A Sermon on Psalm 2
I am amazed at the level of interest by Americans with the doings of the British Royals. There is something about a royal wedding or the coronation of a king or queen which fascinates us. While our founding fathers didn’t think too highly of King George III, contemporary Americans absolutely loved Lady Di and Kate Middleton. And given the age of the current queen, many of us will live to see the next in-line (Charles or William) take the throne as king of the United Kingdom. No doubt, this coronation will be watched and talked about by many of us. But in the historical background of all modern coronations of European and western royalty we find Psalm 2, which was written for the coronation of a Davidic king, and which set the pattern for the coronation of the kings and queens of Christendom ever since. The second Psalm is quoted throughout the New Testament as a prophetic reference to a messianic king (Jesus Christ) whose kingdom conquers all, and who will bring about universal peace in the midst of the turmoil and upheaval of the nations. It is Charles Spurgeon who exhorts us “let us read [Psalm 2] with the eyes of faith, beholding . . . the final triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ over all his enemies.”
As we continue our series on select Psalms, we take up a study of the second Psalm, which is often classified as a royal Psalm because this Psalm concerns the anointing and coronation of a Davidic king–that is, someone in the line of David. Because it is a royal Psalm, it is also a messianic Psalm. As we work our way through this Psalm, I would like to accomplish three things. First, we will spend some time on the historical background of the Psalm. Second, we will then work through the Psalm and its specific contents. Finally, as we go through the Psalm we will consider how it is cited throughout the New Testament, especially in reference to the preaching of the apostles, who quote this Psalm on several occasions in reference to the person and work of Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah.
We begin with the historical background of this Psalm which is found in the first book of the Psalter (Psalms 1-41), and which is considered by many to be a summary or an introduction to the balance of the Psalter (along with Psalm 1). The question of authorship of this Psalm is interesting because in the New Testament the authorship of this Psalm is specifically attributed to David (Acts 4:25). Yet, at least one verse in the Psalm (v. 3) speaks of a time of mutiny among the nations, a factor not present during the reign of David. Because of this time of distress, scholars have had a hard time agreeing about whether David composed this Psalm, or if it was written later for the coronation of a Davidic king as depicted in a passage such as 2 Kings 11:12, where we read of coronation of Joash, “then he brought out the king's son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, `Long live the king!’” The resolution to this dilemma may be as simple as realizing the fact that this Psalm might have been composed by David and used by successive generations of Davidic kings during their own coronations.
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