Commenting on Psalm 2:1, Augustine observes that pagan attempts to rise up against Christ were in vain. The question of verse one, “Why?” implies that the attempt is an exercise in futility. Again, in verse two, the rule of God in Christ, though hated by those who reject him, cannot be escaped (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318467). In verses 3-4, when the Lord expresses scorn, Augustine sees it not “in a carnal sort, as if God either laugheth with cheek, or derideth with nostril but it is to be understood of that power which He giveth to His saints, that they seeing things to come, namely that the Name and rule of Christ is to pervade posterity and possess all nations, should understand that those men ‘meditate a vaine thing’” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318475). The attempt to repress the true God of all is simply foolish.
Again, in verse four, Augustine defends God’s right to answer the nations in a negative way. Although the Lord answeers in wrath and in a way that will “vex” the people, it is a fair wrath, motivated by God’s true knowlege of right and wrong. Augstine does not conceive of God as losing his temper (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318483).
Verse five Augustine understands as clearly Messianic in nature, with the Christ set over the people of God by the Father, in a role as King over the Church. The attempts of the nations to depose the King will come to nothing. Verse six is slightly difficult. Augustine notes that Christians recognize that God the Son is the eternal and pre-existent Christ. However, in the incarnation it is possible to say with the Psalmist, “to-day have I begotten Thee” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318492). Likewise, when in verse seven the Christ is to ask of the Father and receive the nations there is a temporal aspect, which Augustine relates to Jesus’ work of offering himself as a sacrifice for all nations, not only the biological descendants of Jacob. The redemption is of all nations so they will be clearly under the rule of Christ, which, in verse eight, seems very inflexible. Augustine considers the ruling and breaking of the people to pertain to “earthly lusts, and the filthy doings of the old man, and whatsoever hath been derived and inured from the sinful clay” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318500).
Because of the greatness of God in Christ, kings should “serve the Lord with fear” in verse nine. They have a kind of safety in God’s kingdom but are prohibited from trying to make themselves king over God again (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318508).
In verse ten, then, the nations are to hold to God’s instruction and discipline. Augustine sees this as defense both against earthly trouble and against God’s righteous anger. Departure from God’s righteousness places us in dire danger. Rather, in verse eleven, we are blessed as we place trust in God. Again, the matter is urgent. Augustine observes that “shortly” in verse eleven implies “that it will be something sudden, whilst sinners will deem it far off and long to come” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318524). So Augustine finds Psalm 2 calling all nations to trust in the Lord now.