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Psalm 2

God’s Promise to His Anointed


Why do the nations conspire,

and the peoples plot in vain?


The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together,

against the L ord and his anointed, saying,


“Let us burst their bonds asunder,

and cast their cords from us.”



He who sits in the heavens laughs;

the L ord has them in derision.


Then he will speak to them in his wrath,

and terrify them in his fury, saying,


“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”



I will tell of the decree of the L ord:

He said to me, “You are my son;

today I have begotten you.


Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,

and the ends of the earth your possession.


You shall break them with a rod of iron,

and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”



Now therefore, O kings, be wise;

be warned, O rulers of the earth.


Serve the L ord with fear,

with trembling 12kiss his feet,

or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;

for his wrath is quickly kindled.


Happy are all who take refuge in him.

7. I will declare, etc. David, to take away all pretense of ignorance from his enemies, assumes the office of a preacher in order to publish the decree of God; or at least he protests that he did not come to the throne without a sure and clear proof of his calling; as if he had said, I did not, without consideration, publicly go forward to usurp the kingdom, but I brought with me the command of God, without which, I would have acted presumptuously, in advancing myself to such fin honorable station. But this was more truly fulfilled in Christ, and doubtless, David, under the influence of the spirit of prophecy, had a special reference to him. For in this way all the ungodly are rendered inexcusable, because Christ proved himself to have been endued with lawful power from God, not only by his miracles, but by the preaching of the gospel. In fact, the very same testimony resounds through the whole world. The apostles first, and after them pastors and teachers, bore testimony that Christ was made King by God the Father; but since they acted as ambassadors in Christ’s stead, He rightly and properly claims to himself alone whatever was done by them. Accordingly, Paul (Ephesians 2:17) ascribes to Christ what the ministers of the gospel did in his name. “He came,” says he, “and preached peace to them that were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” Hereby, also, the authority of the gospel is better established because, although it is published by others, it does not cease to be the gospel of Christ. As often therefore, as we hear the gospel preached by men, we ought to consider that it is not so much they who speak, as Christ who speaks by them. And this is a singular advantage, that Christ lovingly allures us to himself by his own voice, that we may not by any means doubt of the majesty of his kingdom.

On this account, we ought the more carefully to beware of wickedly refusing the edict which he publishes, Thou art my Son. David, indeed could with propriety be called the son of God on account of his royal dignity, just as we know that princes, because they are elevated above others, are called both gods and the sons of God. But here God, by the singularly high title with which he honors David, exalts him not only above all mortal men, but even above the angels. This the apostle (Hebrews 1:5) wisely and diligently considers when he tells us this language was never used with respect to any of the angels. David, individually considered, was inferior to the angels, but in so far as he represented the person of Christ, he is with very good reason preferred far above them. By the Son of God in this place we are therefore not to understand one son among many, but his only begotten Son, that he alone should have the pre-eminence both in heaven and on earth. When God says, I have begotten thee, it ought to be understood as referring to men’s understanding or knowledge of it; for David was begotten by God when the choice of him to be king was clearly manifested. The words this day, therefore, denote the time of this manifestation; for as soon as it became known that he was made king by divine appointment, he came forth as one who had been lately begotten of God, since so great an honor could not belong to a private person. The same explanation is to be given of the words as applied to Christ. He is not said to be begotten in any other sense than as the Father bore testimony to him as being his own Son. This passage, I am aware, has been explained by many as referring to the eternal generation of Christ; and from the words this day, they have reasoned ingeniously as if they denoted an eternal act without any relation to time. But Paul, who is a more faithful and a better qualified interpreter of this prophecy, in Acts 13:33, calls our attention to the manifestation of the heavenly glory of Christ of which I have spoken. This expression, to be begotten, does not therefore imply that he then began to be the Son of God, but that his being so was then made manifest to the world. Finally, this begetting ought not to be understood of the mutual love which exists between the Father and the Son; it only signifies that He who had been hidden from the beginning in the sacred bosom of the Father, and who afterwards had been obscurely shadowed forth under the law, was known to be the Son of God from the time when he came forth with authentic and evident marks of Sonship, according to what is said in John 1:14, “we have seen his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father.” We must, at the same time, however, bear in mind what Paul teaches, (Romans 1:4) that he was declared to be the Son of God with power when he rose again from the dead, and therefore what is here said has a principal allusion to the day of his resurrection. But to whatever particular time the allusion may be, the Holy Spirit here points out the solemn and proper time of his manifestation, just as he does afterwards in these words

“This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

8. Ask of me. Christ, it is true, besought his Father (John 17:5) to “glorify him with the glory which he had with him before the world was;” yet the more obvious meaning is, that the Father will deny nothing to his Son which relates to the extension of his kingdom to the uttermost ends of the earth. But, in this wonderful matter, Christ is introduced as presenting himself before the Father with prayers, in order to illustrate the free liberality of God in conferring upon men the honor of constituting his own Son governor over the whole world. As the eternal Word of God, Christ, it is true, has always had in his hands by right sovereign authority and majesty, and as such can receive no accessions thereto; but still he is exalted in human nature, in which he took upon him the form of a servant. This title, therefore, is not applied to him only as God, but is extended to the whole person of the Mediator; for after Christ had emptied himself there was given to him a name which is above every name, that before him every knee should bow, (Philippians 2:9) David, as we know, after having obtained signal victories reigned over a large extent of territory, so that many nations became tributaries to him; but what is here said was not fulfilled in him. If we compare his kingdom with other monarchies it was confined within very narrow boundaries. Unless, therefore, we suppose this prophecy concerning the vast extent of kingdom to have been uttered in vain and falsely, we must apply it to Christ, who alone has subdued the whole world to himself and embraced all lands and nations under his dominion. Accordingly, here, as in many other places, the calling of the Gentiles is foretold, to prevent all from imagining that the Redeemer who was to be sent of God was king of one nation only. And if we now see his kingdom divided, diminished, and broken down, this proceeds from the wickedness of men, which renders them unworthy of being under a reign so happy and so desirable. But although the ingratitude of men hinders the kingdom of Christ from prospering it does not render this prediction of none effect, inasmuch as Christ collects the dispersed remnants of his people from all quarters, and in the midst of this wretched desolation, keeps them joined together by the sacred bond of faiths so that not one corner only, but the whole world is subjected to his authority. Besides, however insolently the ungodly may act, and however they may reject his sovereignty, they cannot, by their rebellion, destroy his authority and power. To this subject also belongs what immediately follows:

This is expressly stated to teach us that Christ is furnished with power by which to reign even over those who are averse to his authority, and refuse to obey him. The language of David implies that all will not voluntarily receive his yoke, but that many will be stiff-necked and rebellious, whom notwithstanding he shall subdue by force, and compel to submit to him. It is true, the beauty and glory of the kingdom of which David speaks are more illustriously displayed when a willing people run to Christ in the day of his power, to show themselves his obedient subjects; but as the greater part of men rise up against him with a violence which spurns all restraint, it was necessary to add the truth, that this king would prove himself superior to all such opposition. Of this unconquerable power in war God exhibited a specimen, primarily in the person of David, who, as we know, vanquished and overthrew many enemies by force of arms. But the prediction is more fully verified in Christ, who, neither by sword nor spear, but by the breath of his mouth, smites the ungodly even to their utter destruction.

It may, however, seem wonderful that, while the prophets in other parts of Scripture celebrate the meekness, the mercy, and the gentleness of our Lord, he is here described as so rigorous, austere, and full of terror. But this severe and dreadful sovereignty is set before us for no other purpose than to strike alarm into his enemies; and it is not at all inconsistent with the kindness with which Christ tenderly and sweetly cherishes his own people. He who shows himself a loving shepherd to his gentle sheep, must treat the wild beasts with a degree of severity either to convert them from their cruelty, or effectually to restrain it. Accordingly in Psalm 110:5, after a commendation is pronounced upon the obedience of the godly Christ is immediately armed with power to destroy, in the day of his wrath, kings and their armies who are hostile to him. And certainly both these characters are with propriety ascribed to him: for he was sent by the Father to cheer the poor and the wretched with the tidings of salvation, to set the prisoners free, to heal the sick, to bring the sorrowful and afflicted out of the darkness of death into the light of life, (Isaiah 61:1) and as, on the other hand, many by their ingratitude, provoke his wrath against them, he assumes, as it were, a new character, to beat down their obduracy. It may be asked, what is that iron scepter which the Father hath put into the hand of Christ, wherewith to break in pieces his enemies? I answer, The breath of his mouth supplies to him the place of all other weapons, as I have just now shown from Isaiah. Although, therefore, Christ move not a finger, yet by his speaking he thunders awfully enough against his enemies, and destroys them by the rod of his mouth alone. They may fret and kick, and with the rage of a madman resist him never so much, but they shall at length be compelled to feel that he whom they refuse to honor as their king is their judge. In short, they are broken in pieces by various methods, till they become his footstool. In what respect the doctrine of the gospel is an iron rod, may be gathered from Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians, (2 Corinthians 10:4) where he teaches that the ministers of Christ are furnished with spiritual weapons to cast down every high thing which exalteth itself against Christ, etc. I allow that even the faithful themselves may be offered in sacrifice to God, that he may quicken them by his grace, for it is meet we should be humbled in the dust, before Christ stretch forth his hand to save us. But Christ trains his disciples to repentance in such a way as not to appear terrible to them; on the contrary, by showing them his shepherd’s rod, he quickly turns their sorrow into joy; and so far is he from using his iron rod to break them in pieces, that he rather protects them under the healing shadow of his hand, and upholds them by his power. When David speaks, therefore, of breaking and bruising, this applies only to the rebellious and unbelieving who submit to Christ, not because they have been subdued by repentance, but because they are overwhelmed with despair. Christ does not, indeed, literally speak to all men; but as he denounces in his word whatever judgments he executes upon them, he may be truly said to slay the ungodly man with the breath of his mouth, (2 Thessalonians 2:8.) The Psalmist exposes to shame their foolish pride by a beautiful similitude; teaching us, that although their obstinacy is harder than the stones, they are yet more fragile than earthen vessels. Since, however, we do not see the enemies of the Redeemer immediately broken in pieces, but, on the contrary, the Church herself appears rather to be like the frail earthen vessel under their iron hammered the godly need to be admonished to regard the judgments which Christ daily executes as presages of the terrible ruin which remains for all the ungodly, and to wait patiently for the last day, when he will utterly consume them by the flaming fire in which he will come. In the meantime, let us rest satisfied that he “rules in the midst of his enemies.

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