This is the second in the series of psalms (i-viii), under the heading, MAN and the SON of MAN. Whereas, in Psalm I. we found it to be a psalm of contrast, this psalm might be termed one of opposition. In the former the theme was passive rather than active; it dealt with the differing condition of the godly and the ungodly men, but the latter, we will find deals with the activities of the ungodly and of God.
Like Psalm I., this psalm is divided into two sections and these two sections are complementary. Verses one to nine the setting, the state of affairs, and the outcome in the latter days; verses ten to twelve counsel reconciliation as the result of repentance, although neither of these words appear in the psalm.
These two psalms are closely linked, for are not the Heathen, the Peoples (plural), the kings and the rulers of Psalm II., the ungodly, the sinners and the scornful of Psalm I.? Further, one might say that it was the righteous man of Psalm I. who is asking the question in verses one to three of Psalm II., who then goes on in verses four to seven to make observations on his knowledge of a righteous God and, in verses seven to nine, an understanding of His faithfulness, His omnipotence and His Majesty.
There are two other details that connect these two psalms. The first is that neither has a heading such as Psalm iii. and others following. The second is that the first sentence of Psalm I. begins, "Blessed is the man" and is echoed by the words beginning the last sentence of Psalm II., "Blessed are all they." This second detail is instructive in that Psalm I has revealed to us that the only godly man is God's anointed, but that by putting their trust in the Son, reconciliation can take place, through justification.
The word for Peoples is LEOM and not the more common AM. Its first occurrence is in Genesis xxv., 23, where it is used three times, referring to the descendents of Jacob and Esau. It may be another way of saying Nations or, perhaps, generations. They imagine (HAGAH), the same word as is used in Psalm 1., translated meditate, which means mutter to oneself, turning the matter over and over in one's mind. A vain thing (RIQ), an empty thing, a thing that will surely come to nought, whatever they may do about it.
The kings (MELEK), the heads of state, set themselves (YATSAB), present themselves or take their stand; and the rulers (RAZAN), princes, take counsel (YASAD), literally, lay the foundation or plot among themselves or gather by appointment, against the Lord and His anointed one, saying, Let us break asunder (NATHAQ), draw apart, their bands (MOSER), fetters, and cast away (SHALAK) their cords (ABOTH), translated 'wreathen' of the golden chains that were to be used to join together the ouches in which the stones of the ephod were to be set (Exodus 28:14-25 and 29:15-18).
This is a psalm of David, who himself was the first anointed king, of God by the hand of the Prophet Samuel. He was the man of God's own choice for this position, and so these words are the record of his own experience when he was up against those plotting his downfall; but he, writing in the power of the Holy Spirit, prophesied concerning his greater Son, Jesus Christ, as is shown by the way these words are quoted in Acts 4:25 concerning Him. This is one of the great principles that must be recognised in eschatology. In the first words of verse two one encounters another matter that is most important if one is to understand the Scriptures properly, the recognition of what is meant by the original words. Conclusions arrived at by false translation can but lead to error. The kings of the earth (ERETS), a word that can be translated thus; but only in the sense of ground, an area of soil, be it garden, field, province, country, continent or even the whole habitable globe. The word' world' is deliberately avoided as it is only over a few centuries that it has meant the physical habitable earth.
The context alone is to determine the scope included by the use of the word. The Greek (gE) must be treated in the same way. What in the primary sense may be said only of the land of Israel, and the surrounding countries of David's day becomes world-wide at the time of the end; but is extended only to include the Romans at the period of the Apostles. Those who could be cited of David's day represent the Romans and the rabble who cried 'crucify Him,' Herod and Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas of the gospel story. Let it be noted, however, that in verse 28 we are given the other side of the picture; that though man may propose, it is God who disposes. Those who determined that Jesus should die on the cross in ignominy were being overruled of God to carry out His great and wonderful plan of redemption. Just as the quotation from Isaiah 61:1, 2, is used by the Lord Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth, so is this passage made use of by the disciples, and just as the Lord omitted the remainder of the verse and the following one (see Luke 4:18, 19), even so Peter, John and the rest could not have quoted verses eight and nine. They could, however, have quoted verse seven, but did not. It is quoted by the Apostle Paul (and) the writer of Hebrews later.
A change of aspect now takes place. In spite of all that has been perpetrated by mankind against Him, God here reveals what He is going to do to bring about a change of heart in the race.
"I will declare the (for a) decree." It is not certain whether this phrase refers back to the previous verse or forward to the words "The Lord hath said unto Me." It could be either with meaning.
There is no doubt that in the quotation made use of in Acts 13:33 and the obvious allusion to this passage by the Apostle Paul and whoever the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews was), took the anointing to have been fulfilled in the first Advent and confirmed as so by the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As David was anointed king by command of the Lord at the hand of Samuel and much later by, first, Judah and again, later, by the whole of Israel; so Christ was anointed King of Israel by God at His first Advent, but the acknowledgement of Him as King will have to wait His second coming in glory, when Israel will look upon Him whom they have pierced (Zech. 12:10). This all serves to emphasise the importance of David as the type of Christ.
The heathen (Nations) for thine inheritance; and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. In the case of David this referred to the limits of the land that had been promised to Abram as his possession, "From the River of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (Gen. 15:18). But when great David's greater Son comes in glory to receive His kingdom, it will not be limited to the land, but extend to the whole earth. For thy possession (ACHUZZAH), that which is held fast. Thou shalt break (RAA), do evil or harm to them with a rod (SHEBET), a sceptre, of iron. This indicates unbending authority. When this line is quoted in the N.T. the word break changes its implication considerably into rule (poimainO), which is otherwise translated feed and feed cattle, and thus to provide for, lead cherish and defend; but whichever meaning is used submission is the object. Thou shalt dash (NAPHATS), smash into fragments like a potter's vessel. This evidently is an allusion to the practice of crushing old pottery, in the East, for the manufacture of Oriental cement, but the illustration is used by Isaiah in Is. 30:14 and by Jeremiah in Jer. 19:1, 10, relative to the destruction of Jerusalem, yet for all this Jerusalem will revive and the harsh treatment that spelled, at the time, its doom, turns out in the end to be the way that leads to restoration.
At this point there is a change of address. Those spoken of in verses one, two, three, eight and nine, are now spoken to. They are warned and advised of the best course to take, in order to avoid such harshness and to ensure survival.
Be instructed (YASAR), be chastened, ye judges (SHAPHAT) rulers or magistrates or those in authority who are in a position to do something about the situation, if only they would come to their senses. Serve (ABAD) the Lord with fear (YIRAH), reverence, and rejoice (GIL), jump around, with trembling (READAH). This sentence is difficult to understand. Knox translates it— "Tremble, and serve the Lord, rejoicing in His presence, but with awe in your hearts." Kiss the Son (BAR). This word BAR is not Hebrew but Aramaic. The Hebrew word for Son is BEN and occurs in verse seven. There is no article and it is suggested that the word used is purity and three ancient writers including Jerome render it, "Kiss in purity," i.e., pay sincere homage (to God). Lest He (Jehovah) be angry, or lest He vent His wrath. And ye perish from the way. 'From' is an interpolation. It might be rendered, "Lest ye perish, way (and all). This means 'submit,' in paying sincere homage, lest your way is utterly lost." This conforms to the end of Psalm 1. At the beginning of this study attention was drawn to the close link with Psalm I. This sentence virtually ends the psalm, the final words, however, amplify this link.
"Blessed are all they—that put their trust in Him (Jehovah)." The first Psalm commenced, "Blessed is the man," Thus these two psalms are, as it were bracketed together. Blessed are they that flee for refuge to Him, is another way of putting it.
Having gone through this psalm, analysing its phrases, one cannot but be struck that the psalmist is writing of himself and of his own experiences of adversity and rejection coupled with his looking up to the God of his fathers, the covenant God who gave them the law. He bases his hope for the fulfilment in the fact of his anointing of God, speaks of the promised fulfilment of those hopes and counsels his enemies to submit whilst there is still time and promises to them reconciliation in doing so and blessing. This type in David's life will be amply fulfilled in Christ Jesus at the end of the age.
J.G.H.S. Last updated 15.4.2006