Father, all the powers of this world have joined forces against you and your Son, and I must choose whom I will serve. Their power is impressive, and they care nothing for you. No, that’s not it; they care enough to march away from you and drag the whole world with them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s our education, entertainment, or economics, we’re all being carried along and away from you. And our elected representatives simply mirror the corruption that is in our own hearts. We are powerless to resist.
But you’re laughing! They can’t touch you. They can’t even interfere with your plans. They take themselves so seriously; they are so proud of themselves! Yet for all of their speeches and advertisements, their monuments and moments of unbridled self-promotion, they have only succeeded in arousing your wrath and making themselves the fit recipients of your judgment. O God, help me to see them as you do! Not as the gatekeepers of a prosperous life, but as arrogant squatters or petty usurpers or impotent vandals of your domain. They are the enemies of the true King, Jesus Christ.
The true King. My King. By his death and resurrection, you crowned him the King, and you brought me into your kingdom. Now, give me boldness to live as his disciple in a world that does not yet acknowledge his reign. By faith, I know that one day they will. And one day, I will sit with Christ in his throne, having overcome their threats by faith.
As the first Psalm forced us to choose between two paths, the second Psalm forces us to choose between two powers. And like the first, the second Psalm also promises a blessing for those making the correct choice. (Compare 1:1 with 2:12) It begins by pitting the two powers against each other – the nations and their rulers on one side, God and his chosen ruler on the other. Only one side can truly rule, and the nations conspire together fervently to uphold their perceived independence. They will bow to no one but themselves.
How fitting a description of a world opposed to God! The nations happily bestow wealth and honor on those men and women they deem most worthy, but for God they reserve very few words. They may invoke him when disaster strikes, but when they make and execute their plans for success and prosperity, he gets in the way. So they ignore him. Or worse, they persecute any who keep talking about him. Despite all their religious and cultural boundaries, the nations of this world agree on one thing: humankind is its own best source for securing peace and happiness, whether in eternal bliss or earthly well-being.
The Psalmist recognizes all of this and shows how it would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. The sight of creatures attempting to live independently from their Creator is the definition of absurdity, but subjects living independently of their Sovereign is the height of rebellion. The question is not whether they can escape the rule of God’s anointed King or not, but whether they will bow before him or be broken by him.
With such confidence, the early Christians found strength in this Psalm when first threatened with persecution for preaching in Jesus’ name. (Acts 4:23-30) By calling Jesus “the Christ,” they were identifying him with God’s anointed Son-King and Israel’s long-awaited Savior.1 Obviously, this ran counter both to Israel’s official public policy, which had so recently crucified the teacher from Nazareth, and to Rome’s virtual deification of her own Caesar. Conflict was inevitable, which was why the Church found their hope in Jesus’ resurrection.
His resurrection, not his birth, was the act of God they saw proving his true identity. When the Psalmist said that God had “begotten” him, he was not speaking of his physical birth of his coronation. (Psalm 2:6-7) The Apostles were quick to see Jesus’ resurrection as fulfilling that announcement; because he had conquered death, Jesus could sit upon the throne forever, as God had promised one of David’s descendants would do. (2 Samuel 7:13) And so the resurrection established Jesus as the “Son of God,” a title that stressed both his divinity and his majesty. When the Church proclaimed the Gospel, they included the resurrection, for they presented not only a dying Savior but an exalted King. (Romans 1:4)
With an undying, unconquerable King, there was nothing they couldn’t do and nowhere they couldn’t go to proclaim the kingdom of God in Jesus’ name. They offered salvation by God’s grace for all who would repent of their sins and place their trust in Christ. And they did so, knowing that even if Christ’s commission cost them their life, they would share in the inheritance of nations, to rule and reign with the King in his Kingdom. (Revelation 3:26-27)
So may the church of today rest in the Psalm’s closing words: “Blessed are all those who put their trust in him.” There is a war, but its outcome is certain. The question is whether we will be found a servant of the King when he comes in victory.
1 The Anglicized “Messiah” and “Christ” are the rough Hebrew and Greek equivalents (respectively) of the English “anointed one.”