Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath - He did so to the Jews who rejected the Gospel, and vexed and ruined them by the Roman armies; he did so with the opposing Roman emperors, destroying all the contending factions, till he brought the empire under the dominion of one, and him he converted to Christianity viz., Constantine the Great.
Then shall he speak unto them - That is, this seeming indifference and unconcern will not last forever. He will not always look calmly on, nor will he suffer them to accomplish their purposes without interposing. When he has shown how he regards their schemes - how impotent they are, how much they are really the objects of derision, considered as an attempt to cast off his authority - he will interpose and declare his own purposes - his determination to establish his king on the hill of Zion. This is implied in the word “then.”
In his wrath - In anger. His contempt for their plans will be followed by indignation against themselves for forming such plans, and for their efforts to execute them. One of these things is not inconsistent with the other, for the purpose of the rebels may be very weak and futile, and yet their wickedness in forming the plan may be very great. The weakness of the scheme, and the fact that it will be vain, does not change the character of him who has made it; the fact that he is foolish does not prove that he is not wicked. God will treat the scheme and those who form it as they deserve - the one with contempt, the other with his wrath. The word “wrath” here, it is hardly necessary to say, should be interpreted in the same manner as the word “laugh” in Psalm 2:4, not as denoting a feeling precisely like that which exists in the human mind, subject as man is to unreasonable passion, but as it is proper to apply it to God - the strong conviction (without passion or personal feeling) of the evil of sin, and the expression of his purpose in a manner adapted to show that evil, and to restrain others from its commission. It means that he will speak to them as if he were angry; or that his treatment of them will be such as men experience from others when they are angry.
And vex them - The word here rendered “vex” - בהל bâhal - means in the original or Qal form, to tremble; and then, in the form used here, the Piel, to cause to tremble, to terrify, to strike with consternation. This might be done either by a threat or by some judgment indicative of displeasure or anger. Psalm 83:15; Daniel 11:44; Job 22:10. The idea here is that he would alarm them, or make them quake with fear, by what is specified of his purpose; to wit, by his determination to set his King on his holy hill, and by placing the scepter of the earth in his hands. Their designs, therefore, would be frustrated, and if they did not submit to him they must perish (see Psalm 2:9-12).
In his sore displeasure - literally, in his “heat” or “burning,” that is, in his anger; as we speak of one that is inflamed with anger, or that burns with indignation; or, as we speak of the passions, kindling into a flame. The meaning here is, that God would be displeased with their purposes, and that the expression of his design would be adapted to fill them with the deepest alarm. Of course, all such words are to be interpreted in accordance with what we know to be the nature of God, and not in accordance with the same passions in men. God is opposed to sin, and will express his opposition as if he felt angry, but it will be in the most calm manner, and not as the result of passion. It will be simply because it ought to be so.