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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 4 - Verse 25
Verse 25. Who by the mouth, etc. Ps 2:1,2. This is a strong, solemn testimony to the inspiration of David. It is a declaration of the apostles made in solemn prayer, that God spake himself by the mouth of David. This is the second part of their prayer. In the first, they acknowledge the right of God to rule; in this, they appeal to a prophecy. They plead that this was a thing foretold; and as God had foreseen it and foretold it, they appealed to him to protect them. The times of tumult and opposition which had been foreseen, as about to attend the introduction of the gospel, had now come. They inferred, therefore, that Jesus was the Messiah; and as God had designed to establish his kingdom, they appealed to him to aid and protect them in this great work. This passage is taken from Ps 2:1,2, and is an exact quotation from the Septuagint. This proves that the Psalm had reference to the Messiah. Thus it was manifestly understood by the Jews; and the authority of the apostles settles the question. The Psalm was composed by David; on what occasion is not known; nor is it material to our present purpose. It has been a matter of inquiry whether it referred to the Messiah primarily, or only in a secondary sense. Grotius supposes that it was composed by David when exposed to the hostility of the Assyrians, the Moabites, Philistines, Amalekites, etc.; and that, in the midst of his dangers, he sought consolation in the purpose of God to establish him and his kingdom. But the more probable opinion is, that it referred directly and solely to the Messiah.
Why did the heathen. The nations which were not Jews. This refers, doubtless, to the opposition which would be made to the spread of Christianity; and not merely to the opposition made to the Messiah himself, and to the act of putting him to death.
Rage. This word refers to the excitement and tumult of a multitude; not a settled plan, but rather the heated and disorderly conduct of a mob. It means, that the progress of the gospel would encounter tumultuous opposition; and that the excited nations would rush violently to put it down and destroy it.
And the people. The expression, "the people," does not refer to a class of men different essentially from the heathen. The "heathen"— Hebrew and Greek, "the nations" —refer to men as organized into communities; the expression, the people, is used to denote the same persons without respect to their being so organized. The Hebrews were in the habit, in their poetry, of expressing the same idea essentially in parallel members of a sentence; or the last member of a sentence or verse expressed the same idea, with some slight variation, as the former. (See Lowth on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews.)
Imagine. The word imagine does not express quite the force of the original. The Hebrew and the Greek both convey the idea of meditating, thinking, purposing. It means that they employed thought, plan, purpose, in opposing the Messiah.
Vain things. The word here used kena is a literal translation of the Hebrew—
—and means usually empty, as a vessel which is not filled; then useless, or that which amounts to nothing, etc. Here it means that they devised a plan which turned out to be vain, or ineffectual. They attempted an opposition to the Messiah which could not succeed. God would establish his kingdom in spite of their plans to oppose it. Their efforts were vain, because they were not strong enough to oppose God; because he had purposed to establish the kingdom of his Son; and he could overrule even their opposition to advance his cause.
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