Psalm 2 Why Do the Nations Rage Against God?

January 15, 2017

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. Psalm 2 (ESV)

This morning as we go back through the passage I would like to divide up our study this way:

First in verses 1- 3 we will see ‘the Question’, in 4-8 we have ‘the Reaction’, in 7-9 ‘the Proclamation’, and then finally in verses 9-12, we have ‘the Conclusion.’ In terms of Psalm 2 serving as part of the introduction for the book of Psalms, we see that in the Psalm 1, we have the individual–in the second psalm we move to the corporate.


Introduction to a Messianic Psalm

What we have presented to us, in Psalm 2 this morning, is the genre called a Messianic Psalm. You will recall from last week’s teaching that a genre is a specific form of artistic expression. When we say ‘Messianic psalm’ we mean a Psalm that prophesies about Jesus as the messiah. One of the things that is interesting about the Messianic Psalm is that the writer, probably David according to Acts Ch. 4, is speaking through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit but may be speaking of things that he didn’t fully understand. The Jews of his time likewise would not have fully understood what he was talking about. It is not unusual for these Messianic Psalms to have two different objects–both the earthly king as well as the heavenly one.

[learn_more caption=”What is a Messianic Psalm?”] Some Psalms are classified as “Messianic” because their burden is the suffering and victory of the Messiah, who in Greek is called Christ. These Psalms are quoted in the New Testament when teaching the gospel of Christ.[/learn_more]

This is the case today. The Psalm talks about their earthly king when it speaks about ‘God’s anointed’ and when it speaks about ‘setting him up on Zion’s holy hill.’ These are phrases that can apply both to David and to Christ. In the 24th chapter of Luke, Christ gives some indication of perhaps how unaware the Jews were, even during his time on earth, regarding what the Old Testament said about Christ.

After his resurrection, he met some men on the road to Emmaus, and these men were kind of dull of understanding. They didn’t realize, first of all, that they were talking to Christ nor did they understand what the scriptures said about Christ. Finally in an attempt to set them straight, Christ says this to them:

 “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27

It was typical for the psalmist to speak in terms that the people would understand, like he did last week with analogies like ‘the tree planted by rivers of water’ and’ the chaff which the wind would drive away’. However, it is equally true that much of what was said about the Messiah, some 1000 years before his advent, would have been at the very least vague and unfamiliar to David’s audience.

Today, we have the benefit of the New Testament writings as well as the Old Testament. We can easily put the elements together to form the whole picture. But for David and his audience at the time, the picture was just forming in their minds. So there is a sense in which this is a powerful testimony to the working of the Holy Spirit in bringing about writings which spoke of a day yet future in which the world would see… either their Savior or their judge. Psalm 2 is a warning to the kings of the earth, as well as the rest of us, to not miss what has been provided for us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Why Would the Nations Rage?

In the Psalm 1, it was typical for the psalmist to speak in terms that the people would understand, like he did last week with analogies like ‘the tree planted by rivers of water’ and’ the chaff which the question that is raised in verse one and following is “Why do the nations rage?” Why would nations rise up in solidarity with one another and rage against the one true King?

God is a merciful and gracious God.

One only has to read the historical portions of the scripture to see the truth of this. We see so many times the patience and long suffering of God before we see his wrath and his correction of the Nation of Israel. The children of Israel had a creed or statement of faith that was spoken about God over and over again in the pages of the Old Testament. They would recite, “The Lord, the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and mercy.” This was something recited by God himself to Moses and was picked up on by the Hebrews and recited by them. This creed is repeated all the way through the Psalms and this was more than just something that they would mindlessly recite. This was something that they lived out–they experienced first hand the gracious response of God toward them.

[box] We experience this as well–saint and sinner alike. We get up daily and breathe His air. We walk this earth that he has created. We eat of the harvest of the ground that he created. We drink the water that he has provided. The common grace of God is everywhere and yet almost no one in this day and age is still reciting this creed from the Old Testament about God being rich in mercy and slow to anger.[/box]

Most Americans Claim to Be Christians, Yet Hostility Towards Christ Grows

An astounding 83% of the American population claims that they believe that they will go to heaven and yet the hostility toward Christ is at an all time high in our country and around this world. The leaders of our country, as well as those who have desired to lead it, such as Mrs. Clinton, seem to be at the very front of the charge to remove the name of Christ from our collective consciousness. They not only stand against Christ–they are hostile in doing so.

There is not another name in the world that brings more of an irate response than the name of Christ. You may have experienced it yourself in family gatherings this past Christmas with those of your family who do not bow to the kingship of Christ. They will celebrate His birthday but they want to do it on their terms.

[box] People get hostile when you start talking about Jesus. As a good old Texan might say… ‘Them are fighting words!’ The nations literally do rage…. and they rage against the Lord and his anointed one. It is not necessary that there be a crusade or a march on Washington with people shouting, “Down with Jesus Christ!”…with banners made up and protests undertaken, in order to get the point across. It is apparent in the way that people react when His name is brought up.[/box]

The Christian these days is accused of being narrow and hateful and bigoted for believing that Christ is the only way to get to heaven. Yet this is what he says of himself in John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. “There could not be a more narrow statement than what he has said about himself.

Part of The Church Has Embraced the Hostility

This revolt–this raging is not just confined to those who are openly hostile to Christ–the church, in part, has embraced it too. I read with disbelief this week a story about a young muslim woman who was allowed to come into a Christian cathedral in Scotland and read from the Koran during their Epiphany service.

Muslim in cathedral reportedly recites Quran verse that Christ isn’t God’s son — and folks are upset

Rather than tell you about it let me just read a part of the article to you…

A passage from the Koran that denies one of the central tenets of the Christian faith was sung aloud at a cathedral service in Scotland. The passage from Surah 19, which specifically denies that Jesus was the Son of God and says He should not be worshipped, was sung during a Eucharist service at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow to mark the feast of the Epiphany. Read the article here.

[box] A video of the recital was posted on YouTube showing a girl singing the passage in a typical Islamic style. It narrates the Islamic account of the birth of Jesus, which includes the claim that Mary was “ashamed” after giving birth, and the infant Christ miraculously spoke from the cradle – something not found in Christian scripture. She then concludes by singing verse 35, which states in translation: “It befitteth not the Majesty of Allah that He should take unto Himself a son,” and then verse 36, which has the infant Jesus saying: “And lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. That is the right path.”[/box]

The cathedral praised the reading in a Facebook post, calling it a “wonderful event”.

You can’t make this stuff up church! This is going on right under our noses as Christians and there is a segment of the church which not only allows it but calls it “a wonderful event!” The video that was shown for this is 9 minutes long. They allowed 9 minutes of their Epiphany service, supposedly celebrating ‘the Advent of the Messiah’, to be highjacked by this Muslim spouting heresy! We are at war and we are providing bullets to the enemy to shoot us with! The people plot in vain against the Lord and against his anointed one. And sometimes, unfortunately, it is done with the blessing of the so-called Christian church.

I read another article this week about a group of religious leaders in Washington DC who met to pronounce a blessing over the grand opening of a Planned Parenthood there. They called what they did in that place ‘Sacred work’. The nature of this revolt is against God and against his Anointed One. Read article here.

What is the reason for this rebellion?

It is to break off the fetters and chains that they perceive to be upon them by the reign of Christ according to Psalm 2:3.

Peter spoke of it in the book of Acts when he actually quotes Psalm 2. The back story to what he says in the book of Acts is that Peter and John are called to answer for their teaching about Christ before the council of so called religious leaders in Jerusalem. Their bold stand for Jesus has caused quite a stir among the religious elite of that day. So after these men had been threatened and then released, the other believers in Christ, along with Peter and John, gather and pray for boldness.

This is part of their prayer:

‘When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel.’ Acts 4:23-27 (ESV)

The War Against Christ is not New

The war against Christ is not a new thing for sure. The Jews took it to the most extreme level when they actually killed Christ. The Jews made it clear that they didn’t want this king. They wanted to break the bonds and fetters off themselves where it regarded Jesus reigning over them. We don’t want this king! In fact, in the gospel accounts at the crucifixion of Christ, Pilate has a sign that he makes them hang over Christ’s head that says, “This is Jesus–the king of the Jews.”  He did this as a way of mocking Christ and making fun of him, but the Jews took issue with this sign and wanted it changed. They wanted it taken down. It points out what was in the minds and hearts of the Jews, “We don’t want him as our king. We will break the bonds and fetters off of us and we will not accept him as our king.”

[box] We have those among us today chanting, “Not our president’ and the Jews were chanting, “Not our king”, but here is the reality of the situation this morning church–He is the king! There is nothing any of us, as puny humans, can do about that. We didn’t elect him, we didn’t appoint him, we didn’t anoint Him and we can’t take him down even though the Jews and Pontius Pilate certainly tried to.[/box]

I left off reading in Acts a moment ago just before the very best verse which is verse 28. I will start reading in verse 27 again to make sense of it for you. It says again in verse 27.

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel….to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. Acts 4:27-28 (ESV)

It would be a fearful thing to be useful to God in this fashion wouldn’t it? I would much rather work for God in a way that is obedient to him in advancing his kingdom than to work for him without my knowledge of it and just be merely useful to him and his cause.

To Reject Christ is to Make War on God

Christ is king and all who don’t submit to the authority of Christ make war on God himself. This includes the Jew, the Buddhist, the Muslim, and the Mormon. That’s true even if, like this young muslim woman I told you about, they quote from their holy book and they make the claim that they stand for the one true God and further that they speak for the one true God.

Natural man is repelled by the authority of Christ. In our natural state every single one of us says, “we don’t want this king!’ We are going to break his yoke from off of our necks. His name is often treated as a swear word. People use the name of Christ in order to curse someone else.

So the answer to the question, ‘why do the nations rage?’ is because they do not want Christ as their king. They reject him and they reject that idea.

Watch the full sermon on our youtube channel!

To be Continued in: Psalm 2: The Utter Futility of Trying to ‘Fight God’

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Pastor Dan Woody is a founding elder for Koinonia. He has been serving churches as a pastor for the past 13 years. He and his wife Peggy are the parents of two sons, Chris and Jonathan. Pastor Dan is currently studying for his Mdiv with The North American Reformed Seminary. His interests include music, and most outdoor sports like golf, hiking, tennis and fishing.[/author_info] [/author]