Dear Christ Church,
I received the following question from my sermon on Psalm 2 this past Sunday.
Question: Who did people think the “Son” was from Psalm 2:12, since it was written before Jesus?
An important part of bible study is understanding scripture in its original context, so this is a really good question. The answer to this really depends on whom is meant by “people.” This Psalm was typically read during the coronation of a new king of Israel. The “Son” was thought to refer to the King. Israelites did not see Kingship just as a matter of bloodline, but as spiritually appointed and ordained by God. They looked forward to a day when God would send the Christ (Messiah in the Hebrew) and keep His promise that He made to David when God said,
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. (2Sa 7:12-14 ESV)
The assumption was that this “Son” was not God’s literal Son, but rather spoke of the close relationship that God would always have with each King of Israel.
However, there were some who did view this “Son” to be God’s actual son as they prophetically foresaw the coming day of Jesus. David wrote about this in Psalm 110:1,
The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." (Psa 110:1 ESV)
Jesus commented on this verse and said,
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." He said to them, "How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, "'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet"'? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?" And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Mat 22:41-1 ESV)
Jesus was pointing out that David foresaw the day of his coming and no one was able to challenge him on that, because once he pointed it out to them it was very obvious. The famous “faith” chapter in Hebrews 11 is all about how people from the OT looked forward with faith to Jesus’ coming and what God would accomplish with it. One of Paul’s major themes throughout his letters, particularly in Galatians, is how God has always dealt with his people on the basis of faith in His Son. So while their knowledge would certainly not be as clear as ours who are living after Jesus, they still believed in a true son of God coming to be God’s king over God’s people through rescuing us from our sins.
Hope that helps!
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