Psalm 2:3
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
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(3) Let us break.—The whispered purpose now breaks out into loud menace, and we hear their defiance pass along the ranks of the rebels.

Cords.—The LXX. and Vulg. have “yoke,” which is in keeping with the metaphor of a restive animal. (Comp. Isaiah 58:6; Isaiah 10:27.)

Psalm 2:3. Let us break their bands asunder — That is, the laws of the Lord and his Anointed; the bands or yokes which they design to put upon our necks, that they may bring us into subjection. The laws of God and Christ, though easy and pleasant in themselves, and to all good men, Matthew 11:29-30; 1 John 5:3; yet are very grievous and burdensome to corrupt nature, and carnal, wicked men. And cast away their cords from us — The same thing expressed with more emphasis. Let us not only break off their yoke, and the cords by which it is fastened upon us, but let us cast them far away. “These words, supposed to be spoken by the powers in arms against the Messiah, discover to us the true ground of opposition, namely, the unwillingness of rebellious nature to submit to the obligations of divine laws, which cross the interests, and lay a restraint upon the desires of men. Corrupt affections are the most inveterate enemies of Christ; and their language is, We will not have this man to reign over us. Doctrines would be readily believed if they involved in them no precepts; and the Church may be tolerated by the world, if she will only give up her discipline.” — Horne.

2:1-6 We are here told who would appear as adversaries to Christ. As this world is the kingdom of Satan, unconverted men, of every rank, party, and character, are stirred up by him to oppose the cause of God. But the rulers of the earth generally have been most active. The truths and precepts of Christianity are against ambitious projects and worldly lusts. We are told what they aim at in this opposition. They would break asunder the bands of conscience, and the cords of God's commandments; they will not receive, but cast them away as far as they can. These enemies can show no good cause for opposing so just and holy a government, which, if received by all, would bring a heaven upon earth. They can hope for no success in so opposing so powerful a kingdom. The Lord Jesus has all power both in heaven and in earth, and is Head over all things to the church, notwithstanding the restless endeavours of his enemies. Christ's throne is set up in his church, that is, in the hearts of all believers.Let us break their bands asunder - The bands of Yahweh and of his Anointed. They who are engaged in this combination or conspiracy regard Yahweh and his Anointed as one, and as having one object - to set up a dominion over the world. Hence, they take counsel against both; and, with the same purpose and design, endeavor to cast off the authority of each. The word "bands" here refers to the restraints imposed by their authority. The figure is probably taken from fastening a yoke on oxen, or the bands or cords which were used in plowing - the bands of the yoke being significant of their subjection to the authority or will of another. The same figure is used by the Saviour in Matthew 11:29 : "Take my yoke upon you." The idea here is, that it was the purpose of Yahweh and his Anointed to establish a dominion over men, and that it was equally the purpose of the kings and rulers here referred to that it should not be done.

And cast away their cords from us - The same idea under another form - the cords referring not to that which would bind them as prisoners, but to the ropes or thongs which bound oxen to the plow; and, hence, to that which would bind men to the service of God. The word translated "cords" is a stronger word than that which is rendered bands. It means properly what is twisted or interlaced, and refers to the usual manner in which ropes are made. Perhaps, also, in the words "let us cast away" there is the expression of an idea that it could be easily done: that they had only to will it, and it would be done. Together, the expressions refer to the purpose among men to cast off the government of God, and especially that part of his administration which refers to his purpose to establish a kingdom under the Messiah. It thus indicates a prevalent state of the human mind as being impatient of the restraints and authority of God, and especially of the dominion of his Son, anointed as King.

The passage Psalm 2:1-3 proves:

(1) that the government of Yahweh, the true God, and the Messiah or Christ, is the same;

(2) that opposition to the Messiah, or to Christ, is in fact opposition to the purposes of the true God;

(3) that it may be expected that men will oppose that government, and there will be agitation and commotion in endeavoring to throw it off.

The passage, considered as referring to the Messiah, had an ample fulfillment

(a) in the purposes of the high priests, of Herod, and of Pilate, to put him to death, and in the general rejection of him by his own countrymen;

(b) in the general conduct of mankind - in their impatience of the restraints of the law of God, and especially of that law as promulgated by the Saviour, demanding submission and obedience to him; and

(c) in the conduct of individual sinners - in the opposition of the human heart to the authority of the Lord Jesus.

The passage before us is just as applicable to the world now as it was to the time when the Saviour personally appeared on the earth.

3. The rebellious purposes of men are more distinctly announced by this representation of their avowal in words, as well as actions.

bands … and … cords—denote the restraints of government.

Their, i.e. the Lord’s and his anointed’s,

bands, which they design to put upon our necks, that they may bring us into subjection. They mean the laws of God, which the king would oblige them to observe, which though easy and pleasant in themselves and to good men, Matthew 11:29,30 1Jo 5:3, yet are very grievous and burdensome to corrupt nature, and to men of wicked lives.

Cast away their cords from us; the same thing expressed with a little more emphasis. Let us not only break off their yoke, and the cords by which it is fastened upon us; but let us cast them far away, that they may never be recovered, and we may never be brought into bondage again.

Let us break their bands asunder,.... These are not the words of the apostles, nor of the saints in Gospel times, encouraging one another, notwithstanding the rage and opposition of Jews and Gentiles against their Master and his interest, to break asunder the bands of wickedness, the idolatrous customs and practices of the Heathens, and to throw off the insupportable yoke of bondage, of Jewish traditions and ceremonies, see Isaiah 58:6; but of the Heathen, the people, and kings of the earth, and rulers who, with one voice, say this and what follows,

and cast away their cords from us; with relation to the Lord and his Anointed, whose laws, ordinances, and truths, they call "bands" and "cords"; so Arama interprets them of the law, and the commandments; or a "yoke", as the Vulgate Latin, Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render the last word; and the phrases in general express their irreverence of God and the Messiah, their rejection Christ and his religion; their non-subjection to him, and their refusal to have him to rule over them; and their disesteem and contempt of his Gospel, and of the ordinances of it, and of the laws and rules of his government in his churches: and also they show the wrong notion that carnal men have of these things that whereas Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden light, Matthew 11:30; his Gospel and the truths of it make men free from the slavery of sin and Satan, and from a spirit of bondage, Romans 8:15; and true Gospel liberty consists in an observance of his commands and ordinances; yet they look upon these things as bands and cords, as fetters and shackles, as so many restraints upon their liberty, which are not to be bore: when, on the other hand, they promise themselves liberty in a disengagement from them, and in the enjoyment of their own lusts and sinful pleasures; whereas thereby they are brought into bondage, and become the servants of corruption. Some render it "cast away from him" (c); either from Christ, or everyone from himself.

(c) "a nobis, sive ab illo", Nebiensis.

{b} Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

(b) Thus the wicked say that they will cast off the yoke of God and of his Christ.

3. The words of the kings and rulers exhorting one another to cast off the yoke of subjection. Bands are the fastenings by which the yoke was secured upon the neck (Jeremiah 27:2; Jeremiah 30:8; Nahum 1:13; &c.): cords are perhaps merely synonymous with bands: but as the language of the previous clause is derived from the figure of an ox yoked for ploughing, cords may naturally be understood to mean the reins by which the animal was guided and kept under control. Cp. Job 39:10; Hosea 11:4.

Verse 3. - Let us break their bands asunder. Wicked men always feel God's rule and his Law to be restraints. They chafe at them, fret against them, and, in the last resort - so far as their will goes - wholly throw them off. And cast away their cords from us. "Bands" and "cords" are the fetters that restrain prisoners. The rebels determine to burst them, and assert their absolute freedom. Psalm 2:3The Psalm begins with a seven line strophe, ruled by an interrogative Wherefore. The mischievous undertaking condemns itself, It is groundless and fruitless. This certainty is expressed, with a tinge of involuntary astonishment, in the question. למּה followed by a praet. enquires the ground of such lawlessness: wherefore have the peoples banded together so tumultuously (Aquila: ἐθορυβήθησαν)? and followed by a fut., the aim of this ineffectual action: wherefore do they imagine emptiness? ריק might be adverbial and equivalent to לריק, but it is here, as in Psalm 4:3, a governed accusative; for הגה which signifies in itself only quiet inward musing and yearning, expressing itself by a dull muttering (here: something deceitful, as in Psalm 38:13), requires an object. By this ריק the involuntary astonishment of the question justifies itself: to what purpose is this empty affair, i.e., devoid of reason and continuance? For the psalmist, himself a subject and member of the divine kingdom, is too well acquainted with Jahve and His Anointed not to recognise beforehand the unwarrantableness and impotency of such rebellion. That these two things are kept in view, is implied by Psalm 2:2, which further depicts the position of affairs without being subordinated to the למה. The fut. describes what is going on at the present time: they set themselves in position, they take up a defiant position (התיצּב as in 1 Samuel 17:16), after which we again (comp. the reverse order in Psalm 83:6) have a transition to the perf. which is the more uncoloured expression of the actual: נוסד (with יחד as the exponent of reciprocity) prop. to press close and firm upon one another, then (like Arab. sâwada, which, according to the correct observation of the Turkish Kamus, in its signification clam cum aliquo locutus est, starts from the very same primary meaning of pressing close to any object): to deliberate confidentially together (as Psalm 31:14 and נועץ Psalm 71:10). The subjects מלכי־ארץ and רוזנים (according to the Arabic razuna, to be weighty: the grave, dignitaries, σεμνοί, augusti) are only in accordance with the poetic style without the article. It is a general rising of the people of the earth against Jahve and His משׁיח, Χριστὸς, the king anointed by Him by means of the holy oil and most intimately allied to Him. The psalmist hears (Psalm 2:3) the decision of the deliberating princes. The pathetic suff. êmō instead of êhém refers back to Jahve and His Anointed. The cohortatives express the mutual kindling of feeling; the sound and rhythm of the exclamation correspond to the dull murmur of hatred and threatening defiance: the rhythm is iambic, and then anapaestic. First they determine to break asunder the fetters (מוסרות equals מאסרות) to which the את, which is significant in the poetical style, points, then to cast away the cords from them (ממּנוּ a nobis, this is the Palestinian mode of writing, whereas the Babylonians said and wrote mimeenuw a nobis in distinction from ממּנוּ ab eo, B. Sota 35a) partly with the vexation of captives, partly with the triumph of freedmen. They are, therefore, at present subjects of Jahve and His Anointed, and not merely because the whole world is Jahve's, but because He has helped His Anointed to obtain dominion over them. It is a battle for freedom, upon which they are entering, but a freedom that is opposed to God.
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