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God the Son Speaks Concerning the Nations

Thus far in our study of this psalm we have seen how David contemplated the rebellion of the nations against the LORD and His Messiah (vss. 1-3), then how he described the LORD Himself speaking of His Messiah (vss. 4-6), and then, last week, how he began to relate the words of God the Son Himself as He declared the decree of the Father concerning His role as Messiah (vs. 7). We shall continue examining the words of God the Son in this post, as He further declared the will God the Father concerning His role as our Messiah.

Psalm 2:8-9

Introduction: One of the most significant events in the work of our Lord Jesus, in His role as our Messiah, was His temptation by Satan in the wilderness. Here is the way that Matthew records the event in his Gospel account:

NKJ Matthew 4:1-10 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’’’ 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’” 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”

Notice that Satan sought to offer Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” And notice also that, in his efforts to misquote Scripture in a vain attempt to try to deceive our Lord, he conveniently left out the text we are examining this morning, in which God the Father had already promised the nations to His Son.

NKJ Psalm 2:8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations [‎גוֹיִ֑ם] for Your inheritance [‎נַחֲלָה], And the ends of the earth [‎‎אַפְסֵי־אָֽרֶץ] for Your possession [‎אֲחֻזָּה].

So, the very nations that are rebelling against the LORD and against His Anointed (vss. 1-3) have already been given to by the LORD to His Anointed. The Father has already decreed that the Son shall have “the nations” for His inheritance and “the ends of the earth” for His possession. Thus, David sees the decree of the LORD as what really counts and not the vain plotting of the nations and their rulers.

In fact, the same type of language found in this prophecy is taken up again by the Prophet Isaiah, who also records the words of God the Son in response to the Father’s will, this time referring to the Father’s desire that He be “the light of the Gentiles”:

NKJ Isaiah 49:5-6 And now the LORD says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, So that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, And My God shall be My strength), 6 Indeed He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth [‎עַד־קְצֵ֥ה הָאָֽרֶץ; LXX = ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς].” [See Acts 1:8; 13:47]

So, the Father’s decree that the Son shall be given the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth for a possession is also a prophecy that He shall bring salvation to the Gentiles to the ends of the earth. This prophecy has begun to be fulfilled as the Church obeys the Great Commission:

NKJ Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

This command was restated by our risen Lord just before His ascension to the Father’s right hand, when He commanded His disciples to remain in Jerusalem where they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and then He said:

NKJ Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth [ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς].

So, the Father has decreed that the Son, in His role as our Messiah, should ask Him for the nations, and the Son has done so. This has initiated the progress of the Gospel into all the world.

Application: There are a couple of points of application, then, that I would like for us to consider before moving on to the next verse.

First, we should not only recognize that we have a duty to be a part of the fulfillment of this prophecy as we share the Gospel with a lost and dying world, but we should be thankful that we have the high privilege of being used by the Father in the fulfillment of His promise to His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Second, we see in our Lord Jesus an example of confidently asking for those things that the Father has promised to us. After all, we have been admonished to ask God for things as well, and we can be confident that He will give us all those things He wants us to ask Him for. Remember what Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount:

NKJ Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

This does not mean, of course, that we can ask for anything we might feel like asking for, no matter what it is or no matter what our motives may be. James, the brother of our Lord, understood this well, when he wrote:

NKJ James 4:2b-3 Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

The Apostle John also made a similar point when he wrote:

NKJ 1 John 5:14-15 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

So, just as our Lord Jesus asked for those things the Father decreed that He should ask for, even so we should ask for those things that the God has decreed that we should ask for. Examples of such things are too numerous to delineate here, but they would include prayers for our own sanctification and the sanctification of our brothers and sisters in Christ, prayers for the strengthening of our faith in the midst of trails and temptations, prayers for more fruit of the Spirit to be exhibited in our lives, prayers that God might be gloried in His people, and prayers that the Gospel will go forth unhindered and for God to help us to remain faithful in proclaiming it. And we can also ask that our Lord Jesus will return soon and fully subdue the earth in the final fulfillment of this prophecy. This brings us to the next verse.

NKJ Psalm 2:9 You shall break [רָעַע, LXX = ποιμαίνω, shepherd or rule] them with a rod [‎שֵׁבֶט, or scepter, as in Gen. 49:10 and Ps. 45:6] of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.'”

This is a promise of the Son’s ultimate victory over the nations that are rebelling against Him (vss. 1-3). It speaks of His power to conquer and subdue them and thus to rule over them. In fact, although the Hebrew text states that the Son shall break them, the translators of the LXX understood this as the establishment of His rule over the nations and rendered the verse this way: “Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces as a potter’s vessel” (italics mine). This understanding of the language is reflected in the New Testament as well, in which the LXX text of this verse is cited three times in the Book of Revelation.

The first citation of this verse is found in the message of our Lord Jesus to the church at Thyatira:

NKJ Revelation 2:26-29 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations– 27 “He shall rule [ποιμαίνω] them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels” [Ps. 2:9]– as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. [As a Premillennialist, I see 20:4-5 as a part of the fulfillment of Jesus’ prose here.]

Here Jesus promises believers that, if they endure, they will reign with Him, and He cites Psalm 2:9 as the promise from the Father by which He has received this authority. I am reminded here of the words of Paul in his second epistle to Timothy:

NKJ 2 Timothy 2:11-12a This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him.

The second citation of this verse is found in John’s prophetic vision of Jesus’ birth in the twelfth chapter:

NKJ Revelation 12:1-5 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2 Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5 She bore a male Child who was to rule [ποιμαίνω] all nations with a rod of iron [Ps. 2:9a]. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.

So, Psalm 2:9 tells us an important purpose of Jesus’ incarnation, namely that He “rule all nations.”

The third citation of this verse is found in John’s prophetic vision of Jesus’ return as “King of kings and Lord of lords”:

NKJ Revelation 19:11-16 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule [ποιμαίνω] them with a rod of iron [Ps. 2:9a]. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

This passage is, of course, focused primarily on the coming judgment of our Lord Jesus, but those of us who have trusted in Him and Lord and Savior, as we have seen, will not experience this judgment but rather will reign with Him.

Conclusion: Thus, we have come to the end of our study for this today, and I hope we will all come away from this text with a renewed sense of the privilege we have to share the Gospel of Christ and, ultimately, to reign with Him when He returns. I also hope we will have gained a renewed confidence to ask Him for all those things He desires that we should ask Him for, just as He has asked the Father for us, and the Father has given us to Him. Let us, then, be encouraged to pray and to obey God with the confidence that He will answer our prayers as we seek His will.

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