the inspiration of the Holy Spirit throughout it. Why would these thoughts be expressed by David unless they were breathed into him by the Spirit of God? Very little of it seemed to apply to David’s rule as king in Israel. He was aware of his position as God’s anointed King for the nation of Israel, and he did experience attack from the heathen. He was confident of security in his position because he trusted in the power and authority of Almighty God. He did serve the Lord in fear and was able to rejoice because of it. David was prophesying of the time when Jesus would sit in Jerusalem as King over all the earth. Did he understand the significance of what he was saying? I don’t know, but he was obedient to the prompting of the Spirit to record this prophecy.
Oh that the leaders of America would heed the admonition of the Psalmist and serve the Lord with fear. Oh that they would attach themselves with fervor to the Son. Even so, come Lord Jesus.