“The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
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, ESV
“When my time comes, I don’t want to meet God as a stranger.”
…we have to wholeheartedly love God so much that it makes our relationships with other people seem like hatred. That’s the level of devotion and love that our Lord Jesus Christ has called us to do! We need to ask ourselves: “Do I love God this much? Does my life look like this?”
When I read this passage I am immediately taken back a couple years ago when I commuted to school from my home town on a cold December evening. I remember that rainy evening so vividly because I remember rounding near a particular bus shelter that I happened to pass by frequently as I drove to and from school near Saint Catharines, Ontario. An elderly woman sat inside with a large purse, a thin parka, and a one-size-fits-all umbrella. As I slowly came to a stop at the light, I spotted a young man who hadn’t even the sense to wear proper winter attire running into the shelter completely drenched. I remember the smile the woman gave that man, who returned it just before they both boarded a bus going opposite to where I was heading. I remember specifically the woman’s immediate reaction as she offered to give the man shelter from the rain as they slowly clambered onto the shuttle.
It is one of my fonder memories while commuting back and forth from college because I had previously been talking with a friend from class who was curious about my faith and why I believed that a man who lived two thousand years ago had risen back to life. He wasn’t so much interested in the How, but the Why behind the act on the cross. “In one sentence, can you describe why that man [Christ] needed to die if your God is powerful enough to do it on His own?” He asked.
At the time, I couldn’t think of a way to describe Christ’s role. But when I saw the woman’s merciful show of love at the bus stop, I not only had an answer but I also got an illustration to describe it: Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was perfectly adequate. Like the woman’s umbrella, Jesus’ work was the one-size-fits-all solution–God’s ONLY solution–to the problem of Sin. He is our comfort, our joy, our saviour, and our refuge.
This is what I am reminded of when I read this beautiful Psalm!
I think it is safe to say that the writer of Psalm 2 is King David, as Paul quoted this Psalm in Acts 4:25 and had credited it to King David. We can trust in Paul’s inspired testimony that it is so, but it is also evident in the author’s knowledge of foreign courts. He may even hint at an intimate knowledge of Judah’s own nobility. When I read this Psalm I imagine where in David’s life this Psalm took place. It is difficult to trace it, but I can imagine him on his wilderness wanderings alongside his most loyal men. The first couple of days were probably the toughest, having to acclimatize to a life on the run, forcing him and his men to wander from settlement to settlement and meeting many shrewd men with varying levels of moral rightness. He knows their immorality. David knows conspiracy against God very well.
As a Christian, I find that I can relate to these Gentile rulers. I sometimes catch myself thinking “I would probably have an easier life if I was not a Christian” or “I want to be a better Christian, but I don’t want to give away [insert temptation]”. We can see this same line of thinking in the Gentile kings. The Gentiles plotted against the Lord; they moaned against God, they raged against Him, and they took counsel with one another hoping that God didn’t see them! They even wished to cast away the bonds of debt that they owed God: They wanted to unshackle themselves from Him and live out lives dictated solely by themselves at the helm. They hated God.
The Bible teaches that humanity was created to be ruled. Whether we choose God or sin to rule us is up to us. When we have hearts of stone, hearts centered on fleshly or sinful desires, it becomes hardened against God. It becomes harder and harder to choose God over ourselves. We begin to choose what we want rather than what God wants. And without that Godly, objective standard in our lives we tend to live out a life devoid of all peace (Romans 8:5-8). Between ourselves and God, we can only love one of the two.
Christ himself has taught in Luke 14:26 that we cannot become His disciples without hating our own family! This teaching is placed in the passage right after Jesus had taught the parable of the great banquet (where the biggest theme is to not waste our lives by refusing to take hold of the gift of salvation). The teaching in Luke 14:26 comes right before Jesus talking about the man who built a tower only to leave it partially built. It’s not that Jesus wants us to hate our parents, but unlike the man who only partially built the tower and unlike the people who refused to join the generous man’s banquet, we have to wholeheartedly love God so much that it makes our relationships with other people seem like hatred.
That’s the level of devotion and love that our Lord Jesus Christ has called us to do! We need to ask ourselves: “Do I love God this much? Does my life look like this?” We have to give Him our all; our entire being is a requirement of worship.
Now, the Gentile kings loved themselves more. And although they might have not known the one true God, they still bore witness to creation. They should have been aware that an objective morale standard existed. And they even had the Israelites who, even though they did a poor job, were supposed to be an example as God’s chosen people. It was not just the physical evidence of creation that was made plain for us to perceive, but all of God’s invisible qualities which include His divine nature as well. Righteousness and holiness are a part of His divine nature. Therefore, we are all without excuse (Romans 1:20).
Because they were without excuse and because all their actions were self-centered, their hearts held hatred towards God. They relied on incomplete knowledge. They believed that by their own power they could get true peace. But the bible indicates otherwise.
King David calls their actions futile. In fact, God laughs at our attempts to attain refuge in ourselves. He doesn’t do this in spite of our actions, but because of their futility. We simply can’t achieve peace by ourselves. The punishment for rebellion is death. But David refers back to the past (Joshua 21:13) when he says “refuge”. He points back to cities that allowed asylum to those who were fleeing from charges such as murder, manslaughter, theft, and debts like slavery. Or at the very least these cities gave runaways and cast-outs the right of fair trial. These cities (Hebron, Shechem, Golan, Ramor, etc.) were called “Cities of Refuge”.
Because David associates God with these cities (as it was God who decreed that these cities existed), It is from this knowledge we can then acknowledge that God is the sole source of refuge and not men. We must remember who truly holds this world in His possession, and who truly has the authority before the Father to appeal to our sins.
Though we fear and tremble under His awesome power and authority, we are happy knowing that we can trust in God as our city of refuge. Only in Him can we, people who are guilty of sins equal to that of murder, achieve true rest and asylum from the punishment of sin.
A false image that plenty of Christians perceive of God is that He is God waiting to punish us for every sin. And yes, sin does deserve punishment, but He is a God who eagerly waits to forgive us out of love and grace.
After reading over this psalm, I’m immediately held captive by the love that God has for us. The one who holds the sole answer to sin, the one who has the authority to forgive, has offered us His arms as refuge! Who are we to refuse that great gift? The most obvious response to this gift is a life fully devoted, fully trusting, and fully submitted God.
1. Don’t find security and counsel in earthly things – they won’t help us.
It is okay to use earthly things for God, but do not let them use us. Every natural thing that God provides for us is meant to be enjoyed, as God has provided them to us as a form of rest. However it is easy to be tempted to take advantage of these wonderful gifts, so we must take care to use them and not let them use us. We must equally be careful when taking moral cues from our brothers and sisters. We are sojourners. We are aliens in the world that God has placed us in. We have to remember that we don’t truly own this land and the possessions that we have: We are merely passing through. Although we experience a temporary rest that is given to us by God, take action. Feel comfortable, but not too comfortable because the comfort we now feel is dwarfed by the ultimate comfort given to us when we’re with God.
Therefore, worship the Lord, and only the Lord. Remember that only by the Creator’s authority can we find peace, rest, and refuge — we can’t get it from anything creation.
2. In our ministry with non-believers (and even with believers who follow a false doctrine) we have to remember to love them.
This becomes increasingly hard as they seem like they are persecuting us when in fact they are persecuting Jesus. Sometimes we get defensive it it almost always comes off as self-righteous, hypocritical, and closed-minded. Even though we may articulate our arguments very well, but we don’t look very good in the outset. We have to remember that it is people that we are ministering to. Yes, we must love God with our entire being, but we must also love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.
3. Remember that the principle blessing of heaven is to partake in God’s presence.
I was raised with very hard, very harsh teachings, and very strict parents who guided me, who instilled in me a fear of God that I don’t plan on losing. This fire and brimstone style of teaching isn’t bad, but I am reminded by countless wise individuals that fear is only the starting point of our faith, and love is its ultimate end. We have to want to run into God’s arms out of love first, and fear second. Without love, there is no relationship. As a teacher of mine has once said, “When my time comes, I don’t want to meet God as a stranger.” We have to be diligent and make an effort in loving. As I have learned in my time in reading Proverbs, knowledge comes from fear and reverence of the Lord — But devotion and faith is rooted in love.
I pray that I am ever in love with the Lord and forever in awe of His awesome power!
Take care, and I will be praying for you too.
“[Therefore] Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling…Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
Psalm 2:11 and 12b