April 23, 2017
A note to readers: Today’s post is part of a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will cover the Psalms, beginning to end, by focusing on a Psalm each Sunday. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his interest in contributing here. This will be a huge blessing to us all.
Psalm 2 (NIV)
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 1 showed us the two themes of the psalms: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. If Psalm 1 cast the two paths or journeys in personal terms, Psalm 2 demonstrates that the struggle between righteousness and wickedness is not merely personal, it is also cosmic; it involves not just individuals, but entire nations plotting and scheming against the LORD and against His Anointed One. This is precisely what the Apostle Paul refers to in Ephesians 6:12 when he declares that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” In Psalm 2, we learn that righteousness is more than personal piety, it is engaging all these forces arrayed against the Lord and His people. Just as Psalm 1 showed the trajectory of our personal journey, so Psalm 2 demonstrates the final verdict of human history.
Psalm 2 gives us a rare glimpse into the inner counsels of those who oppose God’s rule and reign. Human history is replete with dozens of movements which conspire and plot against God and against His Messiah. The world plots and schemes to thwart God’s word, God’s plans and God’s rule. They see God’s rule as nothing more than chains and fetters which restrict our freedom rather than the true source of joy and freedom. Psalm 2 shows God laughing at the futility of the world’s rebellion. God alone is the Lord of history. Through the incarnation, the LORD has set another historical trajectory into motion. Through God’s Anointed One, Jesus Christ, the rule and reign of God has broken into our history: “You are my Son, today I have become your father” (vs. 7). (We, of course, know that the second person of the Trinity is eternal, but the “today I have become” refers to him at a specific point in human history taking up the office as Redeemer of the World). The final end of all history is that every nation will tremble before His divine majesty. No nation can thwart his plan which is unfolding in human history. “Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (vs. 8).
This is the final trajectory of human history: “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:10). All nations will “kiss the Son” (vs. 12). This is why Psalm 2 is the fourth most quoted psalm in the New Testament (only 22, 110 and 118 are quoted more). The early church clearly understood Psalm 2 as the backdrop to the passion and the final vindication of His Anointed One through the Resurrection. It also demonstrates that the work of preaching and healing by the church is clearly seen as the natural outgrowth and extension of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is “broken” on the cross and through the power of that brokenness, he breaks the power of His foes. We are now engaged in a global proclamation of Jesus Christ to all nations, proclaiming that all nations are His “inheritance” and “the ends of the earth” His possession (vs. 8). In light of these great truths, “how blessed are all those who take refuge in him” (vs. 12).