Psalms 2:1-4

1 Why do the nations conspire[a]and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.

Psalms 2:1 in Other Translations

KJV
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
ESV
1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
NLT
1 Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
MSG
1 Why the big noise, nations? Why the mean plots, peoples?
CSB
1 Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain?

Psalms 2:1-4 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO PSALM 2

This psalm is the second in order, and so it is called in Ac 13:33; which shows that the book of Psalms was in the same form in the apostles' days as now, and as it ever had been; and though it is without a title, yet certain it is that it is a psalm of David, since the twelve apostles of Christ with one voice ascribe it to him, in which no doubt they the generally received sense of the Jewish Ac 4:24,25; and the Messiah is the subject of and that it is a prophecy concerning him, his person, office, and kingdom, appears from the express mention of the Lord's Anointed, or Messiah, in his being set as King over Zion, notwithstanding the opposition made against him; from the person spoken of being called the Son of God, and that in such sense as angels and men are not, and therefore cannot belong to any creature; and from his having so large an inheritance, and such power over the Heathen; and from the reverence, service, and obedience due to him from the kings and judges of the earth; and from the trust and confidence which is to be put in him, which ought not to be placed but in a divine Person; and more especially this appears from several passages cited out of it in the New Testament, and applied to the Messiah, \Ac 4:25-27 13:33 Heb 1:5 5:5\, to which may be added, that the ancient Jewish doctors interpreted this psalm of the Messiah {s}; and some of the modern ones own that it may be understood either of David or of the Messiah, and that some things are clearer of the Messiah than of David {t}; and some particular passages in it are applied to him both by ancient and later writers among the Jews, as Ps 2:1,2, "Why do the Heathen rage" {u}; Ps 2:6, "I have set" {w}; Ps 2:7, "I will declare the decree", &c. {x}, and Ps 2:8, "Ask of me" {y}; and we may very safely interpret the whole of him.

{s} Jarchi in loc. {t} Kimchi in v. 12. & Aben Ezra in v. 6. 12. {u} T. Bab. Avodah Zarah, fol. 3. 2. Pirke Eliezer, c. 19. {w} R. Saadiah Gaon in Dan. vii. 13. {x} Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 90. 2. Zohar in Numb. fol. 82. 2. Maimon in Misn Sanhedrin, c. 11. 1. & Abarbinel Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 37. 4. &. 38. 1. {y} T. Bab. Succah, fol. 52. 1. & Bereshit Rabba, s. 44. fol. 38. 4.

Psalms 2:1-4 In-Context

1 Why do the nations conspireand the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”
7 I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.
8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

Cross References 8

  • 1. Psalms 21:11; Psalms 83:5; Proverbs 24:2
  • 2. Psalms 48:4
  • 3. S 1 Samuel 9:16; John 1:41
  • 4. Psalms 74:18,23; Acts 4:25-26*
  • 5. S Job 36:8
  • 6. S 2 Samuel 3:34; Jeremiah 5:5
  • 7. Isaiah 37:16; Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 66:1
  • 8. Psalms 37:13; Psalms 59:8; Proverbs 1:26

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Hebrew; Septuagint "rage"
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.