This is the second in the series of what the Holy Spirit shared with me concerning the Psalms.
The psalm begins with an incredulous question posed by the godly writer, who sees with the eyes of God beyond time and the limited vision of the world:
2:1: “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?”
Why indeed? Don’t they realize the utter folly of trying to stand up against the God who is almighty and of limitless power? Obviously not, hence the question. How can they be so stupid, so blind? Perhaps they think that by banding together they can accomplish what they cannot do alone?
2:2: “The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.”
2:3: “‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters.'”
Verse three reveals the reason they want to rebel against God and his anointed One, the Messiah, Jesus Christ: They feel restricted and limited by their rules and commands. They are not free to follow the evil desires of their hearts, not knowing that following such evil desires is what really imprisons them, not the commandments of God.
“Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (Jn. 8:34).
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16).
To answer Paul’s question, No, they do not know that that to which they desire to be free to do–evil and sin–is the very thing that enslaves them. They do not know that sin is not freedom but slavery and that the only one who can set them free from this bondage is the very One from whom they wish to be “free”. They have it all completely backwards. Therefore, they are in great danger of God’s judgment, for he is the one who has said:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Is. 5:20).
2:4: “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.”
This is the proper response from the only all-powerful Being. He is no more concerned about their brash and arrogant boastings than an elephant is concerned about an ant challenging his way down the path.
“Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust” (Is. 40:15).
“Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing” (Is. 40:17).
2:5,6: “”Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill'”
They may think that because they are earthly kings, with great earthly power, and that they are banded together for even more strength, that they can challenge God.
“What? Are you tempting the Lord to be angry with you? Are you stronger than he is?” (1 Cor. 10:22 TLB).
God angrily rebukes them and they are terrified. He informs them that he is the one who decides who is to be king and who rules, not they. And he has decided. He has set his chosen King on Zion, his holy hill.
“He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning” (Dan. 2:21).
But they are not discerning, therefore they have no wisdom.
“The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?” (Jer. 8:9).
It is most unwise to declare war on God, to seek to be out from under his commandments that are given to protect man from himself and his sinful, selfish desires. But since they have made their declaration of independence, God issues one of his own:
2:7-9: “I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
The world, the entire universe–everything–was created for Jesus, God’s Son. We see that here in this section, just as it is stated more explicitly elsewhere in Scripture:
“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him” (Col. 1:16).
The nations that want to rebel against God and his chosen ruler are the very nations that God hands over to his Son to rule with an iron scepter with which he will dash them to pieces like pottery for their rebellion.
“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’? Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing’?” (Is. 29:16).
God does know. He knows all things, including the hidden rebellion of the heart as well as the open rebellion of the nations. All such rebellion and objection to his rule over the souls of men is subject to his wrath and judgment. But God does not want to pour out his wrath on men; he would rather that they turn from their evil way and live.
“‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ declares the Sovereign Lord. ‘Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?'” (Ezk. 18:23).
Because this is so, God issues them a warning:
2:10: “Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.”
They should change their ways and attitude and spirit from one of rebellion to one of submission and servitude. They should recognize the great grace and forgiveness that God is offering them and show their thankfulness and appreciation.
2:11,12: “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
God gives all of us time to repent. But that time is not unlimited. At any time, he can withdraw his gracious offer and demand an accounting of our life which he created and gave to us.
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'” (Lk. 12:20).
Abandoning our pursuit of building our own little kingdoms here on this earth is not as hard as many believe it to be–not when something so much higher and better is found, as it is found in the glorious Lord of life, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Then all else, even our own kingdoms, are seen as worthless and rubbish.
“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Ph. 3:8).
Other Scriptures speak of this ease of surrendering all to God as well.
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Dt. 30:11-14).
These rebellious nations had proclaimed that being under God’s rule was hard and heavy. But God says:
“My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:30).
In fact, if a person will only humble himself, he will find that living under God’s rule is not a burden to be rejected but a refuge to be embraced . And so ends this psalm with these words: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
They are blessed indeed.