(Ps. 2:12) What does “kiss the Son” mean (NIV)? Who is the Son?

CLAIM: The psalmist writes, “Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Ps. 2:12). What does this mean, and is this passage translated correctly?

RESPONSE: This passage is never quoted in the NT, but it offers a good prophecy for the Messiah.

The best contextual reading of this passage is that this is a declaration and installment of the messianic King. Psalm 2 was universally held to be messianic until the 11th century AD, when the renowned Jewish rabbi Rashi interpreted this passage as fulfilled by King David.[1]

The KJV and NIV render “homage” as kiss. To “kiss” a king means to give him homage (1 Kings 19:18; Hos. 13:2; 1 Sam. 10:1). This is why the NASB translates this Hebrew word as “homage.”

2 Samuel 7:14 says that the Messiah will be the son of God (“I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me”). This means that when the Son of God appears, the Jews should accept him, or he will be wrathful against them.

Earlier, God installed his king (v.6) and his son (v.7). At the end of the psalm, we see that we are to serve the lord (v.11) and kiss the son (v.12).

Jewish commentators don’t translate this as “son” (Aramaic bar). They translate it as the Hebrew word bor meaning “purity.” However, Abraham Ibn Ezra understood this to mean “son.”[2] Proverbs 31:2 translates bar this way. The psalm begins with the son—the messiah. And it ends with the son too. So this seems to be the most natural reading here, rather than “purity.”


[1] Gunn, George A. “Psalm 2 and the Reign of the Messiah.” Bibliotheca Sacra. October-December 2012. 428.

[2] Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Messianic Prophecy Objections. Volume Three. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2003. 113.