From the Word
1 Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you.
Psalm 2:1–7, RSV
It is evident that by “kings” is signified Herod and Pilate, even though Pilate was not a king; for these two operated together to fulfil that which the counsel of God had foreordained to be done, namely, to destroy Christ. By “rulers” are to be understood the leaders among the priests; by “heathen” the Roman soldiers under Pilate, who seized Jesus, scourged and crucified him; and by “people” we are clearly to understand the common people of the Jews.
Observe here the tenderness and modesty of the prophet, how feelingly and sympathetically he speaks of the fury of these men, when he might with justice have mentioned those enraged expressions of the Jews, “Away with him, crucify him,” and all those other infuriated clamors with which they accused Christ, frenzied and maddened, but he calls them only “meditations.” Meditation is a continual prating or talking and is here used in a bad sense. For as a lover is always spontaneously saying many things about the object loved, so the hater is assiduously prating the worst of things about the object hated. There is the same modesty also in the words “rage” and “take counsel together;” the act itself was far more atrocious than the purport of these words would seem to indicate. We are thereby taught not to exaggerate the evil conduct of men, but as much as possible lessen it, and thus show that we do not feel so much indignation on our own account as pity on theirs.
“Against the Lord and against his anointed,” is also a word of faith. God orders his words thus, that we may learn for our consolation and exhortation that we never suffer any injury, but what it offends God first, more than it does us; and such is the care of God our Father over us, that he feels every injury done to us before we do, and aims a greater indignation against it. This David holds forth to us, that we may keep ourselves from all feeling of revenge; that we may rather pity those whom we see rushing upon such majesty unto their own perdition. They do not in the least injure us, but horribly destroy themselves.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 383–84.