One does not have to read very far into the book of Psalms before it becomes clear that the Davidic king is a special focus of the Psalter. In fact, the Davidic emphasis is evident as early as Psalm 2, which looks at the opposition to the king in Israel. It is also one of the most frequently cited psalms in the New Testament.
The reference to the Lord’s “Anointed” in Psalm 2:2 indicates that this hymn is about the king. Under the old covenant, prophets, priests, and kings were set apart through anointing with oil (Lev. 8:10–13; 1 Sam. 16:1–13; 1 Kings 19:16). Over time, however, the designation Anointed came to apply specifically to the Davidic king and, particularly, the Messiah. The English term Christ comes from the Greek word christos, which is itself a translation of the Hebrew word that means “anointed.” Thus, it is no surprise that the New Testament Apostles, as well as Christians throughout history, have seen Psalm 2 as having special reference to Jesus Christ.
As noted, Psalm 2 concerns opposition to the Lord and the Davidic king, but note that the psalmist does not seem alarmed by the king’s foes. He says that their plotting is “in vain” (v. 1). The enemies make a lot of noise, but they cannot finally achieve their ends. There is a close association between opposition to the Lord and opposition to the king He has anointed (v. 2). In ancient Israel, the king ruled as the God-appointed steward of the covenant community, so it was impossible to submit to God without submitting to the king. Certainly, the submission encouraged in Psalm 2 assumes that the king is fulfilling his responsibilities to know and keep the law of the Lord (Deut. 17:14–20). Ancient Israelites were never justified in sinning just because the king might have told them to break God’s law. In any case, in enjoining submission to the Lord and His anointed one, the psalm fostered hope in the ancient Israelites for the king—the perfect Anointed One—to whom unquestioning allegiance could be sworn because he would never deviate from God’s law.
Today we know this promised Anointed One as the Lord Jesus Christ. It is impossible to submit to God without submitting to Him as Lord and Savior, for the Father has made Him Lord and Christ, bestowing upon Him the name above all names (Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:5–11). John Calvin comments, “All who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God. . . . It is in vain for them to profess otherwise.”