Today we begin our month long read through the Book of Palms. Actually the Book of Psalms is really five song books. Each individual psalm has its own composer. Some are anonymous and others have authors named. At least 73 of the psalms are attributed to King David. Others are attributed to Asaph, the sons of Korah, Moses, Solomon, Heman, and Ethan. They were composed over a period of nearly 1,000 years beginning with Moses (Psalm 90) in approximately 1400 B.C. all the way to the Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C. There are psalms of wisdom, trust, thanksgiving, praise, Zion, lament, and imprecation. Some psalms are Messianic and others royal. And some proclaim loudly that God is King. The Book of Psalms and the individual psalms are windows into the hearts and souls of the ancients who wrote them. They model a depth of character, wisdom, honesty, and authenticity. The psalms are God centered. They instruct God’s people to receive His correction and be more like Him. They call for vibrant worship of the Lord, and they ask that we bear witness about Him to the world.
The psalms, like all other scripture are inspired and given by God. But, each psalm originated with a human author as a prayer or praise to the Lord. The psalms are a collection of liturgical pieces for temple worship and personal devotion. That there are collections of psalms in five books should not be a surprise. If we look back to 1 Chronicles 22-26 we find that David work led on reorganizing the worship system of the shrine in Jerusalem and it is most likely the temple staff maintained collections of psalms for worship. So the book that we have could be seen as a final edit of those psalms, intended for our worship and devotion. Martin Luther had this to say about the Book of Psalms. “The Psalter promises Christ’s death and resurrection so clearly that it might well be called a little Bible. In it is comprehended most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible.” Here are three themes to look for as you read. First they are a portrait of God. They portray God as our shepherd, the warrior who saves us, our king, our refuge, and our judge. God is great, eternal, perfect, powerful, patient, loving, forgiving, and good. Just to name a few. Second we see the psalms as as model of a personal relationship with God, openly expressing a wide range of emotions in life. We see fear, love, distress, dismay, impatience, gratitude, shame, guilt, and forgiveness. Third, the psalms also show us a contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Psalm 1 sets the stage.
We will be in the Book of Psalms for the entire month of June. That means we will preach four Sundays on psalms and each day as I write I will focus on one psalm from the reading. If you have questions on other psalms please feel free to contact me and we can talk about the psalm you have questions about. Having said all that, let us begin. Today I want to take a look at Psalm 2.
Psalm 2 is a royal psalm and it points to the Lord’s appointment of a king descended from David. It celebrates the mission of all the kings in David’s line and it introduces the hope of an ideal ruler who will accomplish the Lord’s goal of bringing all the nations into submission. The New Testament identifies this descendant as Jesus. The psalm was most likely written for the coronation of a Davidic king and it offers insight into how kings understood themselves…their authority, roles, and hopes. In the ancient Near East the coronation of a new king was often the occasion for the revolt of the peoples, and other kings who had been subject to the crown. While psalm 1 emphasized the law, psalm 2 focused on prophecy. People in psalm 1 delighted in the law but the people in psalm 2 defy the law. Psalm 1 begins with a beatitude and psalm 2 ends with one. Psalm 2 is quoted at least 17 times in the New Testament, more than any other psalm. Not only is this a royal psalm it is also a Messianic Psalm. The test for that is that it is quoted in the New Testament as referring to Jesus. David is named as the author of this psalm and it may have grown out of the events of 2 Samuel 5, 7, 8, and 10. David was the Lord’s choice to establish the dynasty that would eventually bring the Messiah into the world. But both psalm 2 and 2 Samuel 7 go far beyond David and his successors. Both speak of the covenant, the universal kingdom, and a throne established forever. This can only be filled by Jesus Christ, the Son of David. This psalm should be read in conjunction with psalm 110. Both psalms point prophetically to the coming rule of Jesus.
Why do the nations rage? This has multiple meanings. Originally it pointed to the nations that confronted David and his legitimate successors. But these kings were mere shadows of the coming Great King, the Savior Jesus. Consequently, this also refers to any attack on Jesus and His divine kingdom. This assault of the nations occurred in its most dramatic form at the cross, but resistance to God’s kingdom has continued throughout the ages. Throughout history, nations have resisted the claims of the gospel, the foundation of Jesus kingdom. As of this writing there are 52 countries around the world where it is illegal and life threatening to believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The psalmist says the rulers plotted together against the Lord’s anointed One. Jesus went to the cross after the leading priests and elders plotted how to capture Jesus secretly and kill Him. When David asked the question why do the nations rage he probably didn’t expect an answer. They’re really isn’t one. It was more of an expression of astonishment. When you consider all that the Lord had done for the nations, how can they rebel against Him? In verse 2 Lord here refers to God the Father. His Anointed refers to Jesus the Son. The word anointed conveys a sense of royalty because kings were anointed. Then as now, there are many who do not want to anything to do with being connected to the Lord in any way and they see that as being chained up like an animal.
The peaceful scene in heaven is quite a contrast to the noise of the earth. God is neither worried or afraid as puny man rages against Him. He merely laughs in derision. God laughs scornfully at any attack on His Son, and the idea of fighting off the will of God is truly preposterous. To God the greatest rulers are but grass to be cut down and the strongest of nations are only drops in the bucket. Today God is speaking to the nations in His grace and calling them to trust His Son, but the day will come when God will speak to them in His wrath and send terrible judgement to the world. If people will not accept God’s judgement of sin at the cross and trust Christ, they will have to accept God’s judgement of themselves and their sins. He who sits in heaven Is God, king of the universe, creator of all things. Who are puny earthly kings compared to Him? It was God who gave David his throne on Zion, and it was God who gave David victory after victory as he defeated the enemies of Israel. This is only the beginning. God declares there is only one legitimate king and that is His Son Jesus. He is now seated on the throne of glory.
The psalmist speaks of God saying My King. David and his legitimate heirs were given a divine promise that they would rule the Israelites under the Lord’s blessing. Any attack on Israel was an assault on God’s promise. The Lord declares that He has placed His chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on His holy mountain. This comes to fruition when Jesus is enthroned on the cross at Calvary. This is not the the throne people were expecting. When we read the gospel of John, we see that this is the crowning achievement for Jesus. This is why He came. Zion was another name for Jerusalem and it was holy because God declared it to be so. This was the place where God sent Abraham and Isaac, the place where Abraham bound his son Isaac. This is where the holy temple would be built and where Jesus the Savior would die.
In verse seven the Lord speaks words He has only spoken, of Jesus…You are my Son. When Jesus came up out of the water of the Jordan River after John had baptized Him, God’s voice boomed from heaven… ”This is my Son, the beloved. With Him I am well pleased.” The writer of Hebrews quotes these words as well, pointing to Jesus. Each time a legitimate son of David was crowned king as the successor to his father in the city of Jerusalem, these words could be used of him. The new king was adopted by God as his ‘son’ and he would look to God as his Father. The Father has promised the Son complete victory over the nations, which means that one day He will reign over all the kingdoms of the world. Christ’s rule will be firm and if they oppose Him He will smash them like you would clay pots. Ancient eastern kings had a ritual before going into battle that involved smashing clay pots. They symbolized the enemy army and smashing the pots guaranteed the help of the gods to defeat the enemies. But Jesus needs no such folly. He smashes His enemies completely. Jesus is God, King, and conqueror.
The formula of adoption for Davidic kings was announced in a solemn ceremony of coronation attended by priests and prophets, with much pomp, and a celebratory worship service. In the New Testament, the Son of God is also declared to be the king, the true Anointed, the Christ. Having a rod of iron meant that the future rule of the royal Son would be absolute. There would be no rebellion. Potentially rebellious kings would avoid terrible judgement only by submitting to the anointed of God. Only with proper the fear, adoration, reverence, and awe of the Most Holy God could there be genuine joy in the coming kingdom. The wise thing for people to do today is to surrender to Christ and trust Him. Notice that in verses 10, 11 the Spirit speaks first to the kings and leaders and then in verse 12 He addresses all and urges them to trust the Son. The Spirit begins with the world leaders because they are accountable to God for the way they lead and govern the world. The people are enraged against God because of the way their leaders have incited them. They are ignorant because they have followed the wisdom of the world and not the wisdom that comes from God. They are proud of what they know or think they know, but they know nothing about eternal truths. The only way to learn is to spend time in the Word of God.
The Spirit ends with a word of warning and a word of blessing. The warning is that this loving King can also become angry and reveal His holy wrath suddenly and without warning. The blessing comes for all who put their trust in the Lord. This is the clear choice people have.
This psalm captures the feel of the antagonism and challenges facing David, the king God has chosen to rule His people. Though it seems like enemies surround him and everyone is against him,, the psalmist insists that God has anointed him. In fact, God even calls him his son! This is someone with a special calling from God, and the psalm asserts that with God on his side, he will triumph over his powerful enemies. But read this psalm again, this time with Jesus in mind. Verse 7 seems to mirror the words of God the Father booming from heaven declaring Jesus as His Son. We see the plotting of the religious leaders in verse 2 and the angry crowds shouting crucify Him! Is it any wonder that Jesus, heir to the throne of David, would face the same ridicule, conspiracies, and rejection as the psalmist? Jesus became King through a much different road, dying to win the world. But the cry expressed in Psalm 2 is the same. Jesus the chosen one, who is loved by God and rejected by humanity.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W