Volume 46 - Issue 3

Old Testament Hope: Psalm 2, the Psalter, and the Anointed One

By S. D. Ellison


Scholarly discussions concerning the nature of OT hope are arguably most passionate and divisive when the figure of the anointed one (often designated the messiah) is in view. This article suggests that the Psalter may offer a profitable avenue in which to reconsider the debate, and employs Psalm 2 as an example. By considering its placement in the Psalter, content, and use in the NT, it is concluded that Psalm 2 is a signpost to the future hope of a coming Davidic king. In this way, we learn, the Christian Scriptures document, unfold, and realise OT hope.


1. Introduction

Despite the testimony of the NT there remains a divergence of opinion concerning OT hope. Is OT hope expected to enjoy immediate fulfilment? Is OT hope expected to experience more distant or progressive fulfilment? Is OT hope ultimately eschatological? The debate is perhaps most pronounced in the discussion surrounding the figure of the anointed one, often designated the messiah.1 This article will seek to contribute to the ongoing discussion by examining the figure of the anointed one in Psalm 2 with specific reference to the psalm’s placement in the Psalter and its use in the NT.

The Psalms offer a profitable avenue into this debate given they are (on the whole) originally independent compositions, compiled as the Psalter by an editor(s), and frequently quoted in the NT. Craigie captures how these stages demonstrate the development of OT hope when commenting on Psalm 2:

The words of the psalm do not change, but its function and significance have changed over the passage of time. Consequently, there is a change, at least a development, in the theological significance of the psalm; whereas in its original form, its theology pertained to the role of God in relation to the Davidic kings, that theology eventually blossomed into a fully messianic theology…. The latter stage is not a new theology, but a growth and development from the initial nucleus.2

This article will demonstrate that while Psalm 2 originated from an historical event and references an actual king, its placement in the Psalter establishes it as a signpost pointing its reader to the future hope of a coming Davidic king.

2. Psalm 2

2.1. The Significance of Placement

One way in which this future hope of a coming Davidic king is highlighted is in Psalm 2’s placement in the Psalter. Before his untimely death Wilson had produced a significant volume of work that evidenced a purposeful shaping of the Psalter.3 He observed that the Royal Psalms ‘are widely distributed throughout the Psalter’.4 The significance of this observation is realised by comparing the Psalter to other ANE literature. Throughout the ANE royal hymns tended to be kept together in collections. It would therefore appear that the Psalter is drawing attention to their placement by separating them.5 The question this poses for us is: What significance is there in the placement of Psalm 2 near the beginning of the Psalter?

In short, contemporary scholarship affirms that Psalm 2’s placement near the beginning of the Psalter is noteworthy.6 Indeed, the reason we find it here is that it forms part two of a two-part introduction to the Psalter. That together Palms 1 and 2 form a two-part introduction to the Psalter is supported by a number of features. First, neither possesses a superscription. This is significant in Book 1 as David is ascribed authorship of all but four psalms (Pss 1; 2; 10; 33).7 With both Psalms 10 and 33 being intimately connected to the preceding psalms (and thus tainted with a Davidic hue), this sets Psalms 1 and 2 apart from the rest. Second, the term ‘blessed’ (אַשְׁרֵ֗י) forms an inclusio, occurring in 1:1 and 2:12. The Psalter’s reader is reminded that blessed is the one who walks righteously and takes refuge in YHWH.8 Third, both psalms begin with the imagery of a group of people meditating/plotting (הגה).9 Fourth, both psalms end with a consideration of the ‘way’ (דֶּרֶךְ).10 Moreover, the enemies of YHWH will perish (1:6; 2:12) if they choose the wrong way.11 These correlations encourage McCann to conclude that ‘Psalm 2 portrays in corporate terms what Psalm 1 depicts in individual terms’.12 However, it seems that these correlations could be pressed further. On the basis that Psalm 1 also shares similarities to Joshua 1:8, I want to suggest that Psalm 1 depicts an idyllic royal figure who is the role model for the actual royal figure of Psalm 2, Israel’s king.13 Indeed, as Wenham asserts, ‘the juxtaposition of Psalms 1 and 2 suggests that the righteous of Psalm 1 could be identified with the king of Psalm 2, while the wicked of Psalm 1 could be the king’s enemies.’14

This reading, however, is not universally accepted.15 Note two objections in particular: first, Anderson argues that Psalms 1 and 2 could not constitute a literary unit as their content is too diverse.16 More significantly, Gillingham observes that Psalm 1 begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, while the final word begins with the final letter of the Hebrew alphabet. She therefore suggests that Psalm 1 is a self-contained unit.17 In response to both objections it should be clarified that the claim is not that Psalms 1 and 2 constitute a literary unit. Rather, they serve together as a two-part introduction—each informing the other. Thus, Whybray’s conclusion is somewhat misguided: ‘In view of these differences of opinion it is probably unwise to use the hypothesis of the unity of Psalms 1 and 2 as a basis for an understanding of the composition of the Psalter’.18

As a result, it should be asserted that ‘Psalms 1 and 2 offer a reading strategy for the Psalter by providing a number of its generic illocutions’.19 The placement of Psalm 2 is significant. Regarding this significance Leupold states: ‘Standing almost at the beginning of the Psalter, this psalm gives due prominence to the Messianic truth, which looms large in the Psalms’.20 Indeed, coupled with the picture of the idyllic royal figure of Psalm 1, Leupold’s comment finds further evidence. From the outset the Psalter’s reader is introduced to the concept of an ideal Davidic king embodying YHWH’s reign for the sake of the righteous. These claims are further demonstrated in the psalm’s content.

2.2. Gods and Kings: Style and Substance

Somewhat poetically, and yet accurately, Weiser summarises the scene in Psalm 2: ‘A race of pigmies is face to face with a giant!’21 It is evident that there is a face-off in this psalm; kings (and presumably their gods) square up to one another. Yet the predominant figure in this psalm is YHWH, closely followed by his anointed one. Our concern is in identifying the agent of YHWH. Is he simply a king? Is he merely a Davidic king? Or, is he someone superior? In answering these questions, we must first appreciate the psalm’s poetry, assess its supposed historical setting, and comment on some textual issues. Only then will we be in a position to suggest the identity of YHWH’s anointed in Psalm 2.

Psalm 2 is an expertly crafted poem. This is apparent in its structure as it naturally divides into four strophes: verses 1–3, 4–6, 7–9, and 10–12.22 Alternative divisions have been proposed, but they are not convincing. For example, Dahood advocates a three-fold division (1–3, 4–9, and 10–12), yet proceeds to further divide his second strophe into two sub-sections, and therefore revoke his original breakdown of the psalm.23 Rather, there are four movements in the psalm: enemy kings rebel (vv. 1–3); YHWH responds (vv. 4–6); Israel’s king responds (vv. 7–9); enemy kings are warned (vv. 10–12). In addition to its structure, the skilled craftsmanship of Psalm 2 is also evident in the employment of several facets of Hebrew poetry. Grogan observes that ‘synonymous parallelism appears in almost every verse’.24 There is also onomatopoeia (v. 1), rhyme (v. 3), and chiasmus (v. 5).25 Anderson even argues that Psalm 2 offers the clearest evidence of metre in Hebrew poetry.26 Thus, ‘As poetry the psalm has a striking and dramatic aesthetic of composition’.27 This powerful poetry parallels Psalm 2’s content.

Essentially summarising the previous paragraph, Craigie writes, ‘The psalm is effective and dramatic in its literary style. The poet has used fairly short lines, which highlight the drama of the moment which the psalm reflects’.28 The exact moment which Psalm 2 reflects has long been understood to be a coronation ceremony.29 This historical reconstruction was spawned in Mowinckel’s work, most notably The Psalms in Israel’s Worship.30 Central to his development of this reconstruction was his observation of striking similarities between Israelite practice and that of other ANE cultures.31 In my judgement Mowinckel’s reconstruction is somewhat presumptuous. To begin with, Longman suggests that Mowinckel (and equally, those who follow him) was overzealous in his comparison. More specifically, it is not merely similarities that are important but also differences.32 Mowinckel failed to adequately consider the distinctiveness of Israelite culture in comparison to other ANE cultures. Additionally, the individual psalms have been purposefully divorced from their original setting and placed in a new literary setting. This is evident in the inherent difficulty of dating individual psalms. At the beginning of the twentieth century Gunkel asserted, ‘current research into the dating of the royal psalms shows an amazing state of complete confusion’.33 Despite the significant progress that has been made in archaeological and biblical studies in the past century, there remains considerable debate regarding the Psalter’s date and dating individual psalms. Hence VanGemeren concludes, ‘There is no general agreement on the historical context of this psalm’.34 Therefore, although Psalm 2 can be considered pre-exilic,35 there is minimal information contained in the psalm to permit an historical reconstruction of the exact moment which it reflects.36 Does this mean that while Psalm 2 is a powerful poem it is impossible to identify the anointed one?

Before we can answer this question, we must briefly comment on three textual issues in Psalm 2. First, what is YHWH’s relationship to the Israelite king? In various ANE cultures the king was widely understood to be divine.37 The king’s divinity is ascribed to the fact that he is the result of divine procreation. Therefore, some commentators have misconstrued the begetting of an actual Israelite king in Psalm 2:7. This betrays the aforementioned issue in Mowinckel’s work of observing only the similarities between ANE and Israelite culture. Rather, as Longman warns, ‘The best approach to studying the psalms in light of their cultural analogues is not simply to draw on parallels but also to take note of the differences that exist’.38 Several differences are apparent: there is difficulty in locating evidence for the deification of the Israelite king in the OT;39 there is no ‘mother’ present in Psalm 2 to bear the perceived child of YHWH;40 and the use of the term ‘today’ in Psalm 2:7 insinuates the employment of metaphorical language.41 It is therefore preferable to understand Psalm 2:7 as a ‘performative declaration of adoption’.42 Instead of a crude act of sexual intercourse between the Creator and the creature which results in a deified king, Psalm 2:7 communicates the legal adoption of the Israelite king by YHWH (cf. 2 Sam. 7:14).43 The relationship is intimate, but this intimacy is the result of a divine declaration as opposed to divine procreation.

Second, what is YHWH’s relationship to the foreign kings? This question may be answered by considering the use of Aramaic in Psalm 2:12 for ‘son’ (בַר). The use of Aramaic is highly unusual for a pre-exilic Hebrew text and has led to numerous unsatisfactory attempts to amend the text.44 Indeed, it is all the more intriguing given the author of the Psalm has already used the Hebrew for ‘son’ in verse 7. A number of solutions may account for this strange occurrence. It is possible that the poet is enjoying a play on words with ‘iron’ in verse 9 (בַרְזֶל). Alternatively, it avoids dissonance with the following phrase in verse 12.45 However, Craigie’s suggestion is worthy of further consideration:

Aramaic is known to have been used in Syria-Palestine from at least the ninth century B.C…. The words are addressed (in the mouth of the poet) to foreign nations and kings (Aramaic speaking?), whereasבן , ‘son,’ in v7, is used by God in speaking to his king. It is possible that the poet deliberately uses a foreign word (loan-word) to dramatize his poetic intent at this point.46

The relationship between YHWH and the foreign kings is not so intimate. What is implied by the use of a ‘loan-word’ in Psalm 2:12 is stated explicitly in the rest of the verse.

Third, the opening phrase of verse 12 has been labelled the crux interpretum of Psalm 2. McCann has stated that Psalm 2:12 is impossible to understand.47 Others in agreement with McCann have proffered interesting but ultimately unsatisfactory alternatives.48 The exact pointing and translation are debateable to a greater or lesser degree. Nevertheless, the meaning of the entire verse is clear: the close of Psalm 2 demands sincere submission and homage to be given to YHWH’s king. Once more the relationship between YHWH and the foreign kings is lucid; they are enemies. Yet these earthly kings may enjoy blessedness by bowing before YHWH’s anointed king.

2.3. God’s King: A Coming Davidide

Who is this king? It seems to me that the style and substance of the psalm point to a coming Davidide. This is evident in that the language of ‘anointed one’ is predominantly applied to Israel’s kings and yet at the same time this psalm remains in use beyond the supposed extinction of the Davidic line.

As observed above, Psalm 2 possesses four strophes, each building on and developing the previous. In the first strophe (vv. 1–3) astonishment is expressed at the folly of those who have gathered against YHWH and his anointed. This is emphasised by the lingering question: ‘Why?’ (v. 1).49 The astonishment is expressed with confidence because, as the second strophe (vv. 4–6) makes clear, the one against whom they rebel is seated in the heavens and has appointed his anointed as king. That is to say, he is omnipotent. In strophe three (vv. 7–9) the close link between YHWH and his anointed king becomes explicit and is evidently based on previous promises made by YHWH to the Davidic king.50 Therefore, the psalm closes in strophe four (vv. 10–12) with the inevitable sole option: refuge in YHWH by way of the rebels’ submission to the anointed king.

Historically the predominant position has been to understand YHWH’s anointed in Psalm 2 in a messianic-eschatological sense; in other words, Christologically.51 Indeed, arguably it was not until the eleventh century that a non-messianic reading of Psalm 2 was documented, and even then there was allowance made for a messianic reading.52 Regrettably this tradition has led to some exclusivist and untempered interpretations of the psalm. For example, the seventeenth century Puritan David Dickson argued of Psalm 2 that ‘this Psalm doth mainly, if not only, concern Christ.’53 However, Willis’s conclusion is apt: ‘As widespread as the exclusive Messianic interpretation of Psalm 2 has been, it will not bear the scrutiny of critical exegetical examination.’54

The reason that Willis’s conclusion is apt is primarily related to the use of the title ‘anointed’. It is abundantly clear that throughout the OT, and in Psalm 2 specifically, the title is principally a royal title.55 Goldingay highlights that the term is ‘not a participle, like the English word, but a noun; it designates an ongoing status rather than drawing attention to an event … [it refers] more usually to a king’.56 Thus we must conclude that the term ‘anointed’ in Psalm 2 refers to a king; more, in Israelite consciousness, a Davidic king. This is undeniable. Equally so, however, is the reality that the language of Psalm 2 is idealistic.57 It is evident that given its placement alongside Psalm 1, at the outset of the Psalter, and being read in the Second Temple Era, ‘The thoughts of the reader are not directed towards the best examples of kingship (David or Josiah), they are directed rather to the ideal of kingship.’58 Given the depiction of an ideal king in Psalm 2, I suggest that we must hold together both the historical and Messianic-eschatological interpretations side-by-side. Israel’s hope was manifestly centred on an enthroned king. As Psalm 2 was written, prayed, read, and sung its content remained the same; as the fortunes of Israel peaked and troughed the function and significance of that content developed. History reveals the failure of the enthroned kings of Israel to realise the hopes of the nation. Even so, the use of this imagery and language remained.

The continued use of the imagery and language found in Psalm 2 suggests that it formed the basis for a new hope. The longing for a new Davidide becomes most potent in the wake of the exile.59 On the foundation of Psalm 2 Israel’s hope develops and matures into anticipation for the ideal Davidic king. The initial context in which this occurs is the Psalter itself. Royal psalms reiterating the promise inherent in Psalm 2 are found at key junctures throughout the Psalter. Psalm 41:12–13 closes Book 1 with David testifying that his kingship has been established by YHWH. Psalm 72 closes Book 2 with a prayer to YHWH for Davidic descendants which embellishes the hope for Davidic kingship. Book 3 reflects the exile and ends with the apparent abrogation of the Davidic covenant (Ps 89:39–40). Yet, the reiteration of Davidic promises present in 2 Samuel 7 and the open-ended nature of Psalm 89 fosters hope that answers to the psalm’s painful questions will become manifest. The answer might be the exalted horn in Psalm 92:11, the righteous king of Psalm 101, David’s mysterious lord in Psalm 110, the promised anointed one in Psalm 132:11, 17, the horn YHWH raises in Psalm 148:14. The Psalter—especially Books 4 and 5—repeatedly directs the reader’s attention towards a future idyllic Davidic king.60 Wilson captures this concept helpfully:

Psalm 2—and the rest of the royal psalms—have taken on a continuing significance that exceeded their original context with the human kings of the Davidic dynasty. In the aftermath of the Exile, with the destruction of the national identity and hopes of Judah, many of these psalms took on a new life of messianic hope and expectation. What the human kings of Israel and Judah had been unable to do, God would accomplish through his ‘Anointed One,’ the Messiah (2:2). This ‘Anointed One’ would come in the future, empowered by God to usher in the kingdom of God over all the earth.61

Indeed, this is the testimony of the NT.

3. New Testament readings of Psalm 2

3.1. Introduction

It is impossible to document here all quotations of and allusions to Psalm 2 in the NT. They are both plentiful and intriguing. For example, Ferda argues that the titulus crucis in Matthew is an allusion to Psalm 2:6, thus suggesting that the crucifixion is the pinnacle of the opposition described in Psalm 2.62 In an attempt to offer some breadth regarding Psalm 2 in the NT, this final section will briefly note the reading of Psalm 2 offered in Acts, Hebrews, and Revelation. In each instance it is evident that Jesus of Nazareth is the one correlated with the ‘anointed’ of Psalm 2.

3.2. Acts 4:25–26; 13:33

Two quotations of Psalm 2 in Acts are of particular interest. First, Acts 4:25–26 contains the only quotation of Psalm 2:1 in the entire NT. That this is a quotation is clear from the verbatim repetition of the LXX (which in turn accurately reflects the MT).63 The quotation begins a prayer offered by Peter, John, and their friends immediately after the first occasion of persecution recorded in the book of Acts. It would appear that the emphasis is that all rebellion against God will ultimately fail.64 This quotation of Psalm 2 in the prayer reminds all within earshot that just as the rebellion of the world’s kings against God and his ‘anointed’ failed in Psalm 2, so the rebellion of contemporary kings (Acts 2:27) against Jesus of Nazareth failed when he was raised from the dead. The implication is that any rebellion against the kingdom of God, made visible in the church, will likewise fail. This quotation makes it clear that the NT understood Jesus of Nazareth as the one appointed by God to withstand the rebellion of the world’s kings.

Second, Paul employs Psalm 2:7 in Acts 13:33. The above claim is further supported by the psalm’s appearance in Paul’s sermon recorded in Acts 13. Addressing Jews in the synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia, Paul explains that the ‘anointed’ in Psalm 2 was embodied in Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 13:33). The exact manner in which this occurs is complex.65 Nevertheless, as Crowe correctly asserts, the psalm’s use affirms, “The resurrection of Jesus is at least a confirmation of his messianic sonship”66—resurrection and sonship are intimately related. Even though there remains debate as to which aspect of Jesus’s ministry Paul is referring, the quotation is unmistakeably applied to Jesus.67 Marshall concludes, ‘The significance of the citation is, accordingly, that a messianic psalm is applied to Jesus, who is given status as the Son of God. The promise made in the psalm is fulfilled in Jesus.’68 This final sentence aptly summarises the argument made above: the hope of a coming Davidide, as expressed in Psalm 2, is realised in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. OT hope is enfleshed in Jesus.

3.3. Hebrews 1:5; 5:5

The full import of Psalm 2’s use in Hebrews is fecund and hence beyond the remit of this article.69 Nevertheless, Psalm 2:7 is quoted twice in Hebrews at particularly important junctures. In both Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5 the author quotes Psalm 2 as he introduces the two primary Christological movements of the book.70

In 1:5 the author employs a catena of Scripture quotations in defence of his premise that Jesus, the divine royal Son, is supreme. In doing so the author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 2:7 verbatim from the LXX.71 Guthrie argues that the ‘primary point in 1:5 is that Jesus has been shown to be the Son of God by his exaltation to the right hand, his enthronement over all creation demonstrating his unique relationship to the Father.’72 At the outset of the first Christological movement of the book of Hebrews Psalm 2 is clearly applied to Jesus of Nazareth. In 5:5 the use of Psalm 2 appears to function structurally rather than theologically; that is to say, the author appears to quote Psalm 2 in preparation for quoting Psalm 110:4.73 The sonship of Jesus (1:5–14) is a necessary foundation before proceeding to assert his priesthood. However, it remains abundantly clear that the content of the psalm finds tangible expression in the person of Jesus. Psalm 2:7 is spoken by God and addressed to Jesus.74

The book of Hebrews asserts that Psalm 2 has ‘found a fulfilment that far surpasses God’s relationship to the merely human descendants of David…. The words of Psalm 2 addressed to the descendants of David find their ultimate fulfilment in the heavenly enthronement of Christ.’75 Yet Jesus is a Davidide (Matt 1:1). Thus, Hebrews simply confirms that the promise of an idealised coming Davidide in Psalm 2 finds fulfilment in the appearing and enthronement of the divine royal Son, Jesus.

3.4. Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15

Unlike the use of Psalm 2 elsewhere in Acts and Hebrews, its use throughout Revelation is never a direct, verbatim quotation. Rather, the author merely alludes to the psalm. Nevertheless, these allusions are unmistakeable.76

Moreover, that Psalm 2 is being alluded to at certain points in Revelation is clear from the fact that its use closely reflects the original import of the psalm. Osborne writes, ‘John follows the original meaning of Ps. 2.’77 In each instance (Rev 2:27; 12:5; 19:15) there is one who will rule rebellious nations with an iron rod (Ps 2:9). Consistently, allusions to Psalm 2 in Revelation occur in passages concerned with asserting that rebellious nations, opposing God’s rule, will face the judgement of God’s ‘anointed’ at his coming.78 Indeed, the theme of ‘messianic victory over the nations’79 is central to both Revelation and Psalm 2. Throughout Revelation it is clear that the ‘anointed one’ who will execute God’s rule across the globe is Jesus of Nazareth.80 Beale concludes, rather succinctly, ‘According to the Apocalypse, the prophecy will be fulfilled by Jesus.’81

4. Conclusion

Psalm 2 is a psalm of hope. Despite the accumulation of antagonistic kings in active rebellion, YHWH enthrones his vice-regent in Zion. He proceeds to adopt this king as a son. The result is a declaration that only by submitting to YHWH and his ‘anointed’ may the rebellious kings of the nations avoid divine judgement. For readers of the Psalter this was a confession of hope.

Initially this hope is placed in each successive Davidic king enthroned in Jerusalem. However, as the decades passed, the circumstances deteriorated, and kings did what was evil in the eyes of YHWH, psalms such as Psalm 2 must have read like vicious sarcasm. Nevertheless, those who compiled the Psalter kept Psalm 2 (and other royal psalms) in the collection. As a result, Psalm 2, being set in tandem with Psalm 1 at the beginning of the Psalter, envisages a righteous Davidic king. The style and substance of the psalm supports this reading. The content depicts a Davidide who is known intimately by YHWH and rules the nations on his behalf and at his bidding. The NT readings of Psalm 2 briefly noted above further substantiate this claim as they understand Psalm 2 to be fulfilled in the son of David, Jesus of Nazareth. Steyn observes, ‘At the time of the early Christian Church this hermeneutical bridge was already built.’82 This article, then, has demonstrated that while Psalm 2 almost certainly originated from an historical event and references an actual king, in its placement in the Psalter it becomes a signpost pointing its reader to the future hope of a coming Davidic king. In this way the Christian Bible documents, unfolds, and realises OT hope.

[1] The root from which the Hebrew word is derived is משׁח. Across the languages of the ANE the root experienced differing levels of development. In West Semitic languages it occurs most often with the meaning of ‘measuring’, the highly developed Aramaic branch has the meaning ‘anointing/anoint’, and in Arabic it possesses a range of meanings (including ‘rub’, ‘measure’, and ‘anoint’). In Hebrew the root has given rise, principally, to two words. First the verb, מָשַׁח, meaning ‘to anoint’. The majority of uses of this verb are in reference to the anointing of kings; thus, it has become a technical term with a specialised sense. However, it is acknowledged that its use is elliptical. Second the noun, מָשִׁיחַ, meaning ‘anointed or anointed one’. Some scholars prefer the term ‘verbal noun’, as it is only ever used in conjunction with animate objects. Indeed, it has even been labelled an adjective because of its particular use. As a result of the rich vein of meaning associated with the noun it has now become a fixed theologoumenon. See especially, Victor P. Hamilton, ‘מָשַׁח’, TWOT 530–33; John N. Oswalt, ‘משׁח’, NIDOTTE 2:1123–27; Klaus Seybold, ‘מָשַׁח’, TDOT 9:43–54. It is equally important to note that the messianic impetus of the OT is elucidated by more than a mere word study. For helpful contributions on this front see Michael A. Rydelnik, ‘The Messiah and His Titles’, in The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament, ed. Michael Rydelnik and Edwin Blum (Chicago: Moody, 2019), 29–39; Andrew T. Abernethy and Gregory Goswell, God’s Messiah in the Old Testament: Expectations of a Coming King (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2020), 1–4.

[2] Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1–50, WBC 19 (Waco, TX: Word, 1983), 40–41.

[3] Most notably, Gerald H. Wilson, The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter, SBLDS 76 (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985). However, also see Gerald H. Wilson, ‘The Shape of the Book of Psalms’, Int 46 (1992): 129–42; Gerald H. Wilson, ‘Shaping the Psalter: A Consideration of Editorial Linkage in the Book of Psalms’, in Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. Clinton McCann Jr., JSOTSup 159 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993), 72–82; Gerald H. Wilson, ‘Understanding the Purposeful Arrangement of the Psalms in the Psalter: Pitfalls and Promises’, in Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, ed. J. C. McCann Jr., JSOTSup 159 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993), 42–51; Gerald H. Wilson, ‘The Structure of the Psalter’, in Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches, ed. Philip S. Johnson and David G. Firth (Leicester: Apollos, 2005), 229–46; Gerald H. Wilson, ‘King, Messiah, and the Reign of God: Revisiting the Royal Psalms and the Shape of the Psalter’, in The Book of Psalms: Composition and Reception, ed. Peter W. Flint and Patrick D. Miller, VTSup 99 (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 391–406.

[4] Gerald H. Wilson, ‘Evidence of Editorial Division in the Hebrew Psalter’, VT 34 (1984): 344.

[5] Wilson, The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter, 162.

[6] Charles A. Briggs, Psalms, ICC (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1960), 1:11; William H. Bellinger Jr., Psalms: Reading and Studying the Book of Praises (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990), 8; James L. Mays, The Lord Reigns: A Theological Handbook to the Psalms (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 101; David C. Mitchell, The Message of the Psalter: An Eschatological Programme in the Book of Psalms, JSOTSup 252 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 73–74, 245; Craig C. Broyles, Psalms, NIBCOT (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1999), 44; Bernhard W. Anderson, Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000), 205; Robert L. Cole, ‘An Integrated Reading of Psalms 1 and 2’, JSOT 26 (2002): 76; Jamie A. Grant, ‘The Psalms and the King’, in Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches, ed. Philip S. Johnson and David G. Firth (Leicester: Apollos, 2005), 108; David M. Howard Jr., ‘The Psalms and Current Study’, in Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches, ed. Philip S. Johnson and David G. Firth (Leicester: Apollos, 2005), 26; W. Dennis Tucker Jr., ‘Book of Psalms 1’, in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry and Writings, ed. Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008), 589; K. Barker, ‘Psalms of the Powerless: A Theological Interpretation of Imprecation’, in Stirred by a Noble Theme: The Book of Psalms in the Life of the Church, ed. A. G. Shead (Nottingham: Apollos, 2013), 214; Robert L. Cole, ‘Psalms 1 and 2: The Psalter’s Introduction’, in The Psalms: Language for All Seasons of the Soul, ed. Andrew J. Schmutzer and David M. Howard Jr. (Chicago: Moody, 2013); Robert L. Cole, Psalms 1–2: Gateway to the Psalter, HBM 37 (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013); Gordon J. Wenham, The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 64; Mark J. Whiting, ‘Psalms 1 and 2 as a Hermeneutical Lens for Reading the Psalter’, EvQ 85 (2013): 246–62; Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth L. Tanner, The Book of Psalms, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), 65.

[7] On reading the titles as authorship ascriptions see, Wenham, The Psalter Reclaimed, 68–71.

[8] deClaissé-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner, Psalms, 65.

[9] J. Clinton McCann Jr., ‘The Book of Psalms: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections’, in NIB 4 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 689.

[10] John Goldingay, Psalms 1–41, BCOTWP (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 95.

[11] My gratitude to Ben Davis for identifying this link between the psalms.

[12] McCann Jr., ‘Psalms’, 689.

[13] On this issue see particularly, Cole, Psalms 1–2; Jamie A. Grant, The King as Exemplar: The Function of Deuteronomy’s Kingship Law in the Shaping of the Book of Psalms, AcBib 17 (Leiden: Brill, 2004).

[14] Wenham, The Psalter Reclaimed, 64. I want to thank Dr James McKeown for bringing this reference to my attention.

[15] For example, John T. Willis, ‘Psalm 1: An Entity’, ZAW 91 (1979): 381–401.

[16] Arnold A. Anderson, Psalms, NCB (London: Oliphants, 1972), 1:63. However, he does proceed to then concede that there are links in content between the two.

[17] Susan E. Gillingham, ‘An Introduction to Reception History with Particular Reference to Psalm 1’, RevScRel 85 (2011): 567.

[18] Norman Whybray, Reading the Psalms as a Book, JSOTSup 222 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 81.

[19] Barker, ‘Psalms of the Powerless’, 214.

[20] H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1959), 41.

[21] Artur Weiser, The Psalms, trans. Herbert Hartwell, OTL (London: SCM, 1962), 112.

[22] A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Book of Psalms, CBSC (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902), 8; S. R. Driver, Studies in the Psalms (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1915), 51; Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 41; Weiser, Psalms, 110; Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 1–59, trans. Hilton C. Oswald, CC (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993), 125; Gerald H. Wilson, Psalms Volume 1, NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 108; Goldingay, Psalms 1–41, 96.

[23] Mitchell Dahood, Psalms 1–50, AB (New York: Doubleday, 1965), 7.

[24] Geoffrey W. Grogan, Psalms, Two Horizons (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 44.

[25] Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 56; Craigie, Psalms 1–50, 65.

[26] Anderson, Psalms, 1:65.

[27] Mays, The Lord Reigns, 108.

[28] Craigie, Psalms 1–50, 65.

[29] Weiser, Psalms, 109; Dahood, Psalms 1–50, 7; John H. Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms (London: SCM, 1976), 112; Craigie, Psalms 1–50, 64; Bellinger Jr., Psalms, 117; John Day, Psalms, OTG (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992), 12, 92; Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, Reading from the Beginning: The Shaping of the Hebrew Psalter (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1997), 65.

[30] Sigmund O. P. Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel’s Worship: Two Volumes in One, trans. D. R. Ap-Thomas (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004).

[31] Mowinckel, 55. Weiser, Psalms, 110–11 Cf. Anderson, Psalms, 1:70; Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms, 113; McCann Jr., ‘Psalms’, 689–90; Gard Granerød, ‘A Forgotten Reference to Divine Procreation? Psalm 2:6 in Light of Egyptian Royal Ideology’, VT 60 (2010): 323–36.

[32] Tremper Longman III, ‘Psalms 2: Ancient Near Eastern Background’, in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Poetry and Writings, ed. Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008), 593, 604.

[33] Hermann Gunkel and Joachim Begrich, An Introduction to the Psalms, trans. James D. Nogalski, MLBS (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1998), 118.

[34] Willem A. VanGemeren, Psalms, revised ed., EBC 5 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 89.

[35] Briggs, Psalms, 1:13; VanGemeren, Psalms, 89.

[36] Kraus, Psalms 1–59, 126.

[37] Day, Psalms, 102.

[38] Longman III, ‘Psalms 2: Ancient Near Eastern Background’, 593.

[39] Day, Psalms, 102.

[40] Granerød, ‘A Forgotten Reference to Divine Procreation?’, 334.

[41] Driver, Studies in the Psalms, 58; Gerald B. Cooke, ‘Israelite King as Son of God’, ZAW 73 (1961): 209; Granerød, ‘A Forgotten Reference to Divine Procreation?’, 334.

[42] Goldingay, Psalms 1–41, 100. Cf. Dahood, Psalms 1–50, 11; Granerød, ‘A Forgotten Reference to Divine Procreation?’, 334–36; Bruce K. Waltke and James M. Houston, The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 171; George A. Gunn, ‘Psalm 2 and the Reign of the Messiah’, BSac 169 (2012): 431–32.

[43] Broyles, Psalms, 46.

[44] Craigie, Psalms 1–50, 64.

[45] Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 57; Waltke and Houston, The Psalms as Christian Worship, 177.

[46] Craigie, Psalms 1–50, 64, emphasis original.

[47] McCann Jr., ‘Psalms’, 690.

[48] For example, William L. Holladay, ‘New Proposal for the Crux in Psalm 2:12’, VT 28 (1978): 110–12.

[49] Dahood, Psalms 1–50, 8; Craigie, Psalms 1–50, 63; Goldingay, Psalms 1–41, 97; VanGemeren, Psalms, 91.

[50] Such as 2 Samuel 7:12–16 and 2 Kings 11:12. Cf. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 50; Wilson, The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter, 209; Wilson, Psalms, 111; Goldingay, Psalms 1–41, 100.

[51] Ernest Lussier, ‘The New Latin Psalter: An Exegetical Commentary I Psalms 1 and 2’, CBQ 9 (1947): 234; William L. Holladay, The Psalms through Three Thousand Years: Prayerbook of a Cloud of Witnesses (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 122, 124, 162, 169–70; Gunn, ‘Psalm 2 and the Reign of the Messiah’, 428.

[52] Michael A. Signer, ‘King/Messiah: Rashi’s Exegesis of Psalm 2’, Proof 3 (1983): 273. He writes: ‘As we shall see, Rashi interpreted the psalm in such a way as to preserve the eschatological reading while finding a very different anchor in the biblical narrative—the life of King David.’

[53] David Dickson, Psalms, reprint ed., GC (London: Banner of Truth, 1965), 4.

[54] John T. Willis, ‘A Cry of Defiance–Psalm 2’, JSOT 15 (1990): 34.

[55] Anderson, Psalms, 1:66; Craigie, Psalms 1–50, 66; Kraus, Psalms 1–59, 128; Bruce K. Waltke with Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Zondervan Academic, 2007), 887; Grogan, Psalms, 44.

[56] Goldingay, Psalms 1–41, 591.

[57] Driver, Studies in the Psalms, 71; Donald E. Gowan, Eschatology in the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), 34; Wilson, Psalms, 1:109.

[58] Grant, ‘The Psalms and the King’, 116.

[59] Helmer Ringgren, The Messiah in the Old Testament (London: SCM, 1956), 21–24; Briggs, Psalms, 1:13; Mays, The Lord Reigns, 110, 113–15; Whybray, Reading the Psalms, 90.

[60] For a popular expansion on this see my article ‘Seeing Christ in the Shape of the Psalms’, The Gospel Coalition, 6 April 2021, For a scholarly expansion on this see my doctoral thesis, ‘Hope for a Davidic King in the Psalter’s Utopian Vision’ (PhD thesis, Queen’s University, Belfast, 2021), esp. ch. 3.

[61] Wilson, Psalms, 107, emphasis original.

[62] Tucker S. Ferda, ‘Matthew’s Titulus and Psalm 2’s King on Mount Zion’, JBL 133 (2014): 561–81. Cf. Gunn, ‘Psalm 2 and the Reign of the Messiah’, 436, who notes several possible allusions in Johannine literature.

[63] C. K. Barrett, Acts 1–14, ICC (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994), 245; Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 202; I. Howard Marshall, ‘Acts’, in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Nottingham: Apollos, 2007), 552; David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles, PNTC (Nottingham: Apollos, 2009), 200.

[64] Darrell L. Bock, Acts, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 206; Marshall, ‘Acts’, 553.

[65] See the helpful discussion in, Brandon D. Crowe, The Hope of Israel: The Resurrection of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2020), 47–57.

[66] Crowe, The Hope of Israel, 53.

[67] Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles, 392; Darrell L. Bock, A Theology of Luke and Acts: God’s Promised Program, Realized for All Nations (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2012), 87, 419.

[68] Marshall, ‘Acts’, 585.

[69] For a fuller discussion on Psalm 2’s significance in Hebrews see, David Wallace, ‘The Use of Psalms in the Shaping of a Text: Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:1 in Hebrews 1’, ResQ 45 (2003): 41–50.

[70] George H. Guthrie, ‘Hebrews’, in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Nottingham: Apollos, 2007), 925.

[71] Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, NIGTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 112; Gert Jacobus Steyn, ‘Psalm 2 in Hebrews’, Neot 37 (2003): 272.

[72] Guthrie, ‘Hebrews’, 927. Cf. Thomas R. Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews, Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2015), 64–65.

[73] Guthrie, ‘Hebrews’, 960.

[74] Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 282; Steyn, ‘Psalm 2 in Hebrews’, 277.

[75] Gareth Lee Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 103–4. Cf. Schreiner, Hebrews, 32.

[76] David Aune, Revelation 1–5, WBC 52A (Dallas: Word Books, 1997), 199; David Aune, Revelation 6–16, WBC 52B (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 688; David Aune, Revelation 17–22, WBC 52C (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 1061. Cf. Brian J. Tabb, All Things New: Revelation as Canonical Capstone, NSBT 48 (London: Apollos, 2019), 34, 48, 55–56, 58, 61, 90, 92, 106, 127, 129, 131, 152, 157, 202–3.

[77] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 166. Cf. Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, revised ed., NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 234, 355; G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, NIGTC (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1999), 639–40.

[78] Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993), 314.

[79] This is Bauckham’s phrase. See The Climax of Prophecy, 324.

[80] Cf. Osborne, Revelation, 463, 685.

[81] Beale, The Book of Revelation, 962.

[82] Steyn, ‘Psalm 2 in Hebrews’, 266. Cf. Waltke and Houston, The Psalms as Christian Worship, 180–81.

S. D. Ellison

Davy Ellison holds a PhD in OT biblical studies from Queen’s University, Belfast and serves as the director of training at the Irish Baptist College, Moira, Northern Ireland.

Other Articles in this Issue

This paper will outline the canon-conscious worldview of Ben Sira, highlight the major contents of his authoritative corpus of Jewish Writings, and describe his hermeneutical strategies...

The book of Esther presents a challenge for many modern interpreters, since the book does not mention the name of God or his direct action...

Christians have long wrestled with how to read the Law in light of the work of Christ...

What exactly is empathy? There is confusion. Most empathy scholars laud it as putting yourself in someone’s mental and emotional shoes for a time, usually to help them...