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Psalms

Psalms

Psalms Psalm 2 Summary

Verses 1-3

NRSV
Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
"Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us."

KJV
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

  • Uh, oh folks. Trouble's brewing in the kingdom.
  • It seems as though the foreign kings are the ones starting a revolution.
  • Notice that in the newer translation we get "nations," but the King James Version says "heathen." Agenda, anyone?
  • The writer was definitely paranoid about conspiracy theories. They're all out to get him. Think about the impact this psalm would have had if you'd read it over a roaring fire at dusk. Creepy, right?

Verses 4-9

NRSV
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
"I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill."
I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He 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.
You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."

KJV
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potters vessel.

  • Watch out, people. God's angry.
  • Angry or not, God laughs—who knew? He also sits, speaks, and gets angry. God's starting to sound a lot like an overlarge human with correspondingly bigger temper tantrums that just happen to make the entire universe shake. Go figure.
  • God doesn't even bother to reject the conspirators' claims; he just points over to his chosen.
  • These verses are another endorsement of the Davidic line in Jerusalem, and boy is it possessive. It's "my" king and "my" hill. Verse 7 doesn't literally mean that God had a son, and that son was David. This is figurative, folks. We're not quite at Jesus yet, when the idea of God physically having a son will begin to gain more traction.
  • This whole interaction seems like a pretty sweet deal: ask and ye shall receive, right? David not only gets land, but victory, too.
  • David was famous for winning battles and spilling the blood of his enemies. Built himself a mid-level empire doing it, too.
  • Verse 9 is another example of the major theme of TOTAL ANNIHILATION. Destruction here is big, and there are no second chances.

Verses 10-11

NRSV
Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling
kiss his feet, or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all who take refuge in him.

KJV
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. 

  • Who's in the club? This is imperial royal ideology at its finest: followers of David are in, everyone else is out.
  • And just FYI, being out of the club here means being dead. Very dead.
  • Notice that they snuck in "the Son" in the King James Version. Even though that whole idea wasn't around when the psalm was originally written, the writers of the KJV wanted to make the Bible sound like a more unified document.

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