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Blessed Are Those Who Seek Refuge

Psalm 2 imagines a newly coronated Davidic king in the face of insurmountable opposition from every nation and ruler on earth. The king’s enemies come from every corner of creation and surround Zion, the theological center of the world. The rebellious rulers come with confidence against the throne of Jerusalem, yet they do not see the true power that lies beyond the enthroned human king. In an exchange of viewpoints, mutiny is uttered (2:1–3), God responds (2:4–6), the king pronounces a prophetic promise of judgment (2:7–9), and the Psalmist urges the rulers to reconsider (2:10–12).

The message of the hymn is encapsulated with the conclusion’s admonition, “Blessed are all who seek refuge in him!” (2:12).

The psalm is rooted in two fundamental concepts: kingship and kinship. The genre is widely accepted as a Royal Psalm, specifically, a coronation hymn. The psalm is a song for the ascension of an Israelite king to the throne of Zion. When compared to other Old Testament coronations, there are several parallels (1 Kgs 1:41-48; 2 Kgs 11:12). Likewise, the psalmist intensifies YHWH’s relationship to his Anointed using familial language that highlights their special covenant (2 Sam 7:1-17). Father-Son language was often used to express covenants and treaties between nations of great and lesser power—a suzerain to vassal—often employed adoption language. The begetting of the Davidic king does not connote physical birth, but adoption. Hence, on the day of his coronation, the new Davidic king is given the status of YHWH’s adopted son.

In the New Testament, Psalm 2 is quoted in reference to Jesus’ sonship and kingship. Acts 4:25 quotes 2:1-3 relating Herod, Pontius Pilate, Gentiles, and peoples of Israel to the nations and rulers of the earth who stood against God and his anointed king. Though Jesus was confronted in opposition by the leaders of the world, Acts 13:33 quotes, “You are my Son today I have begotten you.” Due to God’s special fatherly relationship to Jesus, he would not let him see corruption. Instead, he reaffirmed his identity as the Son of God by raising him from the dead and exalting him upon the throne of heaven (Heb 1:5; 5:5). Now, it is prophesied that Jesus is coming to judge the corrupted powers that reign over the world. Like the Davidic king, Jesus is coming again to rule with a “rod of iron” to batter his smash his enemies (Psa 2:9; Rev 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).

The message of Psalm 2 aligns with the tradition of the biblical prophets, delivering promises of confrontation and comfort. While the entire Psalm addresses adversarial rulers, the real audience is the reader. One may find themselves standing as the oppressor and enemy of God and his people. They are called to repent and submit to the authority of God. Another reader may be experiencing oppression or opposition. They are given comfort. They should not lose heart, as hope is found in YHWH and his king. The Lord will overturn the current social order and bless those who have sought refuge in him. Ultimately, Psalm 2 calls upon all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages to recognize the all-powerful God in heaven and his Messiah, for it is only in Jesus that a blessed life can be found.