Psalm 2:1
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?

King James Bible
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

Darby Bible Translation
Why are the nations in tumultuous agitation, and why do the peoples meditate a vain thing?

World English Bible
Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot a vain thing?

Young's Literal Translation
Why have nations tumultuously assembled? And do peoples meditate vanity?

Psalm 2:1 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Why do the heathen rage - "Why do nations make a noise?" Prof. Alexander. The word "heathen" here - גוים gôyim - means properly "nations," with out respect, so far as the word is concerned, to the character of the nations. It was applied by the Hebrews to the surrounding nations, or to all other people than their own; and as those nations were in fact pagans, or idolators, the word came to have this signification. Nehemiah 5:8; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 23:30; Ezekiel 30:11; compare אדם 'âdâm, Jeremiah 32:20. The word Gentile among the Hebrews (Greek, ἔθνος ethnos expressed the same thing. Matthew 4:15; Matthew 6:32; Matthew 10:5, Matthew 10:18; Matthew 12:21, et soepe. The word rendered "rage" - רגשׁ râgash - means to make a noise or tumult, and would be expressive of violent commotion or agitation. It occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures only in this place, though the corresponding Chaldee word - רגשׁ regash is found in Daniel 6:6, Daniel 6:11, Daniel 6:15 - rendered in Daniel 6:6, "assembled together," in the margin "came tumultuously," - and in Daniel 6:11, Daniel 6:15, rendered "assembled." The psalmist here sees the nations in violent agitation or commotion, as if under high excitement, engaged in accomplishing some purpose - rushing on to secure something, or to prevent something. The image of a mob, or of a tumultuous unregulated assemblage, would probably convey the idea of the psalmist. The word itself does not enable us to determine how extensive this agitation would be, but it is evidently implied that it would be a somewhat general movement; a movement in which more than one nation or people would participate. The matter in hand was something that affected the nations generally, and which would produce violent agitation among them.

And the people - לאמים Le'umiym. A word expressing substantially the same idea, that of people, or nations, and referring here to the same thing as the word rendered "heathen" - according to the laws of Hebrew parallelism in poetry. It is the people here that are seen in violent agitation: the conduct of the rulers, as associated with them, is referred to in the next verse.

Imagine - Our word "imagine" does not precisely express the idea here. We mean by it, "to form a notion or idea in the mind; to fancy." Webster. The Hebrew word, הגה hâgâh, is the same which, in Psalm 1:2, is rendered "meditate." See the notes at that verse. It means here that the mind is engaged in deliberating on it; that it plans, devises, or forms a purpose; - in other words, the persons referred to are thinking about some purpose which is here called a vain purpose; they are meditating some project which excites deep thought, but which cannot be effectual.

A vain thing - That is, which will prove to be a vain thing, or a thing which they cannot accomplish. It cannot mean that they were engaged in forming plans which they supposed would be vain - for no persons would form such plans; but that they were engaged in designs which the result would show to be unsuccessful. The reference here is to the agitation among the nations in respect to the divine purpose to set up the Messiah as king over the world, and to the opposition which this would create among the nations of the earth. See the notes at Psalm 2:2. An ample fulfillment of this occurred in the opposition to him when he came in the flesh, and in the resistance everywhere made since his death to his reign upon the earth. Nothing has produced more agitation in the world (compare Acts 17:6), and nothing still excites more determined resistance. The truths taught in this verse are:

(1) that sinners are opposed - even so much as to produce violent agitation of mind, and a fixed and determined purpose - to the plans and decrees of God, especially with respect to the reign of the Messiah; and

(2) that their plans to resist this will be vain and ineffectual; wisely as their schemes may seem to be laid, and determined as they themselves are in regard to their execution, yet they must find them vain.

What is implied here of the particular plans against the Messiah, is true of all the purposes of sinners, when they array themselves against the government of God.

Psalm 2:1 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Opposition to Messiah Unreasonable
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD , and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. I t is generally admitted, that the institutes of Christianity, as contained in the New Testament, do at least exhibit a beautiful and salutary system of morals; and that a sincere compliance with the precepts of our Lord and His apostles,
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

The Synoptic Gospels
ALL the gospels describe the sufferings and death of Christ with a minuteness which has no parallel in their narratives of other events of His life, and they all, to a certain extent, by references to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy or otherwise, indicate their sense of its meaning and importance. This, however, reveals the mind of the evangelists rather than that of the Lord. It is in His life, rather than in the record of His death itself, that we must look for indications of His mind.
James Denney—The Death of Christ

Of Passages from the Holy Scriptures, and from the Apocrypha, which are Quoted, or Incidentally Illustrated, in the Institutes.
TO THE AUTHORS QUOTED IN THE INSTITUTES PREFATORY ADDRESS TO HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY, THE MOST MIGHTY AND ILLUSTRIOUS MONARCH, FRANCIS, KING OF THE FRENCH, HIS SOVEREIGN; [1] JOHN CALVIN PRAYS PEACE AND SALVATION IN CHRIST. [2] Sire,--When I first engaged in this work, nothing was farther from my thoughts than to write what should afterwards be presented to your Majesty. My intention was only to furnish a kind of rudiments, by which those who feel some interest in religion might be trained to
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

They Shall be Called the Children of God
They shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 In these words the glorious privilege of the saints is set down. Those who have made their peace with God and labour to make peace among brethren, this is the great honour conferred upon them, They shall be called the children of God'. They shall be (called)', that is, they shall be so reputed and esteemed of God. God never miscalls anything. He does not call them children which are no children. Thou shalt be called the prophet of the Highest'
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

Cross References
Acts 4:25
who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, 'WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE, AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS?

Acts 4:26
'THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.'

Revelation 11:18
"And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth."

2 Kings 18:35
'Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?'"

Psalm 21:11
Though they intended evil against You And devised a plot, They will not succeed.

Psalm 33:10
The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.

Psalm 46:6
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted.

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