Psalm 2:11
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
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Psalm 2:11. Serve the Lord with fear — That is, with reverence and an awful sense of his great and glorious majesty, rendering you careful and diligent to please him, and afraid to offend him. And rejoice — Do not esteem his yoke your dishonour and grievance, but know that it is a greater glory and happiness to be the subjects of this King than to be the emperors of the greatest empire; and accordingly rejoice in it, and bless God for this inestimable grace and benefit; with trembling — This is added to signify the quality of the joy to which he calls them and to distinguish it from that carnal and worldly rejoicing which is usually attended with security and presumption; and to warn them to take heed that they did not turn this grace of God into wantonness; but, on the contrary, work out their salvation with fear and trembling.2:10-12 Whatever we rejoice in, in this world, it must always be with trembling, because of the uncertainty of all things in it. To welcome Jesus Christ, and to submit to him, is our wisdom and interest. Let him be very dear and precious; love him above all, love him in sincerity, love him much, as she did, to whom much was forgiven, and, in token of it, kissed his feet, Lu 7:38. And with a kiss of loyalty take this yoke upon you, and give up yourselves to be governed by his laws, disposed of by his providence, and entirely devoted to his cause. Unbelief is a sin against the remedy. It will be utter destruction to yourselves; lest ye perish in the way of your sins, and from the way of your vain hopes; lest your way perish, lest you prove to have missed the way of happiness. Christ is the way; take heed lest ye be cut off from Him as your way to God. They thought themselves in the way; but neglecting Christ, they perish from it. Blessed will those be in the day of wrath, who, by trusting in Christ, have made him their Refuge.Serve the Lord with fear - With reverence, and with deep apprehensions of the consequences of not serving and obeying him. That is, serve him in not opposing, but in promoting his purpose of establishing a kingdom under the Messiah, with the deep apprehension that if you do not do it, he will arise and crush you in his wrath.

And rejoice - Prof. Alexander renders this "shout," and supposes that it refers to the customary recognition of a present sovereign. The word used - גיל gı̂yl - means properly to move in a circle, to revolve; and then to dance in a circle, to exult, to rejoice. Then, according to Gesenius, it means to tremble, to fear, from the leaping or palpitation of the heart Job 37:1; Hosea 10:5; Psalm 29:6. Gesenius renders it here "fear with trembling." The common translation, however, better expresses the sense. It means that they should welcome the purposes of Yahweh, and exult in his reign, but that it should be done with a suitable apprehension of his majesty and power, and with the reverence which becomes the public acknowledgment of God.

With trembling - With reverence and awe, feeling that he has almighty power, and that the consequences of being found opposed to him must be overwhelming and awful. The duty here enjoined on kings and rulers is that of welcoming the purposes of God, and of bringing their influence - derived from the station which they occupy - to bear in promoting the reign of truth upon the earth - a duty binding on kings and princes as well as on other men. The feelings with which this is to be done are those which belong to transactions in which the honor and the reign of God are concerned. They are mingled feelings, derived from the mercy of God on the one hand, and from his wrath on the other; from the hope which his promise and purpose inspires, and from the apprehension derived from his warnings and threatenings.

10-12. kings … judges—For rulers generally (Ps 148:11), who have been leaders in rebellion, should be examples of penitent submission, and with fear for His terrible judgments, mingled with trust in His mercy, acknowledge— With fear, i.e. with reverence, and an awful sense of his great and glorious majesty, as very careful and diligent to please him, and afraid to offend him.

Rejoice; do not esteem his yoke your dishonour and grievance; but know that it is a greater glory and happiness to be the subjects of this King, than to be emperors of the greatest empire; and accordingly rejoice in it, and bless God for this inestimable grace and benefit.

With trembling: this is added to express the quality of this joy to which he calls them, and to distinguish it from that carnal and worldly rejoicing which is usually attended with security, and presumption, and licentiousness, and to warn them to take heed that they do not turn this grace of God into wantonness, nor slacken their dread of God’s tremendous majesty, and of his terrible judgments, if they should hereafter revolt from him, or rebel against him; but, on the contrary, work out their salvation with fear and trembling, as it is prescribed, Philippians 2:12: compare Matthew 28:8. Serve the Lord with fear,.... Not the creature, neither more, nor besides, nor with the Creator; God and mammon cannot both be served; nor any fictitious and nominal deities, the idols of the Gentiles, who are not gods by nature; but the true Jehovah, the one and only Lord God, he only is to be worshipped and served, even Father, Son, and Spirit. Here it may be understood either of the Lord Christ, the Son of God, who is to be served by the kings and judges of the earth, he being King of kings, and Lord of lords; or rather of Jehovah the Father, since the Son seems to be distinguished from him in Psalm 2:12, and the service these persons are called unto lies not in the discharge of any office in the church, as in preaching the word, which is serving God in the Gospel of his Son; and hence the ministers of the word are eminently called the servants of the most high God; for kings and judges are not required hereby to lay aside their crowns and sceptres, and leave their seats of justice, and become preachers of the Gospel; but in acting according to the will of God revealed in his word, and in the whole worship of him, both internal and external: and this is to be done "with fear", not with fear of man, nor with servile fear of God, but with a godly and filial fear, with a reverential affection for him, and in a way agreeable to his mind and will; with reverence and awe of him, without levity, carelessness, and negligence;

and rejoice with trembling; some reference may be had to the joy in public worship, as at sacrifices and festivals, and the music in divine service under the law; and the singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs under the Gospel; and especially to the Gospel dispensation itself, which is a time of joy and rejoicing; the Gospel is good tidings of great joy; the kingdom of God is not in things external, but in joy in the Holy Ghost; and, above all, respect is had to a rejoicing in Christ Jesus, in his person, righteousness, and salvation: and which is consistent with "trembling"; not with a fearful looking for of judgment, but with modesty and humility; in which sense this word, when joined with "fear" as here, is used Philippians 2:12, and stands opposed to pride, haughtiness, and arrogance; men should so rejoice in Christ as to have no confidence in the flesh, or assume any degree of glory to themselves, or have any rejoicing in themselves, but wholly in Christ, giving all the glory of what they have to him.

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
11. Serve] The context indicates that political submission to Jehovah in the person of His representative is primarily intended. Cp. Psalm 18:43; Psalm 72:11. But the wider meaning must not be excluded. Serve and fear are words constantly used with a religious meaning; and political submission to Israel is only the prelude to that spiritual submission of the nations to Jehovah, which is a constant element in the Messianic expectation of the O.T. Cp. Psalm 22:27-28; Psalm 67:7; Psalm 100:1 ff.; Psalm 102:15; &c.

rejoice with trembling] There is no need to alter the reading to tremble (Psalm 96:9) or to look for this meaning in the word rendered rejoice. Joyfulness tempered with reverent awe befits those who approach One so gracious yet so terrible. Cp. Psalm 97:1; Psalm 100:2; Hosea 3:5; Hosea 11:10-11; Hebrews 12:28. P.B.V. adds unto him with LXX and Vulg.Verse 11. - Serve the Lord with fear. "If ye will not serve him (i.e. honour and obey him) from love, do it from fear;" "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). And rejoice. Do not be content with fear. Go on from fear to love, and so to joy. Good men "rejoice in God alway" (Philippians 4:4). But such rejoicing must be with trembling; or, with reverence (Prayer-book Version), since no service is acceptable to God but such as is rendered "with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28). Psalm 2:5 is like a peal of thunder (cf. Isaiah 10:33); בּחרונו, Psalm 2:5, like the lightning's destructive flash. And as the first strophe closed with the words of the rebels, so this second closes with Jahve's own words. With ואני begins an adverbial clause like Genesis 15:2; Genesis 18:13; Psalm 50:17. The suppressed principal clause (cf. Isaiah 3:14; Ew. 341, c) is easily supplied: ye are revolting, whilst notwithstanding I.... With ואני He opposes His irresistible will to their vain undertaking. It has been shown by Bttcher, that we must not translate "I have anointed" (Targ., Symm.). נסך, Arab. nsk, certainly means to pour out, but not to pour upon, and the meaning of pouring wide and firm (of casting metal, libation, anointing) then, as in הצּיג, הצּיק, goes over into the meaning of setting firmly in any place (fundere into fundare, constituere, as lxx, Syr., Jer., and Luther translate), so that consequently נסיך the word for prince cannot be compared with משׁיח, but with נציב.

(Note: Even the Jalkut on the Psalms, 620, wavers in the explanation of נסכתי between אמשׁחתיה I have anointed him, (after Daniel 10:3), אתיכתיה (I have cast him (after Exodus 32:4 and freq.), and גדלתיו I have made him great (after Micah 5:4). Aquila, by rendering it καὶ ἐδιασάμην (from διάζεσθαι equals ὑφαίνειν), adds a fourth possible rendering. A fifth is נסך to purify, consecrate (Hitz.), which does not exist, for the Arabic nasaka obtains this meaning from the primary signification of cleansing by flooding with water (e.g., washing away the briny elements of a field). Also in Proverbs 8:23 נסּכתּי means I am cast equals placed.)

The Targum rightly inserts וּמניתיהּ (et praefeci eum) after רבּיתי (unxi), for the place of the anointing is not על־ציּון. History makes no mention of a king of Israel being anointed on Zion. Zion is mentioned as the royal seat of the Anointed One; there he is installed, that He may reign there, and rule from thence, Psalm 110:2. It is the hill of the city of David (2 Samuel 5:7, 2 Samuel 5:9; 1 Kings 8:1) including Moriah, that is intended. That hill of holiness, i.e., holy hill, which is the resting-place of the divine presence and therefore excels all the heights of the earth, is assigned to Him as the seat of His throne.

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