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PSALM TWO: THE DECREE DECLARED
by Philip Owen

 Songs of human origin seldom contain depth of meaning; in fact, because the words are insipid, many songs are remembered and repeated for the sake of the music alone. Not so the songs inspired by deity:  they are songs, not only to be sung, but to be studied, meditated upon, and marveled at.  Few verses better illustrate this truth than today’s text.  The Second Psalm is highly dramatic.  The psalmist begins in his own voice by asking a question:  “Why do the heathen rage . . . ?”  The answer comes through the voice of God, who declares that His purpose to establish an earthly kingdom under the Messiah will come to fruition:  “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill Zion” (v. 6).  Then the voice of the Messiah breaks in:  “I will declare the decree:  the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” (v. 7).  The layers of truth contained in this single verse have blessed saints for ages.

 
Layer One.  The decree announced here alludes to an earlier decree of God.  Allen Ross succinctly explains it thus:  “The decree refers to the Davidic Covenant in which God declared that he would be Father to the king [David], and the king would be His son.  So when David became king, God described their affiliation as a Father-son relationship [see II Sam. 7:14].  So the expression ‘son’ took on the meaning of a messianic title.”  The term son, then, does not describe a filial relationship engendered by physical siring with regard to David.  Rather, it speaks of a relationship that confers divine authority upon David to reign over the kingdom.  The same holds true when referring to Christ.  The verse does not suggest a beginning for Christ or a time when He came into being as the Son of God.  Instead, it declares His authority as the Son of God ultimately to reign as the “last David” upon His throne in Jerusalem during the Millennium.
 
Layer Two.  But the truth of this verse is not exhausted when we have linked its meaning back to the Davidic Covenant.  We must also look forward, for in the New Testament, the author of Hebrews writes:  “For unto which of the angels said he [God] at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?  And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?  And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (1:5, 6).  Here the same words are applied to the incarnation of Christ.  As the eternal Son of the Father, Christ fulfilled the eternal purpose of God when He took on human flesh and, as the son of David, born into the kingly line, qualified to sit upon the Davidic throne; and, as the son of Adam, but without sin, qualified to be the Sin-Bearer and Redeemer of mankind through His vicarious suffering and death.
 
Layer Three.  Still the preceding two layers of explanation do not exhaust the meaning of our verse.  For Luke records a sermon by the Apostle Paul that references our text thus:  “God hath fulfilled the same [promise] unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.  And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David” (Acts 13:33, 34).  In this sermon, Paul links our text from Psalm Two with the resurrection of Christ!  The grave could not contain the eternal only begotten Son of God.  For He was and is Himself life eternal.  God, who willed that His Son die, declared that He would rise again.
 
What we see, then, in this brief verse is the eternal plan of God envisioned from eternity where time is of no consequence.  The installation of David as king and the establishment of the Davidic Covenant (c. 1011 B.C.), the incarnation of Christ and His resurrection some thirty-three years later, and the reign of Christ during the still future Millennium are all seen on the same plane.  From God’s perspective, His plan has always been completed:  the decree was declared; the decree was accomplished.  Christ is Savior and King.  God’s will shall shortly be brought to fruition in time.  The heathen may rage, but God’s decree stands.  May we rest and rejoice in this wonderful God who holds eternity in His hand and works all things according to the counsel of His own will.

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