Put yourself in the shoes of the original readers of the famous second Psalm:
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
Who would you, original reader, think the Lord’s “Anointed” is? That depends a good deal on when the psalm was written—and Scripture doesn’t tell us.
The average careful Bible reader is now stuck. And sometimes the average careful Bible reader needs to accept that and move on. The writers of the Psalms often purposefully avoid historical specificity so they can be used by all of God’s people throughout time.
But refusing to accept being stuck until every rock has been turned is what separates the above-average Bible reader from the average one. And in Psalm 2, the question of who the original readers were seems rather important. It’s bound up with the identity of the “Anointed”—is it David or Jesus? Wouldn’t you like to know?
But what rock do you turn over, exactly, if the Bible simply doesn’t tell us who wrote the psalm and when? How do you proceed?
When you have reached the limit of your interpretive skills, you turn to the commentators. And if you don’t have good commentaries, you are indeed stuck.
Waltke on Psalms
Every Logos base package from Bronze and up—which are all 20% off till Saturday, December 30—have two truly excellent Psalms commentary volumes. Both are written by one of the top Old Testament exegetes of our day, Bruce Waltke, whose work I have found very helpful. (They also contain helpful material from other authors, especially on the history of interpretation).
Waltke opens his comments on Psalm 2 in The Psalms as Christian Worship by arguing that the psalm is intended to be a companion to Psalm 1 and prelude to Psalms 3–7. He situates Psalm 2 in a Davidic story and sees it as a “coronation poem asserting Israel’s king’s right to rule all nations with the mandate to establish his dominion through prayer” (161).
Waltke thinks the psalm plays double duty. It was composed for Solomon and his successors, but it also holds greater, prophetic significance. “No Davidic king fulfilled this psalm’s vision of a Davidic king extending I AM’s rule to the ends of the earth.” (180)
Indeed, if David is “the Anointed” in Psalm 2, in what sense would the nations of the earth take counsel together and say “let’s burst the bonds and cast away the cords” around them? The kings of all the earth weren’t shackled by David, nor by any other king of his line. The Anointed king of Psalm 2 has to be the kind of king about whom the rest of the psalm speaks: you are my Son, you’ll get all the nations as your heritage, you’ll dash them all in pieces. It has to be the kind of king about whom the Father can say, Don’t just serve the Lord with fear, you kings, but kiss the Son. This is the kind of Son/king who can get angry at all the kings of the world and make them all perish in the way when his wrath is kindled but a little.
I know only one king like that, and we just celebrated his birth.
I buy books because they help me toward right love and knowledge. I bought Logos 4 way back when because I needed the kind of insight that Waltke provides. I think that insight is what many Bible readers are seeking. No one wants to be stuck in Bible study when answers are out there to be had with a mouse click.
I want to be as confident as God permits in my Bible interpretation, and checking my work against that of good commentators is one of the final and most important steps toward confidence.
Get a Logos 7 base package while our 20% off deal remains, and we’ll ship Bruce Waltke’s insights straight into your computer.
Mark L. Ward, Jr. received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as a Logos Pro. His most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible (forthcoming, Lexham Press).
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