God's Chosen King

Guided by a Sovereign God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:52
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Psalm 2
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the actions and plans of ungodly world leaders? Do you ever feel afraid, frustrated, or pressured by the policies they implement, especially those which undermine biblical, godly values? If so, then this psalm is for you.

Psalms 1-2 introduce to the entire collection of Psalms.

They contrast people who follow God with those who don't. Psa 1 portrays following God as following his instruction; Psa 2 as following his king. The first encourages commitment to God’s guidance while the second encourages submission to his reign.
These poems share some fascinating details together as a pair of psalms:
Psa 1 says that a godly person murmurs to himself about God’s Word, but Psa 2 says that ungodly people murmur to each other against God. (Meditate in Psa 1:2 and plot in Psa 2:1 are the same word.) This contrast reveals that godly people focus on doing what God says, but ungodly people focus on undoing what God says.
Psa 1 begins with a promise of blessing to those who follow God, and Psa 2 ends with a promise of God’s blessing to those who trust in him.
Psa 1 says that the way of the way of the ungodly will be lost (or destroyed, Psa 1:6) and Psa 2 says that the ungodly will be lost (or be destroyed) in the way (Psa 2:12).
From an artistic standpoint, these psalms paint contrasting pictures for our imagination to savor. The first paints a rustic outdoor scene of trees, rivers, and a farmyard at harvest. The second paints a royal indoor scene of dignitaries, courtiers, and a throne room – even heaven. Yet both send a similar message, that those who follow God will be blessed and those who refuse to follow God will ruined.

This psalm appears in four distinct parts.

Part 1 – How ungodly people respond to God’s king (Psa 2:1-3)
Part 2 – How God responds to their plans (Psa 2:4-6)
Part 3 – What God promised to his king (Psa 2:7-9)
Part 4 – How ungodly people should respond to God’s king (Psa 2:10-12)
Let’s take a closer look at each of these parts to discover how this psalm should influence our lives today.

Ungodly people despise God’s authority. (Psa 2:1-3)

Why are the nations restless,
and the peoples muttering delusions?
Many psalms give key facts at the beginning, like who wrote the psalm, why they wrote it, and how to perform it from a musical standpoint. This psalm gives us no such information. It just begins. That’s why we can’t say wrote it or why it was written.
Still, we can see the general scenario it describes. World leaders were forming an alliance to overthrow the king that God had placed in Jerusalem.
Nations and peoples refer to the ethnic groups and kingdoms who surrounded the nation Israel and frequently fought against her. Restless describes a state of agitation, like waves on a stormy sea, and delusions describes wishful thinking and useless strategies.
This is a rhetorical question. The person who wrote this poem was amazed that people actually thought they could overthrow God’s authority and plans.
Kings of the earth are taking a stand,
and rulers are consolidating together –
against Yahweh and against his anointed one.
Here the poem adjusts its lens from a wide view of large people groups to a focused, close-up view of their political leaders. It portrays their leaders as doing the opposite of their intended purpose. Though God intends for political leaders to carry out his plans for the world, these leaders try to achieve their godless plans instead.
Take a stand describes a pushing back against God much like the defensive linemen on a football team push back against plays when the opposing team runs an offensive scheme. Consolidating together describes an alliance for the purpose of forming a more effective military campaign. These nations believed that by pulling together they would be able to overthrow God’s authority and govern independently of him.
The poem inserts a third line here to show the close connection between God (Yahweh) and the king he had chosen to govern Israel. It is important to read this as a reference to the entire Davidic dynasty, to King David whom God had anointed as king over Israel and to the subsequent kings who descend from him. So “the king” or “the anointed” refers to not to one king in particular but to the long line of kings in Jerusalem from David forward.
“Let us rip off their ropes!
Let us throw away their cords!”
These statements do not mean these people and rulers were actually tied up or imprisoned but that they viewed being ruled by God’s king and kingdom as being imprisoned and restrictive. By coming together, they hoped to govern autonomously – free from God’s authority over them. What does God think about this?

God disregards people who reject his authority. (Psa 2:4-6)

He who sits in the heavens laughs –
the Lord ridicules them.
This line introduces the second section of this psalm. In contrast to the world leaders who plant themselves against God, we see God himself even more resolute than they are. They stand but he sits. This word means that God sits on this throne unphased.
Notice another contrast between God and ungodly rulers. They are “of the earth” but he is “in the heavens,” which further underscores his superior and sovereign position. They each rule a small portion of Earth while he rules over everything on the earth and beyond.
In yet another contrast, while ungodly people mutter restless, senseless plans, God laughs and jeers, not because they entertain him but because they amaze him. “Hah! Is this for real? Do these people actually think they can overthrow me?”
God’s amazement resembles what the giant, Goliath (from one of Israel’s nearby enemy nations), said when young David came to fight him with a slingshot. “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” Only here, the giant is God and he laughs not at a single world ruler but a full alliance of rulers and the nations of the world.
Here the poem uses the word for lord or master to describe God rather than using his personal name, Yahweh. This title affirms God as the King over kings and Lord over lords.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and in his burning anger he will terrify them:
Here the poem shifts from what God says to himself to what he says to ungodly people. He will speak to them in a way that terrifies them. What will make his words so terrifying is that he will speak them with burning, hot anger.
“I myself have installed my king
on Zion my holy mountain!”
This is what God will say in his wrath. “I myself” emphasizes his self-sufficiency. When God acts against the powerful nations of the world and their people, he doesn’t need to form an alliance. He acts from his own sovereign ability and right to do so.
Despite all the plans that the kings and nations of the world can muster, God will install his king in Jerusalem just as he promised. This moment is going to occur and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. No alliance can overthrow his king and authority.

God guarantees worldwide domination for his king. (Psa 2:7-9)

I will declare the decree,
[which] Yahweh spoke to me,
This line introduces the third section of this poem. In the first section, the writer expressed amazement that people and rulers resist God’s authority over them. In the second section, he showed that God expressed similar amazement. Now the writer shares something that God promised to him.
This section of the poem repeats things God said to King David. It recalls promises God gave to King David, but not only to him. These words reflect a perpetual promise to all David’s descendants who would reign after him and and they read like something to be read at a coronation ceremony. So, we see that this poem envisions the stately coronation ceremony of a king in the throne room of Jerusalem while foreign kings met elsewhere to plot a frantic overthrow to his reign.
“You are my son;
I myself this day have begotten you.
Begotten was a Hebrew way of describing what happened when a new Davidic king was coronated. Though this language sounds unusual to us today, it echoes what God had promised to King David and his descendants. “I will be his father and he, and he shall be my son” (2 Sam 7:14). This promise guaranteed a close relationship between Yahweh and whichever Davidic king was reigning in Jerusalem. To rebel against the king of Israel would be to rebel against God. This is a major endorsement for sure.
Ask me and I will give the nations as your inheritance,
and as your possession, the ends of the earth.
The first line of this section establishes David (and his descendant’s) divine right to reign, now the second line establishes the rightful extent of his reign.
Inheritance and possession refer to the property, real estate, or realm over which the Davidic king would rule. Nations ties back to the first line of this poem showing how the nations who plot against God would be ruled by the Davidic king. “The ends of the earth” expands this concept to the nations throughout the entire world. All nations will be ruled by the Davidic king, not just the nations surrounding Israel.
You will smash them with a scepter of iron;
as a potter’s jar you will dash them into pieces.”
To “smash” with a “scepter or iron” describes total domination. This worldwide kingdom will not occur through compromise or diplomacy but total compliance and submission.
The imagery of smashing a potter’s jar may use an Egyptian custom as an illustration. A pharaoh would place in the temple a series of clay jars, each with the name of a city from his kingdom inscribed on it. If a city rebelled, he would smash that clay jar to foreshadow their coming punishment at his hand. To rebel against Yahweh and his king would bring about certain destruction to any nation or ruler. So, what should ungodly people do?

Ungodly people should submit to God’s authority. (Psa 2:10-12)

So now, oh kings, be wise –
be warned oh judges of the earth.
In this final section, the writer speaks directly to ungodly people and especially their political leaders. “To be wise” contrasts with their delusional plans in the opening lines. “To be warned” describes how a father instructs his child about good behavior and warns him about consequences for bad behavior. The irony here is that the poem speaks to those people who seem to be wise and powerful in this world as though they are ignorant children being taught a basic lesson of life.
Serve Yahweh with fear,
and jump with trembling.
What should be their response to God’s ringing endorsement of the Davidic king? They should serve him, which means to turn away from worshiping their own false gods to worshiping Yahweh instead.
They should also “jump with trembling.” This is a challenging phrase to translate but likely resembles what you would do if someone unexpectedly smashed a clay pot behind you and grabbed your attention with a shocking announcement.
Kiss the Son lest he become angry,
and you get lost in the way.
“Kiss the Son” was an ancient phrase which meant for a conquered king to promise loyalty to a king who had conquered him and to submit completely to his authority.
If any person or world ruler refuses to submit to God’s king, then he or she will “get lost in the way.” This line echoes the final line of Psa 1 which says “the way of the ungodly will be lost.” When we refuse to follow God’s instruction and to submit to his king, then we go nowhere fast. We end in destruction rather than success.
Indeed, his burning anger is kindled by a little;
blessed are all who trust in him.
This final couplet underscores the urgency of the matter. No person or political leader knows how much time they have to make up their mind. Though God is longsuffering, it doesn’t take much to change things. One act of resistance is enough to turn his anger against them once and for all.
The final line of this couplet is perhaps most fascinating because it connects Yahweh and his chosen king closely together. Who is him? Here it is “the Son” who is God’s Davidic king. To serve Yahweh equals submitting to his chosen king. So, to trust in his king is to trust in him and vis versa.
This crucial fact reminds us of what Christ said about himself during his earthly ministry:
“I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).
“You believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).
In fact, Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of all that this poem guarantees. Though God chose David as king over his people, neither David nor any of his descendants fully realized all that God had guaranteed. No Davidic king has yet triumphed over all the nations that surround Israel, and no Davidic king has reigned over the entire world. So, while this prophecy applies equally but imperfectly to every Davidic king, it is only and ultimately fulfilled by Jesus Christ who is indeed both God and a true descendant of David.
In fact, this poem is one of the most-quoted psalms in the NT, from the earthly teaching ministry of Christ himself, to Acts, to the epistles, to Revelation, and these many quotations always reveal that Christ is the ultimate Davidic king who fulfills this promise.
While we won’t explore now the many times the NT mentions this psalm, we’ll simply observe that though this psalm explains God’s eternal and universal endorsement and support for the Davidic line of kings in Israel – from David onward, only Christ fulfills this promise as the perfect, ultimate king in David’s line.
Heb 1:5, for instance, makes clear that this psalm speaks about Christ: “For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’? And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son’?” This NT quotation pairs 2 Sam 7:14 and Psa 2 together, showing that Christ will fulfill God’s promise of an endless, universal reign given to the Davidic dynasty.
And Rev 19:15 says, “Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” Christ has affirmed himself as the triumphant king through his resurrection from the dead but will establish himself as the ruling triumphant king when he returns from heaven once again to overthrow the godless nations and reign from Jerusalem as promised.

Have you submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ?

When we see how committed God is to rule the world through Christ, there is only one proper response for any person – whether you are political leader or not. Allen Ross concludes, “It is wise to submit to the authority of the Messiah because God has decreed that he will put down all rebellion and rule the world.” Do you agree?
There are two types of people in this world, those who have submitted to God’s king and those who have not. Are you being guided by a sovereign God? Have you submitted to Christ as your Savior and King?
If no, then you need to turn away from whatever else you are worshiping or relying upon and trust in Christ alone as your God, your King, and your Savior. Worship him now before you experience the burning heat of his anger.
If yes, then you should receive great comfort from this psalm. The kings of Israel, David and his sons, probably wondered at times whether they would be overthrown by foreign enemies and whether their kingdom would fall.
Even today it seems as though God’s plans have been thwarted and we who follow Christ are on the losing side. Confess your anxieties, doubts, and worries to God no matter what ungodly actions or policies are being plotted or enacted by government officials on any level. If you have submitted to Christ as your Savior and King, then you have nothing to fear. God is on his throne. He reigns and his plans will not be thwarted.
The way this psalm portrays the rulers of this world reminds me of Hans Christian Andersen’s Keiserens Nye Klær (KAY-ser-ENS nya KLAr), a Norwegian fable called “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” In this tale, two swindlers claim to be sewing a new set of clothes for a king who thinks highly of himself. They tell him that only people who worthy of his greatness will be able to see the clothes, so he called for a pastor (or minister) and a trusted government official to preview his outfit before wearing it in a parade. Both feared demotion so they praised the king for his new attire though we wore nothing at all. Only when the king marched in the parade and the entire town gasped in amazement did he realize that he’d been exposed.
Like this foolish king, the rulers of this world behave as though they’re powerful and important, but they’re not what they claim to be. Their actions, plans, and policies are not as frightening as they may seem to be because they’re on the wrong side of history. Those who follow God will be blessed and those who refuse to follow God will ruined.
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