Before you read this psalm in your Bible, first read 2 Samuel 7, and then turn over to Psalm 2.
Psalm 2 has no designation at the beginning of authorship as many of the psalms do, but Acts 4:25 tells us that David is the author.
Psalm 2 is a call for those who do not follow Yahweh to submit to Him, serving Him only. David also speaks of God’s “anointed” (lit. messiah) who is also His “son” who will rule over all the nations and punish those who stand against Him.
By reading this messianic psalm you can easily see why many felt like the Messiah would simply be an earthly ruler. Considering David’s life, there was a very practical earthly application to this psalm. David’s son (Solomon) would be anointed (as would every earthly king descended from David) and would face opposition as he came to the throne. David’s reign as king was full of opposition from earthly kings. Again, a very clear earthly reason for its writing.
But the eternal promise from God to David carries the application of this Psalm forward to future kings.
Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.2 Samuel 7:16 NIV
This psalm is a reflection on the promise of God in 2 Samuel 7 to establish the eternal throne of David, and therefore extends to the kingly descendants of David, including Jesus.
Peter and the early persecuted disciples saw this psalm as applying to Jesus’ suffering at the hands of Pilate and the leaders of Israel (Acts 4:23-31).
Paul saw this psalm as being central to the message of the Gospel.
“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
“‘You are my son;Acts 13:32-33 NIV
today I have become your father.’”
The writer of Hebrews also uses this psalm to show that Jesus is greater than the angels (1:5) and that it is God who appointed Jesus as our ultimate high priest (5:5).
Our encouragement from Psalm 2 today is that our God is over all the nations, and the entire earth is his. He will rule through his Son, the promised Messiah, to bring about justice on the earth. But we must submit and worship His Son. Refusing to do so leads to our destruction. As David reminds us:
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.Psalm 2:12b NIV
My encouragement to you is to spend some time in the Psalms. They are the story of God’s relationship with his people, and point forward to the coming of the Messiah. The New Testament writers saw the Psalms as essential to understanding the life, ministry, and reign of Jesus. Shouldn’t we as well?