Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
The number and authorship of this Psalm are stated
(Ac 4:25; 13:33).
Though the warlike events of David's reign may have suggested its
imagery, the scenes depicted and the subjects presented can only find a
fulfilment in the history and character of Jesus Christ, to which, as
above cited and in
Heb 1:5; 5:5,
the New Testament writers most distinctly testify. In a most animated
and highly poetical style, the writer, in "four stanzas of three verses
each," sets forth the inveterate and furious, though futile, hostility
of men to God and His anointed, God's determination to carry out His
purpose, that purpose as stated more fully by His Son, the
establishment of the Mediatorial kingdom, and the imminent danger of
all who resist, as well as the blessing of all who welcome this mighty
and triumphant king.
1. Why do the heathen, &c.--Beholding, in prophetic vision, the
peoples and nations, as if in a tumultuous assembly, raging with a fury
like the raging of the sea, designing to resist God's government, the
writer breaks forth into an exclamation in which are mingled surprise
at their folly, and indignation at their rebellion.
heathen--nations generally, not as opposed to Jews.
the people--or, literally, "peoples," or races of men.
2. The kings and rulers lead on their subjects.
set themselves--take a stand.
take counsel--literally, "sit together," denoting their deliberation.
anointed--Hebrew, "Messiah"; Greek, "Christ"
Anointing, as an emblem of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, was conferred
(1Sa 10:1; 16:13;
Hence this title well suited Him who holds all these offices, and was
generally used by the Jews before His coming, to denote Him
While the prophet has in view men's opposition generally, he here
depicts it in its culminating aspect as seen in the events of Christ's
great trial. Pilate and Herod, and the rulers of the Jews
with the furious mob, are vividly portrayed.
3. The rebellious purposes of men are more distinctly announced by
this representation of their avowal in words, as well as actions.
bands . . . and . . . cords--denote the restraints of government.
4. By a figure whose boldness is only allowable to an inspired
writer, God's conduct and language in view of this opposition are now
He that sitteth in the heavens--enthroned in quiet dignities
shall laugh--in supreme contempt; their vain rage excites His derision.
He is still the Lord, literally, "Sovereign," though they rebel.
5. Then shall he speak--His righteous indignation as well as contempt
is roused. For God to speak is for Him to act, for what He resolves He
vex them--agitate or terrify them
6. The purpose here declared, in its execution, involves their
Yet--literally, "and," in an adversative sense.
I have set--anointed, or firmly placed, with allusion in the
Hebrew to "casting an image in a mould." The sense is not
materially varied in either case.
my king--appointed by Me and for Me
upon my holy hill of Zion--Zion, selected by David as the abode of
the ark and the seat of God's visible residence
as also David, the head of the Church and nation, and type of Christ,
was called holy, and the Church itself came to be thus named
(Ps 9:11; 51:18; 99:2;
Isa 8:18; 18:7,
7. The king thus constituted declares the fundamental law of His
kingdom, in the avowal of His Sonship, a relation involving His
this day have I begotten thee--as
"he shall be My son," is a solemn recognition of this relation. The
interpretation of this passage to describe the inauguration of Christ
as Mediatorial King, by no means impugns the Eternal Sonship of His
divine nature. In
Paul's quotation does not imply an application of this passage to the
resurrection; for "raised up" in
is used as in
Ac 2:30; 3:22,
&c., to denote bringing Him into being as a man; and not that of
resurrection, which it has only when, as in
allusion is made to His death
That passage says He was declared as to His divine nature to be the Son
of God, by the resurrection, and only teaches that that event
manifested a truth already existing. A similar recognition of His
Sonship is introduced in
by these ends, and by others in
Mt 3:17; 17:5.
8. The hopes of the rebels are thus overthrown, and not only so;
the kingdom they opposed is destined to be coextensive with the earth.
and the uttermost parts of the earth--
9. His enemies shall be subject to His terrible power
as His people to His grace
(Ps 110:2, 3).
rod of iron--denotes severity
a potter's vessel--when shivered cannot be mended, which will
describe utter destruction.
10-12. kings . . . judges--For rulers generally
who have been leaders in rebellion, should be examples of penitent
submission, and with fear for His terrible judgments, mingled with
trust in His mercy, acknowledge--
12. Kiss the Son--the authority of the Son.
perish from the way--that is, suddenly and hopelessly.
kindled but a little--or, "in a little time."
put their trust in him--or take refuge in Him
Men still cherish opposition to Christ in their hearts and evince it in
their lives. Their ruin, without such trust, is inevitable
while their happiness in His favor is equally sure.