Tuesday was a study of Psalms 2 and 3. We used commentaries from Robert Godfrey, John Calvin and also had help from bible.org articles. Both Psalms are attributed to David and we see references to the Messiah. We see man’s rebellion and God’s faithful care of His chosen ones.
The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed
Psalm 2 is the most frequently quoted psalm in the New Testament. It fits together in an interesting way with Psalm 1 to introduce the Book of Psalms. Psalm 1 begins with, “How blessed”; Psalm 2 ends with the same word (in Hebrew). Psalm 1 ends with a threat; Psalm 2 begins with a threat. In Psalm 1 the theme is the contrast between the righteous and the wicked person; in Psalm 2 the theme is the contrast between the rebellion of wicked rulers and nations and the rule of God’s righteous Messiah. Psalm 1 consists of two stanzas and six verses. Psalm 2 is twice as long, consisting of four stanzas and 12 verses.
Psalm 2 moves from the very personal focus of Psalm 1 to the great cosmic drama of redemption in the covenant community. It gives us the big picture of salvation and of world history. It presents the defiance of the world in rebellion against God, His king, and His ways.
The psalm also shows man’s delusion to think that he is able to make war against God. Rebellion against God always leads to defeat. God responds to the defiance and delusion of rebels with derision. He laughs at their pathetic weakness and is angry at their rejection of his goodness.
The nations have rebelled against God (2:1‑3). Satan is author of this rebellion:
Isa 14:12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! Isa 14:13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
When Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation and disobeyed God, the human race fell into sin and thus came under God’s judgment. But even in His curse upon the serpent, God pointed to the way of redemption that He had planned for fallen man (Gen. 3:15).
God has a plan to deal with this rebellion in the person of the Messiah. (Psalm 2:7). Jesus is referenced in the numerous quotes of this verse in the New Testament. (Acts 13:3, Heb. 5:5)
Calvin says that when Psalm 2:7 says, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You,” it is referring to when Christ’s identity was manifested, when the Father bore witness to Christ as being his own Son. (Rom. 1:4).
Kiss the Son
In Psalm 2:12, the psalmist primarily has in mind the kiss of submission—a dignitary receiving the humble kiss of an inferior. The “inferiors” who are told to kiss the Son are the kings and rulers of the earth (verse 10). No matter how powerful or important a ruler of this world may be, wisdom dictates that he pay reverence to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, this psalm is about Christ, the greatest descendant of David according to the flesh, who was revealed in His resurrection to be God’s Son, coequal to the Creator in power and glory (Rom. 1:1-4). Psalm 2 shatters the popular view of “gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” for while our Lord is gentle to His people, He will pour out His wrath on all who rebel against Him. To delay bowing the knee to Christ is to put oneself under the threat of His eternal judgment, for His merciful offer of salvation does not extend past our deaths.
God’s predetermined plan for dealing with man’s rebellion involves the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, whom God sent into the world to pay the penalty for man’s rebellion (John 3:16; Gal. 4:4). He died according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God at the hands of godless men (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). But God raised Him from the dead and He ascended to heaven, where He is now waiting to return with power.
There is a great deal of uncertainty about the meaning of selah. The Amplified Bible adds “pause and calmly think about that” to each verse where selah appears. When we see the word selah in a psalm or in Habakkuk 3, we should pause to carefully weigh the meaning of what we have just read or heard, lifting up our hearts in praise to God for His great truths. Notice this term is placed in the margin, apparently for the choir director.
David had been warned not to stay in the wilderness and fled across the Jordan to safety, escaping the plotting of Absalom. Psalm 3 contains elements both of lament and of confidence. Although surrounded by trouble, David not only cried out to the Lord in distress but also expressed deep trust in God. The title relates the writing of the psalm to David’s flight from and battle against Absalom (2 Sam 15:1-18:18).
David trusts God will watch over him even as he sleeps. (Psa 121:3)
When life falls apart, you must know who God is and how to lay hold of Him in prayer (3:3-4). “But You” (3:3) reflects David’s shift of focus from his frightening circumstances (3:1-2) to the Lord in prayer. This shows the Lord to be our shield, our glory, the restorer of our joy, and our prayer-answering God.
“To lift up the head” is a Hebrew expression for restoring someone who is cast down to his dignity and position. Joseph told the cupbearer (Gen. 40:13), “Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office.” (See, also Gen. 40:20; 2 Kings 25:27; Ps. 27:5-6). By way of application, it refers to God restoring to us the joy that we had before the crisis brought us low. He humbles the proud, but lifts up the humble who cry out to Him, bringing joy to those He restores (1 Sam. 2:1-10; Ps. 107:9, 33-42).
David’s crying to the Lord with his voice does not express “a single act, but the habit of a life.”
When you lay hold of the Lord in prayer, you will experience His peace (3:5-6).
The whole of Psalm 3, but especially verses 5-6, is a real-life drama illustrating Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” David cried out to God in prayer, then he went to bed—not in the palace, but camped in the wilderness—and slept through the night. It reminds me of Peter on the night before his intended execution. He was so sound asleep in the prison between two guards that the angel sent to rescue him had to hit him to wake him up (Acts 12:7)! David awoke safe and sound, because the Lord sustained him. As reports came in of the tens of thousands set against him, he was not afraid (Ps. 3:6).
David’s final request, “Your blessing be upon Your people,” shows that David was not praying selfishly. He was the anointed king of God’s people. Absalom’s rebellion negatively affected the entire nation. So when David asked God to deliver him, he saw it in terms of God’s blessing His people.
If your world has fallen apart, pray in light of God’s kingdom purposes. Pray that God will act so that He will be glorified and His people will be blessed and strengthened.