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" (John 1:41). Anointing, as an emblem of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, was conferred on prophets (Isaiah 6:1); priests (Exodus 30:30); and kings (1 Samuel 10:1, 16:13, 1 Kings 1:39). Hence this title well suited Him who holds all these offices, and was generally used by the Jews before His coming, to denote Him (Daniel 9:26). 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 (Matthew 27:1, Luke 23:1-25), 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 related.
He that sitteth in the heavens--enthroned in quiet dignities (compare Psalms 29:10, Isaiah 40:22).
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 will do (Genesis
vex them--agitate or terrify them (Psalms 83:15).
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 (Numbers 27:18).
upon my holy hill of Zion--Zion, selected by David as the abode of the ark and the seat of God's visible residence (1 Kings 8:1); 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 (Psalms 9:11, 51:18, 99:2, Isaiah 8:18, 18:7, &c.).
7. The king thus constituted declares the fundamental law of His
kingdom, in the avowal of His Sonship, a relation involving His universal
this day have I begotten thee--as 2 Samuel 7:14, "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 Acts 13:33, Paul's quotation does not imply an application of this passage to the resurrection; for "raised up" in Acts 13:32 is used as in Acts 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 Acts 2:34, allusion is made to His death (Romans 1:4). 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 Hebrews 5:5, by these ends, and by others in Matthew 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.
heathen--or, "nations" (Psalms 2:1).
and the uttermost parts of the earth--(Psalms 22:27); denotes universality.
9. His enemies shall be subject to His terrible power (Job
4:9, 2 Thessalonians
2:8), as His people to His grace (Psalms
rod of iron--denotes severity (Revelation 2:27).
a potter's vessel--when shivered cannot be mended, which will describe utter destruction.
10-12. kings . . . judges--For rulers generally (Psalms 148:11), 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 (Psalms 5:11). Men still cherish opposition to Christ in their hearts and evince it in their lives. Their ruin, without such trust, is inevitable (Hebrews 10:29), while their happiness in His favor is equally sure.