Summary: "The Psalm of the King" is an exposition of Psalm 2, a Royal Psalm that declares Jesus reigns over heaven and earth. Psalm 2 declares the unimpeachable authority of Jesus Christ in four movements.
THE PSALM OF THE KING
Psalm 2 is closely connected to Psalm 1. Both Jewish and Christian traditions indicate they were once considered one psalm. The two are separate psalms in our Bibles. Yet they stand together as the introduction to the Psalms. In a real sense, these two psalms seem out of place. Psalm 1 would fit better in the wisdom literature of Proverbs. Psalm 2 would fit better in the messianic passages of the prophets. But here they are as a passageway into the psalms. They remind us that the psalms are not merely ancient Hebrew poetry. The Book of Psalms is more than the hymnbook of the Jews. It is God-breathed scripture that finds its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 1 contrasts the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked and bids us to choose which way we will live. Psalm 2 warns there are consequences to the choice we make. Psalm 1 affirms the Lord’s authority over INDIVIDUALS. Psalm 2 affirms the Lord’s authority over NATIONS. Both realities are essential to our confidence in God. It is difficult to trust that God has control of the events of your life if you do not trust that God has control of the unfolding and outworking of history. But it is easy to trust that God has your life in his hands if you trust that God has the world in his hands. This is the message of Psalm 2. It was assurance that no one can stand against God’s chosen kings and God’s chosen people. It is also assurance for the church today. Psalm 2 is classified as a royal psalm, meaning it speaks beyond its historical context and points to the Messiah-King, the Lord Jesus Christ. All who trust in Christ can be comforted by the fact that Jesus reigns. It may not seem that way as you look at the world around you. But it is still true. Jesus reigns.
On D-Day – June 6, 1944 – the Allied forces invaded Normandy, ensuring victory in World War II. Yet the war continued until V-Day – May 7, 1945 – when the peace treaty was signed. Sadly, more people were killed between D-Day and V-Day than any other period of the war. Likewise, we live between the inauguration of the kingdom in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and its consummation when he returns. In this present-but-not-yet-kingdom, it often seems the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus has not really changed anything. But no matter how things may seem, Jesus reigns over heaven and earth. Psalm 2 declares the unimpeachable authority of Jesus in four movements.
I. THE REBELLION OF SIN
We do not know the author or occasion of this psalm. It is like walking into the movie in the middle of the drama. Verse 1 asks, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” This rhetorical question speaks of a multinational or international movement. The nature of this movement is described two ways. THE NATIONS RAGE. People of various races, nationalities, and ethnicities assemble together tumultuously, like an angry mob ready to riot. But this mob scene is no emotional reaction or fit of passion. Verse 1 also says THE PEOPLES PLOT IN VAIN. The coming together of the nations is the result of a strategy plan. The Hebrew word for “plot” is used in Psalm 1:2, where it is translated “meditates.” Note the contrast. The godly meditates on God’s law, but the ungodly plot in vain. The word “vain” refers to that which is empty, futile, and worthless. So the psalmist rightly asks, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?”
Verses 2-3 give the answer: “The kings of the earth set themselves together, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” Verse 1 suggests that this worldwide conspiracy is a grassroots movement. But verse 2 tells us that this conspiracy actually reaches the highest offices of authority: “The kings of the earth set themselves together.” This is military terminology that speaks of taking a position in preparation for war. It is difficult for world leaders to agree on anything, least of which the decision to go to war. But the psalmist describes a global coalition of world leaders that has unanimously agreed to go to war. What enemy could be so threatening that a worldwide coalition would declare war? Verse 2 says, “The kings of the earth set themselves together, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed.”
This global conspiracy is against the Lord God. But this opposition is not against the mere notion of God. The people and rulers of the world have no problem with a generic, ambiguous, non-distinct God – a glorified “Mr. Potato-Head” that can be designed at our discretion. The problem is with YAHWEH, the self-existent, self-sufficient, self-revealing God whose perfection, purpose, and power are represented on earth by his “Anointed.” The Hebrew word translated “anointed” is the Old Testament word for the Messiah. Its New Testament counterpart is Greek word translated “Christ.” In The Old Testament, the Lord anointed prophets, priests, and kings to consecrate, authorize, and empower them for service. In Psalm 2, the “anointed” is a king. In the psalmist’s mind, it may have been a Davidic king of Israel. However, the New Testament writers understood it to speak of Jesus Christ, our all-sufficient Prophet, Priest, and King. The worldwide conspiracy is against the Lord God and the Messiah-King, Jesus Christ.