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Psalm 2:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
Jehovah holds them in derision.
He who sits in the heavens. God is represented as having his home, his seat, his throne in heaven, and thence administering the affairs of the world. This verse commences the second strophe or stanza of the psalm, and this strophe (Psalm 2:4–6) corresponds with the first (Psalm 2:1–3) in its structure. The former describes the feelings and purposes of those who would cast off the government of God; this describes the feelings and purposes of God in the same order, for in each case, the psalmist describes what is done and then what is said: the nations rage tumultuously (Psalm 2:1-2), and then say (Psalm 2:3), “Let us break their bands.” God sits calmly in the heavens, smiling on their vain attempts (Psalm 2:4), and then solemnly declares (Psalm 2:5-6) that, despite all their opposition, he “has set his King upon his holy hill of Zion.” There is much sublimity in this description. While men rage and are tumultuous in opposing his plans, he sits calm and undisturbed in his own heaven. Compare Isa. 18:4.
Laugh. Will smile at their vain attempts; will not be disturbed or agitated by their efforts; will go calmly on in the execution of his purposes. Comp. as above Isa. 18:4. See also Prov. 1:26; Ps. 37:13; 59:8. This is, of course, to be regarded as spoken after the manner of men, and it means that God will go steadily forward in the accomplishment of his purposes. There is also included the idea that he will look with contempt at their vain and futile efforts.
Jehovah holds them in derision. The same idea is expressed here in a varied form, as is the custom in parallelism in Hebrew poetry. The Hebrew word לָעַג, laag, means properly to stammer; then to speak in a barbarous or foreign tongue; then to mock or deride, by imitating the stammering voice of anyone. Gesenius, Lex. Here it is spoken of God and, of course, is not to be understood literally, any more than when eyes, and hands and feet are spoken of as appertaining to him. The meaning is, that there is a result in the case, in the Divine mind, as if he mocked or derided the vain attempts of men; that is, he goes calmly forward in the execution of his own purposes, and he looks upon and regards their efforts as vain, as we do the efforts of others when we mock or deride them. The truth taught in this verse is, that God will carry forward his own plans in spite of all the attempts of men to thwart them. This general truth may be stated in two forms: (1) He sits undisturbed and unmoved in heaven while men rage against him and while they combine to cast off his authority. (2) He carries forward his own plans despite them. This he does (a) directly, accomplishing his schemes without regard to their attempts; and (b) by making their purposes tributary to his own, so making them the instruments in carrying out his own plans. Comp. Acts 4:28.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews