Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way… By Jack Kettler
“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2:12 ESV)
What does Kiss mean in the passage? In addition, who is the Son? In Psalm 2:7 we learn who the Son is:
“I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” (Psalm 2:7 ESV)
From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Psalm 2:7 we learn who the Son is:
“2:7-9 – The kingdom of the Messiah is founded upon an eternal decree of God the Father. This our Lord Jesus often referred to, as what he governed himself by. God hath said unto him, Thou art my Son, and it becomes each of us to say to him, Thou art my Lord, my Sovereign’. The Son, in asking the heathen for his inheritance, desires their happiness in him; so that he pleads for them, ever lives to do so, and is able to save to the uttermost, and he shall have multitudes of willing, loyal subjects, among them. Christians are the possession of the Lord Jesus; they are to him for a name and a praise. God the Father gives them to him, when, by his Spirit and grace, he works upon them to submit to the Lord Jesus.” (1)
Various translations of Psalms 2:12:
Submit to God’s royal son… (New Living Translation)
Do homage to the Son… (New American Standard Bible)
Show respect to his son… (Contemporary English Version)
Pay homage to the Son… (Christian Standard Bible)
Kiss the Chosen One… (Young’s Literal Translation)
From Strong’s Lexicon:
Verb – Piel – Imperative – masculine plural
Strong’s Hebrew 5401: 1) to put together, kiss 1a) (Qal) to kiss 1b) (Piel) to kiss 1c) (Hiphil) to touch gently 2) to handle, be equipped with 2a) (Qal) to be equipped
From KJV today:
The KJV translates “נשׁקו־בר (nashku bar)” as “kiss the son.” The meaning of the verb “נשׁקו (nashku)” is not so much in dispute. “Kiss” is the literal translation (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions) and “do homage” is a paraphrase of “kiss.” The idea is that kissing demonstrates the subject’s reverence towards the master. The KJV keeps the literal rendering.
Kiss from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
armed men, rule, kiss, that touched
A primitive root (identical with nasaq, through the idea of fastening up; compare chazaq, chashaq); to kiss, literally or figuratively (touch); also (as a mode of attachment), to equip with weapons — armed (men), rule, kiss, that touched.
Synonyms for the various translations of nashaq:
Submit – yield, give way, back down, bow, defer, agree, consent, accede, conform, acquiesce, comply, and accept
Homage – respect, honor, tribute, allegiance, devotion, loyalty, praise
Respect – esteem, regard, and acclaim, admiration, appreciation, estimation, favor, popularity, recognition, veneration, awe, reverence, deference, honor, praise, homage
Kiss – endearment, salutation, salute, homage
Son in Psalm 2:7 from Strong’s Concordance:
Original Word: בֵּן
Part of Speech: Noun Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (bane)
The Son in Psalm 2:12 from Strong’s Lexicon:
Noun – masculine singular
Strong’s Hebrew 1248: 1) son, heir
What is the difference between ben and bar in verse 7 and 12?
Both do indeed mean “son” or “son of.” But “ben” בן is Hebrew and “bar” בר is Aramaic. … Bar is Aramaic, and Ben is Hebrew. Bar-Mitzvah comes from the Aramaic. The Bar-Mitzvah is the religious ceremony of initiation for a Jewish boy who has reached the age of 13 and is ready to observe religious principles and worthy to take part in community worship.
Two significant Cross References for Psalms 2:12:
“And they said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Revelation 6:16 Berean Study Bible)
“Be merciful to me, O God; be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” (Psalm 57:1 ESV)
If you refuse to do “Homage” or to “Kiss” the Son of God, you will experience the warning spelled out in the passage, “…lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.” (ESV)
From Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Psalm 2:12:
“Kiss, in token of your subjection and adoration; whereof this was a sign among the Eastern nations, as is manifest both from Scripture, as 1 Samuel 10:1 1 Kings 19:18 Hosea 13:2, and from heathen authors. Submit to his person and government.
The Son, to wit, the Son of God, as appears from Psalm 2:7, called here the Son, by way of eminency, and in a singular manner; which agrees much better to Christ than to David, who is never particularly called by this name.
And ye perish from the way, i.e. be taken out of the way by death or destruction; or, perish out of the way, i.e. by losing the right way, by taking wrong and evil courses, the end of which will be your certain and utter ruin; or, for the way, i.e. for your evil way or manner of living, for your perverse and foolish course of opposing my Son instead of submitting to him. Or, in (which particle is oft. understood) the way, i.e. in your wicked way or course, in the midst of your plots and rebellions against him; and so you will die in your sins, as it is expressed, John 8:24, which is a sad aggravation of their death, and therefore here fitly proposed as a powerful argument to dissuade them from such dangerous and destructive courses.
But a little, i.e. the least degree, of his anger is very terrible, much more the heat and height of it, caused by such a desperate provocation as this is. Or, for his wrath will be kindled shortly, or suddenly, or within a very little time, as this word is used, Psalm 81:14 Song of Solomon 3:4 Isaiah 26:20. His patience will not last always, but will shortly be turned into fury; and therefore take heed that you neither deny nor delay subjection to him, but speedily comply with his offers and commands before it be too late.
They that put their trust in him; who put themselves under his power and protection, believing in him, and expecting safety and happiness from him; which cannot with any colour be applied to David, who always dissuades all men from putting their trust in princes, or in any men or thing besides or below God, Psalm 20:7 44:6 62:6-8 118:8 146:3, and every where; and therefore it would very ill have become him to invite others to put their trust in him. And he is pronounced cursed that trusteth in man, Jeremiah 17:5. But Christ is every where propounded as an object of trust, not only in the New Testament, but also in the Old, as Isaiah 28:16; and therefore they are most truly and fitly said to be
blessed that put their trust in him. Under which sentence the contrary is implied, that they are most cursed and miserable creatures that provoke and oppose him; and so cursed and miserable that David dreaded the very thoughts and mention of it, and therefore expresseth it by the contrary and blessed condition of his friends and subjects. And such-like significations of the miseries of sinners by the blessedness of others opposed to them we have Matthew 23:39 Revelation 14:13.” (2)
Why the translation of nashaq, Kiss?
“In favor of the traditional translation are the context of the psalm (submission to the Lord and to the anointed), the proposal by Delitzsch that the sequence bar pen (“Son, lest”) avoids the dissonance of ben pen (KD, 1:98), and the suggestion by Craigie that the usage of the Aramaism may be intentionally directed to the foreign nations (Psalms 1-50, p. 64).” (3)
In closing, consider John Calvin on Psalm chapter 2:12:
12. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when  his wrath is kindled in a moment. O blessed are all who put their trust in him.
David expresses yet more distinctly what kind of fear and service God requires. Since it is the will of God to reign by the hand of his Son, and since he has engraved on his person the marks and insignia of his own glory, the proper proof of our obedience and piety towards him is reverently to embrace his Son, whom he has appointed king over us, according to the declaration,
“He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father who hath sent him,” (John 5:23)
The term kiss refers to the solemn token or sign of honor which subjects were wont to yield to their sovereigns. The sum is that God is defrauded of his honor if he is slot served in Christ. The Hebrew word vr Bar, signifies both a son and an elect person; but in whatever way you take it, the meaning will remain the same. Christ was truly chosen of the Father, who has given him all power, that he alone should stand pre-eminent above both men and angels. On which account also he is said to be “sealed” by God, (John 6:27) because a peculiar dignity was, conferred upon him, which removes him to a distance from all creatures. Some interpreters expound it, kiss or embrace what is pure, , which is a strange and rather forced interpretation. For my part, I willingly retain the name of son, which answers well to a former sentence, where it was said, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
What follows immediately after is a warning to those who despise Christ, that their pride shall not go unpunished, as if he had said, As Christ is not despised without indignity being done to the Father, who hath adorned him with his own glory, so the Father himself will not allow such an invasion of his sacred rights to pass unpunished. And to teach them to beware of vainly deceiving themselves with the hope of a lengthened delay, and from their present ease indulging themselves in vain pleasures, they are plainly told that his wrath will be kindled in a moment. For we see, when God for a time connives at the wicked, and bears with them, how they abuse this forbearance, by growing more presumptuous, because they do not think of his judgments otherwise, than according to sight and feeling. Some interpreters, I know, explain the Hebrew word kmt, Camoat, which we have rendered, in a moment, in a different way, namely, that as soon as God’s wrath is kindled in even a small degree, it will be all over with the reprobate. But it is more suitable to apply it to time, and to view it as a warning to the proud not to harden themselves in their stupidity and indifference, nor flatter themselves from the patience of God, with the hope of escaping unpunished. Moreover, although this word appears to be put for the purpose of giving a reason of what goes before,  namely, why those who refuse to kiss the Son shall perish, and although the Hebrew word ky, ki, signifies more frequently for than when, yet I am unwilling to depart from the commonly received translation, and have thought it proper to render the original word by the adverb when, which denotes both the reason and time of what is predicated. Some explain the phrases, to perish from the way, as meaning, a perverse way, or wicked manner of listing. Others resolve it thus, lest your way perish, according to that saying of the first psalm, the way of the ungodly shall perish. But I am rather inclined to attach to the words a different meaning, and to view them as a denunciation against the ungodly, by which they are warned that the wrath of God will cut them off when they think themselves to be only in the middle of their race. We know how the despisers of God are accustomed to flatter themselves in prosperity, and run to great excess in riot. The prophet, therefore, with great propriety, threatens that when they shall say, Peace and safety, reckoning themselves at a great distance from their end, they shall be cut off by a sudden destruction, (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
The concluding sentence of the psalm qualifies what was formerly said concerning the severity of Christ; for his iron rod and the fiery wrath of God would strike terror into all men without distinction, unless this comfort had been added. Having, therefore discoursed concerning the terrible judgment which hangs over the unbelieving, he now encourages God’s faithful and devout servants to entertain good hope, by setting forth the sweetness of his grace. Paul likewise observes the same order, (2 Corinthians 10:6) for having declared that vengeance was in readiness against the disobedient, he immediately adds addressing himself to believers “When your obedience is fulfilled.” Now, we understand the meaning of the Psalmist. As believers might have applied to themselves the severity of which he makes mention, he opens to them a sanctuary of hope, whither they may flee, in order not to be overwhelmed by the terror of God’s wrath;  just as Joel (Joel 2:32) also after having summoned the ungodly to the awful judgment-seat of God, which of itself is terrible to men,  immediately subjoins the comfort, Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For it appears to me that this exclamation, Blessed are all they that put their trust in him,  should be read as a distinct sentence by itself. The pronoun him may be referred as well to God as to Christ, but, in my judgment, it agrees better with the whole scope of the psalm to understand it of Christ, whom the Psalmist before enjoined kings and judges of the earth to kiss.”
 Ou, car son, or, for his. — Fr. Marg.
 The word vr, Bar, which here signifies son, is also sometimes used to denote pure, as it is in Job 11:4, Psalm 24:4 and Psalm 73:1. In this former sense it is a Chaldee word, in the latter it is a Hebrew one. This rendering, of which Calvin disapproves, is substantially that of the Septuagint, which reads, draxasthe paideias, literally, lay hold upon instruction. But as the Arabic version of the Psalms, which generally follows the Septuagint, has used here (and in many other places, where the Septuangint has paideias) a word which signifies not only instruction, but good morals, virtue, Street thinks that the authors of the Septuangint, by paideias, meant good morals, or virtue in general, and that they understand vr, Bar, as a general expression for the same thing. The Chaldee, Vulgate, and Ethiopic version, also render vr, Bar, by a word meaning doctrine or discipline. “This is a remarkable case,” says Dr. Adam Clark, “and especially that in so pure a piece of Hebrew as this poem is, a Chaldee word should have been found, vr, Bar, instead of vn, Ben, which adds nothing to the strength of the expression, or the elegance of the poetry. I know that vr, Bar, is also pure Hebrew as well as Chaldee; but it is taken in the former language in the sense of purifying, the versions probably understood it so here. Embrace that which is pure, namely, the doctrine of God.”
 Pour rendre raison du precedent ascavoir pour quoy c’est qu’ila periront. — Fr.
 Pour n’estre point accablez de la frayeur d’ire de Dieu. — Fr.
 Qui de soy est espouvantable aux hommes — Fr.
 The word ‘sry, ashre, which occurs in the beginning of the psalm, is also used here; and therefore, the word may be rendered, O the blessednesses of all those who put their trust in him.” (4)
1. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 798.
2. Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 4.
3. Willem A. VanGemeren, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1991), p. 72.
4. John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Psalms, Volume 1V, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), pp. 24-25.
“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com
For more study:
Interlinear Greek • Interlinear Hebrew • Strong’s Numbers • Englishman’s Greek Concordance • Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance • Parallel Texts