Why do the heathen rage - It has been supposed that David composed this Psalm after he had taken Jerusalem from the Jebusites, and made it the head of the kingdom; II Samuel 5:7-9. The Philistines, hearing this, encamped in the valley of Rephaim, nigh to Jerusalem, and Josephus, Antiq. lib. 7: c. 4, says that all Syria, Phoenicia, and the other circumjacent warlike people, united their armies to those of the Philistines, in order to destroy David before he had strengthened himself in the kingdom. David, having consulted the Lord, II Samuel 5:17-19, gave them battle, and totally overthrew the whole of his enemies. In the first place, therefore, we may suppose that this Psalm was written to celebrate the taking of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of all the kings and chiefs of the neighboring nations. In the second place we find from the use made of this Psalm by the apostles, Acts 4:27, that David typified Jesus Christ; and that the Psalm celebrates the victories of the Gospel over the Philistine Jews, and all the confederate power of the heathen governors of the Roman empire.
The heathen, goyim , the nations; those who are commonly called the Gentiles.
Rage, rageshu , the gnashing of teeth, and tumultuously rushing together, of those indignant and cruel people, are well expressed by the sound as well as the meaning of the original word. A vain thing. Vain indeed to prevent the spread of the Gospel in the world. To prevent Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, from having the empire of his own earth. So vain were their endeavors that every effort only tended to open and enlarge the way for the all-conquering sway of the scepter of righteousness.
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