Bible Studies on the Messianic Psalms
Psalm 2 Bible Study: The Current Rebellion & The Coming King
by I Gordon
The more I've studied the Messianic Psalms the more I've been amazed at the revelation given within them. Hopefully we shall see some of that. There are approximately 20 Psalms that are Messianic - that is, they speak of the Messiah Jesus. I'll be picking and choosing a bit with the ones that speak to me but they are all awesome when you start to dig. So let's start where any half decent study of the Messianic Psalms needs to start. That is, in the book of... Luke!
Like the two on the road to Emmaus, the disciples were in a state of shock and confusion following the crucifixion. The Messiah had been killed! 'We followed Him' they would have thought. 'We placed all our hope in Him? How was it that He could die?' Then there were the reports that the tomb was empty! 'Empty? What does all that mean?' And then Jesus entered the room... Alive from the dead! And listen to what He said:
Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. ( Luke 24:44-47 )
He told them that everything that has happened was all according to plan. His life, death and resurrection are foretold in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms! So we see here that the Psalms can be prophetic in nature and speak of the Lord Jesus as well. So with this in mind, let's start with the first Messianic Psalm... Psalm 2.
The first Messianic Psalm: Psalm 2 - An overview
Psalm 2 is quoted 7 times in the New Testament  and each quote concerns the Lord Jesus. It doesn't say who wrote Psalm 2, but when Peter quotes from it in Acts 4:25-27 he says it was a Psalm of David's. Peter quoted this Psalm in Acts 4 concerning the uprising and rejection/crucifixion of Jesus at His first coming to show how both Jews and Gentiles combined to conspire against Jesus. And if you know about the travesty of justice that was the trial of Jesus, you would absolutely agree that this Psalm has a fulfilment in the events leading up to the death of Jesus Christ. But it is more than that. When you read it all you see that it extends much further out and you find that what started with His rejection at the first coming has its ultimate fulfilment at the end of the age leading up to His second coming.
Now, it is remarkable for many reasons. Not least of which is that it speaks of the Messiah, giving Him three titles:
- 'The Anointed' - same Hebrew word as used in Daniel 9:26 where it translated as 'Messiah'.
- 'My King' - In verse 6 Yahweh, God the Father, calls Him 'My King'. This is not surprising for the Messiah was always to rule and reign! But here is something surprising...
- 'My Son' - In verse 7 Yahweh calls Him 'My Son'. God has a Son? Now this shouldn't be new revelation for us but this is a 3000 year old Psalm of David! Even today Islam totally rejects the fact that God has a Son yet here we are, as far back as 3000 years ago where the Almighty God talks about My Son, My King, the Anointed One, the Messiah.
Another remarkable aspect is that the 12 verses of this Psalm are split evenly into 4 sections of 3 verses each and each section has a different speaker! So by the end of this Psalm we will have heard from the world, God the Father, the Messiah Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Not bad for 12 verses!
The World speaks and shows their true colours (vs. 1-3)
Psalm2:1 'Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing?
In the first three verses we see and hear from the world. The Psalm starts with an earthly scene. It is a scene of uproar. The word for uproar gives the image of a mob, raging, ready to throw off all authority and take control themselves. And they are 'devising' something - that is, they are imagining, meditating on and plotting something. They are imagining some kind of scheme, meditating on how they can achieve it, and then plotting and devising ways in which they can action this scheme and pull it off. At this stage we don't know what this scheme involves. All we know is that the Heavenly decree upon this plotting is that it is 'a vain thing'. In other words, it is completely, utterly and hopelessly futile. The NIV translates this passage slightly differently saying 'Why do the nations conspire?' They conspire. That sums up the same thought we have with 'devising' and 'plotting' schemes. There is a conspiracy afoot!  The rulers and nations do conspire and they do rage. But raging at what exactly? Conspiring against whom exactly?
Little 'kings' conspire against the true King!
Psalm 2:2-3 ''he kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!"
The conspiracy going on in the world is against Almighty God and against His Messiah. This reminds me of the parable Jesus told concerning Himself saying "A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return... But his citizens hated him  and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' ( Luke 19:12-14 )
So remember that these first three verses in Psalm 2 are the views of the world at Jesus' first coming and progressively increasing leading up to His second coming. Here we have their words that express their heart. Here is what is behind the rage and conspiring - "Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!" In a nutshell, they don't want restraints. They don't want rights and wrongs. God has given moral laws in His word for the benefit of humanity. He has given marriage between a man and a woman for the welfare of society. Yet God's rules are seen here as "fetters" and "cords" to the world. A fetter is a chain or manacle used to restrain a prisoner, typically placed around the ankles. This is how the commands of God are seen to this world. The world simply wants to do what they want to do. 'Stop questioning whether I should be doing that!', 'Why should I listen to your old fashioned ideas about laws and morality dictated by some magic man in the sky'. They don't want to have to answer or be accountable to any higher power. 'Let us tear these fetters apart!' Listen to what an Atheist, wrote in his book: 'We no longer feel ourselves to be 'a guest in someone else's home and therefore obliged to make our behaviour conform to a set of pre-existing cosmic rules. It is our creation now. We make the rules. We establish the parameters of reality. We create the world, and because we do, we no longer feel beholden to outside forces. We no longer have to justify our behaviour, for we are now the architects of the universe. We are responsible to nothing outside ourselves, for we are the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever.' Atheist Jeremy Rifkin, Algeny, p. 244.
Hmmm.... well, good luck with that!
Real reason for the rejection of God
What is behind this move to break free and rebel against God? Is it based on some new wisdom or intelligence? Is it based on a recent scientific discovery? No. Even a simple man can understand that creation demands a creator and design demands a designer. No, the rejection and rebellion against God  is not intellectually motivated. It is moral. It is the heart of man.
"This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.' For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. ( John 3:19-20 )
As Ray Comfort has said (probably commentating on this verse) 'The more a nation gets into darkness, the more it's going to hate the light. The more it's going to run from the light. And we have a generation of people who have given themselves to darkness, and they've embraced atheism, because it gets them away from moral responsibility to God.' As has also been well said, 'An atheist can't find God for the same reason that a thief can't find a policeman.'
Almighty God Speaks (vs. 4-6)
Psalm 2:4 'He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.'
Verses 4-6 introduce a new speaker. We've heard from the world. More than enough! Now we hear from Almighty God and see His reaction. Firstly, this united opposition is, to God, laughably pathetic! And here is the reason why - The word 'Lord' in verse 4 is the Hebrew name 'Adonai' - This designation points to the supreme authority and power of God. It portrays the one who controls and works out all things according to His will. ( Eph 1:11 ) This is the one that mankind, like little ants, are trying to oppose and break free from.
The Bible Believers commentary sums it up nicely when it says of this verse: ' He will mock their clenched fists and fiery slogans. Their boasts and threats are the squeaks of a mouse against a lion!' This rebellion is about on that level to God. But it doesn't continue with just laughter however.
Psalm 2:6 "But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain."
We've heard from the world that they want to throw off all accountability to God. They want to call the shots. Well, we see here that God's laughter will eventually be replaced with anger. The lamb will be replaced with a lion and the cross replaced with a crown. Mankind may want to be the kings and masters of their own destiny but God reminds them here, in His anger, that He has His King. And no other King will do! 'Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him! We have no king but Caesar' was the cry 2000 years ago. It's a similar cry today in the Western world and it will, unfortunately, only increase as we approach the return of Jesus Christ. But God has His King! And He will install this King, the Messiah Jesus, upon Zion in Israel.
Where are we in human history now? We are in verses 1-4. We have not hit verse 5 in human history yet. The wrath of God currently is the wrath of abandonment. God withdraws. He removes His hand of protection and restraint and allows people, societies and nations to reap what they oh so love to sow. Verse 5, with the fury of God, is not upon us yet. But it will follow as sure as night follows day. And verse 6 will follow that.
The Messiah Speaks (vs 7-9)
Psalm 2:7 "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'
In the last verse we saw the declaration of the Father that He would install His Son upon Zion. Here we see the response and testimony of Jesus Christ as He proclaims that which His Father has spoken to Him. Namely, that He is the Son of God. This decree is spoken of in the New Testament as it relates to Jesus' resurrection ( Acts 13:33-34 , Rom 1:4 , Heb 1:5 ) but the open manifestation of this awaits His return. It is (finally!) on that day that the nations will see the Son of God manifested in all His glory. The One that they thought they had done away with 2000 years ago... He is alive and will show Himself! This is the Son of God that even death could not hold! This is the Son of God that was prophesied thousands of years ago to rule and reign over planet earth!
Isaiah 9:6-7 'For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. '
Psalm 2:8-9 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 'You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall shatter them like earthenware.'
Verse 8 is sometimes popular with mission societies. 'Ask of me and I will give the nations as your inheritance.' It's often quoted and used for Christians to ask the Lord to give us the nations. But in its context, and when you examine who is speaking to whom, we see it's the Lord Jesus telling what the Father had told Him. The entire earth and all the nations upon it will come under the authority of the Son of God. On earth, a son has an inheritance from his father and this is the inheritance of God the Father to His Son Jesus: The entire earth and the nations thereof. What is it that Jesus has to do for this to be accomplished? Only this - He simply needs to ask the Father! This event is described in Daniel chapter 7:
Daniel 7:13-14 'In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. '
The timing of this event brings us to the seventh and last trumpet in the Book of Revelation.
Revelation 11:15 'the seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.' '
The coming shattering
Psalm 2:9 'You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'
Here we have a picture of rule of Christ having crushed man's earthly kingdoms. This thought is brought out in Nebuchadnezzar's dream which Daniel relates to the king saying:
"You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them, then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. ( Dan 2:34-35 )
The Call of the Holy Spirit (vs. 10-12)
We have heard from the world. We have heard from the Father. We have heard from the Son. Here, we hear from the Holy Spirit through the Psalmist. And what is the message? It is a call for repentance and reconciliation.
Psalm 2:10-12 'Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. (11) Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. (12) Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!'
In reading these final verses from the Holy Spirit, it is worth pondering some of the practical points that we can take from this passage and chapter.
1. We should not give up speaking and praying
In light of all that has been said, the Holy Spirit's call is to come, bow down, and take your position at the feet of the King. Worship the Lord with reverence. Do homage to the Son lest you perish in the way. Despite all the rebellion of mankind that this Psalm has spoken of... despite all the conspiring to break free from God and do things their own way... despite all the rage in the heart of man that continually shakes it fist at God... Despite it all, God has not given up on them yet. He desires that no one should perish. Thus we see the Holy Spirit still calling out to them in this passage as He still does to the hearts of men today. He calls to mankind to repent, to return to the true way and be reconciled to God. Therefore, we should not give up either.
2. We also have a huge need for discernment
'Therefore, O kings, show discernment...' As the world tries to cut free from God, so goes its ability to discern right from wrong. As Christians, we too need discernment to distinguish the thoughts and desires of the world from the thoughts and desires of God. That's a whole message in itself, but we are to be people of the word of God, not people of the world. There is a lot of pressure on the 'Church' to start changing what it believes, what it teaches, to make it more acceptable to the latest fashions of thought in this world. This verse could just as easily be a reminder to us today saying 'Therefore, O my people, show discernment!'
3. Make sure the Lord Jesus is in His rightful place in your life
'Do homage to the Son' or 'Kiss the Son'... This follows on from the previous point. Homage means 'reverence, respect, honour'. It shows the need to have the Lord Jesus in His right place in your life. He is the Son of God. The Messiah. The King of Kings. Your Creator and Redeemer. Have reverence, respect and honour for the Son despite living in a world that hates and largely rejects Him.
4. Hope. How blessed are all those who take refuge in Him!
Despite all the craziness that is, despite all the craziness that will come, never give up hope! It has all been foretold and there is a glorious future for the people of God. Can you remember when the 2 men on the road to Emmaus lost hope? Jesus came along side them and asked what they were talking about. They said: ' The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. '
They were really sad. Their dreams had been crushed. The one they thought was the Messiah had been killed! What did Jesus do? He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. ( Luke 24:25-27 ) Though the situation looked hopeless, it was still part of the plan of God.
'Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.'
To those who stubbornly will not believe, Jesus is a rock and stone that causes them to stumble. But to those who do believe, God is preparing His Kingdom, and, most certainly, we 'will not be disappointed!'