If Psalm 1 teaches is about being blessed, Psalm 2 teaches us about being safe. The last verse of Psalm 2 ties the two together, to imply that true blessedness and being safe in your relationship with God are directly related. Together the two psalms form a very fitting introduction to the Book of Psalms. Taking into account the purpose of the Wisdom Literature, namely living wisely as God’s people, we can conclude that not only does it entails continually meditating on God’s Word, but also living safely before God.
We need to therefore ascertain what it means to enjoy this safety. Psalm 2 starts with the description of what it means to be unsafe. The question “Why?” is not intended to invoke a philosophical answer. Read together with verse 3, it conveys the futility of the nations and its rulers’ rebellion against God. The intention is to say “if you know that you have no chance to compete against the Almighty God, why do you still continue in your rebellion?” Verse 1 indicates their rebellion is in vain.
The Psalmist is not looking for the explanation for their rebellion. In fact, he gives it in verse 3. In poetic language he describes their pride, which leads to their desire to live unshackled from God and His rule. Their proud hearts are darkened to such an extent that they are convinced they will be able to rebel against their Creator and the ultimate and sovereign Ruler of the universe.
This is the ultimate of living foolishly, namely convincing yourself you are safe in your own pride and might. Note the psalmist describes not only the rulers, but also the nations that are foolishly following in their leaders’ rebellious thoughts and actions.
One might ask how they rage and plot in vain. In our secular society, constitutions are drawn up without regarding the principles of God’s Word. Legislation is passed that are God-dishonoring. The building blocks of a sound and healthy nation are broken down, redefined and shoved down the throats of the people who are under their leadership. The citizens accept all of these and follow the guidance of these godless rulers. They vote them into power, grant them authority and accept their opinions without themselves regarding the rule of Scripture. Their lives become testimonies of their godlessness.
This unfortunately flows over into the church. To be politically correct, Christians accept godless principles and leadership, many times under the auspices of the “dignity of humanity”. Scripture is being twisted and contorted to “agree” with their proud and rebellious lies.
But this is all in vain. The end of this rebellion is clear as daylight – God will destroy those who persevere in their rebellion against Him. Their safety is not guaranteed, in fact, they are warned to seek for refuge. They are at a very dangerous place in their relationship to God.
We are firstly told the rebellion is not against God alone, but against Him and His representative (verse 2). Secondly, we are told that it is His representative who will deal with the rebelliousness (verses 5-9). Lastly, we are also told that the representative is the only way to get to safety from the wrath of God (verses 10-12).
Who is this Representative?
In this Psalm he is presented as the Anointed One (verse 2), the King (verse 6) and the Son (verse 7, 12). All three of these describe the same person. They are all expressions in Israel that point to the ruler who sits on the throne as God’s anointed king over His people. He was regarded to have a very special relationship with God, therefore he was also known as God’s son. He was to be the embodiment of God’s rule over His people, cherishing and upholding God’s laws in all his decisions and actions.
As the anointed, he had the authority of God to perform his duties. When Samuel anointed David as king, God set David apart to be His ruler over His people. However, it was only years later that David would also be recognized by the people as their king. This does not mean he was not God’s anointed up to that time.
As the king, he held the scepter to enforce God’s laws in the land. The wise king would meditate on God’s laws and apply them. He would subdue rebellion and resistance as God’s representative. He would break the power of enemy forces and so rule over them under the guidance of God’s law. 1 Samuel 2:10 highlights this beautifully:
The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.”
As the son he was the embodiment of the ideal relationship with God. The relationship would therefore be a Father, i.e. God, and son, i.e. the king, relationship. He is therefore the one who could avoid punishment and show mercy, because he was the one who knew God his Father as a merciful and loving Father. He was therefore pivotal in restoring relationship with God between the people and their Maker.
But, the earthly king was the archetype of God’s Messiah, the Anointed One, the Ultimate King who was promised to sit on the throne of David for eternity (2 Samuel 7) as the Eternal Son. Psalm 2 is therefore also known as one of the Messianic psalms, pointing explicitly to God’s Anointed Son, the true Messiah, Christ Jesus.
The Apostle Paul picks up on this. In Acts 13:33 he references Psalm 2:7 as a prophetic word about Jesus and His resurrection to life. In the letter to the Hebrews the writer uses this verse to assert the supremacy of Christ over the angels (Hebrews 1:5). In the same letter it is used as a reference to Christ as the one appointed to be High Priest (Hebrews 5:5). In the first days of Christ’s public ministry, these three aspects came beautifully together. At His baptism, the Spirit of God descended on Him to designate Him as the Anointed One. The Father spoke from heaven to declare Him as His beloved Son. And the first message of Christ was “Repent, for the Kingdom of God has come”.
The Messiah-King will deal with rebelliousness
Psalm 2 states that the rebelliousness is against God and the Christ, God’s Anointed King. It is Christ who deals with this rebelliousness. Verse 9 explains the downfall of those who set themselves up against God and His King. They will be broken and dashed to pieces. There is no way to stand in the day of His judgement.
Many think of this day as if it is a pie in the sky, a fanciful idea that religious people made up as some sort of a comfort or scare tactic. But Scripture speaks clearly about this moment in history and it will be the day that the Anointed King will shatter the might of His enemies and they will experience the anger, the wrath and the eternal punishment for their rebellion.
When Christ ascended into heaven, he proclaimed all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him (Matthew 28:16-18). He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father from where He now reigns and from where He will subdue all enemies under His feet (Psalm 110:1).
Now the nations rage and the rulers plot in vain, they counsel together to uproot the authority of God over them, but His Anointed one, His King will break them into pieces and bring their rebellion to nothing.
This is the warning of Psalm 2. Rebellion and foolishness will come to nothing. There is no comfort or security in them. On the surface the perceived independence and power might seem to bring joy, but in the end all will be shattered to pieces by God’s Anointed King.
The Son who brings safety
Even though the Psalm contains this very real warning, it also presents a way to escape the coming wrath and destruction and be safe. Verses 11 and 12 outline this. Serve the Lord, rejoice, and kiss the Son. Right there is the answer. The wise choice the Psalm presents is to find refuge in the Son.
The New Testament calls Jesus God’s Son because He will take away the sins of His people. John 3:16-17:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
To kiss the Son is to acknowledge Him as God’s only escape from the judgement that is waiting for the rebellious and foolish. To kiss the Son is to bow the knee before Him as God’s Anointed King. To kiss the Son is to flee into His loving arms and find safety. To kiss the Son is to receive God’s grace freely and take hold of it through faith.
Psalm 2 paves the way to eternal safety that is to be found in God and Christ alone. It is not a safety to be found in good living. It can also not be found in endless efforts to please man or God. It is only when one realizes the rebellion the heart is only removed when one takes hold of God’s Son and live from His mercy and goodness. This brings true safety, which in turn means true blessedness. Therefore, in the words of Psalm 2:10:
Be wise, be warned, serve the Lord with fear, rejoice with trembling, kiss the Son.