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PSALM 2

A complex interplay of religious, political, and moral themes. It speaks to the rebellious nature of nations and peoples against divine authority, the distinction between earthly and heavenly decrees, and the ultimate power of divine justice and providence. * Psalms in English followed by a liturgical explanation inspired by the teachings of Malbim.

by Rabbi Boruch Merkur


Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and against His anointed.

“Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their cords.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.

Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury.

But I have installed My king on Zion, My holy mountain.

I will proclaim the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are My son; today I have begotten you.”

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

Serve the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling.

Embrace purity, lest you arouse wrath and lose your way, for His anger flares briefly. Blessed are all who seek refuge in Him.


Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The earth’s kingdoms rise in tumult, setting their sights against the Divine and the anointed of the Lord. They seek to break the yoke of heavenly decrees, to cast aside the cords of divine law and the righteousness that binds them. In their rebellion, they challenge not just the earthly order but the celestial command, a futile struggle against the unassailable throne of the Almighty.


He who sits in the heavens looks upon their efforts with a divine irony. Their anger and plots are but fleeting shadows under the eternal gaze of the Creator. In His laughter lies a deeper truth: the transient nature of human power and the enduring strength of divine will. The nations may consider themselves mighty, but in the eyes of the Lord, they are like chaff, easily scattered by the wind of His judgment.


Yet, there is a decree, a divine proclamation that echoes through the ages. It speaks of a king, chosen and anointed, a ruler not just of lands but of hearts and spirits. This king, installed on Zion, the holy mountain, stands as a testament to the unbreakable bond between the Creator and His creation. The Lord declares, “You are My son,” an affirmation of divine choice and favor.


This king, vested with authority from on high, is granted dominion over nations, a reign that extends to the ends of the earth. His rule is not just of power but of justice, a rod of iron to break the vessels of iniquity, a shepherd to guide the flock towards righteousness. The nations are called to recognize this sovereignty, to see in it the hand of the Lord shaping the course of history.


Thus, the scripture implores the kings and rulers, the peoples and nations, to be wise, to heed the warning of the Divine. It calls for a service that is born of reverence, a worship that understands the gravity of divine wrath and the joy of divine favor. To embrace purity is to align with the chosen of the Lord, to find refuge in His strength and guidance.


The closing exhortation resounds with a profound truth: to serve the Lord with reverence is to find joy even in trembling, to recognize the fleeting nature of earthly power and the eternal shelter in the divine embrace. Blessed indeed are those who seek refuge in Him, for in His protection lies the true path to peace and salvation.


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