Psalm 2 - Part 2
What in the world is going on geo-politically in our world? Are not the nations in a state of upheaval like never seen before? Everywhere you look there is no peace, as opposing parties do almost anything to either maintain power or to seize power.
- Hezbollah and Hamas fight to the death to obliterate Israel.
- Iran and its proxies waste no opportunities to rattle their saber and intimidate anyone and everyone.
- The Chinese military, especially their Navy, are using the COVID-19 virus to flex their muscle in the South China sea.
- Progressives and conservatives in our own country are engaged in an ideological battle to end all battles.
- Islamists embedded in Western countries want Sharia Law in addition to western law.
I think you get the picture. Our world is in a state of, at times, riotous revolt at all levels, as people of all political stripes attempt to build their versions of a utopian society.
Will they succeed? Only for a brief but highly warped moment in time as the man of sin, the Anti-christ, seizes world-wide power. As John warns us in Revelation 13, his kingdom/empire will be composed of all the wickedness, despotic ruthlessness, and heavy-handed totalitarian control of the past earthly kingdoms like Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. In this sense, his kingdom will be like a powerful, ugly, monstrous beast which will be empowered by the Dragon, the Devil himself (Rev. 13:1-4).
The current power struggles, the desire for politicians to control people for their own good and for the sake of society, the twisting of law for lawless ends, the disregard for truth, the covert and overt persecution of Christians around the world, the love of falsity and perversion, the lack of fear for living hypocritically where truth is concerned, the penchant for plunging a nation into debt which can never be repaid, the lack of consistent justice from the bench, the commitment to silence those who would dare, like a prophet Amos, speak of truth (Amos 7:10-17) . . . all of this is merely paving the way for the Lawless One to lead all mankind to worship him and be part of his earthly kingdom (2 Thess. 2:1-12).
This is the bad geo-political news. But it is not the end of the story. Far from it. On the contrary, in Psalm 2, which is a messianic coronation Psalm with a major prophetic emphasis, the Spirit of God opens the Psalter with a definitive statement of inexorable hope, hope in the unstoppable nature of the coming kingdom of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus, the Christ. The old hymn What If It Were Today? Captures the joy, wonder, and surety of the Lord’s arrival to bring the kingdom to earth to end all kingdoms:
Jesus is coming to earth again—What if it were today? Coming in power and love to reign—What if it were today? Satan’s dominion will then be o’er—O that it were today! Sorrow and sighing shall be no more—O that it were today!
Let those words become your words, you saints who are weary and worried. Despite the devilish deviancy and destruction of life as you knew it is occurring all around you, be hopeful for as we learn from Psalm 2 . . .
The Messiah’s Kingdom Will Arrive Despite Man’s Devious Dive (Psalm 2:1-12)
Please, place heavy, appropriate emphasis upon the world will. His kingdom is coming, as prophesied, and in this psalm the Psalmist, who was inspired by the Spirit of God, gives us a peak, a flash of insight as to what we can expect as geo-political events unfold in the days, months, and years ahead. With this in mind, I invite you to review what we have studied thus far.
Expect Man’s Rebellion Against God (Psalm 2:1-3). Man will grow bolder in his quest to throw off everything and anything (or anyone) associated with the living God. As we know, this occurs almost weekly in our misguided, misinformed nation. Do not be shocked, but be wise.
Expect God’s Reaction Against The Rebels (Psalm 2:4-9). What is God’s initial response to those with limited power attempt to resist and overthrow the One who has unlimited power?
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.
The Lord’s response from His complete omnipotence and omniscience reminds us that He is, indeed, a mighty fortress (2 Sam. 22:1-4; Psalm 18:2; 31:3; 71:3; 91:2;
144:2). Puny, powerless man cannot assail Him or His kingdom, nor can man, with his vast limitations ever thwart the geo-political plans of the Almighty.
As we would say in our vernacular, “That just ain’t happening.” Take note: If your life is in a state of current revolt against God, and if your sin has deceived you into thinking you are going to be successful in choosing a path of foolishness over wisdom (Psalm 1), you had better think again. Only His path is blessed, and the best thing, really, the wisest thing you can ever do is to submit to His lordship (Rom. 10:9). Better to be part of His spiritual kingdom now, than banned from the kingdom in its spiritual and physical forms in the future.
In addition to God’s laughter at man’s ill-founded, illogical quest to be the god of his own life and build a kingdom (or kingdoms) on earth devoid of God, God gives us additional much desired insight into His righteous reaction against the rabble-rousers.
5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: 6 "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion." 7 "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel'" (Ps. 2).
He does not mince words, does He? God’s reaction leads us naturally to form two exegetical questions.
One, when will God openly oppose the godless and erect His promised Davidic empire (Psalm 2:5, 9)?
A brief analysis of verses 5 and 9, which nicely frame this instructive rhetorical unit in an inclusio format (a rhetorical device where the writer/speaker ends as he began for the sake of emphasis), gives us our sought after answer in tough, trying times.
5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure:
The opening adverbial particle, then, pronounced as ( ֤אז ָ ) in Hebrew, stands out of normal word order (subject-verb-object), and is, therefore, highly emphatic. It is as if God stops the wicked in
their tracks, shakes them and forcefully says, “You need to wake up to the fact that the time of your godless misadventure into rebellion against me will eventually time out and run headlong in to my divine wrath” [An extended Marty paraphrase, of course.] Contextually, of course, the adverbial particle causes us to ponder when is the “then” of the adverbial particle.
Before we answer that query, let us first analyze the Psalmist’s teaching about God’s wrath. From Jonah’s story we learn about the multi-faceted character of God. Angry that God would save and not judge the godless Ninevites, Jonah lamented:
1 But it [the mercy of God] displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, "Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore, I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm (Jonah 4).
The prejudiced prophet was correct. God is all the things he mentioned here. Jonah wanted God to vaporize Israel’s historical enemy, but in this instance God chose to be merciful and use Jonah to lead them to faith. Amazing.
This instance of mercy, however, does not mean God will not ever come in judgment. As
we learn from Psalm 2, there comes the day in the future when God will speak to the godless rebels
not with grace and mercy, but with holy, consuming wrath. Wrath, or aph (ַאף ) in Hebrew is used literally of person’s nose which can become flaming red when they are mad, as in Isaiah 2:22.1 Ever been this mad on I-95? Interestingly enough, the first time this word appears with the preposition, in, is in reference to God’s judgment of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboyim for their flagrant perversion of God-designed sexuality (Deut. 29:23). Think about it. How long did God wait before he judged these wicked, spiritually out-of-control, rebellious cities? He waited many, many years; however, in due time His wrath came suddenly in the form or blazing fire. This is probably why the Septuagint (LXX or the Greek version of the OT) uses the word thumos
(θυμός) for wrath because it denotes an instantaneous, unexpected outburst.2
In the second line of Psalm 2, verse 5, the Psalmist expands in a parallelstic fashion on what he just said:
and distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Distress” is found in the New King James version; however, it is not the best reading, in my view of the lexical usages. The NIV and NAS say God will “terrify” the rebels. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament by Harris, Archer, and Waltke supports this conclusion:
The verb bahal occurs fifty times, eleven of which are in the Aramiac section of Daniel with similar meaning. Synonyms are harad “tremble, be afraid,” pahad “be afraid,” and yagor a general word meaning “to fear.” Yare refers to reverential fear. Bahal usually expresses an emotion of one who is confronted with something unexpected, threatening or disastrous.
Ever been terrified? I have. When the hillside strangler was loose in Los Angeles and leaving dead bodies in the foothills north of the city, I was a janitor for APU’s hillside campus at night. I cleaned various art rooms in one area, but the gym and football field was located up a hill through some woods. Walking back through those woods late one night from cleaning the gym, I stumbled upon a pack of screaming coyotes. I thought a murder was occurring so instantly the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up . . . for the first, and I hope, last time of my life. I was TERRIFIED and I ran for safety as fast as I could so I could call the police.
Terrified is the emotion the godless will have when the Lord finally moves against their free-wheeling, seemingly unchecked bids for power in all of its forms, personal or national. Why, exactly, will they be utterly overcome with terror, with bone-rattling, knee-knocking, and spine- stiffening fear? It is because of who and what they will see, coupled with what they will hear. To dive into these details is, of course, to explain when the day of divine wrath occurs. It begins the moment the Church is raptured (1 Thess. 4:13-18) and the seven-year tribulation begins (Dan. 9:24-27). It culminates when God’s divinely ordered cosmic and earthly twenty-one judgments culminate with His glorious Second Coming. The seven seal judgments are followed by the seven trumpet judgments, and, then, at the end of the tribulation God permits the angels to pour out the seven bowls of wrath upon the wicked, finally. The results of the seventh angel’s bowl are most ominous:
7 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" 18 And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. 19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. 20 Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great. (Rev. 16).
No wonder man will be terrified by God’s wrath. The largest earthquake ever recorded with instruments occurred in Valdivia, Chile, in 1960 on May 22. It registered a whopping 9.5 on the Richter scale, which represents over 20 trillion kilograms of dynamite being released. The devastation would be almost total. When God comes in judgment, the earthquake will be beyond anything the Richter scale can quantify, as the prophet Isaiah declares for God in his Little Apocalypse (Isaiah 24-27 is the book of Revelation in a shortened format):
19 The earth is violently broken, The earth is split open, The earth is shaken exceedingly. 20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, And it will fall, and not rise again.
21 It shall come to pass in that day That the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, And on the earth the kings of the earth (Isa. 24).
Terrifying, is it not? The kings of the day will finally know that their gig of godless power is up. The hailstones weighing almost 80 pounds4 apiece will get their attention (a hail stone of only 3.1 inches in diameter falls at a rate of 110 mph. Imagine the speed of these particular stones. Devastating.) and inform them that their rebellion will be tolerated by God no longer!
We know for sure that the day of divine judgment, as foretold in Psalm 2, verse 5, occurs at the end of the tribulation because John quotes this verse at the consummation of the Lord’s glorious, eye-blinding revelation on His massive war horse:
11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now 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. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev. 19).
When the cosmic luminaries are divinely turned off, when it is darker than it has ever been on earth is when Jesus moves from His dimension to man’s dimension (The Day of the Lord will be a
densely dark day, Joel 2:1-11; 3:4; Amos 5:18-20). The name on His magnificent robe and thigh will tell the rebels and revolters who has finally arrived: He is the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS and He is here, as John denotes by quoting Psalm 2, verse 9 in Revelation 19, verse 15 to destroy worldwide rebellion against Him. How easily He will accomplish this, despite their armaments. They will be like clay vessels coming into sudden contact with a king’s powerful iron scepter. Instantly, their power will be shattered . . . only to be replaced by His power and His kingdom.
The picture here is probably wedded to how the Pharaoh’s used to treat their rebellious leaders. Dr. Allen Ross, who taught me Hebrew at Dallas Theological Seminary, brings up this interesting point:
This figure may be based on the Egyptian custom in which the name of each city under the king’s dominion was written on a little votive jar and placed in the temple of his god. Then, if the people in a city rebelled, the pharaoh could smash that city’s little jar in the presence of the deity. Such a symbolic act would terrify the rebellious—not that the city had much of a chance of withstanding the pharaoh in the first place. The psalmist may be drawing on that imagery to stress how easily the king, with all the authority of heaven behind him, will crush the rebellion swiftly.5
How true. Today we watch as rebellion and revolt against God and all that is holy is the order of the day as prophesied (2 Tim. 3:1-9). Yet we have hope because we know the day of judgment is coming and when it arrives it will be quick and decisive. This will be the day when righteousness will replace unrighteousness, when justice will replace injustice, and with truth will replace error masquerading as truth, with purity will replace perversion masquerading as purity. Oh for the day.
Two, why will God use wrath to erect His promised Davidic empire (Psalm 2:6-8)? Verses 6 through 8 give us the coveted answer:
6 Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion (Ps. 2).
The opening word of verse 6, I ( ַו ֲא ִני ֭), is emphatic because it is a waw (the “w” is read like a “v”) disjunctive, consisting of the Hebrew, and, or waw, wedded to a non-verb . . . here, I. God, therefore, definitively states that while the world attempts to revolt against Him at all levels, personal and national, He has already acted in a definitive fashion by establishing His chosen king on His holy hill of Mount Zion. Historically, this promise referenced any and all Davidic kings. God had made a Davidic Covenant with King David through the prophet Samuel (2 Sam. 7:12-16). This covenant, of course, was eternal in nature, as we learn from Psalm 89:
2 For I have said, "Mercy shall be built up forever; Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens." 3 "I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: 4 `Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations’“(Ps. 89).
Many prophets echoed this claim:
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this (Isa. 9).
The eternal and unconditional nature of the Davidic covenant is certainly showcased here. 2 Samuel 23, verse 5 speaks about it as well.
Also showcased in Isaiah 9, is the ultimate eternal God who would come and be this King from the line of David. That person was, and is, none other than Jesus. Dr. Luke makes this clear when he writes:
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. 32"He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1).
Again, this is none other than Jesus, the true Davidic King of all Kings. True, Israel rejected their king, and according to several of His parables, the kingdom would be put in hiatus until a future time (Matt. 13:3-50); however, His kingdom would, in fact, come.
The beginning of His coronation . . . not his physical origination . . . is denoted by Psalm 2, verse 7.
7 I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, `You are My Son, today I have begotten You.
In Acts 13, verse 33 Paul weds this verse to the resurrection of Christ:
32 And we declare to you glad tidings-- that promise which was made to the fathers. 33"God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it
is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.' 34 "And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David' (Acts 13).
Christ’s victory over sin and death has made Him not only the true Savior, but the true and eternal King.
His resurrection, therefore, put Him in a position to ask the Father to give unto Him everything promised in the Davidic Covenant:
8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.
Ruling and reigning over the earth with a kingdom known for complete holiness and righteousness is now the right of Jesus, the Christ. He has now asked for the promised kingdom and in due time the Father will give it to Him, and nothing or no one can stop this kingdom’s glorious arrival. And as the prophets collectively say, divine wrath on a cosmic scale will be employed to deal with sin and sinners so the kingdom can, in fact, come (Isaiah 24-27; Dan. 2, 7; Joel 3). It is, therefore, futile to revolt and rebel against God and what God has decreed to occur. He has promised His Son a superior kingdom to replace inferior earthly kingdoms and it is going to happen in time and space. What hope.
With the closing verses, we encounter one final move of divine grace to those who do not live as if they desire it.
Expect God’s Remedy For Rebels (Psalm 2:10-12)
How great, loving, and kind of God. When He could vaporize those who raise their fist in His face, who think they are smarter and wiser than He, who flaunt their sin before Him as if they think He will never move to deal with them, He chooses to move in grace before He moves in wrath. Such are His ways with sinners. If you are a rebel right now, one who has turned your face hard against God, one who mocks God, one who runs from God, one who does everything in your power to drive His truth and His people from your life, then you need to listen up to God’s closing counsel:
10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges 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, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
The opening word, “and now” (another waw disjunctive) in Hebrew is, again, extremely emphatic and designed to spiritually wake you up.
֭ ְו ַע ָתּ ה ְמ ָל ִ ֣כ י ם ַה ְשׂ ִ ֑כּ י ל וּ ֜ ִה ָוּ ְס ֗ר וּ ֣ ֹשׁ ְפ ֵט י ָ ֽא ֶר ץ ׃
God loves spiritual rebels enough to grab them to make sure they hear His warning and advice. How does God attempt to wake you up? He does this by giving you a series of commands,
- Be wise! (Psalm 2:10). How? By listening to what He is saying about His coming kingdom. Your kingdom is going to be judged. Only His kingdom will extend into eternity. Wise people realize this and switch kingdom by placing their faith in the Messiah, Jesus (Rom. 10:9). The word for wise here is used with reference to the Israelites who, though freed from Egyptian bondage by outright divine signs and wonders, did not discern what had happened and chose to rebel against God (Psalm 106:7).
- Be instructed! (Psalm 2:10). Who? Judges. The Hebrew here is a command to take advice for a change, or to use logic, not illogic. If you are the judging, or judgmental type, the one who is always using your crafty arguments to disparage God and God’s people, and/or belief in God, it is time for you to use some logic. Consider the facts concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ and make some necessary course corrections in your life. That all starts, of course, when you turn to Him and not to yourself.
- Serve the Lord with fear! (Psalm 2:11). To serve Him means, ipso facto, that you have stopped serving your selfish, sinful nature. And you are to do it with reverential fear? Why? For one, you recognize that He is holy and you are not (Ex. 20:18-21). Isaiah shared his experience in this regard in Isaiah 6. Too many rebels today are clueless about the need of fearing the Almighty! But once they lay their sin at His feet, they serve Him with fear because they recognize who He is. Let me ask you a personal question: Are you willing to become a vassal of the King of Kings? It’s a life decision you will never regret.
- Rejoice with trembling! (Psalm 2:11). What are you rejoicing about? The fact you have come to know the true King and have left behind the false king or kings you used to follow. This new relationship has joy written all over it, but it is tempered by trembling. Why? You, a mortal, now have a vibrant, vital, and intimate relationship with the living God who is absolutely far beyond us in so many ways. Do you have this joy in your life, a joy which transcends all the activity of the rebels around us? I do and it is most uplifting and encouraging. Pay homage to the Son! (Psalm 2:12). The picture here is of a subject falling at the feet of a king and kissing his feet because you recognize His utter worth and power over you. The Psalmist commands rebels to do this before it is too late:
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.
Translated, the King, Jesus, will most certainly judge those who reject Him. He said this much on many occasions (Matt. 5:22; 13:22, 50; 18:8-9; 25:41). Knowing this should move you to stop your utterly futile quest to be the lord of your life by rebelling against Him. Are you a rebel? Consider yourself warned then of what God is going to do in the future. Consider yourself challenged, also, to switch kingdoms today by bowing in faith and adoration before the true King of Kings, Jesus. What happens when you do that? The Psalmist gives you the word of insight:
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him (Ps. 2).
And if you are member of the King’s kingdom today, realize two things: one, the knowledge of His coming kingdom which will usher in world peace, righteousness, and holiness should inspire you and put wind in your limp life sails; and two, you are under divine mandate by the King to warn rebels how unwise it is to attempt to throw off God’s authority and rule in and over their lives. Far wiser for them to submit to the King . . .. this should be your word to those living for themselves and this old world. A new world, a new day is coming. You must challenge them to be part of it by coming to the true King, while rejecting all other so-called kings.