Psalm 2 in the 1537 Matthew Bible: So clear!

Here is the original translation of Psalm 2 as we received it in the 1537 Matthew Bible, before it went on to be revised in the Great Bible, and then more so in the Geneva and King James versions.

Hardly anyone knows about the Matthew Bible. It was the joint work of 3 men: William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, and John Rogers. They strove not only to give God’s word to the English people, but to give it clearly. Psalm 2 illustrates this loving intent. Here is the first English translation from the Reformation, and to my mind, the very best. See how truly relevant this Psalm is for today (and, of course, for all times).

I put Rogers’ marginal explanations of who was speaking in square brackets [like this] for ease of reference. His other notes are at the end.

The .ii. Psalme

They that know not God are moved against the kingdom of Christ with wonderful intents, but in vain: yet runneth their rage through the whole world. The only way to health is to commit thyself to Christ.

1 [The Prophet] Why do the heathen grudge? Why do the people imagine vain things?
2 The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers are come together against the Lord and against his Anointed.
3 [The Enemy] “Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yoke from us.”
4 [God] Nevertheless, he that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn. Yea, even the Lord himself shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath(a), and vex them in his sore displeasure:
6 Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.
7 [The king Christ] As for me, I will preach the law, whereof the Lord hath said unto me, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
8 “Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance; yea, the uttermost parts of the world for thy possession.
9 “Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron(b), and break them in pieces like an earthen vessel.”
10 [The Prophet] Be wise now therefore, O ye kings. Be warned, ye that are judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice before him with reverence.
12 Kiss the Son(c), lest the Lord be angry, and so ye perish from the right way. For his wrath shall be kindled shortly: blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Matthew Bible notes (written by John Rogers, which he gathered from a variety of sources in the Reformation):

(a) “To speak unto them in his wrath” is to ordain and determine to destroy them. Jeremy.xviii.a.

(b) “The rod of iron” for a sure and unbowable dominion, as it is said Psalme lxxviv.e and Esay xiiii.b.

(c) “Kiss the Son.” So readeth the Hebrew. It is a figurative speech, in which, by the sign, is understood that which is signified thereby. For by the kiss of the king’s hand, even so nowadays in many regions do the subjects testify that they will be in the faith and power of the king. He calleth him ‘Son’ because he before brought in the Father, saying, “Thou art my Son.” The Greek readeth, “Receive instruction,” or, “Be learned [taught],” meaning thereby that they should submit themselves unto the king Christ, and receive his instruction and chastening.

(For note (c), remember that when John Rogers wrote, kings and queens governed countries.)

(Source: 1537/1549 Matthew Bible. Verse numbers added.)

Ruth Magnusson Davis, March, 2018