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The Messianic Psalms – Psalm 2 (part 3)


[Continued from the previous post. (Ed.)]

Four Voices

There are four voices or speakers in Psalm 2: (1) Mankind (kings of the nations) vv. 1–3; (2) God the Father vv. 4–6; (3) God the Son vv. 7–9; (4) God the Holy Spirit vv. 10–12.

These four speakers could be described in the following way:

(1) The Voice of Anarchy vv. 1–3

(2) The Voice of Anger vv.4–6

(3) The Voice of Authority vv. 7–9

(4) The Voice of Admonition vv. 10–12

These divisions are a good way of dividing the psalm and enabling our understanding of its prophetic meaning.

The Voice of Authority—The Rod of Iron

I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel” vv. 7–9.

The Son of God now speaks. It is the voice of authority. This is the third voice in the psalm; the Son speaks of God’s decree with respect to Himself, the decree has two parts: firstly the glory of His Person and secondly the greatness of His kingdom.

“You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” This verse reveals Christ’s Sonship as being born in time (see Lk. 1:35), which is evident from the expression: “today.” Hence the blessed truth of His eternal Sonship,1 as important as that is, is not the point here. When the Lord Jesus was on earth we hear the Father say, “This is My beloved Son” on two different occasions.2 In everything He pleased the Father.

Nathanael, the reluctant disciple, who thought nothing good could come out of Nazareth, confessed Psalm 2: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (Jn. 1:49). Perhaps this Israelite in whom there was no guile had been meditating upon Psalm 2 while he sat under the fig tree.

In the second part of God’s decree, the Son states that He will ask and receive the nations as His inheritance. God has told His Son that at the appropriate time He will ask for this inheritance. When the Lord Jesus was on earth He did not “ask” for the nations or for His “possession” of the earth. He did however “ask”3 for His disciples, and all who believe in Him through their word (see Jn. 17:9; 20). He prayed for His co-heirs that they would be kept (preserved) in the world, and that they would see His glory and share in it. He would gather them out of the world before He asks the Father for the kingdom.4 The timing of when the Lord Jesus will receive the kingdom is hidden in the counsels of God (Acts 1:6–7). He is presently seated at the right-hand of God “waiting” until that time comes (Heb. 10:13). It is worthy of note that Satan tried to tempt the Lord Jesus in this matter (Lk. 4:5–8). However Christ would not receive the kingdoms of this world from the hand of the enemy, or from the hand of man (Jn. 6:15) but only from the Father.

The description of Christ’s millennial reign is straightforward as described here—it will be characterized by the “rod of iron” (“sceptre” JND). This rod or sceptre, because it is iron, is suggestive of imperial strength, it will not be a democracy but a theocratic5 monarchy. Christ’s rule will have absolute sway; those that resist He will “dash to pieces.”

Verse 9 is quoted three times in the Book of Revelation. (1) The “male son” who ascended to God’s throne will rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 12:5). (2) The “King of kings” will come and “smite the nations; and He shall shepherd them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 19:15). Obviously this passage is dealing with Armageddon, the main event which inaugurates the reign of Messiah.  (3) Believers will reign with Christ and they will also wield that “rod of iron” for they will be given “authority over the nations” (Rev. 2:26–27)! What a wonderful promise to believers that we will reign with Christ and that the Holy Spirit uses the same language as was used with Messiah Himself—we rule with the rod of iron.6 This close association of the believers with Christ is one of the main pillars of the Apostle Paul’s doctrine.

The verses of this section of the Psalm are immensely important in understanding eschatology.7 It is really quite wonderful how God’s prophetic purposes are revealed in the Psalms.8 We are used to thinking of the Prophets in this way but the Psalms are highly prophetic as well. God’s King is also God’s Son; God has purposed that He will inherit the nations; Christ will share that rule with His redeemed.9

The Voice of Admonition—Kiss the Son

Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him (vv. 10–12).

The fourth and final voice of the Psalm is an admonition to the rulers of the world to submit to the Son. The “kings” are admonished to serve the Lord and “Kiss the Son.” Blessed are all who put their trust in Him (vv. 10–12)! This call to the kings and judges of the earth is not from the Son, but it is about the Son, it is not from the Father either—He has already spoken in the Psalm. It is from the chronicler or writer of the Psalm and thus we say it is the voice of the Holy Spirit.  

It is quite amazing to see the emphasis upon the Son of God in this Psalm especially when we consider it was written centuries before Christ was born.10 Here the word “son” is the Aramaic word “bar,” whereas in verse 7 the Hebrew word “ben” is used. The first use of Son in this Psalm is a declaration that the Son, Jehovah’s king, would be born into this world and is to inherit all things; the second mention is a call for the rulers of the world to bow before Him—to worship Him. It is an admonition to the kings and rulers of the world to submit to Messiah and to acknowledge His rule and authority over the world; this they will do in the millennial kingdom.11

The final clause of the concluding verse can be understood as a gospel promise—even though addressed to the leaders of the Gentiles. It is universally true however, both now and in the future kingdom: all who trust in Christ will be blessed.  


Endnotes

1.  The Eternal Sonship of Christ is a fundamental truth which is revealed in such passages as John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1. It is of vital importance to hold fast to this truth.

2.  At His baptism and Transfiguration (see Mt. 3 and 17).

3.  “Demand” – JND.

4.  This gathering out of his co-heirs is still continuing and will conclude at the Rapture. .

5.  This means that it will be governed by God’s principles. As a monarchy it will be headed by a king: the Lord Jesus Christ.  

6.  See 1 Corinthians 6:2–3 and Revelation 20:4; these are a few of several passages in the New Testament which reveal this truth. See also Revelation 19 where the “armies in heaven” are described in the same terms as Christ. They had been previously caught up to heaven in the Rapture and now were about to appear with him in glory (Rev. 19:14; cf. Col. 3:4).

7.  “Eschatos” is the Greek word for “last.” Eschatology is the study of “last things”—the end times events of the Bible.

8.  Readers interested in pursuing this should read J. N. Darby’s Synopsis of the Bible Vol. 2 (The Psalms).

9.  Of course the union of Christ and the assembly is not revealed in the Psalm but in the New Testament. The “mystery” of this union was hidden to the Old Testament prophets but revealed in the New (Eph. 3:5–9).

10.  The dating is difficult because the Psalm is anonymous. Conservative scholars say it is probably pre-exilic and written in 1044 on the occasion of Nathan’s promise to David of the messianic kingdom (1 Chr. 17:27). Some modern scholars claim it is post-exilic. We can be certain it was written at least five centuries before Christ.

11.  Some have stated that there is a fulfillment of this when Paul stood before earthly kings like Agrippa and Caesar (Acts 26:19–32). And the prophet Isaiah declares that the kings of the nations “shall consider” Him (Isa. 52:15). But the preaching to kings and rulers in our present dispensation is for the salvation of their souls and not for the ordering of their kingdoms and nations. They will be brought into alignment with Messiah at His appearing in the age to come.  

By Brian Reynolds

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