Psalms, Chapter 2:1-12
(The following material is compiled predominantly from an anthology of Orthodox Jewish commentary, written and arranged by Rabbi Avroham Chaim Feuer from the Artscroll Tanach Series Tehillim Volume 1. Additional insights from a Nazarene Israelite perspective have been added by Jason Jordan. The translation of the TaNaK [Old Testament] used in this work is by Rabbi Avroham Chaim Feuer, Rabbi Nsson Scherman and Meir Zlotowitz.)
Chapter 1 of Psalms describes the good fortunes of the righteous and the failure of the wicked. But in doing this, the question is raised, ‘Why do the wicked prosper?’
Ecclesiastes 8:11-12; “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil a hundred times and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear Elohim, which fear before him”
The Pashat (simple) reading of Psalms 2 describes the events of King David’s own career immediately following his coronation. “And when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David King over Israel, all of the Philistines came up to seek [to attack] David.” (2 Samuel 5:17)
The Remez (hinted) level of Psalms 2, as we shall see, speaks of the past, present and future. King David had the ability to be inspired so profoundly by present events in his life that he could soar above the boundaries of time, and sing of the past, present and future in the same breath and with the same words.
In the brazen Philistines of his day, David detected the seeds of Gog and Magog, the future arch enemies of Messiah. The war of Gog and Magog begins when all seventy nations of the world unit against Israel (According to Hebrew Gematria, the numerical the value of Gog and Magog is 70). Ezekiel 38:2; “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him.”
“Gog” means “the chief prince of Magog.” “… ‘Magog’ is an ancient name for the nation now known as Russia. The name ‘Moscow’ derives from the tribal name ‘Meshech…’” (Tim LaHaye) and “Tubal” comes from “Tobolsk,” the historic capital of “Siberia.”
Interestingly, when YHWH broke down the language of Eden (“Edenic” or “Ancient Paleo-Hebrew” at the Tower of Babel, He divided it into 70 languages, causing 70 separate nations to emerge. Thus, the ancestors of these 70 people groups will reform in an attempt to exact vengeance on YHWH. However, ultimately they will not prevail.
“All of these nations will suffer internal instability, and will be plagued by revolution, audacity, atheism, scandal, and unbridled inflation. Truth will be virtually non-existent and falsehood will prevail.” (Sotah 49b)
YHWH, through Messiah, will demonstrate His supremacy as never before. As King David writes. “Yours, YHWH, is the kingdom and You are exalted as head above all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)
“Why do the people gather, and why do the nations talk in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the lords conspire secretly, against YHWH and against His anointed.”
“Why do the people gather…”
Literally, ‘why are the masses in turbulence?’ “To what may the wicked be likened? To grasshoppers caged in a box who madly scramble to jump out, but fail.” (Midrash Shachor Tov) Any type of resource that is expended to destroy Israel is completely wasted and not only that, it brings the weight of Divine Judgement, all the while increasing exponentially. It is like pouring money into a pit that’s only value is to increase condemnation and punishment on the pourer. Furthermore, any hardship that is thrust upon Israel is only used to refine it to perfection. In a sense, the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany ultimately enabled Israel to be reborn as a nation in one day fulfilling Isaiah 66:7-8; “Before she goes into labour, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children.”
“…The nations talk in vain?”
“When the Philistines gathered to attack the newly crowned David, they spoke with excessive pride and confidence for they had recently routed the Israelite army and slain Saul and his sons. But their threats and boasts where hollow.” (Radak)
The prime Hebrew root of the word “talk” is “ponder.” Therefore, on a deeper level the verse means, ‘The nations think or meditate over worthless plans.’
“The kings of the earth take their stand.” Throughout Scripture there is no mention of Philistine kings doing battle with Israel, only captains. The lowly officers of the Philistine had an inflated view of themselves and could only attack Israel if they allied themselves with the monarchs of other nations. One can see a similar pattern in the allied Arab forces arrayed against Israel in the Six Day war.
Force Capacity: Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq unite with a collective strength of 280,000 troops and 812 combat aircraft and attack Israel who has 264,000 troops and 197 combat aircraft.
implies a forceful uncompromising stance or an entrenched challenge by an alliance of kings. The enemy will try to look threatening to cause Israel to back down. Goliath’s size and antics were designed to intimidate. The Evil Inclination is a weak thread to those who do not give into it, but to those who do, it soon becomes an immovable mountain. King David gave no credence to the size of his opponent; his only concern was silencing his blasphemous tongue. Posturing oneself to look threatening can be a sign of weakness, because the posturing itself is designed to avoid the confrontation altogether.
“And the lords conspire together.”
Counsellors who are privy to secrets of the state act in secret. Covert planning and counsel give birth to actions designed to misdirect.
“Let us cut their cords and cast off their ropes. He who sits in heaven will laugh, Adonai will moke them.”
“Let us cut their cords and cost off their ropes”
refers to the cord of moral self-discipline that one is attached to in Messiah Yahshua. Without this cord or yoke, mans desires are unbridled. YHWH’s Torah saddles man with duties which are honest and upright. This yoke is easy for one who abides in it, but difficult for one who is double-minded. Matthew 11:30; “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“He who sits in heaven will laugh, Adonai will moke them.”
In contrast to kings who have to stand, YHWH merely sits and watches. During His watch Elohim meditates on how comical their futile plans and actions are. Any reference to the Almighty sitting means it is a matter that He is permanently settled on. Whatever it is, He is unchanging and this unchanging view endures forever and ever.
Then, He will speak to them in His anger, and His fury will terrify them: I Myself have anointed My King, upon Zion My Holy Mountain.”
means suddenly, without prior warning!
YHWH will chastise any nation who attempts to remove His chosen and anointed one from the throne. Rebelling against King David’s rule will have the opposite effect of undermining his authority and actually serve to reinforce his power.
“I Myself have anointed My King, upon Zion My holy mountain.”
Zion was not conquered by Israel until King David rose to the throne. This is why Zion and Jerusalem are also called “The City of David.” King David embarked upon his campaign immediately after his coronation as king. This was to show that his prior victories were not achieved by the merit of Saul. The people couldn’t say, “Now David cowers and hesitates to wage war alone!”
"I am obligated to proclaim: YHWH said to me: ‘You are my son, I have begotten you this day. Ask of Me and I will make the peoples your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession”
"I am obligated to proclaim…”
David now commences his response by indicating that it is a set ritual or custom to make his ensuing declaration. King David’s words will be like engravings or inscriptions that already proclaim what is in the Torah: that Israel is YHWH’s son.
“YHWH said to me.” Elohim spoke to David through His prophets, Nathan, Gad, and Samuel. Validating the verse, “…every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Matthew 18:16).
Rarely should one say, “Thus saith YHWH…,” unless the matter is confirmed by the mouth of at least two prophets or the proceeding words are a direct quote from a contextually applicable verse.
“You are My son, I have begotten you this day.”
“You are my son.”
King David was the leader of Israel who was called, “My son, my first born” “Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what Adonia says: Israel is my firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22).
Similarly, King Solomon is referred to as YHWH’s son in 2 Samuel 7:14; “I will be his father and he will by My son.”
This reference to “My son” in verse 7 is also the first obvious signpost that points to Messiah. The comparison to Messiah is made by Rabbi Sha’ul. “We tell you the good news: What Elohim promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Yahshua. As it is written in the second Psalm: "'You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”(Acts 13:32-33)
True to form, King David is able to express, past present and future in a single phrase.
“For YHWH so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John3:16)
Messiah Yahshua represents a perfected Israel, an Israel that has never transgressed; therefore he merits the title, “Only Begotten Son,”
having perfected the shortcomings of King David, Solomon and the entire nation of Israeli.
“Ask for Me.”
In other words, pray to YHWH whenever you go out to fight your enemies. As a father customarily bequeaths possessions to his children, YHWH need only be asked and whether it is victory in battle or peace, it will be granted.
“And I will make the peoples your inheritance.” The world and its entire inhabitancies belong to YHWH. No seed takes to any soil and none receive their next breath without permission by the Almighty.
“You will smash them with a rod of iron, shatter them like an earthen vessel. And now, O kings be wise, be disciplined, O judges of the earth.”
“…smash them with a rod of iron, shatter them like an earthen vessel.”
YHWH will break apart King David’s enemies into small fragments. The blow will be akin to a great sword swung with immense power. Their bodies will be scattered like the fine shards of earthenware.
“And now” Knowing that YHWH has this immense power, listen carefully.
“O kings be wise, be disciplined, O judges of the earth.” Relent, you kings of the earth from conspiring to cut Israel off from YHWH’s yoke or cord of righteousness. Submit to self-discipline and abide in moral law.
“Serve YHWH in awe and rejoice with trembling. Yearn for purity, lest He grow wrathful, and your way be doomed, for in a brief moment His anger will blaze. Praises – for those who trust in Him.”
“Serve YHWH in awe...”
Not only should the kings of the earth abandon their evil plans, they should serve YHWH with fear. With awe suggests a shifting of value systems. If the kings of the earth find no pleasure in doing good, they should seek to change their desires to align with YHWH. Instead of attempting to cut Israel’s cord, they should attempt to don it also.
“…and rejoice with trembling”
Be happy with this wise resolution, but not overly so. Do not celebrate to the extent that you become puffed up and overconfident. Moving away from trembling in the midst of rejoicing can lead to arrogance and an inflated view of oneself. But trembling must not overshadow joy!
“…one who learns with joy can learn more in one hour than what he can learn in many hours when he is sad.” (Rabbi Chaim Volozhin)
The source of the custom to break glass at a Hebrew wedding comes from an incident at an ancient Jewish wedding feast. During the feast, the host noticed that the Rabbis there were excessively merry. He immediately took hold of a fine crystal vessel worth four hundred zuzim and smashed it in front of them, causing their spirits to sober.
“Even when you rejoice, remember to tremble before YHWH’s presence at all times” (Ibn Ezra).
“Yearn for purity…”
The key to accustom oneself to love that which is good is to seek purity in thought, word and deed. The Torah is likened to a mikvah (water immersion) because when the Evil Inclination mounts an attack one can find instant protection by reading Torah. The Talmud says that if you encounter a challenge by the Evil Inclination, "drag it to the House of Study."
An Israelite must stimulate himself to acquire purity of heart. While the wicked seek out their next means of self-gratification, a righteous one seeks out his next opportunity to do a good deed and maintaining the integrity of his thoughts.
Maintaining personal hygiene and observing ritual purity laws serve as object lessons in purifying the heart. If one reads Psalms with the same mindset as reading the laws of mikvah (water immersion), the reading will take on a similar purifying effect on the soul.
“…lest He grow wrathful…”
YHWH is slow to anger, but when His angered is kindled it is unmatched in its ferocity and exactness. Numbers 11:1; “And when the people complained, it displeased YHWH: and YHWH heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of YHWH burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.”
“Praises – for those who trust in Him.”
At the moment when YHWH’s anger erupts against the wicked the good fortunes and praises of those who trusted in Him will be evident to all.