Psalm 2:7-12 - The Rule of Messiah
Read Psalm 2:7-12
The rule of King David is certainly praised in this Psalm. This King David was as a Son to the God of Israel. His rule was established by Jehovah and his kingdom was spread farther and farther.
However, those who believe that this Psalm speaks exclusively of David and his rule over Israel will find many parts of this song very difficult to interpret. We must not lose sight of the fact that although the Psalm speaks of David's reign it goes beyond it to the reign of Jesus Christ.
In these verses One is now introduced who has not spoken before. The Son now speaks. He speaks about the decree of God, about the things which underlie His assumption of Kingship. God is the One who has made or anointed Him king. There are many things found in this seventh verse which are difficult to understand. We speak of "the eternal generation of the Son" and this seems to be a passage which might well be used as a proof-text. However, that kind of a decree does not seem to be in the foreground here. "This day have I begotten thee" — what does this mean? Does this contradict the eternal generation of the Son? Or does this speak of the day that God had anointed Him to be king over His people?
Although there are many questions which come to our minds in considering this verse, various things are made perfectly clear. God is speaking to His Son! He is addressing His own Son! The critical question concerning the Christ is: "Whose Son is He?" Here this question is already answered. Let no one have the idea that the Messiah stands in a relation to God which is less than a Father-Son relationship. God has not spoken in this way even concerning the angels (Hebrews 1:5).
The relationship which the Messiah sustains to Jehovah will determine His rule and the obedience He may ask of His subjects. This is the decree which He has heard: "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." The decrees of God stand. Messiah's Sonship is certain. Let all men recognize this fact and they will have taken the first step toward the understanding of His Kingship.
In verses eight and nine the Psalmist continues to quote the words of God addressed to the Son. God tells Him that He needs only to ask and He will be given the various nations, even those in the uttermost part of the earth. No one shall be able to stand before Him. This was not experienced by David. He extended the borders of Israel, but not to the uttermost parts of the earth. No one shall be able to stand to David. But, the Son of God Who is going to reign will be so much greater than David that David will call Him Lord (Psalm 110). His kingdom shall cover the earth. That rule is His for the asking! God is the One Who is able to give Him the nations. Later, when the Messiah comes, Satan tempts Him and promises to give Him all the kingdoms of this world — which are not his to give! God will withhold nothing from His Son.
We must realize that these words are not spoken as a remote possibility. The Christ's significance will be global! All nations shall own His sway. The people from the farthest regions of the world will bring homage.
Power to Destroy
The kind of rule which He will exercise over the various nations and peoples is one that might not have been expected. When one thinks of the rule of the Christ, one thinks of a very beneficent rule — one that is marked by love to all those who have been made subject to Him. However, an entirely different note is sounded in verse nine. "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Does He rule to destroy? Here the destructive character of His rule is pictured in unmistakable terms.
It must be borne in mind that He is speaking of the nations and the peoples who do not know the Christ. His rule must not be mistaken for one of weakness, but as a rule which will demand full and complete obedience. He will have a rod of iron; and the subjects are pictured as potter's vessels. The one is the symbol of the strongest; the other is the symbol of the most fragile. This character of His rule must be clearly seen in order to understand the following words of this Psalm, but also to understand that His rule shall triumph! In the final analysis, no one shall be able to withstand Him. If they mock His invitation, they will not mock His wrath! His rule of grace is most gracious, but His rule of power also knows no bounds. Men must not trifle with the Son!
Summoned to Surrender
The Psalm, however, does not end on the note of the destruction which the Son is able to bring to bear on those who will not listen to Him. Rather, the Psalm ends with an appeal to the kings of the earth to recognize the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
God had charged them with folly in the beginning of this Psalm. The nations rage, they meditate a vain thing. The kings and rulers take counsel which is not based on wisdom, but, rather, on folly. Now, in the closing stanza of this Psalm He calls them to wisdom. "Be wise, O ye kings." Despite the fact that He has been angered by them and that He had laughed at their foolish arrogance, He still calls them to wisdom. "Be instructed, ye judges of the earth." The same individuals are meant. The kings were also the judges in the times in which this Psalm was written. Let these, who are the exalted men of the earth, kings and judges, be instructed. These are the ones who usually do not believe they need instruction because they believe they have all knowledge and wisdom. He pleads with them to be instructed. If they continue in the way in which they have gone until this time, they will be beaten with that rod of iron and they will be dashed into pieces. Let wisdom prevail! Receive instruction! Come to your senses! They are no match for the One Who is set to reign on the holy hill of Zion! In grace He pleads with them. He does not seek the death of men. He is glorified in this that they repent!
Their repentance will be shown in this that they serve Jehovah with fear. They are called to serve Jehovah! This is fundamental. He is to be feared above all others. He must be acknowledged and they are to humble themselves. His honor must not be given to another. There is no god or potentate who is to be feared and adored besides Jehovah. Be wise — serve God! Be instructed — serve God!
Rejoice with Trembling
The manner in which they are to bring service to Jehovah is also mentioned. He is to be served with fear. They must stand before Him in religious awe. Besides, they are to rejoice with trembling. This certainly is an expression of mingled feelings. There is room for rejoicing when they serve Jehovah, the only true God. A slavish fear is not required. Let them who know Him rejoice in the Lord at all times. But, what is the nature of that joy? Is it a rejoicing like they may have in the experience of various earthly things? No, the rejoicing in God is unique. It is a rejoicing with trembling! How is this possible? Does not the one rule out the other? By no means. Because these two are usually separated today we often find a service of God which does not meet with His approval. Let there be joy, indeed, but, with trembling. Let men realize to Whom they come. Let them realize that they are but men (Psalm 9:20) and that He is God! Then they will rejoice that they are allowed in His presence, but they will come with fear and trembling because they are standing on holy ground.
If the rulers of the nations are wise they will serve Jehovah, but what is their calling regarding the Son Whom He has set to reign on Zion? They must "kiss the Son." They are to show homage to Him. They are to recognize Him as their Superior. He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Let them kiss the Son to show their deep affection for Him. Let them make it clear that they are not simply bringing obedience because there is no other way open, but let them bring obedience in love and devotion to Him!
If they do not kiss the Son, He will be angry and they will perish in the way. This warning He attaches to a refusal to kiss the Son. His wrath will soon be kindled against those who will not have Him to be king over them. Jesus Christ is so often preached as one whose love knows no bounds and who loves where there is no reason to do so. Scripture does not picture Him that way. His love is indeed rich — is beyond human understanding. But, His anger is soon kindled if men do not serve Jehovah and recognize His anointed. He is jealous for His honor.
This Psalm, which has spoken of the raging of the nations and the ultimate victory of Messiah, ends on a beautiful note. This is common in Scripture. The Psalmist says: Blessed are all they that take refuge in him. These are the ones esteemed to be happy, blessed. The power of Messiah is so great that we may well fear. No one will ever be a competitor of His. But, let not that fact cause His people to be afraid of Him. No, they must take refuge in Him. They must take refuge in the One Who has a rod of iron. They must place all their trust on this One Whom men have rejected. And, this is possible. He is the only One Who offers a safe refuge to man. Those who flee to Him for refuge are indeed blessed!
Men honored David in his day, but they could not take refuge in him. This Psalm speaks of David, but it does far more. This word speaks of Jesus Christ, and David is only blessed when he has taken refuge in Him!
Questions for Discussion:
- What is the difference between the Sonship of Christ and our sonship?
- When was the kingdom of Israel extended the farthest? Did it ever encompass the known world of that day?
- Christ shall have dominion everywhere. It is His for the asking. Why doesn't He ask for it?
- Should the "harsh" rule of Christ (vs. 9) be emphasized more today? Why or why not?
- Do we rejoice with trembling? Do we rejoice in Him? Is the rejoicing with trembling much in evidence in fundamentalistic circles?
- Does the church have an obligation today to call on the governments of the nations to acknowledge the Christ as Supreme? Do you think our Fathers had this in mind in their wording of Art. 36 of the Belgic Confession?