The implications of Psalm 2 on Jesus’ baptism prophecy


You are my SonWhen Jesus is baptised by his cousin John the crowds heard a role of thunder but Jesus and John heard words spoken from heaven. A prophetic declaration that shaped Jesus’ ministry but also modeled the ancient worlds varied but widespread “son-adoption” rituals. A public recognition of a favoured son or ward as the heir of the household.

“This is my son, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased” – Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22

The phrase is made up of three clauses that all draw from the Old Testament and their respective backgrounds give them a fascinating tension, but that is not the point of this post.

Here we are just going to look at the prophetic roots of the phrase “My Son”, it is a messianic title that goes back to Psalm 2.

Psalm 2 starts with the Messiah in the middle of an international incident:

Why do the gentiles rage and the peoples plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth take a stand, and the rulers take counsel together against YHWH, and against his Anointed(messiah)” – Psalm 2:1-2

These opening lines take us straight to the events of the crucifixion, where Jesus trial unites Roman, national and religious rulers together in its outcome. Herod and Pilate became friends from that day forward, Luke 23:12, and the Sadducees and Pharisees found a common cause. In fact Peter quotes these verses in prayer as being a prophecy of the events of the Cross, he concludes:

For truly, in this city against your holy servant, Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together “ – Acts 4:27

Matthew also uses that exact same phrase “συνηχθησαν επι το αυτο”/ “gathered themselves together” from the Greek translation of this Psalm (in the Septuagint) to describe the plots against Jesus, see Matthew 22:34. So it clearly has something to say about Jesus death.

The Psalm continues in verses 3-6 to describe God laughing at their plans and despite them, with God saying: “I have installed my King in Zion

Zion was the spiritual name of Jerusalem it included where the Temple Mount and the slopes on which Jesus was crucified. But there is something else to note here, the Hebrew word for “installed” is “נסכתי” which literally means “poured out”. The word can be “installed” because it refers to the “pouring out” of oil on a King when he is crowned and to the pouring of molten metal into a cast to set into a new shape. And most importantly it is the word used for the pouring out of the drink offering: “in the holy place you shall pour out a libation of strong drink to the Lord”, Numbers 28:7.

Jesus’ blood was literally poured out on Zion the Holy Place and Jesus declared: “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many”, Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24.

There is a definite connection between Psalm 2 and Jesus’ death.

But what about the Baptism?

Now moving on to verse 7 we find the phrase we started with “My Son”. And it is a new person speaking here, either the author or more likely the Messiah himself. So he says:

I will tell of the decree of the YHWH:” i.e I am about to say what was said when I was being “installed” or “poured out” onto. So what does God say at this precise moment?

You are my Son!” the very phrase the Father speaks over Jesus at his Baptism is the phrase described as God’s decree by the Messiah in Psalm 2.

But hang on, this didn’t happen at Zion/Jerusalem, the location of the Messiah throne. But then again neither did David’s first anointing, that happened in private, 1 Samuel 16:13, and this led to David’s reign in Zion. Just as Jesus anointing at baptism prophesied his future public “pouring out”/”installing” at the city of David.

In the year before Jesus came the rabbis and scribes had already recognised the title “My Son” as a messianic title from this verse. Though it’s context implies the title is initially shared in a private moment between the two, just as it was when Jesus was baptised.

A promise of nations

Now the Psalm doesn’t stop there, so we need to push on. Next we read:

Today I have begotten you”, Psalm 2:7c.

Some translation say something along the lines “today I have become your Father” this is a ridiculous translation, the word Father is not in the text, it comes from a narrow understanding of the word “begotten” which often relates to birth but is more generally “gotten hold of you”, which makes good sense of what is happening at Jesus’ baptism. Jesus is committing himself to the task prepared for him by the Father.

Next comes a promise:

Ask of me and I will surely give the nations as your inheritance, the very ends of the earth as your posession” – Psalm 2:8.

Following Jesus’ baptism and this commission, the devil immediately questions it all in the wilderness. He questions Jesus on the evidence that He really is “My Son”.

If you are the son of God…!

But also note how he tries to get Jesus to be pre-emptive in the promise that goes with the name.

The devil took him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory. He said to him, ‘I will give you all of these things, if you will fall down and worship me.’” – Matthew 4:8-9

It is interesting to see how all of the devil’s words to Jesus in the wilderness are a in some way connected to the decree: “This is my son, the beloved, in whom I’m well pleased” but we will have to leave the rest to future posts, or you can ponder on it yourself. For now we simply need to note the final instruction in this Psalm.

Salvation by Faith

Do homage to the Son… how blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” – Psalm 2:12

Salvation has always been “in Christ” as Jesus says:

“The Son also gives life to whom he desires. For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him. ” – John 5:21-23

Finally there is a last subtle moment to note here. You see the word for “Son” in v12 is different to the word “Son” in v7.

In v7 “son” is the Standard Biblical Hebrew word “בן”/“ben” but in v12 “Son” is the Aramaic word “בר”/“bar”. This Psalm is far two early to use an Aramaic word. As is Proverbs that uses the word for a king who belongs to God. Daniel is less so, he uses it for the “Son of Man”, and as a title for King Belshazzar and for Darius the Mede when he receives the Kingdom at age 62!

The best linguistic understanding of these early uses of the word “בר”/“bar” is that is being used as a way of making “son” a formal title, “Son”, denoting their coming into their inheritance. Seeing the word in this way gives us an interesting prophetic take on the opening phrase of the whole Bible. You might like to explore that here!

That’s probably enough for now, this has been a long post…but I hope it’s been helpful!

In summary, we have seen, Jesus, death, baptism, victory and ascended rule in Psalm 2. Not bad for 12 verses.

Christen Forster

Christen Forster is widely recognised as an original Bible teacher who brings people into a love of and confidence in scripture.

Christen has planted churches, been a youth worker, mission administrator and church leaders. The author of several books, Christen is now an itinerant minister, helping churches to step into a more deliberately spiritual experience of the Christian life while at the same time firmly rooting their practice in scripture.

© 2000 - 2024 Christen Forster
Christen Forster

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One Reply to “The implications of Psalm 2 on Jesus’ baptism prophecy”

  1. The Implications of Psalm 2 on Jesus baptism prophecy is that God’s purpose for baptism was to seal him as a child of the family. Christ was the perfect Son of God and He was also perfect in the eyes of God, that is why He was chosen to come into the world. God poured out His wisdom and blessings on Him and He also became a sacrifice for His people. When Christ returns as the Lord and King of the Christian church He will once again take on the keys of heaven and earth and reign forever.

    When we read through this passage in the Bible we find that it is very positive. It begins with praise for God and ends with a hymn to Jesus Christ. It certainly is a message of hope and encouragement. In other words it is a love letter to the baby Jesus. The people in the letter are exhorting the baby Jesus to forgive those who have wronged him and to love God with all his heart. This is a message that is written by one of God’s purest and most trusted servants.

    In addition to this there are many other amazing implications. The Greek word for sacrifice is demos, which means sacrifice or death. The meaning of this word is to imitate Christ, who paid the price for the sin of the world. The meaning of this word is to imitate Christ and not to actually die and become a Christian. This shows that Jesus paid the price for our sins, which is why he is truly risen again and is set apart from the dead.

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