Continuing a series of posts on the Psalms using the ESV but also Jon Goldingay’s “The First Testament.”
The first thing I noticed was another reference to “murmuring” in v1 of Goldingay’s translation:
Why have nations crowded together, and peoples murmur about something empty…Psalm 1:2, The First Testament
In Psalm 1, the idea was that the one who delights in Yahweh’s instruction murmurs teaching night and day. Here the reference is to peoples who murmur empty words. That’s an interesting contrast.
The nations plot and murmur their empty words, conspiring against Yahweh and his anointed (His Messiah).
But the Lord mocks this (v4-5); He makes fun and ridicules them before terrifying them with His rage. Yahweh announces that He has established His king in Zion. And this is what He says: “You are my son. Today I have fathered you.”
And the Psalm ends — no doubt this is the point — with a call for the nations to repent, to turn to Yahweh and His anointed. This was the end result of Messiah’s ministry: an opportunity for the Gentiles to accept the lordship of Jesus.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.Psalm 2:11, ESV
Acts 4 shows us that this was a key text for the earliest believers. They understood the persecution of Jesus as the fulfillment of (or at least being congruent with) Psalm 2. Revelation 19 seems to allude to this as well, as the beast and the kings of the earth gather their armies to war against the Messiah. Psalm 2 is the first text Paul directly quotes in his address in Antioch as recorded in Acts 13. He sees the resurrection of Jesus as the demonstration of the line, “You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.” This is clearly a key OT text, given how many times it is referenced in the new covenant.
Eugene Peterson (I think) says that Psalms 1 & 2 prepare us for prayer, while Psalm 3 gets us into the work of praying. Maybe there’s something to that. Maybe prayer must begin with the assumption of Psalm 1 — that the blessed life is lived in the delight of Yahweh’s law; that this is the key to roots than run deep and fruit that endures. And maybe prayer must focus all of its energy on the assertion of Psalm 2 — the King in Zion as the one to be feared above all else.
May these two Psalms prepare us for the work of prayer.
Questions for reflection:
- What is it about Psalm 2 that led the early church to see it as such an important Christological text?
- How can you “serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (2:11)?
- How does Psalm 2 impact your prayer life?