Bible passage: Psalm 2:1-3
Written: About 1000 BC
In the opening verses of Psalm 2, which is attributed to King David, the psalmist writes of the nations (Gentiles) and their rulers rising up against God's anointed one and conspiring against him:
1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, 3 "Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles." (Psalm 2:1-3, NIV)
The Hebrew word for "anointed" is the word from which the English language gets the word "Messiah."
The details in these verses of Psalm 2 are part of what many Bible scholars view as being a prophecy about the Messiah, that the Messiah would be opposed, in vain, by Gentiles and rulers.
When Jesus was put on trial, he was opposed by King Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate.
Antipas, who was a son of King Herod, had been appointed to rule over the area of Galilee, where Jesus had done much of his preaching. Pilate was appointed to govern the district of Judea, including Jerusalem, where the trial and execution of Jesus took place. Judea and Galilee were important areas within Biblical land of Israel.
Both rulers were appointed by the Roman Empire, which had consisted of nations throughout northern Africa, Europe and western Asia.
The plot against Jesus was in vain, though. Although he was executed by crucifixion, his followers testify that he was resurrected. The same followers evangelized the teachings of Jesus throughout much of the the Roman Empire and the religion of Christianity later became the first to countries throughout the world.
Luke, one of the writers of the New Testament, provides details about the trial of Jesus in Luke 23:1-25, including interactions with Herod and Pilate. Luke also wrote the New Testament book of Acts, which explains how the original followers of Jesus began preaching the message of Christianity to people throughout the Roman world.
The third verse of Psalm 2:1-3 is the voice of Gentiles speaking out against God, equating his laws and decrees as "chains" and "shackles," in the New International Version translation, or "bands" and "cords" in the King James Version translation.
The prophecy of Psalm 2:1-3 is referred to and explained by Luke, in the book of Acts:
25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.' 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. (Acts 4:25-27, NIV)
Luke isn't alone in viewing Psalm 2 as being Messianic prophecy. Many scholars within Judaism and Christianity, since ancient times, also have regarded Psalm 2 as prophetic and Messianic.
In the Babylonian Talmud, for example, there is a Rabbinic discussion of various Messianic passages within the Old Testament and at one point a portion of Psalm 2 is quoted:
Our Rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!), 'Ask of me anything, and I will give it to thee', as it is said, I will tell of the decree etc. this day have I begotten thee, ask of me and I will give the nations for thy inheritance [Psalms 2:7-8]. - Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a, as translated by William Davidson in the William Davidson Talmud.
- Research and commentary by Ray Konig, author of the book 100 Prophecies.