Psalms in Book 1 (Psalms 1 to 41) are mostly personal songs, so I will be looking at how they apply to us personally. Social and communal aspects of life and work do not come in until the later books of psalms.
Psalm 2 has no attribution, the quote of this psalm in Acts 4:23-24 as being by David does not make David the author as it is spoken in prayer by the disciples, it only says that the disciples believed that the prayer is by David but not that David was actually the lyricist.
The books of Psalms are roughly themed like this:
Book 1: Psalms 1 – 41: God is beside us.
Book 2: Psalms 42 – 72: God goes before us
Book 3: Psalms 73 – 89: God is all around us.
Book 4: Psalms 90 – 106: God is above us.
Book 5: Psalms 107 – 150: God is among us.
2 Why do the nations rage[a]Psalm 2 ESVUK
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break[b] them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
There may be doubts about the attribution of this psalm, but no doubt that it is about David. The name Anointed gives that away. Lots of people were anointed by God. Lots of people got God’s anointing, Priests and High priests, prophets, and kings were anointed from a horn. The psalm is about the anointing of David and how God will be with his dynasty. When the Lord says, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you,” he is talking about David and how David will subdue the nations that rage against him.
But there is anither way to look at it. The word for anointed in Hebrew is Messiah. God’s anointed points forward to another anointed one who is to come and will subdue those who stand against God. This is a Messianic psalm and points forward to the coming of Jesus. Jesus is the Lord’s Anointed, God’s Son, he is the one who will subdue those who oppose God.
The Messianic psalms are prophetic, but this does not mean they had no direct significance or connection to the Old Testament times in which they were written. They anticipate the Messiah but also have meaning in the contemporary context of the writer.
Psalm 2 introduces us to main themes in the psalms. there is a kingly theme, the messianic theme and a theme of protection from enemies.
God laughs at his enemies, they plot as if two people have more chance of winning against God. They plot as if the armies of three nations and all their weapons have more chance of beating God than one army. God laughs at their naïvety. God’s throne is not a place on Earth that can be conquered but in the Heavens. God looks down on the ways of men and assures us that he and not the governments of men is in control because in God is where the power lies.
How does this square with a God of love? Jesus made it clear that he will never turn away anybody who comes to him (John 6:37). God does not make enemies of people, but people make themselves enemies of God by rejecting God, by turning away. Turning away is the opposite of repentance because repentance means turning around, and changing. Is there something in your life that you have not turned away from? Jesus is waiting to accept you when you turn toward him, every time you turn towards him.
Blessed, happy are those who trust God.