This Psalm wears something of a dramatic form, for now another person is introduced as speaking. We have looked into the counsel-chamber of the wicked, and to the throne of God, and now we behold the Anointed declaring his rights of sovereignty, and warning the traitors of their doom.
God has laughed at the counsel and ravings of the wicked, and now Christ the Anointed himself comes forward, as the Risen Redeemer, “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” #Ro 1:4|. Looking into the angry faces of the rebellious kings, the Anointed One seems to say, “If this sufficeth not to make you silent, ‘_I will declare the decree_.'” Now this decree is directly in conflict with the device of man, for its tenour is the establishment of the very dominion against which the nations are raging. “_Thou art my Son_.” Here is a noble proof of the glorious Divinity of our Immanuel. “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?” What a mercy to have a Divine Redeemer in whom to rest our confidence! “_This day have I begotten thee_.” If this refers to the Godhead of our Lord, let us not attempt to fathom it, for it is a great truth, a truth reverently to be received, but not irreverently to be scanned. It may be added, that if this relates to the Begotten One in his human nature, we must here also rejoice in the mystery, but not attempt to violate its sanctity by intrusive prying into the secrets of the Eternal God. The things which are revealed are enough, without venturing into vain speculations. In attempting to define the Trinity, or unveil the essence of Divinity, many men have lost themselves: here great ships have foundered. What have we to do in such a sea with our frail skiffs?
“_Ask of me_.” It was a custom among great kings to give to favoured ones whatever they might ask. (See #Es 5:6; Mt 14:7|.) So Jesus hath but to ask and have. Here he declares that his very enemies are his inheritance. To their face he declares this decree, and “Lo! here,” cries the Anointed One, as he holds aloft in that once pierced hand the sceptre of his power, “He hath given me this, not only the right to be a king, but the power to conquer.” Yes! Jehovah hath given to his Anointed a rod of iron with which he shall break rebellious nations in pieces, and, despite their imperial strength, they shall be but as potters’ vessels, easily dashed into shivers, when the rod of iron is in the hand of the omnipotent Son of God. Those who will not bend must break. Potters’ vessels are not to be restored if dashed in pieces, and the ruin of sinners will be hopeless if Jesus shall smite them. “Ye sinners seek his grace, Whose wrath ye cannot bear; Fly to the shelter of his cross, And find salvation there.” EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS. Verse 7.–The dispute concerning the eternal filiation of
our Lord betrays more of presumptuous curiosity than of reverent faith. It is an attempt to explain where it is far better to adore. We could give rival expositions of this verse, but we forbear. The controversy is one of the most unprofitable which ever engaged the pens of theologians.–^C. H. S.
Verse 8.–“Ask of me_.” The priesthood doth not appear to be settled upon Christ by any other expression than this, “_Ask of me_.” The Psalm speaks of his investiture in his kingly office; the apostle refers this to his priesthood, his commission, for both took date at the same time; both bestowed, both confirmed by the same authority. The office of asking is grounded upon the same authority as the honour of king. Ruling belonged to his royal office, asking to his priestly. After his resurrection, the Father gives him a power and command of asking.– ^Stephen Charnock.
Verse 8.–As the limner looks on the person whose picture he would take, and draws his lines to answer him with the nearest similitude that he can, so God looks on Christ as the archetype to which he will conform the saint, in suffering, in grace, in glory; yet so that Christ hath the pre-eminence in all. Every saint must suffer, because Christ suffered: Christ must not have a delicate body under a crucified head; yet never any suffered, or could, what he endured. Christ is holy, and therefore so shall every saint be, but in an inferior degree; an image cut in clay cannot be so exact as that engraved on gold. Now, our conformity to Christ appears, that as the promises made to him were performed upon his prayers to his Father, his promises made to his saints are given to them in the same way of prayer: “_Ask of me_,” saith God to his Son, “_and I shall give thee_.” And the apostle tells us, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” God hath promised support to Christ in all his conflicts. #Isa 42:1|. “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; ” yet he prayed “with strong cries and tears,” when his feet stood within the shadow of death. A seed is promised to him, and victory over his enemies, yet for both these he prays. Christ towards us acts as a king, but towards his Father as a priest. All he speaks to God is by prayer and intercession. So the saints, the promise makes them kings over their lusts, conquerors over their enemies; but it makes them priests towards God, by prayer humbly to sue out those great things given in the promise.–^William Gurnall, 1617–1679.
Verse 8.–It will be observed in our Bible that two words of verse eight are in italics, intimating that they are not translations of the Hebrew, but additions made for the purpose of elucidating the meaning. Now if the “_thee_” and the “_for_” are left out, the verse will read thus, “Ask of me, and I shall give the heathen, thine inheritance, and thy possession, the uttermost parts of the earth.” And this reading is decidedly preferable to the other. It implies that by some previous arrangement on the part of God, he had already assigned an inheritance of the heathen, and the possession of the earth, to the person of whom he says, “Thou art my Son.” And when God says, “I will give,” etc., he reveals to his Anointed, not so much in what the inheritance consisted, and what was the extent of possession destined for him, as the promise of his readiness to bestow it. The heathen were already “the inheritance,” and the ends of the earth “the possession,” which God had _purposed_ to give to his Anointed. Now he says to him, “Ask of me,” and he _promises_ to fulfil his purpose. This is the idea involved in the words of the text, and the importance of it will become more apparent, when we consider its application to the _spiritual_ David, to the true Son of God, “whom he hath appointed the heir of all things.”
Verse 9.–The “_rod_” has a variety of meanings in Scripture. It might be of different materials, as it was employed for different purposes. At an early period, a wooden rod came into use as one of the insignia of royalty, under the name of sceptre. By degrees the sceptre grew in importance, and was regarded as characteristic of an empire, or of the reign of some particular king. A golden sceptre denoted wealth and pomp. The right, or straight sceptre of which we read in #Ps 45:6|, is expressive of the justice and uprightness, the truth and equity, which shall distinguish Messiah’s reign, after his kingdom on earth has been established. But when it is said in #Re 14:15|, that he, “whose name is called the Word of God,” will smite the nations, and “rule them with a rod of iron,” if the rod signifies “his sceptre,” then the “iron” of which it is made must be designed to express the severity of the judgments which this omnipotent “King of kings” will inflict on all who resist his authority. But to me it appears doubtful whether the “rod of iron” symbolizes the royal sceptre of the Son of God at his second advent. It is mentioned in connection with “a sharp sword,” which leads me to prefer the opinion that it also ought to be regarded as a weapon of war; at all events, the “rod of iron” mentioned in the Psalm we are endeavouring to explain, is evidently not the emblem of sovereign power, although represented as in the hands of a king, but an instrument of correction and punishment. In this sense the word “rod” is often used … When the correcting rod, which usually was a wand or cane, is represented, as in the second Psalm, to be of “iron” it only indicates how weighty, how severe, how effectual the threatened chastisement will be–it will not merely bruise, but it will break. “_Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron_.”
Now it is just such a complete breaking as would not readily be effected excepting by _an iron rod_, that is more fully expressed in the following clause of the verse, “Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” The completeness of the destruction, however, depends on two things. Even an iron rod if gently used, or used against a hard and firm substance, might cause little injury; but, in the case before us, it is supposed to be applied with great force, “Thou shalt _dash_ them;” and it is applied to what will prove as brittle and frangible as “_a potter’s vessel_”– “Thou shalt dash them _in pieces_.” … Here, as is other respects, we must feel that the predictions and promises of this Psalm were but very partially fulfilled in the history of the literal David. Their real accomplishment, their awful completion, abides the day when the spiritual David shall come in glory and in majesty as Zion’s King, with a rod of iron to dash in pieces the great antichristian confederacy of kings and peoples, and to take possession of his long-promised and dearly-purchased inheritance. And the signs of the times seem to indicate that the coming of the Lord draws nigh.–^David Pitcairn.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Verse 7.–The divine decree concerning Christ, in connection with the decrees of election and providence. The Sonship of Jesus.
This verse teacheth us faithfully to declare, and humbly to claim, the gifts and calling that God hath bestowed upon us.–^Thomas Wilcocks.
Verse 8.–Christ’s inheritance.–^William Jay.
Prayer indispensable.–_Jesus must ask_.
Verse 9.–_The ruin of the wicked_. Certain, irresistible, terrible, complete, irretrievable, “like a potter’s vessel.”
_The destruction of systems of error and oppression to be expected_. The gospel an iron rod quite able to break mere pots of man’s making.