God the Son Declares His Father’s Decree
When we were last in the passage, we saw how David contemplated the rebellion of the nations against the LORD and against His Messiah (Psalm 2:1-3), and then we saw how he described the LORD Himself speaking of His Messiah (Psalm 2:4-6). We saw that he was referring to the words of God the Father regarding God the Son, whom we now know to be the Messiah. This week we will see how David describes the words of God the Son Himself as He declares the decree of the Father concerning His role as Messiah.
Introduction: One of the most important Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah comes from God’s covenant with King David, in which not only he but also his son Solomon each serve as a type of our Lord Jesus:
NKJ 2 Samuel 7:12-16 When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He [referring to Solomon] shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever [ultimately referring to our Lord Jesus] 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son [again initially referring to Solomon as a type of our Lord Jesus, as we shall see]. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 15 But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you [in this respect, of course, Solomon does not serve as a type of Christ, who never sinned]. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever [ultimately referring to the kingdom of our Lord Jesus]. [Concerning Jesus never having sinned, see, e.g., 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:21-22]
When we think of Scripture passages in which God the Father declares our Lord Jesus to be His Son, and thus the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy, most of us probably think first of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ baptism. Matthew recounts this crucial event this way:
NKJ Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [See also Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:31-34]
Later in his Gospel account, Matthew tells us of yet another crucial event at which God the Father declares Jesus to be His Son, and that event is Jesus’ transfiguration:
NKJ Matthew 17:1-5 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” [See also Mark 9:1-7; 2 Pet. 1:16-18]
We see, then, how important it was to God the Father that He openly declare our Lord Jesus to be His Son. But, in the passage before us this morning, David actually records the words of God the Son Himself as He declared His Father’s decree concerning His own Sonship, and these words were spoken about 1,000 years before the events about which we’ve been reading took place.
NKJ Psalm 2:7 I will declare [סָפַר] the decree [חֹק]: The LORD has said to Me, “You are My Son, Today [הַיּ֥וֹם, this day] I have begotten [יָלַד] You.”
So, here we clearly see God the Son declaring the decree of God the Father, but we must try to find out what He meant when He said not only that “You are My Son,” but also that “Today I have begotten You.” What day is He referring to? And what does He mean when He says that the Son was begotten on that day?
In order to answer the latter question, we must first recognize that the language is figurative. Although the Hebrew term translated begotten was commonly used in Old Testament genealogies to refer to a father physically “begetting” a son (e.g., Gen. 5:3-32), it clearly does not have that connotation here. As you will recall from our previous study, God is a spirit and does not have a physical body, so however the term is used here, it cannot be strictly literal. In order, then, to find out precisely what was intended here by the figurative use of this term, we will look at the way that the New Testament speaks of this as a prophecy that was fulfilled by our Lord Jesus. There are actually three New Testament passages that clearly cite this verse, and we will look at each one of them. The first comes from the teaching of the Apostle Paul as recorded by Luke in the Book of Acts:
NKJ Acts 13:26-37 Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. 28 And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. 29 “Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised [ἐγείρω] Him from the dead. 31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings– that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up [ἀνίστημι] Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” [Ps. 2:7] 34 And that He raised [ἀνίστημι] Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: “I will give you the sure mercies of David.” [Isa. 55:3] 35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm: “You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” [Ps. 16:10] 36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 but He whom God raised up [ἐγείρω] saw no corruption.
So, the prophecy of Psalm 2:7 was fulfilled when God “raised up Jesus.” But what precisely does this mean? Well, there are two ways in which we may understand this passage.
First, when Paul says that God “raised up Jesus” in Acts 13:33, he may mean that God raised Him up to be the Messiah and Savior. This is the way the same Greek word is sometimes used on other occasions, such as when Peter spoke of Jesus as the prophet like Moses whom God raised up:
NKJ Acts 3:22-26 For Moses truly said to the fathers, “The LORD your God will raise up [ἀνίστημι] for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” [Deut. 18:15] 24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. 25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” [Gen. 22:18] 26 To you first, God, having raised up [ἀνίστημι] His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.
Second, when Paul says that God “raised up Jesus” in Acts 13:33, he may be referring to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, to which he has already referred in the preceding context, although using a different Greek word, when he said that “God raised Him from the dead” (egeirō, vs. 30). He also goes on to refer to Jesus’ resurrection in the very next sentence, this time using the same Greek word as in verse 33, when he says “that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption” (anistēmi, vs. 34). Understood this way, then, as a reference to Jesus’ resurrection, Paul is saying here essentially the same thing that he wrote in the introduction of his Epistle to the Romans:
NKJ Romans 1:1-4 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection [ἀνάστασις, the noun related to the verb ἀνίστημι] from the dead.
We are faced, then, with these two interpretive possibilities, and it is difficult to decide between them, but perhaps a look at the other two New Testament citations of Psalm 2:7 will help us to decide. Both of them are in the Book of Hebrews, the first being in the opening of the book:
NKJ Hebrews 1:1-5 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? [Ps. 2:7] And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”? [2 Sam. 7:14]
So, the author of Hebrews seems to understand this prophecy as referring to the entirety of Jesus’ Messianic work. Later in the book, however, the author cites the verse in the context of Jesus’ work as our Great High Priest:
NKJ Hebrews 5:1-6 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. 3 Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. 4 And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.” [Ps. 2:7] 6 As He also says in another place: “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” [Ps. 110:4]
So, the author of Hebrews cites Psalm 2:7 to establish the idea that our Lord Jesus did not appoint Himself to be our great High Priest, but that He became such as a direct result of His Father’s decree.
It would seem, then, based on these further citations of Psalm 2:7, and assuming that Paul would have understood the passage essentially the same way, that the citation in Acts 13 was referring to the whole of Jesus’ Messianic ministry and that, therefore, he saw it as fulfilled in Jesus’ having been raised up to be our Messiah. So, when God issued His decree that “You are my Son, today I have begotten you,” He was referring in a figurative manner to the time at which our Lord Jesus would come into the world and accomplish all that was necessary for our salvation.
Conclusion: Having thus wrestled with the meaning of this prophecy and having seen how important it is for God the Father to declare that our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed His Son, I think it behooves us as we end our study of this verse to consider how God also declares our sonship in Christ. In fact, He desires that we be assured of this fact, as a brief reading of just a few passages concerning this matter will demonstrate:
NKJ Romans 8:14-17 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs– heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
NKJ Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
NKJ Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
So, our Lord Jesus, who is God’s Son by nature, has made it possible that we become God’s sons by adoption. And He desires that we be assured of this fact, as His repeated assertions of it demonstrate. I pray, then, that each of us who have trusted in Jesus as our Lord and Savior will receive assurance today that we are indeed His children. After all, when He issued the decree concerning Jesus, stating that, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you,” He did so with the intention that we become sons of God on account of Jesus’ saving work on our behalf.