I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession.” (Psalm 2.7-8)
True God of True God, Light of Light Eternal
Psalm 2 is a coronation song that features the heathen nations in an uproar of treason against the Lord, The Lord’s response to the high treason of the nations, and the Anointed King who reigns from Zion’s Mountain. It shouldn’t be lost on us how thoroughly this Psalm comports with themes we have already seen about the Seed of the woman, and about how that Seed comes from Judah’s line through David to reign over the nations eternally as the Serpent crushing Seed of the woman. As this Psalm opens, God’s enemies (the seed of the Serpent) are in a “rage” against the Lord. (v. 1) They come together conspiring against the King of the nations. The reality of the rebellion of nations is not foreign to us, seeing that our culture is neck deep in the blood of 50 million dead babies. The whole world as it lies in the power of the Serpent is convulsing and fomenting hatred toward the Sovereign Lord of history.
The Lord’s response to this kind of rebellion in this text is not tears of sadness, not a sorrowful cry of regret. The Lord’s response is much more bone-chilling than that. The Lord laughs. It is not easy to think about the Lord laughing at sin, but this laughter is not the laughter of hilarity, not the laughter of comedy. It is the laughter of scorn. It is a laughter brought about by the utter futility of the rebellion of the nations. It seems obvious to us that rebellion against God on the part of the nations is futile. After all, He is the Creator of all things that exist right? Who could really expect to fight against Him and win? But in this Psalm, the Lord’s answer to the nations in laughter is brought about by one central reality: The Reign of His Son. This text is one that should bring us to the feet of the Lord Jesus is awe and wonder.
The Lord answers the nations with the words: “As for me, I have installed my King on Zion, my holy mountain.” (Psalm 2.6) The text above explains the nature of the King who reigns over the nations who are in rebellion. This text is probably a Psalm of David about the coronation of the King of Israel. However, just as we have seen with so many other aspects of David’s life, this text widens out and reaches past David to the Ultimate Son of David who would reign eternally from Zion’s Hill.
The Lord’s response to the godless nations in this song takes us back into eternity past: “I will tell of the decree.” Theologians generally understand this to refer to the secret counsel of God’s will by which He decrees to create and redeem for His own glory. (Ephesians 1.9-10) All things that come to pass in time happen according to His decretive will. This is a decree to create and redeem, but also to rule through the King that He has installed on Zion. Notice something profound that this text indicates though: The nations becoming his “heritage” and the ends of the earth becoming His “possession” are given to him precisely because He is Yahweh’s Son by nature. As this text uses a coronation song of David, King of Israel, it also references One coming in the future who is not only Son of David, but Son of God. So who is this One who is both Yahweh’s Son and Son of David? Who is the One who reigns with such remarkable power and sovereignty that the nations’ rebellion against Him incites laughter from the Lord?
He is the Lord’s “begotten.” When we use the term “begotten” in our human language we mean that someone bore a child in time and that child had a distinct beginning, a starting point. When we speak of “begottenness” we speak of finitude, we speak of those who come into existence at a specific point, and those who will pass out of existence at some point in the future. However, notice that this One who is “begotten today” in this Psalm is begotten from God Himself and begotten in eternity, the same place that the “decree” happens. This reaches beyond human categories of “begottenness” and into the eternal reality of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The One who reigns in this text reigns precisely because He is God the Son, the One who never had a beginning, but is eternally “begotten” from the Father’s very essence. The One who “breaks the nations with a rod of iron, and dashes them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (v. 9) in His judgement can be none other than God Himself. Proving that Jesus has a greater status than the angels, the author to the Hebrews uses this very text to support the deity of Christ when he says (in effect) that God would never say to one of the angels, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” (Hebrews 1.5) The One who is begotten of the very essence of the Father must be coequal with the Father, and He must be God Himself. “He is the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1.3) It is this One that rules the nations. David’s greater Son is also God’s eternal Son!
This is the delightful mystery of the incarnation of Christ through the virgin birth. In the womb of the virgin the Holy Spirit came upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her, so that the child born to her would be called “holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1.35) The eternal Son, coequal in glory with the Father and the Spirit became the incarnate Son, dependent on the virgin for sustenance and human life. He did this even though He was “true God of true God, Light of Light Eternal.” (O Come All Ye Faithful) He is also the One with the right to rule the nations as the One who was born of the woman, born of David, and crushed the Serpent’s head. He has ascended into heaven and He has asked of the Father, and it has delighted the Father to give all the nations to Him as His inheritance, and the ends of the earth as His possession. He owns them as the One who bought them with His blood and rose from the dead to release them from the curse of sin. He ascended on high to rule them with the power of His right hand as the One who is both God and Man. He is the Eternal One, the One to whom victory belongs, and the One to whom our worship is due. Let us heed the final verse of this song: “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way.” (Psalm 2.11-12)