Psalm 2:12

There is a silent contrast throughout this psalm between the "kings of earth" (ver. 2) and" my King" (ver. 6).

I. THE FALSE IS CHARACTERIZED BY SELF-SEEKING; THE TRUE BY SELF-SACRIFICE. The false begin and end with self. They act from and for "themselves" (ver. 2). The true have regard to others, and are always ready to subordinate and sacrifice themselves for the good of others. In the one case it is the many for the one, the people for the king; in the other, it is the one for the many, the king for the people.

II. THE FALSE RULE BY FORCE; THE TRUE BY RIGHTEOUSNESS. "Bands" and "cords" mark the restraints of law, but the false care for none of these things. Might, not right, is their rule. Whatever stands in the way must give place to their ambitions. On the other hand, the true are animated by the spirit of justice. Instead of grasping violently what does not belong to them, they accept their place and use their powers as from God. They hold that the "decree" must be righteous to be respected - that the law must be just and good to commend itself to reason, and to command the obedience of the heart. Power that a man gains for himself he will use for himself, but power that is held as a trust from God will be wisely and rightly employed.

III. THE FALSE IS MARKED BY CORRUPTION AND MISERY; THE TRUE IS PRODUCTIVE OF THE HIGHEST GOOD. Great are the perils of power. Well did the Preacher say, "Oppression [i.e. the power of oppressing] maketh a wise man mad" (Ecclesiastes 7:7). If this be so with the wise, how much worse will it be with the unwise! The Books of Chronicles and Kings in the Old Testament, and the history of heathen and Christian nations, are full of proofs as to the evils of power wrongly and wickedly used. Crimes, revolts, revolutions, wars upon wars, with manifold and terrible woes, mark the course of the Pharaohs and the Nebuchadnezzars, the Herods and Napoleons of this world. On the other hand, the rule of the true is conducive to the highest interests of men. Their aim is to do justly and to love mercy. Their motto is, "Death to evil, life to good." "The work of righteousness is peace" (Isaiah 32:17).

IV. THE FALSE ARE DOOMED TO FAILURE; THE TRUE TO VICTORY AND IMMORTAL HONOUR. The rule of the false inevitably leads to ruin. Sin is weakness. Evil can only breed evil. Where obedience is given from fear, and not from love, it cannot last. Where homage is rendered for reasons of prudence, and not from conviction, it cannot be depended upon. Where there is not desert on the one hand, there cannot be devotion on the other. Empire founded on the wrong is rotten through and through. But the true reign after another fashion. Their character commands respect. Their government, being founded in righteousness, secures confidence and support. Their rule, being exercised for the benign and holy ends of love, contributes to the general good. Two things follow.

1. God's ideal of kingship is found in Jesus Christ, and the nearer earthly kings resemble him, and the more perfectly they conform their lives and rule to his mind, the better for them and their subjects.

2. On the other hand, our first duty is to accept Christ as our King, and in love and loyalty to serve him. Thus we shall best fulfil our duty in all other relationships. The best Christian is the best subject. - W.F.

Kiss the Son, lest He be angry.
I. OUR DUTY. "Kiss the Son." An expression of love. To whom? The Son of God. The testimony of our love to this person is the kiss. This outward act has been diversely depraved and vitiated amongst men. It hath been ill-used. See cases of Joab with Amasa, and Judas with Christ. Treachery often, but licentiousness more, hath depraved this seal of love; and yet God stoops even to the words of our foul and unchaste love, that thereby He might raise us to the heavenly love of Himself and His Son. In innocent and harmless times persons near in blood did kiss one another. There is no person so near of kin to thee as Jesus Christ. The kiss was also in use as a recognition of sovereignty and power. There is the kiss of reconciliation. They kissed in reverence, in the olden times, even false gods.

II. OUR FEAR. "Lest He be angry." Anger and love, in God, are not incompatible. Anger consists with love. If God gave me nothing for my love I should not love Him, nor fear Him if He were not angry at my displeasing Him. Even the Son, whom we may kiss, may be angry.

(John Donne.)

I. THE COMMAND. A kiss has divers meanings in it, progressive meanings —

1. It is a kiss of reconciliation, a sign of enmity removed and of peace established.

2. A kiss of allegiance and homage. It is an Eastern custom for subjects to kiss the feet of the king. Christ requires of every man who would be saved that he shall yield to His government and rule. Salvation cannot be cut in twain, If you would have justification you must have sanctification too. If your sins are pardoned they must be abhorred. You must give Him the kiss of fealty, of homage, and loyalty, and take Him to be your King.

3. It is the kiss of worship. It was the custom for idolaters to kiss the god which they foolishly adored. The commandment is that we should give to Christ Divine worship.

4. There is another meaning which is the sweetest of all. It is the kiss of penitent love; of deep and sincere affection.

II. THE ARGUMENT. "Lest He be angry," etc. When He is angry it is anger that none can match. What a fearful conjunction of terms — "the wrath of the Lamb."

III. THE BENEDICTION. "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."

1. They are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing. It is a blessing that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life and the trial of death.

2. They have a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to be blessed in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted; and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified.

3. They are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows. They are blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and best of all their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness — the perfection of the saints at the right hand of God.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

The words were spoken, to those who had wilfully opposed the reign of our Saviour, the Son of God, the Lord's anointed. They had determined to reject Him. Hence the warning — "Be wise now, therefore; be instructed; do listen a little." Every wise man, before he commits himself to defend or withstand a policy, would make quite sure, as far as human judgment can, whether it be right or wrong; to be desired or to be deprecated. These words were spoken to those who ought to have been wise — to kings and judges of the earth. We are none of us so wise but we may profit by a little more instruction. He that cannot learn from a fool is a fool himself. The text has an especial reference to those who are thoughtless and careless about their best interests. People do not think. Some of them bold to the religion of their ancestors, whatever that may be. Not conviction, but tradition shapes their ends. Others are of the religion of the circle in which they live. Man seems to think of everything but of his God, to read everything but his Bible. Oh, when will men consider? The advice given in the text is — "rebel no more against God." You have done so some of you, actively and wilfully, others of you by ignoring His claims and utterly neglecting His will. It is not right to continue in this rebellious state. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Here is the pith of the advice — "Kiss the Son, pay Him homage; yield the affectionate fealty of your hearts to the Son of God." Between you and the great King there is an awful breach. God will deal with you through His Son. You must have an advocate. This advice is urgent. How is this advice pressed home upon us. The vanity of any other course is made palpable. The claims of the Son are presented. The exhortation is backed up with bright and beautiful congratulations for those who yield to it. "Blessed are all they who put their trust in Him."

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

(to children): — The first three verses give a life-like picture of a great mob or riot. The kings of the earth become unkingly, and join the rabble against the Lord and His anointed. From the tenth verse Jehovah gives advice to all on the earth.

I. WHAT IT IS TO KISS THE SON. When you kiss your mother it is a sign of love. When a friend brings you a present, you speak your thanks with a kiss. A kiss, then, is a sign of grateful love. A kiss is in some countries a sign of loyalty. In England the hand of the sovereign is kissed. To kiss the Son means much. You thereby give Him your all, and get it back with His goodwill. True loyalty is without selfishness, and without stint. Loyalty never means, how little can I do for my king? It asks only how much?

II. WHY YOU SHOULD KISS THE SON. Because Christ's foes are under God's wrath. In this Psalm David shows us the terrors of God, so that fear may drive us to Him. And because Christ's friends are blessed. Blessed every way and blessed always. It is as plain as day that if all kissed the Son the most of our miseries would straightway cease. Count up all the ills of life, and then ask how many of them could continue if the Spirit of Christ ruled in every heart. But the true subjects of the King are not all blessed in the same way. God does promise that, come what may, all who kiss the Son shall be blessed. The curse and the blessing unite to add force to the appeal, "Kiss the Son."

(James Wells, M. A.)

You have heard of the prairie burning. The traveller has lit his fire and dropped a spark — the fire is kindled but a little, and a small circle of flame is formed. You cannot judge what will be the mighty catastrophe, when the sheet of flame shall cover half the continent. But mark that when it is kindled "but a little," it is enough to utterly destroy, for they shall perish from the way.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Blessed are all they who put their trust in Him.
Whether this Psalm has a primary respect to David, and the establishment of his kingdom on Mount Zion, or should be entirely referred to Messiah, is a point on which expositors are not agreed. The passage is quoted and expressly applied to Christ by the whole college of apostles, after they had received the plenary inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The act of trust is so familiar to all that it requires no explanation. Two things are implied in trusting. A conviction of need and a sense of dependence. A persuasion of the goodwill, ability, and fidelity of the person in whom we trust. The exercise of a saving faith is not more frequently expressed by any term than by trust. Man is so dependent on Providence for the common blessings of this life that trust in God for these is the state of mind which is becoming. In regard to spiritual and eternal blessings, our dependence is still greater; for man has already lost the favour of God, and has fallen under His dreadful curse. The inability of his heart and will, so far from furnishing any excuse to the sinner is the chief ground of his criminality. A three-fold misery is common to all the children of Adam — blindness, deadness, guilt. To qualify himself as a physician to cure the threefold malady, Christ has assumed as Mediator a threefold office, namely — of a prophet, priest, and king; and in this threefold office the sinner must trust in Him for salvation. All men need a refuge to which they may flee for safety; and happy are they who have been so made sensible of their danger and misery that they are anxiously seeking a place of safety. They cannot escape by their own wisdom or power, and no other creature has ability to rescue them from ruin. Whither, then, shall they turn? There is no hope but in the gospel of salvation. Sin cannot escape punishment in the just government of a holy God. But sin may be punished in an adequate substitute. It has been punished in our Divine Surety. The satisfaction is complete. Trust in the Redeemer supposes that He has manifested in some way a willingness to save us. In order that trust have a firm foundation it is requisite that there should be explicit promises of relief. Such promises are especially necessary in the case of the sinner. We find the gospel full of kind invitations and gracious promises to all who will come and receive salvation as a free gift. The first views of faith are not always clear; commonly the first light is like that of the dawn, which gradually increases. They who have once found Christ, and trusted in Him, however they may be tossed with temptations or distressed by doubts of their acceptance, never think of any refuge but Christ; they never attempt to build on another foundation. The believer also trusts in Christ for future help and future good. As to the blessedness of those who trust in the Redeemer, we note —

1. They have received the forgiveness of sin.

2. They have the indwelling of the Spirit of God.

3. They are the special care of Divine Providence.

4. They enjoy inward peace.

5. When they leave the world they shall be blessed in the open vision of God's glory.They shall be perfectly cleansed from the pollutions of sin, and when they shall see their Saviour they shall be like Him, for they shall see Him as He is.

(A. Alexander, D. D.).

Lord, how are they increased that trouble me.
With returning day there comes back on the monarch's heart the recollection of the enemies who threaten him, a nation up in arms against him; his own son heading the rebellion, his wisest and most trusted counsellor in the ranks of his foes (2 Samuel 15-17). Never, not even when hunted by Saul, had he found his position one of greater danger. The odds are overwhelmingly against him. This is a fact which he does not attempt to hide from himself: "How many are mine enemies." Meanwhile, where are his friends, his army, his counsellors? Not a word of allusion to any of them in the Psalm. Yet he is not crushed, he is not desponding. Enemies may be as thick as leaves of the forest, and earthly friends may be few, or uncertain, or far off. But there is one Friend who cannot fail him, and to Him David turns with a confidence and an affection which lilt him above all his fears. Never had he been more sensible of the reality and preciousness of the Divine protection. If he was surrounded by enemies, Jehovah was his shield. If Shimei and his crew turned his glory into shame, Jehovah was his glory; if they sought to revile and degrade him, Jehovah was the lifter up of his head. Nor did the mere fact of distance from Jerusalem separate between him and his God. He had sent back the ark and the priests, for he knew that God could still hear him from "His holy mountain" (Psalm 3:4), could still lilt up the light of His countenance upon him, and put gladness in his heart (Psalm 4:6, 7). Sustained by Jehovah, he had lain him down and slept in safety; trusting in the same mighty protection, he would lie down again to rest. Enemies might taunt, and friends might fail him, but the victory was Jehovah's, and He could break the teeth of the ungodly (Psalms 3:7,8).

(J. J. S. Perowne.)

The Psalm falls into four strophes; three of which are marked by "Selah."

1. Vers. 1, 2: The Psalmist recounts his enemies. As a morning Psalm this is touchingly true to experience. The first waking thought is often a renewed inrush of the trouble which sleep had for a time dammed back. His enemies are many, and they taunt him as forsaken of God. The Psalmist is finding refuge from fears and foes, even in telling how many there are, since he begins his complaint with "Jehovah." Without that word the exclamations of his first strophe are the voice of cowardice or despair. With it they are calmed into the appeal of trust. The Selah here is probably a direction for an instrumental interlude while the singer pauses.

2. Vers. 3, 4: The utterance of faith, based on experience, laying hold of Jehovah as defence. By an effort of will the Psalmist rises from the contemplation of surrounding enemies to that of the encircling Jehovah. This harassed man flings himself out of the coil of troubles round about him, and looks up to God. He sees in Him precisely what he needs at the moment, for in that infinite nature is fulness corresponding to all emptiness of ours. How comes this sudden burst of confidence to lighten the complaining soul? Ver. 4 tells. Experience has taught him that as often as he cries to Jehovah he is heard. The tenses in ver. 4 express a habitual act and a constant result.

3. Vers. 5, 6 beautifully express the tranquil courage that comes from trust. "Surrounded by enemies, he was quite safe under God's protection, and exposed to no peril even in the night." This suits the situation pointed to in the superscription of the Psalm.

4. Vers. 7, 8 give the culmination of faith in prayer. "Arise, Jehovah" is quoted from the ancient invocation (Numbers 10:35), and expresses in strongly anthropomorphic form the desire for some interposition of Divine power. Fearlessness is not so complete that the Psalmist is beyond the need of praying.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

When a man's enemies increase fit number the man should bethink himself, for surely they will not increase without reason. This is a matter which cannot be decided without careful consideration. It is no argument against a man that his enemies are millions strong, nor is it any argument in favour of a man that his friends are at least equal in number. At the same time, it may be spiritually educative and useful to consider why there are so many enemies. Enmity may be founded on jealousy, or envy, or opposition of conviction; or upon assurance that the individual against whom the enmity is directed is pursuing a mischievous course. It is for the man himself to retire within the sanctuary of his own conscience, to discover his moral purpose in everything, and, according as his integrity can be proved to stand fast even in solitude and desolation. But there is a self-analysis that is irreligious. It is conducted upon wrong principles, and the conductor of it is resolved upon self-vindication, rather than upon an absolute discovery of truth, be it on which side it may. It should be remembered, too, that there are some questions which cannot be decided in solitude, the help of social influence is necessary to modify the judgment and chasten the feeling of the inquirer. A second thought arising in this connection is that the very fact of the enemies being all but countless in number may be a tribute to a man's greatness. Armies are not sent to cut down mushrooms or bulrushes. The very magnitude of the host encamped against a man may say without words how great the man is and mighty, and how worthy of being attacked. To leave some men alone is to withhold from them every moral and intellectual tribute. The numbers of a man's enemies may be a tribute to the very greatness which they desire to modify or overthrow.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

I. AN ENUMERATION OF TROUBLE (1, 2). Though God knows all, it relieves the surcharged heart to tell all unto Him. The foes were "many." They quoted his sin as a reason for supposing that God had forsaken him (2 Samuel 16:7, 8). The word "help" is "salvation," which belongs only unto God.

II. AN EXPRESSION OF UNFALTERING TRUST (3, 4). God our shield (Genesis 15:1). It is a good thing to use the voice in prayer as our Lord did. Words keep the heart awake (Hebrews 5:7).

III. AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF MERCY (5, 6). It was the perfection of trust to be able to sleep under such circumstances. But it is possible (Mark 4:38; Acts 12:6). If we are where we should be God will save us, if not from, then in our troubles.

IV. AN URGENT ENTREATY. He counts his foes as wild beasts, harmless because their jaws are broken and their teeth dashed out. They may prowl around, but they cannot hurt.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)


1. It involved great dangers: the danger of losing his palace, throne, reputation, life.

2. It came from an unlikely source. From his own and favourite son.

3. It was morally deserved. He had committed heinous crimes. His guilty conscience added much to the weight of the trial which now befell him.


1. A protecting;

2. A glorifying;

3. A restoring;

4. A prayer hearing;

5. A life-sustaining friend.

III. A RIGHT MORAL TEMPER UNDER GREAT TRIAL. Two characteristics in David's temper at this time —


(2)prayerfulness.David's whole soul seems to have gone out in this prayer, and in truth all true prayer is earnest. "As a painted fire," says a brilliant old writer, "is no fire, a dead man no man, so cold prayer is no prayer. In a painted fire there is no heat, in a dead man there is no life; so in a cold prayer there is no omnipotency, no devotion, no blessing. Cold prayers are as arrows without heads, as swords without edges, as birds without wings. Cold prayers always freeze before they reach heaven. As a body without a soul, much wood without fire, a bullet in a gun without powder, so are words in prayer without fervency of spirit."


The title is, "A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom, his son" (2 Samuel 15-18).

I. NONE ARE EXEMPT FROM TROUBLE. The man who sorrows is a king, even David. All meet together in sorrow, for it is the lot of all.

II. TROUBLES OFTEN COME IN TROOPS. "How are they increased that trouble me." So was it here with David, and so was it with Job. All sorrows are akin, and hence they come in crowds.

III. OUR TROUBLE MAY BE OUR SIN FINDING US OUT. It was so with David here. "The backslider ill heart shall be filled with his own ways."

IV. TROUBLE IS APT TO STAGGER OUR FAITH IN GOD. The enemy took advantage of David's troubles, and said to him, "God hath forsaken thee, and left thee." Men in trouble are prone to run into one of two extremes — despair or indifference. We are not to steel our hearts against chastening, for God means that we should feel it; nor, on the other hand, are we to faint. Doubt God's very existence sooner than His mercy. defines suicide to be "a desertion of our post." We are to be like that Roman soldier who stood to his post in the sentry. box at Pompeii, when the scoriae of Mount Vesuvius buried it with the city.

V. THE POWER OF SUSTAINING GRACE UNDER AFFLICTION IS HERE SEEN. "I laid me down and slept." There are myriads today who are able to testify of the peace of God, which passeth all understanding. David in flight finds God his Shield and high Tower, though he has but six hundred men. Ahithophel at court, backed by an army of twelve thousand troops, is in despair, and hangs himself. God keep us from unsanctified affliction.

(E. S. Prout.)

Homiletic Review.
1. One element of the harassment is multitudinousness of trouble. A characteristic feature of the trouble time with Absalom.

2. Another element is unkind and taunting speech. The cruel scoff — "no help for him in God" — cuts like a knife to the very centre of his personality.

3. Another element is a kind of internal despair. It sounds in the first sentences of the Psalm. What are the resources of the harassed man? Turning Godward. He flings himself out of the coil of troubles round about him, and looks up to God. The thought of God as possessing precisely what he, amid his harassments, needs. God is the three things he needs — "shield," or defence; "my glory"; and the "lifter up of my head," for God can both cheer the harassed man's spirit, and restore to him the consciousness of his own real dignity, notwithstanding his trials. I came upon the most beautiful illustration of all this the other day. One of those spiritual Christians, a Stundist as they call them in Russia, was standing amidst a lot of Russian criminals in the courtyard of a Russian prison, chained with them, and sentenced with them to Siberia for his faith's sake. His fellow prisoners were jeering at him. "But you're no better off than we are. You are wearing the bracelets, as we do; if your God is of any use to you, why doesn't He knock off your chains and set you free?" The man replied reverently: "If the Lord will, He can set me free Wen now; and though my hands are chained, my heart is free." He was freed. But though he had been obliged to trudge the weary way to Siberia, for his free heart God would still have been shield, glory, the lifter up of the head. Calmness and courage can come to the harassed man. There is this possible mood for the harassed man — confident expectation. Salvation belongeth unto God; Thy blessing is upon Thy people."

(Homiletic Review.)

Many are they that rise up against me.
The superscription of the Psalm indicates the occasion of its composition (2 Samuel 15).

I. THE MAGNITUDE OF HIS COMPLAINT. It proceeds from a heart at once oppressed by the grievousness of its sorrows, and terrified at the number of its enemies. The severity of the trial is evident from its progressive character. He has adversaries who even blaspheme God, and insultingly say of His servant, "There is no help for him in God." The best men have many faults, and sin often appears sweet to them. So God suffers them to taste the unpalatable fruit of transgression; but He even extracts sweetness from its very bitterness, educing from chastisement amendment of life, and help heavenward. Good men flee to their heavenly Father in the day of trouble, and this fact shows that the very nature of punishment is transformed.

II. THE NATURE OF HIS TRIAL. The Psalmist sighs over the extreme severity of his trials. But God never lays more upon His own children than they are able to bear. The sense of gracious support in the hour of trial is an evidence that God is assuaging grief and providing a way of escape from it. When the wicked are punished there is no such alleviation, nor any access to God.

III. THE SOURCE OF HIS COMPLAINT. It does not proceed from mere human nature. The complaint originates with the Spirit of God, and with that spirit of adoption which He sheds abroad in the heart. The son, conscious of his father's affection, expostulates in the midst of his chastisement. He even feels that God suffers with him, and is deeply affected by the trials which He Himself sends. We shall do well to imitate David's complaint in our time of trouble, ever seeking profoundly to realise God's love in Christ Jesus.

(Robert Rollocks.)

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