A sublime vision of the nations in revolt against Jehovah and his Anoited, with a declaration of the divne purpose to maintain his King’s authority, and a warning to the world that it must bow to him or perish. The structure of this psalm is extremely regular. It naturally falls into four stanzas of three verses each. In the first (1-3), the conduct of the rebellious nations is described. In the second (4-6), god replies to them by word and deed. In the third (7-9), the Messiah or Anointed One declares the divine decrees in relation to himself. In the fourth (10-12), the Psalmist exhorts the rulers of the nations to submission, with a threatening of the divine wrath to the disobedient, and a closing benediction on believers. (THE PSALMS by J. A. Alexander. Published by Charles Scribner, New York 1852. Public domain book).
Vs 1 Why do the nations rage, and the gentiles mutter vainly?
Vs 2 The kings of the earth stand up, the rulers sit in cousel together, opposing the Lord, and opposing his Anointed one, saying,
Vs 3 “Let us burst thier bonds completely, cast their chains off from us.
The Psalm opens with the psalmist asking a question in parallel fashion, which is typical of Hebrew poetry. The first part of the parallel asks why the nations (Hebrew goy) rage (ragash). Goy could refer to the Jewish people or other descendents of Abraham but is usually used for his non-descendents. Rage (ragash) means more than simply anger. It refers to the malicious plotting borne of such anger.
Vs 4 He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh: The Lord will have them in derision.
Vs 5 Then will he speak unto them in his wrath, And vex them in his sore displeasure:
Vs 6 Yet I have set my king Upon my holy hill of Zion. (ASV. Public domain)
the Lord sitting in heaven contrasts nicely with the rulers of the earth sitting in counsel against him. While they rage, he laughs; while they mutter vainly, he derides them and speaks in wrath. While they exalt themselves by standing up, he derides them. While they plot to cast of the bonds and chains of God and his Anointed, he insists that the one he anointed rules at his pleasure.
The Lords mood in verse 5 is colorfully described. The Hebrew word for wrath refers to the flaring of the nostrils which often takes place as part of angry facial expressions. The Word for sore displeasure refers to the red hue of an angry mans “burning” cheeks
Vs 7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son; this day have I begotten you.
Vs 8 Ask it of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and put the ends of the earth into your pessesion.
Vs 9 With an iron rod you shall break them; like a clay dish you shall smash them to pieces.
Here th anointed king speaks, telling us what the Lord has promised to him. You are my son, this day I have begotten you is a clear reference to 2 Samuel 7:14. This text is applied to our Blessed Lord in Hebrews 1:5. It is believed by many biblical scholars that this Psalm was either part of the coronation ceremony for a newly installed Davidic king, or was used as part of an anniversary celebration of the coronation (or both). Inheriting the nations and possesing the ends of the earth are not promises fulfilled to the descendents of David save one, Jesus. (See Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 28: 18-20). Verse 9 also has Messianic overtones (see Revelation 12:5).
Vs 10 Be wise, O you kings; be instructed rulers of the earth.
Vs 11 Serve God with fear, tremble as you bow down to him.
Vs 12 Render him homage, lest he grow angry with you and you perish from the way, for his anger ignites suddenly. Happy are those who put their trust in him.
The call to wisdom and instruction, along with the word happy provide verbal and thematic links to Psalm 1. The rebels are here being called to conversion in light of the Lords will as revealed in torah, the revelation of God’s wisdom. “The four invitations have a wisdom flavor, ‘be wise’ ‘be warned’, ‘serve…with fear’, ‘kiss.’ (Konrad Schaefer, PSALMS, pg 9.) Whereas the Psalm opened by focusing on the rebels anger, it closes by warning them concerning God’s. The reference to his anger igniting reminds us of God’s mood towards the rebels which was colorfully described in verse 5. In verse 2 the kings stood up against the lord and his Anointed; here they are exhorted and warned to serve God with fear aand trembling and bow down to him.