1 Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
5 He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
6 “I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
8 Ask me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 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.
A quick reminder from the introductory notes of the Psalms that Psalm 2 is a poetic reflection on God’s promises to King David from 2 Samuel chapter 7. That one day a messianic king will come and establish God’s kingdom over the world, defeating evil and rebellion among the nations. Psalm 2 concludes by saying that all those who take refuge in the messianic king will be blessed which is precisely the word used to open Psalm 1.
Together, Psalm 1 & Psalm 2 tell us that the book of Psalms is designed to be the prayer book of God’s people as they strive to be faithful to the Torah and hope and wait for the future messianic kingdom.
Psalm 2 is attributed to David (Acts 4:25), and is called the second psalm (in Acts 13:33). The introductory rhetorical question, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot on vain” (verse 1), is shown in the following verses to be a question of incredulity: Why do the nations attack God’s anointed king when their attack is doomed to failure?
Historically, “his Anointed” (verse 2), referred to David or to any of his descendants who were experiencing opposition (compare 1 Samuel 24:6); prophetically, it refers to the Messiah who, as Son of David, also experienced opposition (Acts 4:25-27).
The fact that God shall laugh and scoff (verse 4), at the world’s opposition to the Anointed One presages their calamity because the Lord has installed His “King upon … Zion” (verse 6). And adopted Him as His “Son”; therefore, the nations may be taken as an “inheritance” at the son’s request (verse 8).
Every Davidic ruler was an adopted son (2 Samuel 7:14), but the real significance of the promise is fulfilled in Jesus (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). The wise alternative is to submit to this Son (verses 10-12).
Psalm 1 is disclosed the two different “ways” for individuals, Psalm 2 follows up with its application to nations. This psalm is normally termed “royal” and has had a long history of messianic interpretation. Psalm 2 progressively shines its poetic spotlight on 4 vivid scenes relating to the mutiny of mankind against God
- Scene One: Human Rebellion (2:1-3).
- Scene Two: Divine Reaction (2:4-6).
- Scene Three: Divine Rule (2:7-9).
- Scene Four: Human Responsibility (2:10-12).
The opening question sets the tone of the psalm, one of astonishment at the senseless rejection of God’s rule. This psalm is meant to be read in connection with Psalm 110, fulfilled both in David’s time and at the time of the people’s rejection of the Messiah (Acts 4:25-26). It communicates the activities of a people who complain and are discontent.
It exposes the irony of man’s depravity, devising, conspiring, and scheming emptiness (compare Psalm 38:12; Proverbs 24:2; Isaiah 59:3, 13).
Verse 3 communicates the fact that worldly people do not want to serve a holy God.
In verses 4 – 6 the readers and hearers are reminded that the king they are attacking has been installed by God. Countries that attack David are really attacking God!
God laughs at the very idea that people think they can oppose His will (37:13). It is the embodiment of futility.
All of man’s power is as nothing with Almighty God. Even the next breath that we take, is by permission from Almighty God.
It brings to mind the following words in Philippians 2:5-11
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father.
For a mere human being to come against the Father or His Son is absurd. God does not even bother to try to straighten them out, He just laughs that they would be so foolish. To reject Jesus, seals a person’s doom. This is one thing God will not forgive.
In verses 7 – 9 David says that when he became king he also became a son of God. So God will give him everything that he asks for. In verses 10-12, David tells the world leaders to obey the king. This is what “kiss his son” means! David the king is God’s son. He is the shadow of the forthcoming messiah.
The words “you are my Son” in verse 7 recall 2 Samuel 7:8-16, as the basis for the Davidic king. It is also the only Old Testament reference to the Father/Son relationship in the Trinity. Later it becomes a complete physical reality in the incarnation, and therefore a major emphasis in the New Testament.
Verse 7 is quoted in the New Testament with reference to the birth of Jesus (Heb. 1:5-6), and also to His resurrection (Acts 13:33-34), as the earthly affirmations.
When did Jesus become God’s son? The words in verse 7 seem to point to a particular day.
Answering this question involves understanding the meaning here of the word “day”. As God lives beyond time, He cannot be limited to a 24-hour period. This word means an eternal day. Jesus did not become the Son of God at a point in time; rather He has eternally been in the process of being generated as the Son in God’s eternal day. There has never been a time when Christ was not the Son of God.
On several occasions during His ministry on earth, the Sonship of Christ was particularly emphasised, in the Incarnation (Luke 1:35), in the Baptism (Matthew 3:17), and in the Resurrection (Romans 1:4). These events did not make Christ the Son of God, but only proved that He already was.
The Scripture from Philippians 2:10, leaves no doubt how far reaching this power and authority of Jesus is. What Adam and Eve lost in the Garden of Eden, Jesus purchased back on the cross. Whether we accept Jesus as Lord or not, we are His property. We are His creation and He purchased us with His blood at Calvary.
Verses 10-12 are a demonstration of grace. Judgement is not immediate. The tone is surprising. Space and time are left for thoughtful repentance.
“Be wise … be warned” are favourite words in the wisdom literature. Kings are instructed to act prudently and with discretion.
The combination of the words trembling and fear in the Bible or fear of the Lord is not to be afraid in terms of the crippling emotion of fear but rather calls for a modesty and humility as opposed to pride, haughtiness, and arrogance.
To fear the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. The kings and judges of this world are subject to a higher Power. They may rule over nations, communities and households on the earth, but there is someone higher than they are. All mankind, whether kings or judges, or presidents, or any other holders of high office in the earth, must answer to God.
Kiss the Son is an expression that points to a symbolic act that would indicate allegiance and submission (compare 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Kings 19:18). The word for “Son” here is not the Hebrew word for “son” that was used in verse 7, but rather its Aramaic counterpart which is a term that would especially be suitable for these commands being addressed to nations (verse 1).
The closing words of Psalm 2 pick up the major burden (of Psalm 1).
Reflections from my original journal notes in August 2015
I lack a fear of the Lord. I live as if I am my God. I don’t understand what it means to fear the Lord. I understand fear but it sounds so negative. I know I need to take refuge in him and I know I am reaping a wrath that paradoxically is an act of love. It’s a hard teaching but I can get it.
I have hurt, betrayed and disappointed so many people. Each new person I speak with creates difficulty and awkwardness.
The reality of prison hit me. A lot will depend on the feedback from the charity commission. On the one hand prison does not seem a bad option. I think I would get some stability and support. Maybe not much in an over stretched system but perhaps something. On the other hand it scares the life out of me …aggressive men, the possibility of being taken advantage of sexually, boredom, shame and taking me back to a place of insecurity and fear. All thoughts that have emerged in me. It is completely outside of my control so I try not to think about it at all.
Rumours are apparently emerging at church and my children are being confronted by conflicting information by his friends. I began to think about the mess I caused and also felt anger towards those who were speculating.
My oldest daughter wrote me a letter and gave a carrier bag full of food. I read it immediately my wife handed it to me. It broke my heart. I could not stop crying. I began to see the pain and destruction.
She said that it hurts to see me homeless and she wanted to give me food as she remembered a time when she had no money to buy food after moving out from home and I took her to the supermarket and bought her a months worth of groceries. She told me that she did not know if she could ever forgive me for what I did, that I had broken her heart, that she was angry with me for the way I had treated mum. She used to look up to me and want to be like me and now her whole life feels like a lie.She was angry about the timing just before my son’s birthday, angry about the possibility that we may lose the house over this, worried about the other family members. The whole situation has caused her to lose faith in marriage, question everything, put her barriers up & become very bitter. It hurt her more than when her biological mum died (my first wife).
I read it again later. The sadness is intense. It’s deeply painful to look at the effects of my behaviour. I felt proud of the way she expressed herself with maturity and balance and could see that she is growing.
I really hope they don’t lose the house over this. It is a very real possibility.
I thought a lot about self pity and how I have gone from someone who is generally self motivated to someone who is barely existing at the moment.
Self pity robs us of our energy, vitality and will power. It causes us to be running on empty. I have lost my drive, my energy. I need to find a way back and get out of this rut.
I listened to something last night that suggested one way to combat self pity is to do something for someone else. It makes sense. I know that life is about what you bring to the table and not about what you can grab from the table. I pray that my eyes are open to opportunities of service.
I need God. Only he can restore me to sanity. I have been acting out of futility trying to be the God of my own life. I cannot use my willpower to even stop diarrhoea if I have it. I don’t have the power to handle this situation. I tried to handle it myself and it didn’t land me in a very pretty place.
A TV needs an external power source. Doesn’t matter how great the TV is it needs a power outside of itself to function the way it was designed to operate. I need a power outside of myself for the same reason. I have to accept that.
There is always going to be an insanity button inside my head that says “I can do it this one time successfully and without consequences” … I have no effective mental defence against this. It’s how this story started in 2009 / 2010. I can do this and get away with it was in my mind. I remember thinking that thought.
I know that I need this power, this presence of God to restore me to sanity.
It’s about keeping things in today.
Today I am not going to prison.
My belief in God needs to be one that impacts my lifestyle again. Faith without deeds is dead. I want this. I am certain I want to walk with God. I am not so certain about the religious system I have been in. I know that today I have an opportunity to live it. To read, to pray, to look for opportunities to love and serve others.
I want to try. I only want to focus on today and that seems like an adventure at the moment. It may change as the day unfolds. Things generally don’t go smoothly when you are homeless and everything seems to take forever. There may be some benefit to life slowing down though.
Reflections two years on
Two years ago I was just beginning to face and feel the consequences of what I had done, the hurt I had caused, the betrayal, the cruelty, the emotional and actual carnage I had created through my trail of selfishness, manipulation, dishonesty and chaos. I had a small glimmer of hope and though I could barely speak to God I was aware of his presence and his intervention in my life.
Opposing God is futile, asserting myself as the God of my own life and living with complete autonomy actually doesn’t work out too well.
God is gracious. Judgement is not immediate. In my case I can trace this chaos back to resentments that were left unchecked and bad decisions made over a six year period. God in his grace and wisdom saw what I needed to get out of this pit and how hard I would need to fall.
He also saw that within that process what my family needed to grow and mature spiritually. Who knows the impact of what this dark period in my life will have in the future and how it may produce growth and opportunity for seeds to be planted. God has a way of taking all of human brokenness, darkness and mess and bringing something amazing from it.
The point of Psalm 2 is that it is futile to oppose God and that Jesus is Lord.