Psalm 2: The Messianic Kingdom Foretold

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There are three verses in Scripture where we find God laughing. And guess what? The object of God’s laughter and its intent are the same in each verse. For many, the scriptural reason for God’s laughter is surprising. Mockery is the intent, and God’s enemies are the object of His laughter. You heard that right. God mocks and laughs at His enemies, those opposing Him!

God mocks and laughs at His enemies!

When reading the Bible from cover to cover, Psalm 2 is the first place you find this truth, and like Psalms 37 and 59 that follow, the context is consistently this: God is laughing at the attempted coup d’etat of His reign in a worldwide Kingdom that’s still coming. In Psalm 2 specifically, God is reigning through and with the Messiah, the anointed Son who is King over all. Written approximately a thousand years before the Messiah’s first appearing, this prophecy about His Kingdom deserves a closer look given that it is sometimes disputed as either not being about a future kingdom, not being Messianic, or not being about Jesus (Hebrew: Yeshua).

A Prophecy of the Coming Kingdom

So how do we know that Psalm 2 is a picture of God’s future Kingdom on Earth? David’s declaration that Adonai will reign over the entire world in a coming Messianic Kingdom is most clearly seen in verses 6–8, where the “King” of verse 6 is given the “nations” (Hebrew: goyim, for Gentiles) and the “ends of the Earth” in verse 8. 

But do not miss the fact that even his opening lines work together to imply a still future and global reign by the Divine Messiah. In verses 1–3 we find the goyim, specifically the kings of the earth (v. 2), raging in a conspiracy to overthrow the bondage (v. 3) of “Yahweh and His Anointed” (v. 2, LSB). By implication, they must first be subjected to their bondage in order to rebel against it. Clearly, the world has yet to see a period in history where God’s Anointed King has subdued all world governments and subjected them to His rule. This wasn’t true of David’s kingdom, nor any of his ruling descendants. This fact turns our attention to the identity of this Anointed King in Psalm 2.

A Prophecy About the Messiah

Although some argue Psalm 2 is just poetry about David, even the Jewish sages acknowledge that this psalm is about David’s greater Son, the Messiah, instead. Sukkah 52 of the Talmud states, “The Rabbis taught that the Messiah, the Son of David, who is destined to be revealed speedily . . . the Holy One said unto Him: Ask of Me anything and I will give you whatever you wish, as it is stated: ‘I will tell of the decree; the Lord said unto me: You are My son, this day have I begotten you, ask of Me, and I will give the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.’” Targum Jonathan says, “The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers are united together to rebel before the Lord, and to contend against His Messiah.” 

Some Jewish scholars admit that the Messiah was supposed to appear a long time ago. Our assertion, of course, is that He did appear a long time ago! And the Spirit who inspired the writers of the New Testament didn’t forget the Tanakh’s (Old Testament) prophetic details concerning what we now know to be His return. Right along with the Jewish sages, the book of Hebrews (1:5 and 5:5) credits Psalm 2:7 as being about the Messiah. Unlike the sages, it acknowledges that this “Son of God” is Jesus (see also Mark 14:61–62; John 1:34; Acts 9:20, 13:32–33).

In all fairness, Jewish scholars who deny Psalm 2 being about Jesus are not the only ones misinterpreting it. There are also some Christian scholars who subject it to misinterpretation. While preserving its Messianic overtones, they fall into a different error: stripping its Jewish roots by reinterpreting the concept of God’s Kingdom. Rather than acknowledging a future Kingdom restored to Israel (as Jesus affirms in Acts 1:6–7), they propose a spiritualized kingdom for the church where Jesus reigns over the Earth now. 

It’s true that God has never relinquished His control over all creation (Psalm 103:19). It’s true that much of the world’s leadership has stood against God’s Anointed since the time of His crucifixion (see Acts 4:25–26). However, it’s not true that “the Kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ”; that statement isn’t in effect until the seventh trumpet of the coming Tribulation (Revelation 11:15). We must remember that Adam’s dominion (Genesis 1:26, 28) over Earth was permitted to fall under Satan’s influence (Luke 4:6–7; Ephesians 6:12; Daniel 10:13, 20) when he sinned in Eden. The New Testament book of Revelation is all about the Messiah, the “Last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:20–25, 45–49; Romans 5:12–21) taking that dominion back (1 Corinthians 15:24; Revelation 11:15). 

We are in that period now, the age of a Jewish and Gentile church, where the Son is at the right hand of the Father.

So, is the Kingdom now? No, there is not yet a Messianic reign from David’s throne (Luke 1:31–33), which was in Jerusalem (and not in heaven). David prophesied in Psalm 110:1, “The Lᴏʀᴅ said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” We are in that period now, the age of a Jewish and Gentile church, where the Son is at the right hand of the Father (Matthew 26:64; Luke 22:69; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 12:2).

A Picture of Future History With Both Testaments

When considering both Testaments of Scripture, the data harmonizes into a more complete picture of the Messiah’s reign foretold in Psalms 2 and 110. The Day of the Lord is coming. After God makes His enemies a footstool, then Psalm 110:2 transpires, “The Lᴏʀᴅ shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion . . . . [to] Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” Take note, Psalm 2:10–12 warns world leaders: “So now, O kings, show insight; take warning, O judges of the earth. Serve Yahweh with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled” (LSB, emphasis added). Psalm 110:5–6 reveals what happens when these kings refuse the warning: “The Lord is at Your [God’s] right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries” (NKJV, emphasis mine). Without mincing words, the conspiracy to overthrow the divine Messiah’s Kingdom will be bloody.

Twice in the book of Revelation John refers to Psalm 2 by describing future conspiracies to overthrow God’s Messianic Kingdom. The first will be when Satan inspires the ultimate false Messiah, the Antichrist, to lead the world’s armies to gather against Israel at the plains of Megiddo (“Armageddon” in Revelation 16:16); resulting in Jesus returning to deliver Israel from what is taking place in the Land (Revelation 19:11–21). In fact, Revelation 19:15 quotes Psalm 2:9 as the beginning of its fulfillment. Consistent with Psalms 2 and 110, Revelation 19:19 predicts “the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered to make war against Him.” Clearly they have ignored both the warning and the beatitude of Psalm 2:12; the result is the same: bloodshed. The second conspiracy against the Messiah is at the end of His Millennial reign before the eternal state; that judgment is even more swift (Revelation 20:7–10).

In conclusion, I want to caution ourselves not to characterize the sum total of God’s nature as being one of mockery and wrath. Just as we are capable of a full range of emotions, the One who made us in His image is of course capable as well, only He does so in holiness. God is love (1 John 4:16); and He loved us enough to send His only begotten Son to die in our place (John 3:16). It is precisely the rejection of such a gracious gift that warrants His wrath against His enemies.

About the Author

Cameron Joyner

Cameron is the Assistant Program Ministries Director for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. He resides with his family in Atlanta, GA. If you would like to learn more or partner with Cameron’s ministry, you can contact him at cjoyner@foi.org or call our headquarters at 800-257-7843 and speak with someone in North American Ministries. You can also support his ministry online here.

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