“I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’” The second Psalm has long been regarded as “Messianic” (i.e., pertaining to the Messiah or Christ). Like many prophecies concerning Christ, there is an immediate application to the time in which it was written, as well as a future application to the Messiah. This is certainly true of Psalm 2. It has initial reference to King David and his successors, each of whom are identified as God’s “son” (2Sm.7:12-14; cp. Ps.89:20-29). Therefore, it is no great stretch to apply the same Psalm to the Messiah Himself, who is a son of David (2Sm.7:15-17). In this article, we shall look at the way in which both David and Jesus are called “the Son of God.”
In Scripture, “sonship” carried great blessings with it; and a “firstborn” son was considered to be preeminent among the other sons (cf. Ex.4:22; Hos.11:1). Hence, as the King of Israel, David was God’s “firstborn” son in the sense that he was preeminent among all the kings of the earth (Ps.89:27). The kingdom of Israel was God’s kingdom at the time (cf. Ex.19:6), and served as a type and shadow of that great spiritual kingdom to come (Dn.2:44; Jn.18:36). Initially, the second Psalm could be seen as a song for David’s inauguration as King over Israel.
However, it should also be noted that David is NOT “the Son of God” in the same sense that Jesus is! For example, David is not Divine, as Jesus is. David’s kingdom was physical, and not spiritual. And David’s kingdom came to an end. By contrast, Jesus is Divine (Jn.1:1). His kingdom is spiritual (Lk.17:20-21). And His kingdom will never end (Hb.12:28). Further, David was begotten by an earthly father (Jesse); while Jesus had no earthly father (cf. Lk.3:23). Nevertheless, the similarities are enough to make the words of Psalm 2 applicable to both David and Jesus. Indeed, this is a clear mark of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures! God was able to providentially manipulate the history of Israel to “mirror” the life and work of Jesus, as a kind of prophetic foreshadowing (cf. Hb.10:1).
Now, let us notice the specific application of Psalm 2:7 to Jesus: “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’” Notice several things. If the language here has any meaning at all, we see a Father (“Yahweh has said to me”), a Son (“You are My Son), a day (“Today”), and a begettal (“I have begotten you”). This clearly shows that the “Sonship” of the eternal Word began at a specific time! Notice: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn.1:1,14). It was at this time (His incarnation) that the eternal Word became “the Son of God!” This harmonizes very nicely with Luke 1:35, which says, “And the angel answered and said to her (Mary), “The Holy Spirit will (future tense) come upon you, and the power of the Highest will (future tense) overshadow you; THEREFORE, also, that Holy One who is to be born will (future tense) be called the Son of God.”
I want to close by citing an interesting statement made be W. E. Vine with regard to this passage as quoted by Paul in Ac.13:33 (all emphasis mine): “The declaration "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee," Ps 2:7, quoted in Acts 13:33; Heb 1:5; 5:5, refers to the birth of Christ, not to His resurrection. In Acts 13:33 the verb "raise up" is used of the raising up of a person to occupy a special position in the nation, as of David in verse 22 (so of Christ as a Prophet in 3:22 and 7:37). The word "again" in the KJV in v. 33 represents nothing in the original. The RV rightly omits it. In v. 34 the statement as to the resurrection of Christ receives the greater stress in this respect through the emphatic contrast to that in v. 33 as to His being raised up in the nation, a stress imparted by the added words "from the dead." Accordingly, v. 33 speaks of His incarnation, v. 34 of His resurrection.” The bottom line is that He who has forever been the Divine “Word” (Jn.1:1) became “the Son of God” at His incarnation (v.14; cf. Lk.1:35). The title, “Son of God,” as applied to Jesus, refers to His incarnation (cf. Jn.3:16).