Psalm 2 is a relevant psalm. It is relevant because it speaks to the present, and it is relevant because it speaks of the future. Ultimately, it is relevant because it is the very word of God.
The psalm provides good news for those with uncertainty. Many of us live in the land of uncertainty and anxiety. Perhaps it’s personal anxiety (due to struggling finances), or maybe it’s cultural anxiety (due to the cultural-political landscape). Well, Psalm 2 is really good news for any person plagued with uncertainty, anxiety, or even sadness. The psalm is arranged and constructed in a beautiful way. It is a psalm of King David—a song that the Jewish people sang—and it flows nicely into four stanzas. Each of these stanzas builds on the one before, progressively proclaiming the good news of the sovereignty of God in action.
Stanza 1: Human Rebellion
“Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
The psalm begins with a familiar word: Why.
“Why” is a word we ask all our lives, even when we are children—especially when we are children! Some children will carry on an entire conversation with only the word “why?” But as David asks his “why” question, he asks not out of curiosity but out of passion. He passionately asks, “Why do the nations rage?!” In other words, Why, oh, why do human beings ever think that they can overthrow the authority of God and get rid of him? How could humans be in rebellion against the Lord God Almighty? How can it be? Why do the heathen rage?
He asks with passion because this is not a mild rebellion. It’s hatred. The unbelieving world hates the authority of God. Today, they hate the Lord Jesus Christ for two reasons:
First, because he claimed to be God.
Second, because He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” People don’t like the exclusivity of Christ because we live in a culture dominated by “tolerance.” They like to say that all religions are wonderful and that there are many roads to God. “You go your way, and I’ll go mine.” So they hate Christianity because we claim there is one and only one way.
David describes this rebellion as “rage” (verse 1). That’s a strong word, wouldn’t you agree? In the original Hebrew, it is a violent word. Just imagine the image of a boiling sea. That is the type of “rage” being expressed here. And David says that these raging rebels “plot a vain thing”. In other words, their rebellion is empty, useless, and preposterous. How could creatures possibly rebel against the Creator who made them? It is insanity to even think of overthrowing the authority of God.
Yet, the kings of David’s day still “set themselves” against God almighty (verse 2). That word “set” carries with it this idea of being “fixed” and “established.” When you first pour a bag of cement, it is easy and pliable. But then you let it set. And once that cement is set, it is then fixed and established. They have a resolve and determination to no longer live under the authority of God almighty. Their rebellion is against the Lord. They are saying, “Let us overthrow His authority!” This is futility and vanity. It’s human rebellion expressing the pride of the human heart.
Stanza 2: God’s Response
“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”
What is God doing while this human rebellion looms below? How does he respond? Verse 4 tells us, He “sits in the heavens” and bellows a “laugh”! I love this. I love it because it tells me that human rebellion causes Him no alarm. He is not pacing back and forth in heaven wondering, What can be done? How can we get help?
Instead, He laughs.
It is a laugh of amazement at their futility. He is calm and undisturbed. Even if we took all the rebellious leaders throughout history—Nebuchadnezzar, the Caesars, Nero, Stalin—and combined their armies against the Lord, He who sits in the heavens shall still laugh. Rebellion against the Creator is utter futility.
God is sovereign and in control. His response is not passive. He does not allow this rebellion to go on forever.
So what will He do? He will set His King on the holy hill of Zion (verse 6).
That is the sovereignty of God in action.
Notice the word “set” again. Although it’s a different Hebrew word, it still carries the same idea: This is the determination of God Almighty. It is His resolve, and He is going to do it.
And He has done it. The Lord’s king is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ—the King of all kings. Because of this truth, you and and I can sleep tonight. With Jesus on His throne, we have no need to worry. We have our king in charge!
Stanza 3: God’s Decrees
“I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me,
and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
In this decree, it says that Jesus is the Son, and the earth will be His possession. Jesus will break the enemies of God “with a rod of iron” and will “dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” This has been God’s plan for all human history and for our eternal future.
What is God doing? What is this about? It’s not about us. It’s bout the King and His dominion.
It’s all about Jesus.
It’s about God the Father setting up His only begotten Son to be the ruling king forever and ever. This is a display of divine sovereignty. Christ is the top. He is superior to anything or anyone we can think about. He is sovereign over salvation. He is sovereign over creation. He is sovereign over history. He is sovereign over human empires. And He is sovereign over all time, ruling even over present events. God takes care of His people by setting His King on His holy hill.
Stanza 4: Curse and Blessing
“Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges 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,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”
The psalm closes with a curse and a blessing.
The curse is for the rebels. David says that when the Son’s wrath is kindled but even a little, the unbelieving rebellious world will perish in the way (verse 12).
There is also a blessing. To “Kiss the Son” means to “embrace” and carries with it the sense of identity (verse 12). In other words, identify yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ. Never be ashamed of Him, and never deny Him.
Whether one receives the blessing or curse depends on one’s relationship to the Son on the throne.
Jesus embraced us at the cross. Now, we embrace Him through faith, trust, and worship.
For God the Father, His Son was always first. Where is the Son in your life? Is He on the throne? Does that give you hope?
You can never have the fullness of joy, the fullness of peace, if you don’t have the right priorities. The Bible tells us that that first priority should be Jesus. If Jesus Christ is not first for you, then the rest of your life will be tilted and off track. Like a tilted pinball machine, you can never get where you’re supposed to go if your tilted and off track. And when Jesus is first, all the other areas of life will fall in line, and you will have that sense of peace and joy.
After all, He is the gracious and sovereign King. And He’s always in control.