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Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Psalm 2: God's attitude to man's foolish antics.

Psalm 2:
God’s attitude to man’s foolish antics.
Stanza 1: Worldwide rebellion.
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. "Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters."
Stanza 2: God’s displeasure.
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
Stanza 3: A great declaration.
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 sceptre; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."
Stanza 4: A solemn exhortation.
Therefore, you kings, be wise, be warned, you rulers of the earth. 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.
I have taken the opportunity to break the Psalm down into its original stanzas rather than the verse structure of our English bibles, making it easier for us to understand its meaning.
Psalm 2 is another anonymous Psalm but many think due to its Royal content that King David wrote it. You can read all about that in many of the reliable commentaries. The Psalm is regarded as one of the Messianic Psalms. This simply means that it largely points forward to the coming King who is the Anointed One of God. We are at an advantage in that we know in reality what our forefathers waited for. Jesus is the fulfilment of what the Psalmist speaks of.
1: Worldwide rebellion.
I cannot think of a more relevant topic for us to consider today than this one. It seems that the whole world has its focus against the God of the bible and against His Anointed One. As Christians we know the Anointed On to be the Lord Jesus Christ. As we watch our television news or read the daily papers we cannot help but see the attack upon true religion. It is unacceptable to speak against Mohammed but those who protest violently against the Pope’s recent comments find no inconsistency in carrying placards declaring Jesus Christ to be the servant of Allah. Jesus told us that He came to serve God and mankind but He will never serve Allah who is merely a god of Mohammed’s imagination. As Christians we are under severe threat at the moment from the followers of a false religion (Islam) to compromise bible truth in return for security from the attack of fundamental extremists. We must always remember that Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6) and that all who are on the side of truth believe in Jesus and His word (John 18:37).
What we see around us is a normal reaction to God and His purposes for mankind through the work of His Anointed One. It has been the reaction from the time that this Psalm was written; it certainly is the case today and will be the case until Jesus returns! We should not be surprised that the gospel is under attack, the ferocity of the attack might frighten us but we must stand firm in the face of severe opposition. If this message got into the hands of some extremists we would very soon see the extent of how the world rails against our Saviour and the word of truth.
The Psalmist who is probably David asks from a human point of view “why do the nations plot and join together in their opposition to our God?” He also notes the futility of their stand, it might make life almost impossible for the believer but they are merely displaying their foolishness before God Almighty, so therefore we have a glimpse of God’s reaction to their foolishness.
2: God’s displeasure.
What the people of the world are doing is no laughing matter. God is not sitting in heaven falling around laughing at the antics of the world as we might at the stupidity of a troupe of circus clowns. The concept of Him laughing is the use of irony, man foolishly or laughably thinks that he can plot against and oppose God Almighty! How foolish he is. The bible tells us that the fool says in his heart that there is no God. (Psalm 14:1) Psalm 2 tells us that God not only finds the antics of man laughable but also worthy of Divine mockery. God is not afraid to expose the stupidity of man. As we have said this does not come from a sense of heavenly entertainment for a God in heaven who has created a nation of clowns designed to bring hilarity in heavens courtrooms! As we continue in our 2nd stanza we see the real heart of God revealed! Wrath and anger is the result of the foolish antics of mankind! Both of these words are almost unacceptable in 21st century vocabulary. They are certainly not the words of religion today! Many go to extremes to talk of the love of God but anger at sin and justice for sinners is a dirty concept in their minds. But the bible clearly in this passage and many others declares God’s hatred of sin! In His anger He rebukes the mocking world and in His wrath He terrifies them!
At this point the psalmist comes to the crux of the matter, the Psalm is all about a King. But not just any King this King is not appointed by man or in place by fate of birth, God installs him! The place of reign is Zion, God’s holy place. The King is still to come at the time when the Psalm was written, but Jesus is the fulfilment and so we can now move on to the third stanza which is a:

3: Great declaration.
We now come to a verse that is much used and abused by Christians and non-Christians alike. It seems that verse 7 is speaking of a time when Jesus was born and became God’s son. The Muslims and Jehovah’s witnesses in particular make much licence of this trying to disprove the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many passages of scripture that speak of Jesus being from the beginning and that He is co-equal with God, therefore being very God. So the question is; does this verse contradict those truths as the sceptics tell us; and at first might seem to us. As we have already said, we are in a privileged position because we know that the Son it speaks of is the Lord Jesus and we also have the scripture to help us. A helpful tip in the understanding of scripture is that it never contradicts itself and that where there are difficult passages to understand the divinely inspired text is always the best commentary that we can turn to. To understand this verse we have to turn to the New Testament and see how on a number of occasions this verse is quoted concerning Jesus the Son of God. It is always right and proper to try to understand what the original writer and readers would have understood by the passage but we need to remember also that their understanding was limited and that they are not necessarily the best commentators of even their own writings. God did inspire the Apostles and the other writers of the New Testament to apply Old Testament prophesies and promises of Messiah to Jesus in order to show the world just how he perfectly fulfils all that God had previously promised of Messiah. This verse is no exception.
It might surprise us today in what context the New Testament writers applied this verse to the life of Jesus. We might expect that it speaks of the Divine relationship that has always been ongoing. But the context of its usage is on each occasion concerning the resurrection of Christ. (see Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5 &5:5) So what do we learn from this?
In the Old Testament the concept of a son of God was not necessarily seen as a divine person. For example Israel was described by God as His son, He also described the king as his son. It is this concept that I believe is the key to understanding this verse. The King became the son of God upon His coronation; it was God’s special title of authority for him to rule over Israel. When Jesus died and rose again He in effect became King over the kingdom of the church. Therefore God declared Him to be King or Son of God; He was always divine; the second person of the trinity but now as David (and all the other kings that followed him) became king over Israel and was upon his coronation declared to be God’s son so now Jesus is declared to be the final King over the kingdom of God’s people. The perfect fulfilment of what the kings of Israel failed to be.
The role and responsibility of the Final King then is set out in the Psalm. He will conquer many nations from across the whole world and He will reign with absolute authority. God declares His Son to be a King and judge over the entire world but it does not end there. God is not merely concerned with hellfire and brimstone, He shows His gracious hand by issuing a:

4: Solemn exhortation.
The first act of obeyance for the king was to kiss his hand or ring of authority. This is a declaration of submission to his newly bestowed authority. The King is the one in total authority. If that was true of the kings of Israel how much more so for the King of kings! God in effect in this last stanza tells all whether it is royalty or the average man in the street “you will do well to obey My King.” He says it is the wise man who obeys Him, we are to serve Him not as we might serve the authorities but with rejoicing. This is no arduous task it is pure delight to serve King Jesus! But there is a solemn warning within our responsibility we must serve with fear and rejoice with trembling because the King is an awesome and Holy figure and His hatred of wrong is so acute that His anger can flare up in a moment. We cannot come to Him in our own way, just as you would never come to a king in David’s day just as you please, it is even so in our present day with our Queen; and so it is with the King of Kings. We must come acceptably to Him. How is that?
In repentance from our sins and in submission to His authority, our King being wholly righteous and just and fair will never be angry at such actions but always pleased to accept such a person.

So how does God view this world? In much the same way as He views the individual as we saw last week! He is angry with all of the sinful ways of the nations but He is always pleased to accept all who will come to Him in the right way!
Again we ask where do you stand? Is He angry with you or is He pleased with you? As God does in this Psalm I give you the solemn exhortation Embrace King Jesus or you will encounter His wrath and anger due to your sin.

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