Monday, September 17, 2018
Psalm 2 Four Voices
Psalm 2 Four Voices
1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3 "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us."
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill."
7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Poet Robert Browning wrote, "God's in his heaven‑‑all's right with the world." Where in the world was he? As we look at reality, we have to question Browning. God is in heaven, but all is not right with the world!
Since the beginning of time, the world has known strife. The history of man is essentially the history of war. One of the earliest of all historical records, a Sumerian bas‑relief from Babylon (ca. 3000 B.C.), shows soldiers fighting in close order, wearing helmets and carrying shields (James Boice, The Last and Future World [Zondervan], p. 98). There have been almost non-stop wars ever since.
In our century, World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. About 20 million people were killed. Soon after the world was locked into World War II, which claimed 60 million lives. The December 25, 1967, U. S. News & World Report wrote, "Since World War II [there have been] at least 12 limited wars in the world, 39 political assassinations, 48 personal revolts, 74 rebellions for independence, 162 social revolutions, either political, economical, racial, or religious" (the figures and quote are from Boice, p. 99).
Obviously these figures would have to be revised upward significantly in the 25+ years since then. We've seen war between Russia and Afghanistan, China and Vietnam, Vietnam and Cambodia, Iraq and Iran, Iraq and Kuwait, and the current war in Bosnia. There have been and still are numerous regional conflicts and violence: Northern Ireland, South Africa, Lebanon, Israel, Azerbaijan, India, Panama, Peru, Colombia, etc. Our own country faces continued racial tensions, a rising crime rate, gang wars, random violence, and increasing moral degeneracy. Instead of agreeing with Browning that "all is right with the world," we would probably be more inclined to side with the guy who wrote this limerick:
God's plan made a hopeful beginning,
But man spoiled his chances by sinning,
We trust that the story
Will end in God's glory,
But at present the other side's winning. (Boice, pp. 124‑125.)
Is the world out of control? How should we view the present world chaos? Should we sink into depression and despair? Should we ignore the world and its news, ostrich‑style? Psalm 2 gives us an answer. In it, the author, King David (see Acts 4:25), views the rebellion of the nations against God. He looks at the chaos of the world scene in his day and says that
Though the nations have rebelled against God, He is sovereign; thus, we must submit to Him while there is time.
Even though the world scene looks as if God has been on an extended vacation, David shows us that God's plans have not failed and shall not fail. Everything is under His sovereign control and He will ultimately triumph in His ordained time. Thus David appeals to the rebellious nations to bow before the Almighty God while they still have time.
Structure and background of the Psalm:
Psalm 2 is the most frequently quoted psalm in the New Testament. It fits together in an interesting way with Psalm 1 to introduce the Book of Psalms. Psalm 1 begins with, "How blessed"; Psalm 2 ends with the same word (in Hebrew). Psalm 1 ends with a threat; Psalm 2 begins with a threat. In Psalm 1, the godly man meditates on God's law; in Psalm 2, the wicked meditates (NASB = "devising," NIV = "plot"; same Hebrew word) on how to cast off the rule of God. In Psalm 1 the theme is the contrast between the righteous and the wicked person; in Psalm 2 the theme is the contrast between the rebellion of wicked rulers and nations and the rule of God's righteous Messiah. Psalm 1 consists of two stanzas and six verses. Psalm 2 is twice as long, consisting of four stanzas and 12 verses.
The Psalm is structured as a dramatic presentation in four acts. In Act One (2:1‑3), David raises the question about the chaos in the world, and the kings and rulers come forth in a chorus to say their lines (2:3). In Act Two (2:4‑6), God calmly sits upon His throne in heaven and speaks His line against the rulers (2:6). In Act Three (2:7‑9), God's Anointed One speaks and reveals God's decree or predetermined plan for dealing with man's rebellion. In Act Four (2:10‑12), the psalmist speaks out again, giving a closing appeal in light of the previous acts.
The psalm goes far beyond David's experience. It is ultimately fulfilled only in God's Anointed (Hebrew, "Messiah"), God's Son who is also David's son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David wrote this psalm not only about himself, but in a deeper and much more complete way, about Messiah Jesus.
Psalms 1 and 2 serve as the preface to the psalter. These twin songs began and end with the theme of blessedness (1:1; 2:12). Kidner helpfully points out, "the private world of the first Psalm opens out into the public world of the second; the personal is followed by the cosmic…one is domestic and the other international" (p. 23). Further, what we see is that the blessed Man of Psalm 1 becomes and is the Messiah-King of Psalm 2. The blessed righteous of Psalm 1 are the blessed humble who trust this King in Psalm 2. The wicked scoffers in Psalm 1 are the foolish rebels in Psalm 2. It is possible that Psalm 1 and 2 were incorporated into 1 Psalm.
This Psalm finds its climatic fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ. Note surprisingly it is one of the most often quoted Psalms in the New Testament. William Van Gemeren notes the significance the 1st center church attached to this psalm. "The second psalm is one of the psalms most quoted in the NT. It was favored by the apostles as scriptural confirmation of Jesus' messianic office and his expected glorious return with power and authority. The writers of the synoptic Gospels alluded to Psalm 2 in their account of Jesus' baptism, when the Father proclaimed him to be his son (v.7; cf. Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).
The first-century church applied the second psalm to the Messiah as an explanation of the crucifixion of Christ by the rulers (Herod and Pontius Pilate), the nations, and Israel (the priests, scribes, and Pharisees). They had conspired together against the Messiah of
God (Acts 4:25-28). Paul applied it to Jesus' ministry: his sonship, resurrection, and ascension to glory, which confirmed God's promises in Jesus as the Messiah (Acts 13:32-33).
Psalm 2:8 is similarly applied in Hebrews, where the glory of the Messiah as "the exact representation of his [God's] being" is revealed in Jesus' suffering for sins, in his authority "at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven" (1:3), and in his authority over angelic beings (1:5-6). The apostle John reveals the greatness of the Messiah's victory. He was born of a woman but is destined to "rule all the nations with an iron scepter" (Rev 12:5). He is the
Rider on the white horse who will "strike down the nations" in the day of God's wrath (Rev 19:15; cf. 11:16-18).
1. Resist The Stupid Cry of Rebellion
Thus just as these kings rebelled against King David, so all men have rebelled against King Jesus. The Bible teaches that:
A. Satan is the author of this rebellion.
Isaiah 14:12‑14 describes the rebellion of Satan in heaven against God. When he fell, he led a portion of the angels with him. Under his authority, these demons now wage war against God and the righteous angels. The world was created as the theatre for this great conflict to take place. Man was created in the image of God and placed on earth to reflect God's image and rule as His representatives over His creation. But the Scriptures also teach that ...
B. All people have followed Satan in his rebellion against God.
When Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan's temptation and disobeyed God, the human race fell into sin and thus came under God's judgment. This rebellion took on an organized form at the tower of Babel, when proud men came together and proposed to build a tower into heaven to make a name for themselves (Gen. 11:4). The Lord confused their languages and scattered them, which was the beginning of the nations. The pride of those at Babel, who sought to make a name for themselves, was diluted by being divided among the various nations of the earth. But Satan works through the pride of world rulers to weaken the nations through conflict and keep them from submitting to God (Isa. 14:12). As biblical prophecy shows, in the end times, the nations will come together under a single world ruler in defiance of the Lord and His Anointed. Satan is the main force behind this world ruler, the antichrist.
But even in His curse upon the serpent, God pointed to the way of redemption that He had planned for fallen man: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He [the woman's seed] shall bruise you [the serpent] on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel" (Gen. 3:15). Messiah Jesus, born of a woman, would be bruised on the heel by Satan in death as the sin‑ bearer for the fallen race, but He would bruise Satan upon the head in His triumphant victory over sin and death in His resurrection from the grave. By bringing people from every nation under the lordship of God's Anointed, Jesus, the rebellion of Satan is thwarted.
Thus in His eternal decree, the Father invites the Son, "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession" (Ps. 2:8). Either through their willing submission to the message of the gospel now or through their forced subjection under the rod of the Messiah when He comes to judge the nations, their rebellion will be quelled.
Meanwhile, where is God in all this rebellion? Did He go to sleep? Has He lost control? No, the psalmist goes on to show that even though the nations have rebelled against God ...
2. Receive The Sovereign's Challenge of Reproof (2:4‑9).
God doesn't even get up from His throne to deal with the vain schemes of rebellious kings: "He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them" (2:4). This doesn't mean that God gets a kick out of man's rebellion or its devastating results. "'As I live!' declares the Lord God, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live'" (Ezek. 33:11). Rather, God's laughter shows the folly of rebelling against Him. It shows us that ...
A. God has a calm assurance in the face of man's rebellion (2:4‑6).
Mighty men rise up and proudly think that they're so great and powerful. God laughs: "You've got to be kidding!" Who is puny man to try to stand against the Sovereign God? "He removes kings and establishes kings" (Dan. 2:21) according to His will. The mighty Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest ruler on the earth in his day, grew proud and attributed his greatness to himself. God humbled him with a strange disease, so that he lived in the fields and ate grass like a beast, until he learned that "the Most High is the ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes" (Dan. 4:25).
Napoleon Bonaparte, when intoxicated with success at the height of his power, is reported to have said, "I make circumstances." God laughs: "Oh, really?" God let him go on for a while, and then He spoke to him in His anger and terrified him in His fury (Ps. 2:5), and Napoleon came to nothing.
Did you know that God is not worried about man's rebellion against Him? He isn't sitting on the edge of heaven, biting His nails, and saying, "Oh, what am I going to do?" He lets man go on for a while in his rebellion, but then His anger and judgment will come, and man's proud plans will come to nothing. The psalmist thus goes on to show that ...
3. Recognise the Son's Claim Of Redemption
God has a predetermined plan to deal with man's rebellion (2:7‑9).
This plan centers on the person and the power of God's Messiah, His Anointed one.
*The person of Messiah (2:7): Verse seven obviously goes beyond David to Christ. The verse is quoted several times in the New Testament with reference to Jesus (Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). It plunges us into some deep theological waters that we can never fathom. We can never fully understand the Trinity and the nature of the relationship between the members of the godhead. If we could, God would not be God. We can only go as far as the Scriptures reveal, and no farther.
While probably somewhat anthropomorphic (using human terms to describe God) so that we can understand it to some degree, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity is expressed as that of Father and Son. This does not imply any inequality, or that there was a point in time in which Jesus was begotten of the Father (in which case He would not be eternal). The scriptures teach, and orthodox theologians for centuries have agreed, that Jesus is eternally the unique Son of God, second person of the Trinity.
The Athanasian Creed puts it: "The Son is from the Father alone; neither made, nor created, but begotten ... generated from eternity from the substance of the Father." The Nicene Creed expresses it: "The only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Lights, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father" (quoted in Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology [Dallas Seminary Press], I:316).
When Psalm 2:7 says, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You," there are two possible interpretations. Either it refers to the day of the eternal decree, when Christ was declared to be the Son of God and begotten (John Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord [Moody Press], p. 41). Since the decree is eternal, Christ's Sonship is eternal. Or, "this day" refers to the time when Christ's identity was manifested, when the Father bore witness to Christ as being His own Son, which was primarily through the resurrection (Rom. 1:4; this is Calvin's view, Calvin's Commentaries [Associated Publishers & Authors], 2:129-130). But both views hold that Christ is eternally the Son of God.
God's predetermined plan for dealing with man's rebellion involves the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, whom God sent into the world to pay the penalty for man's rebellion (John 3:16; Gal. 4:4). He died according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God at the hands of godless men (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). But God raised Him from the dead and He ascended to heaven, where He is now waiting to return with power. That's the second part of God's plan:
*The power of Messiah (2:8‑9): Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, will return bodily to this earth in power and glory to crush all opposition and to reign in righteousness from David's throne. John describes his vision of the Lord Jesus in that great day in Revelation 19:15‑16: "And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.'" At the end of Christ's 1,000 year reign, Satan and all who followed him will be thrown into the lake of fire where they will be tormented forever and ever (Rev. 20:10-15).
That is God's plan for dealing with rebellious man and with Satan and His forces. His plan involves the Second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, who is going to return to this earth in power to put down all rebellion and to rule in righteousness. How should we respond to this fact?
But whether it were man or angel who plied the steel, without doubt the doer of the deed was the minister of the will of God. It is related that when Julian had received the wound, he filled his hand with blood, flung it into the air and cried, "Thou hast won, O Galilean." Thus he gave utterance at once to a confession of the victory and to a blasphemy. So infatuated was he.