We have a quotation from this Psalm in Acts 13:33, where recent criticism reads "As it is written in the first Psalm." It is not unlikely that it had at one time been considered as a second part of Psalm 1, instead of standing as a separate hymn of praise. But, in any event, it is an appropriate advance upon the preceding, placing before us again the Righteous One in a new position.
The view taken of Messiah by the world and by Jehovah is the theme; our eye is fixed on the purpose of Jehovah, triumphantly accomplished in Messiah's glory, in spite of all opposition. Nor let us forget the quotation of verses 1,2 in Acts 4:23, which asserts that is speaks of the fierced enmity of the world to the Righteous One from the period of his First coming onward to his Second appearing.
The nations, or Gentiles, have raged, and the tribes of Israel have agreed in hostility to the Lord's Messiah, ever since the day when Jews and Gentiles met at Calvary to kill the Prince of life; and their rage has not evaporated, but shall be manifest more fiercely still when the beast and the false prophet lead their armies to Armageddon. It is quoted with reference to that day in Rev 2:28, 11:18 and 19:15, quotes "the rod of iron" from v9.
Perhaps the expression used so frequently in the epistles "fear and trembling" is taken from verse 11. It is used in exhortations to servants (Eph 6:5) regarding duty; in Phil 2:13 to all believers engaged in striving for holiness, while in 1 Cor 2:3 Paul describes his state of mind in his ministry at Corinth by these terms.
May there not be a reference in all these, and similar passages, to our Psalm? It is as if it had been said, Remember our instructions for serving our King Messiah, in prospect of his glorious coming and kingdom - "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling."
Even the Jews are pretty nearly agreed that no other than Messiah is the theme of the sweet singer of Israel here. "Anointed" is considered as decisive - it is Messiah, Christ. By some readers, however, the introduction of Christ by the name of "Son" in v7 and then in v12 (Prov 31:2) has been thought abrupt. But abrupt as it may seem, there is no doubt hanging over the application. Messiah is "my Son" and so exclusively pre-eminent in this, that Jehovah, pointing to him, calls on all men to honour the Son even as they honour the Father - "Kiss the Son"
Had not our Lord this very passage in his eye when he spoke these words (John 5:23) - "The Father has committed all judgement to the Son, that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father?" And it is so we can understand how the term "Father" as applied to the Godhead, broken upon the ear of Israel without exciting surprise, when John the Baptist (John 1:18) spoke of the "only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father." Son and Father are co-relative terms, and would be so understood by John.
When, with Hengstenberg and most other interpreters, we render v12 "A little while and his wrath shall be kindled" or retain the common version, there is no doubt, a reference to this verse in Rev 6:17,18 "the wrath of the Lamb... and who shall be able to stand?" And if the former rendering is adopted, as we believe it ought, then there is a tacit reference to this passage in the New Testament expression, Rev 22:8, "I come quickly." It is as if he said, Come quickly to that Saviour for eternal life; for lo! he comes quickly to deal with all who do not obey the Gospel. Opposition ends in ruin; submission brings blessedness, the fulness of which shall be known only on the day of wrath.
But let us examine the contents of this rich and lofty Psalm. The plan of it is simple, but very grand. Messiah, on the morning when he broke the bands of death is contemplating our world lying in wickedness. He beholds a sea of raging hatred and hostility dashing its angry waves on the throne of God and his anointed One.
He hears their scornful words, "Let us break their bands asunder" and marvels at their infatuation. For in the heavens above, Jehovah sits in long-suffering calmness, till their stubborn and long-lasting enmity compels him to arise against them. He "troubles them" (v5) as he did the Egyptians at the Red Sea, and referring to their haughty words declares (v6) "they on their part so speak and I in spite of them, have set my king in Zion."
They may try to make Rome, or any other city their metropolis, and may set u pa head to themselves, but Jehovah will set up his King and make Zion - the platform of Jerusalem - his metropolis, as certainly as he set David on the throne and made Zion his capital.
From that city of the greater than David has gone and shall again go forth the law. Yes, says Messiah, I will proclaim Jehovah's resolution or decree; He has said to me "you are my Son" because appearing then in his own proper array; no more hid in humiliation. He had been Son from eternity, but having dived under our ocean of sin and misery, his sonship seemed obscured till he emerged at his resurrection on the third day (Acts 13:33).
And even so again, when he appears in glory at his coming, investing his own with their resurrection-dress (their proper clothing as adopted sons), the long-unseen Son of God shall be saluted as "My Son" by the Father as he places him on his visible throne.
At what time that manifestation shall occur depends on his own request (v8) - a request which he shall prefer whenever his purposes are ripes - and then He arises to terribly shake the earth. Does the reader not recognise in v10 the voice of the tender long-suffering compassionate Saviour? It resembles his mode of expostulation in Proverbs 1:23, in prospect of that "laugh" which is the extreme opposite of pity, referred to in Prov 1:26 used by himself against his unyielding foes, even as it is here by the Father (v4).
Come, then great and small, fall upon his neck, and be reconciled now. Be well pleased with him whom the Father is well pleased ; "Kiss the Son" - this is saving faith. For "yet a little while and his wrath shall be kindled" (v12). Behold he comes quickly! Blessed are all those who put their trust in him.
It is not then to be forgotten that the time when Messiah utters these strains is supposed to be the time of his resurrection. This seems to be declared to us in Acts 13:33. He had felt the united assault of earth and hell, but had proved all to be vain; for He that sat in heaven had gloriously raised him from the dead, and his enemies had sunk to the ground as dead men.
We might imagine this Psalm poured forth by him as he stood in Joseph's garden, beholding the empty sepulchre on this one hand, and the glory of the right hand of the Father on the other. It is thus we easily understand the words in v7, "this day I have begotten you;" the Father declaring him his "only begotten" by raising him from the dead, and doing this as a pledge of his farther exaltation - placing him (v8) in the position of Intercessor, so he shall arise to return as acknowledge Conqueror and King.
Glancing back now upon Psalm 1 in connection with his more lofty and triumphant song, we see how appropriately the book of Israel's sacred songs has begun. It has sketched to us the calm, holy path of the righteous and then the final results in the day of victory, when the Anointed shall have put down all enemies and the way of the ungodly shall have perished. We shall meet with these topics continually recurring in the course of the book; it was good, then, to present and epitome at the outset.
Glancing also at particular expressions in both psalms, we see at the beginning and end, links of connection with the preceding in such expressions as v1, "meditating a vain thing" in contrast to the meditating on the law (1:3), while "the way of the ungodly shall perish" in 1:8, is bought to the mind when we read 2:12 of "their perishing from the way" It carries our thoughts to Joshua 23:16 as Psalm 1:3 did to Joshua 1:8. And does not the Baptist get his expression "chaff he shall burn with unquenchable fire" (Matt 3:12) by joining Psalm 1:4 and 2:12.
Our Lord, when on earth, might read this Psalm as his history - the Righteous One, who ever meditated on the law of the Lord, and kept aloof from the vain meditations of the heathen, opposed by men who could not submit to the restraints of holiness, but in spite of all, exalted at length to honour. For here we have Messiah, (the head of every one who seeks Jehovah's face), exhibited in his Majesty and in full prospect of final triumph.
The subject of the whole may thus be said to be the assertion of "the righteous One's claims to the throne." Some one has proposed to entitle it "the eternal decree" in reference to v6 of which the Psalm might be spoken as the development. But in as much as the Eternal decree forms only one topic, while the burden is Messiah himself directly, it is undoubtedly more exact and descriptive to as it's title, the certainty of the Righteous One's exaltation to the throne.