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Psalm 2:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 I will tell of the decree:
Jehovah said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
I will declare of the decree. We have here another change in the speaker. The Anointed One is himself introduced as declaring the great purpose which was formed in regard to him, and referring to the promise which was made to him, as the foundation of the purpose of Jehovah (ver. 6) to set him on the hill of Zion. The first strophe or stanza (Psalm 2:1–3) is closed with a statement made by the rebels of their intention or design; the second (Psalm 2:4–6) with a statement of the purpose of Jehovah; the third is introduced by this declaration of the Messiah himself. The change of the persons speaking gives a dramatic interest to the whole psalm. There can be no doubt that the word “I” here refers to the Messiah. The word decree—חֹק hhohk—means properly something decreed, prescribed, appointed. See Job 23:14. Comp. Gen. 47:26; Exod. 12:24. Thus it is equivalent to law, statute, ordinance. Here it refers not to a law which he was to obey, but to an ordinance or statute respecting his reign: the solemn purpose of Jehovah in regard to the kingdom which the Messiah was to set up; the constitution of his kingdom. This, as the explanation shows, implied two things—(a) that he was to be regarded and acknowledged as his Son, or to have that rank and dignity (ver. 7); and (b) that the heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth were to be given him for a possession, or that his reign was to extend over all the world (ver. 8). The word “declare” here means that he would give utterance to, or that he would now himself make a statement in explanation of the reason why Jehovah had determined to establish him as King on his holy hill of Zion. There is great beauty in thus introducing the Messiah himself as making this declaration, presenting it now in the form of a solemn covenant or pledge. The determination of Jehovah (ver. 6) to establish him as King on his holy hill is thus seen not to be arbitrary, but to be in fulfilment of a solemn promise made long before, and is therefore an illustration of his covenant faithfulness and truth.
Jehovah said to me. Jehovah hath said. See Psalm 2: 2, 4. He does not intimate when it was that he had said this, but the fair interpretation is, that it was before the purpose was to be carried into execution to place him as King in Zion; that is, as applicable to the Messiah, before he became incarnate or was manifested to execute his purpose on earth. It is implied, therefore, that it was in some previous state, and that he had come forth in virtue of the pledge that he would be recognized as the Son of God. The passage cannot be understood as referring to Christ without admitting his existence previous to the incarnation, for all that follows is manifestly the result of the exalted rank which God purposed to give him as his Son, or as the result of the promise made to him then.
You are my Son. That is, Jehovah had declared him to be his Son; he had conferred on him the rank and dignity fairly involved in the title the Son of God. In regard to the general meaning of this, and what is implied in it, see notes on Matt. 1:1; Heb. 1:2, 5; Rom. 1:4; and John 5:18. The phrase “sons of God” is elsewhere used frequently to denote the saints, the children of God, or men eminent for rank and power (comp. Gen. 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; Hos. 1:10; John 1:12; Rom. 8:14, 19; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 3:1); and once to denote angels (Job 38:7); but the appellation “the Son of God” is not appropriated in the Scriptures to any one but the Messiah. It does not occur before this in the Old Testament, and it occurs but once after this, Dan. 3:25. See Notes on that passage. This makes its use in the case before us the more remarkable, and justifies the reasoning of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews (1:5) as to its meaning. The true sense, therefore, according to the Hebrew usage, and according to the proper meaning of the term, is, that he sustained a relation to God which could be compared only with that which a son among men sustains to his father; and that the term, as thus used, fairly implies an equality in nature with God himself. It is such a term as would not be applied to a mere man; it is such as is not applied to the angels (Heb. 1:5); and therefore it must imply a nature superior to either.
Today. On the application of this in the New Testament, see Notes on Acts 13:33 and Heb. 1:5. The whole passage has been often appealed to in support of the doctrine of the “eternal generation” of Christ, meaning that he was “begotten” from eternity; that is, that his Divine nature was in some sense an emanation from the Father, and that this is from eternity. Whatever may be thought of that doctrine, however, either as to its intelligibility or its truth, there is nothing in the use of the phrase “this day,” or in the application of the passage in the New Testament (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5), to sustain it. The language, indeed, in the connexion in which it is found, does, as remarked above, demonstrate that he had a pre-existence, since it is addressed to him as the result of a decree or covenant made with him by Jehovah, and as the foundation of the purpose to set him as King on the hill of Zion. The words “this day” would naturally refer to that time when this “decree” was made, or this covenant formed; and as that was before the creation of the world, it must imply that he had an existence then. The time referred to by the meaning of the word is, that when it was determined to crown him as the Messiah. This is founded on the relation subsisting between him and Jehovah, and implied when in that relation he is called his “Son;” but it determines nothing as to the time when this relation commenced. Jehovah, in the passage, is regarded as declaring his purpose to make him King in Zion, and the language is that of a solemn consecration to the kingly office. He is speaking of this as a purpose before he came into the world; it was executed, or carried into effect, by his resurrection from the dead, and by the exaltation consequent on that. Comp. Acts 13:33 and Eph. 1:20–22. Considered, then, as a promise or purpose, this refers to the period before the incarnation; considered as pertaining to the execution of that purpose, it refers to the time when he was raised from the dead and exalted over all things as King in Zion. In neither case can the words “this day” be construed as meaning the same as eternity, or from eternity; and therefore they can determine nothing respecting the doctrine of “eternal generation.”
I have begotten you. That is, in the matter referred to, so that it would be proper to apply to him the phrase “my Son,” and to constitute him “King” in Zion. The meaning is, that he had so constituted the relationship of Father and Son in the case, that it was proper that the appellation Son should be given him, and that he should be regarded and addressed as such. So Prof. Alexander: “The essential meaning of the phrase I have begotten thee is simply this, I am thy Father.” This is, of course, to be understood in accordance with the nature of God, and we are not to bring to the interpretation the ideas which enter into that human relationship. It means that in some proper sense—some sense appropriate to the Deity—such a relation was constituted as would justify this reference to the most tender and important of all human relationships. In what sense that is, is a fair subject of inquiry, but it is not proper to assume that it is in anything like a literal sense, or that there can be no other sense of the passage than that which is implied in the above-named doctrine; for it cannot be literal, and there are other ideas that may be conveyed by the phrase than that of “eternal generation.” The word rendered “begotten” (יָלַד—Yalad) determines nothing certainly as to the mode in which this relationship was formed. It means properly—(1) to bear, to bring forth as a mother, Gen. 4:1; (2) to beget, as a father, Gen. 4:18; and then (3) as applied to God it is used in the sense of creating—or of so creating or forming as that the result would be that a relation would exist which might be compared with that of a father and a son. Deut. 32:18: “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful.” Comp. Jer. 2:27: “Saying to a block [idol], Thou art my father, thou hast begotten me.” So Paul says, 1 Cor. 4:15: “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel.” The full meaning, therefore, of this word would be met if it be supposed that Jehovah had given the Messiah this place and rank in such a sense that it was proper to speak of himself as the Father and the Anointed One as the Son. And was there not enough in designating him to this high office; in sending him into the world; in raising him from the dead; in placing him at his own right hand—appointing him as King and Lord—to justify this language? Is not this the very thing under consideration? Is it proper, then, in connection with this passage, to start the question about his eternal generation? Comp. Notes on Rom. 1:4. On this passage, Calvin says (in loc.), “I know that this passage is explained by many as referring to the eternal generation of Christ, who maintain that in the adverb today there is, as it were, a perpetual act beyond the limits of time, denoted. But the Apostle Paul is a more faithful and competent interpreter of this prophecy, who in Acts 13:33 recalls us to that which I have called a glorious demonstration of Christ. He was said to be begotten, therefore, not that he might be the Son of God, by which he might begin to be such, but that he might be manifested to the world as such. Finally, this begetting ought to be understood not of the mutual relation of the Father and the Son, but it signifies merely that he who was from the beginning hidden in the bosom of the Father, and who was obscurely shadowed forth under the law, from the time when he was manifested with clear intimation of his rank, was acknowledged as the Son of God, as it is said in John 1:14.” So Prof. Alexander, though supposing that this is founded on an eternal relation between the Father and the Son, says, “This day have I begotten thee may be considered as referring only to the coronation of Messiah, which is an ideal one,” vol. i., p. 15. The result of the exposition of this passage may therefore be thus stated: (a) The term Son, as here used, is a peculiar appellation of the Messiah—a term applicable to him in a sense in which it can be given to no other being. (b) As here used, and as elsewhere used, it supposes his existence before the incarnation. (c) Its use here, and the purpose formed, imply that he had an existence before this purpose was formed, so that he could be personally addressed, and so that a promise could be made to him. (d) The term Son is not here used in reference to that anterior relation and determines nothing as to the mode of his previous being—whether from eternity essentially in the nature of God; or whether in some mysterious sense begotten; or whether as an emanation of the Deity; or whether created. (e) The term, as Calvin suggests, and as maintained by Prof. Alexander, refers here only to his being constituted King—to the act of coronation—whenever that occurred. (f) This, in fact, occurred when he was raised from the dead, and when he was exalted to the right hand of God in heaven (Acts 13:33), so that the application of the passage by Paul in the Acts accords with the result to which we are led by the fair interpretation of the passage. (g) The passage, therefore, determines nothing, one way or the other, respecting the doctrine of eternal generation and cannot, therefore, be used in proof of that doctrine.
By Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews