Sefer Tehillim
Tehillim Two

2:1 Why are the nations in uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain? 2 The kings of the earth stand forth, and rulers take counsel together, against Hashem and against His anointed? 3[They say] Let us tear their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us! 4 He that sits [is enthroned] in heaven laughs; Hashem mocks them. 5 Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His rage: 6 But I have set [anointed] My king on Tziyon, the mountain of My sanctuary! 7 I will tell of the decree: Hashem said to me: You are My son; this day I have begotten you. 8 Ask [it] of Me, and I will give the nations as your inheritance; and the ends of the earth as your possession. 9 You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel. 10 So now, O kings, be wise, be admonished, you judges of the earth. 11 Serve Hashem with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Worship in purity, lest He be angered, and you perish on the way; for His wrath may flash soon. Happy are those who put their trust in Him.

The previous psalm was an introduction to the entire Sefer Tehillim, the book itself properly begins here. This psalm speaks of the afflictions and visitations that befell David, which symbolize and anticipate the suffering and visitations that would afflict the indicvidual Jew and the Jewish people throughout all the generations causing yearnings of redemption and for the coming of the Mashiach ben David.

"Why are the nations in uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain?"... One view is that David composed this psalm when he was anointed king (2:2). It refers to the Pelishtim, who, when they heard of the anointment, went forth to wage war against him. Thus it says, "When the Pelishtim heard that David was anointed king over Yisrael, all the Pelishtim went up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the fortress. Now the Pelishtim had come and spread themselves in the valley of Refaim" (2Shmuel 5:18, 19). Accordingly, David here cries out against them, "Why are the nations in uproar? and why do all the peoples mutter in vain?" Why are they in an uproar and why have all these peoples gathered to mutter in their hearts in futility? Literally, yehgu means to meditate or scheme. Then again, Why do they say that we are "in vain?"... that our situation is hopeless. Futile is the uproar of the nations, and the peoples plot in vain, for "He that sits in heaven laughs; Hashem mocks them" (2:4).

"against Hashem"... Since the Pelishtim knew that David was G-d's chosen one, their attack upon David was an attack against G-d.

Some say that this psalm was composed for the time of the messianic age, when the nations will make a final desparate attempt to eradicate the Jewish people and to obliterate the name of the G-d of Yisrael. Time and time again, throughout history, they strove to replace the Almighty with false idolatries that corrupt man's mind and degrade his being, but the Almighty thwarts their designs. When Nimrod erected the Tower of Bavel, G-d found Avraham to defy him; Moshe stood up against Pharaoh and against the Amalekim; and David stood in opposition to all the nations. Thus the Talmud teaches that he was worthy of being the Mashiach. Similarly, the present verses convey that in the End of Days there will no longer be a place for the wicked. Their way "will perish" (v16) and everyone will worship G-d.

"A new heart will I also give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh" (Yechezkel 36:26); "I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land" (Zecharya 13:2) This will all transpire through the direct descendant of David, the anointed of G-d. So David composed the present psalm as a hymn about the final stirring of the nations against Yisrael. Thus it says, "For I will gather all nations against Yerushalayim to battle; ... Then Hashem will go forth and fight against those nations" (ibid. 14:2,3). About the war of Gog it says, "And you will come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, ... And you will come up against My people Yisrael, as a cloud to cover the land. ... And it will come to pass in that day... that My fury will arise up in My nostrils" (Yechezkel 38:15, 16, 18)

"Let us tear their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us"... In the Future, the nations will declare, "Let us tear asunder the bands that link the Yerushalayim below to the Yerushalayim on high. Let us cast away their cords so they will no longer be superior to us." However, at that time "He that sits in heaven laughs; Hashem mocks them" (2:4). G-d will confound their counsel. He has chosen us out of all the peoples, and who shall tell Him what to do? (Kohelet 8:4). The Scripture proclaims that this status of the Jewish people will not change in any way.

The Targum translates: The kings of the earth and the rulers banded together to rebel before Hashem and to quarrel with His anointed. More specifically, the Midrash says that the nations want to tear Yisrael away from the mitzvah of tefillin and the mitzvah of tzitzit: "Let us tear their (tefillin) bands asunder and cast away their (tzitzit) cords."

"Let us tear their beands"... Ever since the Torah was given to Yisrael at Sinai, the nations are not as free as they once were to act as the spirit moved them. They behold the Jewish people and are ashamed. Therefore, they are forever trying to tear themselves away from the bonds of morality that were given to Yisrael at Sinai. Every since then, hatred (for the Jewish people) descended upon the world. Why was the mountain named Sinai? the Talmud asks. Because sina, hatred, descended upon the world.

"He that sits in heaven laughs; Hashem mocks them"... In the Future, the nations will come to make war against Yerushalayim and the Jewish people, and this will be the cause of their downfall. This marvelous turnabout is depicted here metaphorically as G-d laughing and mocking them. There is no greater mockery than having someone fall into the same pit that he prepared for others.

"I have set [anointed] My king on Tziyon, the mountain of My sanctuary"... Speaking about the Pelishtim who came to destory the kingdom of David, the Holy Spirit says, "Why were you in uproar when I have anointed My king? I Myself crowned crowned David and appointed him as a prince to rule on Tziyon, the mountain of My sanctuary. So how could you think to uproot kingship from the House of David?!"

"I will tell of the decree: Hashem said to me: You are My son; this day I have begotten you"... King David says: "I will tell of the decree." This tale I will set before me as a law, and (its telling) as an established custom. What is the tale?

  • That G-d said to me, "You are My son." Your kingship comes from me and no man may challenge it. Thus G-d said to the prophet Shmuel, when He sent him to Yishai, "For I have provided Me a king among his sons" (1Shmuel 16:1).
  • That He said to me, "This day I have begotten you." On the day that you were anointed I took you as My son. Thus it says, "I have provided Me a king."

On the very same day that David was anointed, a divine spirit was born within him, as it says, "And the spirit of Hashem came mightily upon David from that day forward" (ibid. :13). Through the Holy Spirit he chanted songs and psalms, and from that day onward, inspiration and power continued to increase within him.

But David was humble in his own eyes, and he did not see himself as worthy of kingship. He became king not by his own initiative, but because "Hashem said to me: You are My son; this day I have begotten you."

Some relate the present verse to the nations, who expressed a desire to tear the Jewish people away from their faith - "Let us tear their bands asunder..." (v2:3). However, "I will tell of the decree." Just as it is an unchanging law that a son cannot be torn away from his father, similarly it is not possible to tear away the Jewish people from their Father in heaven.

"this day I have begotten you"... Begotten you to be called My son and to be beloved to Me as a son for their sake, as it is stated (2Shmuel 7:14) concerning Shlomo: "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to Me a son." We find further concerning David (Tehillim 89:27) "He shall call Me, ‘You are my Father, my G-d, and the Rock of my salvation.’"

"Worship in purity, lest He be angered, and you perish on the way; for His wrath may flash soon. Happy are those who put their trust in Him"... Literally, "kiss the grain," he tells them. Remain attached to the wheat kernel, cleave to the man who is the chosen of G-d - "lest He be angered, and you perish on the way." In related sense, the Scripture says: nashku var - cleave to G-d with pure hearts; pen ye'enaf - lest G-d choose the way of affliction, and you lose your way. Then you will not find Him. In this context, based on the meaning of bar as grain, our Sages engage in the following parable:

A quarrel once arose between the straw, the chaff and the stubble, each claiming that the field was sown for its sake.

"Just wait till the harvest," said the wheat. "You will see for yourselves."

Harvest time arrived and the owner of the field began the process of winnowing. The wind blew away the chaff, and straw was thrown down to the ground, the stubble was burnt. He then gathered all the wheat into a great heap, and everyone who passed by kissed it. Thus it says here nashku var pen ye'enaf - Kiss the bar - grain, i.e. the Jewish people, lest he (the owner of the grain), i.e. the Owner of Yisrael, be angered.

King David began the very first psalm with ashrei ("Happy is the man..."), and here he ends the second psalm with ashrei ("Happy are those..."). Appropriately, the Talmud says that these two psalms are joined: "Happy is the man..." and "Happy are those..." comprise a single psalm. It begins and ends with ashrei. Similarly, every psalm that was particularly dear to David would begin and end with "Happy is the man."

Tehillim Three

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