One of the most intriguing of chapters in all of the Psalter is chapter two. No author or context or musical information is offered in its title. Despite the historical mystery it is the most quoted psalm in the entire New Testament. Luke quotes from it often in Acts (2:36; 4:25-28; 13:33) and the apostle John refers to the messianic dimension throughout Revelation (particularly chapters 6 and 19). If we consider all the references to Jesus as God’s Messiah and Son in the New Testament then quotations of Psalm 2:2 and 2:7 are dozens upon dozens.
The Rebellion of the kings
Psalm 2 arranges itself into four nice units each three verses in length. In unit one (verse 1-3) we get a glimpse into the secret conference room of the rulers and kings. They are in an uproar, raging and planning rebellion against Jehovah and His Messiah, the anointed One. They want to be rid of His rule over their life and fight shy of His authority. They want independence and to break free of the chains that keep them in check.
The Ridicule of God
In unit two (verses 4-6) the scene changes to the secret conference room of Jehovah. He is pictured here as laughing in derision, scoffing and ridiculing the rulers and kings for their silly attempt to get out from under Him. It’s as if God is looking down from His throne in heaven to see these ants scurrying about. God then makes a startling proclamation, spoken in righteous anger and fury, that terrifies the kings. “I have installed My King, the Messiah, in Jerusalem to rule and reign over you!” God’s physical representative, the Divine King, has taken the throne!
The Rule of the King
In unit three (verses 7-9) the Messiah King recounts the installation proclamation of God in three parts. First, You are the King because you are my Son, my heir, possessing all the divine attributes and have the divine right to rule and reign. I have installed you because you have come forth from Me. Second, His rule covers the entire earth. No square inch of real estate is outside His authority. There are no borders or foreign lands or territories yet to be conquered. Third, His rule will be violent against those kings who rebel. Those out of line will be corrected with a rod of iron, not a fly swatter or wooden spoon. He will break rebellious hearts and shatter them like a fragile flower pot.
Reverence for the King
The final unit (verse 10-12) issues two warnings to the kings and judges of the earth. Show wisdom and be warned! Warning one, worship the King. Fear Him. Revere Him. Rejoice because of Him. Tremble before Him. Warning two, kiss the King. Pay homage to Him. Bow before Him. Failure to do these things will result in His anger and wrath being kindled against them ending in their death. These are very strong warnings! Yet, the psalm ends on a positive note for those who show wisdom. As in most Old Testament instructions there is a blessing for obedience and a curse for disobedience. For those who take refuge under the King will be blessed. The equation is pretty simple therefore, rage against the King and experience His wrath OR take refuge in the King and experience blessing.
The Historical Dimension
Many of the psalms have multiple dimensions in their understanding and application. There is always the risk of over-spiritualizing a passage to make it apply to our situation without fully understanding first what it meant to the author and the original audience. So, we will consider first the historical dimension.
Though it is not written, it is generally assumed that King David is the author based upon the context and application to his life. Luke attributes authorship to David when quoting Psalm 2 in Acts 4:25. As David takes the throne in Israel they have many enemies (1 and 2 Samuel). Their reputation as God’s chosen people is known far and wide. To tangle with them is to tangle with God, and yet, they devise plans to defeat this nation. God laughs from heaven at their vain attempts and installs his anointed one, David, as king. He is born of the line of Judah as was prophesied in Genesis 49. During David’s rule he conquered many lands and defeats his enemies with violent force. All nations who raged against David and Israel experienced the wrath of God and those who came to take refuge in God experienced the covenantal blessings God promised to His people.
The Messianic Dimension
Quite possibly the greatest understanding of this psalm is the Messianic dimension. As we look at the biblical record of Jesus’ life and work we see each unit come alive. When Jesus, as God incarnate, is born to this world that world nations are raging as Rome is attempting world domination. As Jesus begins his earthly ministry and begins to gain some notoriety and threaten the religious establishment all kinds of plans are devised as to how to take him down. Their plans fail even in crucifying Him and the raging continues on. Matthew 24 tells of warring nations and perilous times that are yet to come and will precede Jesus’ return. God laughs from heaven knowing that He has established His Son Jesus on the throne, which He will come and reign upon for one thousand years. His rule will be over the entire earth and Revelation 19:15 describes his violent rule over the rebellious nations with His rod of iron. By the time this comes it will be too late for those nations to turn back. No more blessing. No more refuge. His patience will have been used up.
There are great implications for our current and future political leaders. Anyone with government power should heed these words lest they find themselves in a secret conference room devising plans against the Lord. God ridicules attempts to ignore His authority and standards. God scoffs at those who would ignore Him outright. He thunders from heaven, “All authority has been given to Jesus to rule this world. He sits at my right hand.” Be wise. Be warned presidents, senators, representatives, governors, and kings. Worship the King. Kiss the King lest His wrath be kindled against you. He can break you. He can shatter your life (let alone your political career) like a flower pot. Find your refuge in Him from the pressure to conform to political correctness. Find your refuge in Him to stand against the roaring tide. Find your refuge in Him to uphold His standards.
We also need to remember that our hope is not in our government. Our ultimate hope is found solely in Jesus. Our confidence is not in the GOP but in G-O-D. Yes, we insist and expect our government leaders to uphold morality and justice but must also recognize they are sinful humans like us. No policy will change the epidemic of human sinfulness. No legislation can fix the problem only curb it for a period of time. Only refuge in Christ can fix the problem!
Of course, we can try to hold this passage at arms length. If you are thinking well thankfully I wasn’t alive in David’s day, I look forward to Jesus’ return, and I am not in politics so I get a free pass, I would ask you to sit tight for a moment.
Paul David Tripp and others use the a kingdom concept in their counseling. You see, the problem in all our hearts is that we are all trying to build our own personal kingdoms. Each of us wants to be king or queen of our life desiring everything to revolve around us. We want the attention (worship) and the submission from all others. Whether it be in our marriage, parenting, workplace, or organization we want to rule and reign our own way for our personal happiness. Anyone that stands in the way is an obstacle and enemy in my kingdom. Furthermore, we strive against God’s authority in our little kingdoms, seeking the world’s wisdom over God’s wisdom, when we should be submitting to the rule of Jesus and finding refuge in His leadership. Jesus is the Head of every marriage, household, and workplace and when we operate according to God’s design we find peace, joy, and grace abounding. Raging against Him will result in our little kingdoms being broken and shattered before our very eyes. Don’t test Him in this. Be wise. Be warned. Take refuge.
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight