Psalm ii. (Quare fremuerunt.)
Notes & Commentary:
This psalm has no title, and therefore, St. Jerome, after the Jews, consider it as a part of the former. In Acts xiii. 33., some copies have, in the first, others in the second psalm; and Origen testifies that he saw a copy where this and the former psalm were joined together; and he says, the psalms were not distinguished by numbers or letters, as they have been since. We find in some Greek and Latin manuscripts, “a psalm of David.” It is certain that he composed it, speaking of the Messias, (Acts iv. 25., and Hebrews i. 5.) though some passages may be applied to himself. The Rabbins would restrain it to him entirely; and some Christians have been so much off their guard, as to allow (Calmet) that it refers to David in the literal sense, and to Christ only in the spiritual; (Lyranus; Grotius) which would destroy the force of the prophecy. David takes occasion, (Calmet) from the opposition which was made by Saul, (Haydock) the Philistines, &c., (2 Kings v. 7; Josephus, [Jewish Antiquities?] vii. 4.) to his own exaltation, to foretell the similar rage with which many would resist the Messias. (Calmet) — The Philistines, however, had no kings to oppose David, as Kimchi confesses; and we had better refer the whole psalm to Christ. (Berthier)
Ver. 1. Raged. Hebrew, “come together with tumult,” (Symmachus) “loud cries,” like a furious army, composed of several nations. (Haydock) — Why have the Philistines, &c., assembled to obstruct my reign? or (Calmet) “why will the Gentiles be troubled, and the tribes meditate vain things?” (St. Jerome) Pilate, Herod, and the chiefs of the Jews, met to destroy the Messias; though, on other occasions, they were at variance. (Haydock) — Their attempts were fruitless. Their false witnesses could not agree. (Calmet) — The priests had, in vain, meditated on the law, since they had not discovered Him who was the end of it. (St. Athanasius; &c.) — People of Israel, Acts iv. 27. (Menochius)
Ver. 2. Kings. Herod and Pilate, (Worthington) who acted for the Roman emperor. — Princes, of the priests, (Haydock) Annas and Caiaphas. But all the rage of Gentiles and Jews against Christ was fruitless, (Worthington) and wicked, (Haydock) as the attempt of the surrounding nations to dethrone David was, in contradiction to the divine appointment. He is sometimes styled the Christ, or “anointed of the Lord,” Psalm xix. 7. But the Chaldean has, “to revolt from the Lord, and fight with his Messias.” So that the ancient Jews agreed with us, (Calmet) and it would be “rash to abandon the interpretation given by St. Peter.” (St. Jerome)
Ver. 3. Us. Let us no longer be subject to the old law, which is abrogated, (St. Augustine) or the enemies of David, and of Christ, encourage one another (Calmet) to subvert their authority, before it be too well established. Protestants still seem to be actuated with the same phrensy; fearing nothing more than the restoration of the Catholic religion [in Great Britain]; and incessantly pouring in petitions to [the British] Parliament to withhold the common rights of subjects from people of that [Catholic] persuasion. (Haydock) — “I fear there are more political than religious objectors to emancipation [of Catholics in Great Britain].” (Nightingale)
Ver. 4. Them, who continue rebellious, Proverbs i. He speaks thus to shew that we deserve derision. (Haydock) — Quod nos derisu digna faciamus. (St. Jerome) — Yet he will convert many, (Worthington) even of those who, like St. Paul, were bent on persecuting the faithful. If they still resist, (Haydock) he will shew the futility of their plans, and triumph over all, as David did over his opponents, and Christ over those who wished to have obstructed his resurrection, and the propagation of his gospel. Thus Jesus has proved his divinity, and confirmed our hopes that he will still protect his Church; as he did when it seemed to be in the greatest danger. (Calmet) — God can fear no opposition to his decrees. (Menochius) — He is in Heaven, to whom we ought to address our prayers. The Lord seems to be here applicable to Christ. Chaldean, “the word of God.” He has the title of the Creator, Adonai, as the Jews have marked it with a Kamets 134 times, when it is to be taken in that sense. (Berthier)
Ver. 5. Rage. These, and similar expressions, when applied to the immutable Deity, only denote that men have deserved the worst of punishments. (Haydock) — God had discomfited the enemies of David (2 Kings v. 20, 24.) by his thunder. But he still more confounded the devil, when Christ descended to take away his spoils; and he chastised the Jews by the ruin of their city, (Calmet) as he has or will do all persecutors of his Church. (Haydock) — He will severely reprehend, and justly punish the obstinate. (Worthington)
Ver. 6. I am. Hebrew, “I have anointed….over Sion, my,” &c. St. Jerome and others have read in the first person, what the Septuagint translate in the third. The sense is much the same. (Calmet) — But the Vulgate seems to be better connected, and the same letters may have this sense, if we neglect the points, which were unknown to the Septuagint and of modern invention. These interpreters may also have read a v for i, as these letters are very similar. (Berthier) — “But I am anointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain.” (Houbigant) — Theodoret, observing that Christ is king not only over Sion, but also over all, alters the punctuation: On Sion….preaching, &c., which is very plausible, since Isaias (ix. 3.) says, the law shall come forth from Sion, (Berthier) and [Isaias] chap. xxxvii. 32., and salvation from Mount Sion. Hence Christ preached frequently in the temple. It is certain David was not anointed here, but at Hebron; and the temple was not built till the reign of Solomon. See Psalm cix. 2.
Ver. 7. Thee. Chaldean weakens this text. (Haydock) — “I love thee as my son, and look upon thee with the same affection, as if I had this day created thee;” which might be applied to David, now settled more firmly on the throne by his late victory. But it literally refers to Christ, either born in time, (ver. 1., St. Augustine; Calmet) or baptized; (St. Justin Martyr) or rather rising again, (Acts xiii. 33.) and born from all eternity, Hebrews i. 5. This shews him superior to the angels. The prophet had both these events in view. Eternity is always the same. (Berthier; Bossuet; Du Hamel) — He to whom God may speak thus to-day, at all times, must be God also. (Robertson, Lexic.) (John v. 25.) — To this Socinians can make no reply, without giving up the Epistle to the Hebrews or allowing that the apostle’s arguments were inconclusive. (Berthier) — The same text may thus have many literal senses. (Du Hamel) — The eternal birth seems here to be the chief, as from that source the nativity, baptism, priesthood, (Hebrews xv. 5.[v. 5.?]) and miraculous resurrection of Christ, necessarily spring. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Ask. The Messias must be invested with human nature, and merit all graces for man. When did David ask for such an extensive dominion? (Berthier) — But Christ’s kingdom extends over the world. His Church cannot fail, as St. Augustine proved hence against the Donatists, and his arguments confute Protestants as well. (Worthington) — Our doctors used to refer this psalm to the Messias, said R. Solomon; but it is better to apply it to David, on account of “Christians.” (Du Hamel)
Ver. 9. Rule, as a shepherd, (poimaneis) as it is cited [in] Apocalypse ii. 26. But he is speaking of vengeance taken on the rebellious; and we might translate, “Thou shalt break,” &c. (Calmet) — Yet this is not necessary, as a shepherd sometimes beats with severity, to prevent his sheep from straying. (Haydock) — The Church guides also use coercion, but for the good of the flock. (Calmet) — God brought the murderers of his Son to an evil end, and destroyed their city. (Haydock) — He broke the Gentiles, to make them a more noble vessel, Jeremias xviii. 4. (St. Hilary) — He will execute judgment at the last day, Apocalypse xix. 11. (Calmet) — When the clay is still soft, the vessel may easily be repaired; so the sinner may be reclaimed, when he has only just fallen. (St. Jerome) — Even the most obdurate, are as clay in God’s hands. (Worthington)
Ver. 10. And. Here the prophet may address kings, unless the Father or the Messias continue to speak. It is evident these words are not to be understood of David’s dominions alone. Fear and joy keep the Christian in proper order, Philippians ii. 12., and iii. 1. (Berthier) — “The love of God pushes us forward, and the fear of God makes us take care where we walk.” (St. Theresa [of Avila?]) — The one guards us against despair, the other against presumption. Kings are here instructed to support the Church, for which some have been styled, “Most Christian,” “Catholic,” or “Defenders of the Faith.” The Donatists falsely asserted, that they were ever found enemies to religion, because of Constantine, &c., attempted to repress their errors. But Julian favoured them, to increase dissensions. See St. Augustine, contra Pet. et contra Gaud. ii. 26. (Worthington)
Ver. 11. Trembling, with reverential awe and humility, (1 Corinthians ii. 3.; Amama) as none is sure of salvation. (Bell.[Bellarmine?]) — More are lost by presumption than by trembling. (Amama)
Ver. 12. Discipline. Chaldean, “doctrine.” St. Jerome, “adore purely.” Protestants, “kiss the Son, lest he be angry,” &c. (Haydock) — Houbigant, “adore the son, lest he be angry, and you perish. For he comes forward, and shortly his wrath will be enkindled.” This version seems to be judicious: that of the Vulgate is less energetic, but comes to the same end, as those who adore the Messias, must follow his doctrine. (Berthier) — Lord and just is not in [the] Hebrew. (Haydock) — The way or projects of sinners will perish; (Psalm i. 6.) they will be hurried before the tribunal, as soon as they are dead; (St. Hilary) and when they least expect it, 1 Thessalonians v. 2. (Calmet) — Some fall from salvation, and God will bring them to judgment at the end of this short life. (Worthington) — Hebrew, “Kiss purely.” Kissing is often used in Scripture to express submission, love, and adoration. (St. Jerome, contra Ruf. i.) (Genesis xli. 40.) (Calmet) — We testify our respect for God, by kissing the Bible, &c. (Haydock) — But it cannot be shewn that bar means “a son,” in Hebrew. (Calmet) — Amama blames the Vulgate for withdrawing a text in favour of Christ’s divinity. We must, however, submit to the law and faith of Christ with confidence and love, if we desire to escape his indignation and enter heaven, Acts iv. 12. Mr. Nightingale (Portrait of Cath. 1812. p. 117 and 332) may represent this doctrine as uncharitable and groundless, though he allows it has been maintained by most (p. 473) who have professed to be the true disciples of Christ, whether Catholics or Protestants. The principle is good, though some apply it wrong. If he and Lord Milton, (speech. 1812. to whom we must express our manifest obligations) had contented themselves with saying that they believed our doctrine was “unscriptural,” &c., (p. 18) we should not have much wondered; as they could not consistently have said less, and remained out of the Catholic Church. But for any man who has read the Bible, to persuade himself that it is not necessary to profess the one only true religion, wherever it may be, after Christ has so plainly declared, He that believeth not is already judged, and shall be condemned; (John iii. 18., and Mark xvi. 16.) and after the apostle has delivered over to satan those who only asserted that the resurrection was past, (2 Timothy ii. 17.) this fills us with astonishment. Not a single text can be produced in favour of the contrary system leading to indifference about religion; which, if true, would shew the preaching of the prophets and apostles as nugatory, and their blood shed in vain. All the “Scriptures” proclaim the necessity of faith and good works. We may observe, that the doctrine of the blessed Trinity seems to be no less objectionable to Mr. N. than the rest of our faith, p. 117, &c. Yet (Haydock) we must not refuse him the praise of liberality. (Catholic Review, &c., Jan. 1813.) (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Trust for salvation through Christ, (Du Hamel) acting as he has directed, so that their hope may be well founded. (Menochius) — This psalm is quoted six times in the New Testament, [Acts iv. 25., and xiii. 33., Hebrews i. 5., and v. 5., and Apocalypse ii. 27., and xix. 15.] which shews the concord of Scripture, and that the prophets saw the promises at a distance, following the law of love, which is as ancient as the world. (Berthier)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The vain efforts of persecutors against Christ and his Church.
1 Why *have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?
2 The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.
3 Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us.
4 He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them.
5 Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage.
6 But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment.
7 *The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 *Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, and shalt break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10 And now, O ye kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.
11 Serve ye the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling.
12 Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way.
13 When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that trust in him.
1: Acts iv. 25.
7: Acts xiii. 33.; Hebrews i. 5. and v. 5.
9: Apocalypse ii. 27. and xix. 15.