Question 76. In Psalm 2:8, couldn’t “ends of the earth” be poetic exaggeration referring to David’s subjugation of many nations?

In this third of a series of questions on Messianic Psalms, the reader suggests that Psalm 2, which has been traditionally interpreted as Messianic, could actually be referring to King David. Here is the full QUESTION:

In your work HaMashiach – The Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures, you mention that Psalm 2 cannot apply to David for the following reason: “While David was a great king, God never gave him authority over all the nations (verse 8), nor did he ever rule the uttermost ends of the earth” (p. 83). However, it seems to me that the “ends of the earth” could easily be poetic exaggeration to draw attention to David’s subjugation of many nations, like Moab, Syria, and Edom (II Sam. 8). After all, Acts 2 uses hyperbole when it talks about Jews from “every nation under heaven” since this excludes China, the Mayans in Peru, etc. In Romans 16:26, Paul talks about how the “mystery” of Messiah Jesus has been made known to “all nations,” although Christianity was still mostly confined to the Mediterranean world. These aren’t mistakes; they are just common literary devices. Why take Psalm 2 any differently?

And here is the full text of Psalm 2 (ASV):

1 Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

ANSWER:

Psalm 2 is not a psalm about which there was or is a debate between Messianic Jews and non-Messianic Jews, particularly Orthodox Jews. Rather, this was a psalm that was clearly interpreted as being Messianic by Orthodox Judaism. Furthermore, the phrase “the ends of the earth” could hardly be limited to the specific nations you listed. For example, Lebanon was part of the Promised Land. Israel never owned this part of the Promised Land, nor was Lebanon under the subjugation of David. This is also true of other nations, such as Tyre, whose king was a personal friend of David. Likewise, other parts of the Middle East, such as Egypt, were a part of the known world, but they weren’t under David’s authority. So, interpreting Psalm 2:8 as a literary device describing David’s reign is difficult to defend.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 75. It seems in Psalm 16 that David is speaking about himself, so why do you value verse 10, “You will not allow your holy one to undergo decay,” as higher than the rest of the psalm?

In this post Dr. Fruchtenbaum responds to a reader’s thought that all of Psalm 16 is referring only to David’s life, not the Messiah. Here is the full text of the reader’s original QUESTION:

Psalm 16 is said to be a Messianic psalm. Why can’t David be talking about himself in this psalm? Could the “holy one” possibly be David, who is set apart as God’s anointed? I know that David died, and this psalm says, “You will not allow your holy one to undergo decay.” But it seems like a stretch to value this vague sentence (which could refer to God delivering David from death in a present distress) higher than the rest of the psalm, which has David saying, “I” and “me” over and over again.

And here is the full text of Psalm 16 (ASV):

1Preserve me, O God; for in thee do I take refuge.
2 O my soul, thou hast said unto Jehovah, Thou art my Lord:
I have no good beyond thee.
3 As for the saints that are in the earth,
They are the excellent in whom is all my delight.
4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that give gifts for another god:
Their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer,
Nor take their names upon my lips.
5 Jehovah is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup:
Thou maintainest my lot.
6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
Yea, I have a goodly heritage.
7 I will bless Jehovah, who hath given me counsel;
Yea, my heart instructeth me in the night seasons.
8 I have set Jehovah always before me:
Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
My flesh also shall dwell in safety.
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.
11 Thou wilt show me the path of life:
In thy presence is fulness of joy;
In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

ANSWER:

The emphasis of Psalm 16:1-2 is that Messiah’s refuge is in God. In verse 3, it says that His delight is with the saints, the believing remnant, echoing the sentiments of Zechariah 11. In verses 4-9, the psalmist says that God the Father will be the Messiah’s total trust in life, and even in death, Messiah still trusts in God (vv. 10-11). The point of the song is that even though God allows Messiah to die, Messiah declares, You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay, meaning Messiah will be resurrected back to life.

Now, David was an anointed king, but this does not naturally declare the anointed one to also be God’s Holy One. David’s life could not be declared holy in any way based on his anointment alone. Furthermore, the description of death in Psalm 16 is obviously talking about the moment when the body begins to decay. While in this psalm Messiah is delivering David from present distress, that would not be equivalent to leaving his soul in Sheol. Nothing in the life of David would indicate that his own distress was the kind of distress described in verse 10.


Have more questions? Send them to questions@ariel.org

Learn more about Ariel Ministries and enjoy our many online resources. To make this and other resources available, Ariel Ministries relies upon donations from people like you. If you feel the Lord would have you be a partner in this ministry through financial support, please go to Ariel Ministries Giving. Thank you!

Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.