Psalm 2

1   Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2   The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
3   Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4   He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5   Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6   Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7   I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8   Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9   Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10     Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11     Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12     Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.


Have you ever wondered what God was like?

How does he speak – what is the tone of His voice?

What does he actually think about humans?

In what manner does he communicate with the others in the trinity – his Son or the Holy Spirit?

Some of these answers can be found in Psalm 2 plus a whole lot more.

Psalm 2

It is in the Psalms we can see some answers to these question. Psalm 8 comes to mind, which we have already looked at. But today I want to examine very briefly Psalm 2, because it is in Psalm 2 that we see the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit conversing. I am not going to enter into a discussion on the trinity – in this assembly this is a given and I think we all believe in the three persons on the Godhead. However, I believe it would be worthwhile having a study on this subject because there is clearly some lack of understanding of the roles of the Godhead. We cannot, as I will show, treat all three equally or the same – Scripture demands otherwise[1].

The character of God remains a great mystery amongst many Christians as they are blind to the word of God. Even in this assembly I perceive miss-understanding of who God really is, and in particular the expression of the Godhead and the way we need to respond to him.

One way to examine a Psalm is to look how it is used in the New Testament.

Therefore, lets turn to Acts Chapter 4. In this portion of scripture we three things:

1.      We see Peter addressing the Sanhedrin and boldly putting the truth, that un-righteous Israel had killed the Messiah. They were actually arguing that their act of healing a man (see verse 7 of Chapter 3) was right before God, and occurred due to the power given them by God.

2.      Peter clarifies that they cannot but tell the truth (see especially verse 19 & 20).

3.      They pray and share the gospel with many.

I draw your attention to verses 23-31 where we see Psalm 2 quoted.

"Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
                   ‘Why did the nations rage [haughtily]
                    And the people plot [meditated] vain things?
                    The kings of the earth took their stand,
                   And the rulers were gathered together

                   Against the LORD and against His Christ.’
(27) 'For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together."

Firstly God the Father has all power, and this power is transferable in Heaven.

What do I mean? If we take an Act of parliament, it has, what is called a head power, which tells us about how powerful the legislation is. For example, the Controlled Substances Act has the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. This is about as powerful as an Act can get – if you breach certain aspects of the Act, you will go to goal for life – this is the head-power. We have other types of power, most of which is not transferable. We speak of executive power of the government – no-other can make an Act that the courts will heed without the assent of the Governor; making him the most powerful figure in the State. The Father has the role.

It is also easy (or perhaps not as this Psalm is saying) to see that all power resides with God the Father, for he created all things and is sovereign. Some understand this but many do not. And this is where Peter begins in Acts – he begins by quoting the law in verse 24:

"Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them"

This is really a combination of the Shama[2] and the third commandment (Exodus 20:11)[3], the former because it defines who God is – The Lord God Jehovah is one and there is only one God and the second ascribes his power and domain: it is all of heaven and earth because he made them. Compared with humans there is none like God, which Solomon understood and wrote:

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? 1 Kings 8:27 (KJV)

and compared with all other gods, if there were other gods, there is none like Him, in gods or works,

Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. Psalm 86:8 (KJV)

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 1 John 3:8 (NIV)

The power of heaven belongs to the Lord God Most High[4] and is transferable. We know this because Jesus speaks of it in Matthew 28:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matthew 28:18 (KJV)

It is self‐evident that if Jesus had, had all power he would not have needed to utter these words; he would have said “I have all power in heaven and in earth”. He clearly did not originally have all power but was given it and therefore states that the power, which my Father has, has been given me, both in heaven and earth. This power includes that pertaining to judgment. This is important, because any power, without the power of judgment is impotent. An Act of parliament which does not allow imposition of penalty by a judge is powerless.

In the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. Romans 2:16 (NKJV)

And we also see:

And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He [Jesus] who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42 (NKJV)

However, like a court who can do nothing unless the power is given it, Jesus did nothing outside of the Father’s will. In essence the righteousness by which Christ judges is set by the Father.

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. John 5:30 (KJV)

Note that Jesus was given all power, but he was not given all knowledge at this stage in order to execute this power. What was this lack? Jesus states, speaking of His return:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Matthew 24:36 (KJV)

Note again that the power Jesus has was vested in the Father who executed it, sending the Son to this world to die for it. This tells us something about the trinity. There is clearly a hierarchy with the Father the head, and he transfers knowledge and responsibility within the divine economy at His good pleasure. Furthermore, there is a power that is transferable, in total or in part.

Verse 4 draws our attention to the fact that God is infinitely exalted "in the heavens". His power, majesty and might are something we humans cannot comprehend but is not un-obtainable. Time after time God tells the children of Israel, the reason he saved them was for the nations to know his might[5]. The Psalmist speaking of the salvation of Israel from Egypt puts it this way:

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his might. Psalm 106:8 (DNT)

In the same way we know His might in that Christ the King died on the cross that he might save the world – and it was for this reason he came into the world; to save it. However, many have and will lose their salvation because they do not trust Lord Jesus Christ as verse 5 of the Psalms states.

Secondly there is a hierarchy:

Christians like to treat the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as equal partners. They either miss-treat all or some of the Godhead, ignore some or all and are ignorant of all of some. However, Scripture points to a hierarchy within the Godhead, which we have no right to ignore[6]. We see evidence of this from the language used in Psalm 2. God the Father states:

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. Psalm 2:6 (KJV)

Who has set up whom as King? It is God the Father who is the head over all things:

Thine, O LORD [Jehovah, Yahweh], is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 1 Chronicles 29:11 (KJV)

Note also that Christ is God’s king – it is “I have set my king”. He is our king as well as God’s king. He rules over the wicked and rules his saints by his Spirit. One can also examine Zion and its relation to the Christian, which I will not do here, but note that Christ came in obedience to his Father, and this is expressed many times in John’s gospel and elsewhere. Nothing could be plainer that this language, Christ was obedient:

Wherefore when he [Christ] cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Hebrews 10:5 - 7 (KJV)


And being found in fashion as a man, he [the Christ] humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8 (KJV)

Christ will rule the world

The power which Christ has been given extends to being king and indeed The King, which we see in verse 6. He will rule from Mount Zion, which is Jerusalem, in a time to come. At the moment the world is ruled by Satan, and Christ is in heaven preparing a place for his heavenly people, the Church. Christ rules his saints by the Holy Spirit and for this reason the Christian pursues righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness[7] and in essence has Christ as their King; with the banner of love over him or her[8].

But a time comes, we see in verse 7, when he well rid the world of Satan (see Revelation) and he will rule the nations from Zion[9]:

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Zechariah could write

Zechariah 2:10 (KJV) Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.

Christ is the head over the Church

Christ today rules as the head over the Church. His Father has not given him the world yet, but his time will come. Those that have opposed him will be dashed to pieces like a potters vessel (verse 3).

Ephesians 1:22 (NKJV) And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

This is a salient point. This gathering comes under the headship of Christ. It is not the elders or the pastors to which ultimate responsibilities lies – it is Christ. Should this assembly place itself under a constitution, which the law requires, then it must clearly state that the ultimate authority is God. This actually can be done, because Australia’s constitution makes reference to this fact[10]. The foundation of this assembly was the apostles and prophets[11]. The problem we see today is that much has been substituted by those that are not apostles and prophets and we give scant regard to Christ. When next you sing, give regard to whether the word "I" or the insinuation of "I" dominates: I suggest that the modern music scene has done away with Christ as the head of the Church and substituted it with "I" – for self glorification (which is not praise). Worship is away from the person epitomized by the images in Revelation (Chapter 5) where in heaven the elders worship from the position of being on their knees bowed down towards the throne.

And a note to husbands and wives – the husband needs to emulate this headship, in as far as giving his life for his wife. This is not necessarily in the literal sense (but may need be), but it was reminded of me the other day that a husband lives for his wife [12]. This means he obeys God in the same way Christ obeyed his Father and gave himself for the Church – there is much to ponder in this thought. The wife only needs to be subject to her husband [13] but both need to submit to each other [14].

Christ is over all Creation

Christ is also over all creation.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Colossians 1:15 (NKJV)

This is another topic, but indicates the extent of power that has been delegated to the Son. We also see that it is not the Holy Spirit that has received this power, but the Son, for it is the Son that will ultimately bring Creation into submission.

The Holy Spirit gives a warning.

It is noteworthy to see the Holy Spirit (who utters verses 10-12), as he does in every other portion of Scripture that refers to him, gives glory to God. The Holy Spirit speaks, but only to remind the nations that is the LORD whom they must obey.

10    Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

11    Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12    Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

The Holy Spirit reminds us who and what the Lord is – He is the sovereign I AM, the beginning and the end, the one that must be served, and the way to Him is through the Son. We therefore fear and rejoice in trembling – the very thought that we have been saved by his precious blood should place as in this position. Psalm 100 says we need to serve with gladness as does this Psalm: ‘rejoice with trembling’. It is the Lord’s desire that the nations come together and serve him (Psalm 102:2) but while they "rage and plot a vain thing" God will thwart their attempts. Indeed, the first few verses of this Psalm reminds us of the tower of Babel where they "plotted a vain thing": did they not understand that no tower could reach to the heights of the sovereign Lord, yet alone the fact man could not approach God in his sinful state?

How little do the nations understand or give regard to the Lord today! Presidents and prime ministers sit on "thrones" only because God allows it. On the other hand in our day to day conduct how much do we regard the Lord. As a Christian – is Christ your King?

The "be wise" in verse 10 may belong to kings, but it belongs to us as well. The Preacher[15] writes:

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise (Proverbs 6:6) 

How do we achieve this? Again the Preacher gives instruction:

"Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
                   For blessed are those who keep my ways.
                   Hear instruction and be wise,
                   And do not disdain it. Proverbs 8:32 - 33 (NKJV)

Wisdom of course is the fear of the Lord (Job 28:28) which is more than knowing about Him. It is understanding His ways and giving over your heart to one of servitude for God. It is putting self aside. A righteous man speaks wisdom says Psalm 37:30, and conducts his or her life with understanding (Proverbs 3:13). The understanding is of course that of the Lord.


The Psalmist tells us what most nations - and indeed this is what the Trinity is speaking of – ignore God. Indeed most pretend there is no God and that he neither cares or hears them. God sits in heaven and laughs at this (4). It is like a little child that has lost something and runs round and round in desperation looking, with the adults looking on in laughter, since they know exactly where the object is being looked for. However, in the case of God the laughter is one of derision not joy. It is one of contempt of the world, who has been given everything, including His Son, who is a King and redeemer, yet they have rejected him. God knows, of course, the end. And so should the nations – there is no excuse – the nations have been told.

The Psalm ends abruptly with "Kiss the son". This is an embrace of love for those washed clean from their iniquities, but would be full of abject fear for those who have rejected him. This is an embrace of desire, that of a bride for her bridegroom. As Spurgeon points out – "kiss him and not be ashamed of kissing him".[16]

The beginning is the antithesis of the end. Rage versus trust. Those that are to be broken in pieces (3) and those that will be saved (12).

Do you ignore God? Do you rage against him in your heart?

The remedy -

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Romans 10:9 (KJV)

Indeed "Blessed are those that put their trust in him" (12).

Endnotes Doctrine of the Trinity:

  1. "God is one in essence and three in person"[17];
  2. "There is one and only true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three eternal and co-equal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence"[18];
  3. "There is one God who has revealed Himself in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and these three persons are the one God"[19];
  4. "There is one God. This one God has a plural personality. This one God is called the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all distinct personalities, all designated God....The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God"[20].

Other endnotes

[1] Notwithstanding, all three are indeed God and must be given the Highest reverence. But we can approach Christ boldly, and to get to the Father, we do so through the Son. If we need words to say, the Holy Spirit provides.

[2] Deuteronomy 6:4 (KJV) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. Called the Shama because the first word in Hebrew is "hear" = shama שמע

[3] Exodus 20:11 (KJV) 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

[4] Genesis 14:22 (NKJV) But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth

[5] For example Deuteronomy 4:34, 5:6

[6] There is a lot of nonsense written on this topic which does not warrant entering into, but writers of the feminist bent have perverted the truth of this subject in recent days.

[7] 1 Timothy 6:11

[8] Song of Songs 2:4 (KJV) He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

[9] See also Isaiah 51 etc

[10] "Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth…

[11] Ephesians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 12.

[12] Ephesians 5:25.

[13] Ephesians 5:24, Colossians 3:18

[14] Ephesians 5:21

[15] King Solomon, but referred to as the Preacher by himself – see Ecclesiastes.

[16] Spurgeon, C.H. The Treasury of David, Volume 1, reprinted by Hendrickson USA (Can be found on the web.

[17] RC Sproul, (1992) Essential Truths About the Christian Faith, Illinois: Tyndale House p.36

[18] Charles Ryrie (1972, reprint 1981), A Survey of Bible Doctrine; reprinted ed., Chicago: Moody Press, p 33.

[19] Josh McDowell & Bart Larson (1983), Jesus A Biblical Defense of His Deity, USA Here’s Life Publishers,  p 57.

[20] ilib, p 59.

David L Simon (CCC May 2008)
Edited 26 November 2022
\Psalms\Psalm 2 The Character of God

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