Resting In The Lord
Scripture: Psalm 2:1–12
Resting In The Lord
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Pastor Randy Smith
I'm troubled. If it hasn't already fallen, our country appears on the precipice of disaster. Police officers are targeted for assassination. Upholding the Constitution is disregarded. Terrorists wish to annihilate our way of living. The traditional family is collapsing. Common decency is lost. Dishonesty amongst politicians is accepted. Justice is continually maligned. Immorality is celebrated like never before. Christians are strong-armed against their conscience. Babies are aborted each day in the thousands. Murder plagues the streets in many inner cities. And there is very little interest in the things of God.
When your mind really absorbs these things, along with many more that could be added to this list, it's hard to find any comfort. Our hearts are uneasy. The pressure of life is intense. Anxiety, frustration, disappointment in the present. Worry, apprehension, cynicism for the future.
Someone penned the following 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 the present time the other side [seems to be] winning.
Is there any hope? Can anything possibly change my outlook? While not negating the need to be involved, can I have peace while I watch this world around me spin out of control like never before?
As you know, last week we began a short series entitled, "Summer in the Psalms." Today I bring you to Psalm 2. Today we will see things from God's perspective, a perspective for those aligned with Him through Christ that we can and must enjoy. We'll learn God's plans have not and will not fail. All is under His sovereign control and He will triumph in His ordained time.
Look at the abrupt start in verse 1. "Why are the nations in an uproar? The Bible never denies the difficulties of living in this world. The world is never painted as a great place of peace and utopia. Most often it is presented as a place of wickedness governed by sinful people that seek to exalt their kingdom above God's kingdom. Therefore the world is in an uproar. It's unsettled. It's a constant raging sea enjoying only brief periods of tranquility, exerting its power and tossing its subjects to and fro.
And why the uproar? Because for the most part the world is in opposition to God. And by rejecting God's laws and the Prince of Peace Himself, they have no rest. Law without God is lawlessness. Creation is opposing its Creator. The Psalmist naturally calls it in verse 1, "a vain thing."
Verse 2, "The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed."
It may not always appear so obvious, but the history of the world reveals man's attempt to place himself in the supreme place that God rightly deserves. Adam and Eve desired to be autonomous. Organized rebellion was seen at the Tower of Babel as man "sought to make a name for himself." Nations in the end will come together under the antichrist in an attempt to defeat God.
Opposition to God. It's almost always been this way. It was no better seen than during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Why such hatred for a man that never even committed a sin? It's a power struggle. It's submitting to a higher authority. It's wanting to be God yourself. Man wants to be the top dog, and the ways of God's righteousness are far from his intended desires. There has always been a vast conspiracy of man against God seen everywhere from politics to athletics to education to entertainment.
If these opening verses of Psalm 2 sound familiar, it's because they are quoted at least seven times in the New Testament, always in reference to Christ. It was the apostle Peter in Acts 4 that that quoted it (Ac. 4:25-26) and then added, "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 purpose predestined to occur" (Ac. 4:27-28).
In other words, man's wrath against Christ, which started with the political and religious leaders, was only permitted because God intended through their wickedness to bring about a higher good.
These verses are so explicit in revealing man's vain and foolish desire to overthrow God. The determined and plotted eagerness to oppose God, I feel, is sometimes greater than God's children in their determined and plotted eagerness to serve Him.
Look at what they say in verse 3. "Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!"
You know I have tried to stress during my preaching the radical nature of true conversion to Christ. In the day and age of altar calls and mindless professions and watered-down commitments, I'm always concerned about false converts. Nothing is worse in life than to think you are saved when in reality you are not. You see, true conversion to Christ involves a miracle, a transformation, a born-again experience whereby one is given an entirely new heart with new power and new desires resulting in a new life.
Therefore there should be a radical contrast between the believer and the unbeliever. Those in the world speak of His lordship in verse 3 saying, "Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!" God's yoke is not merely rejected - it's thrown off! Yet those who know Him want to wear that yoke. They delight in submitting to Him knowing "His yoke is easy and His burden is light" (Mt. 11:30). The contrast from last week, the ungodly in Psalm 2 "devise" and "counsel" against the Lord. Whereby the godly in Psalm 1 "does not walk in the counsel of the wicked" and "delight[s]…in the law of the LORD…[which] he meditates [on] day and night."
Now the Psalm shifts to God's perspective. Look at verse 4. "He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them."
This is what we call anthropomorphic language. This is describing God with human responses in a way that we can better grasp His sentiments. God isn't literally laughing, but this is His response to man's absurd, irrational and pathetic attempts to overthrow Him. As verse 4 says, He is "the Lord." He is Adonai, the Master of the Universe! Whatever man plots or schemes against the Almighty is futile. Not only will it fail, but as we have been learning, God will at times use it to accomplish His wise purposes.
Listen to some of the comparisons ancient commentators came up with: "It is as if a fly should attack an elephant or a man endeavor to snatch the sun from the [sky]." Another said, "[It's the] effort of an infant to stay the whirlwind , or the unavailing yell of a maniac to calm the raging sea" (From Plumer, Psalms, p. 41).
Again, bring these words, written nearly three thousand years ago into our modern age. This is so applicable today. There is so much arrogance among people, especially from those in leadership-type positions. No concern for the things of God, for honoring Him and adopting His ways. No regard for the One in Whom mountains melt in His presence and the sea flees before Him. Yet this God takes notice. He, verse 4, laughs at their foolish rebellion. He, verse 4, "sits", not even rising up for immediate battle. Their day in the spot light will be brief. They will be held accountable. There will be a day of reckoning.
"Then," verse 5, "[God] will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury." He will say, verse 6, "But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain." Contempt for their rebellion. Laughter for their presumption. Anger for their activities. And the Lord's response? "But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain."
God's response to the hatred of humanity is to appoint a true King. This has been the promise of the prophets and the hope of the people. That a King would come, a Messiah to Jerusalem that would rule with justice and righteousness. Israel was given kings, some good and many bad. But this ideal King was still future from the perspective of the Psalmist.
God told King David, "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me" (2 Sam. 7:11-14).
This King is obviously Jesus Christ. When He comes on the scene the Magi say, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him" (Mt. 2:2). Simeon says, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel" (Lk. 2:34). He is King of all kings (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16). Jesus is presently reigning in heavenly Zion. And one day He will return and make His kingship and kingdom visible to all. All to the point Scripture teaches that "at the name of [King] Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11).
Thy foes in vain designs engage;
Against His throne in vain they rage,
Like rising waves, with angry roar,
That dash and die upon the shore.
C.H. Spurgeon (Treasury of David, Psalm 1:6).
Christ, the Appointed King now speaks. Verse 7, "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'" Verse 8, "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession." Verse 9, "You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware."
Again, this is the perspective that God wants us to have. We need to walk by faith in God's Master Plan and not walk by sight in the plan, boasts and threats of world leaders. This is God's land. He is rightful King. And with the King comes a kingdom. And with the kingdom comes expectations of obedience to the King's laws. And with disobedience to those laws it is only natural to expect the King's punishment. For the King, verse 9, rules with a rod of iron and all the weak vessels who commit cosmic treason against the King will be smashed like hammer hitting pottery.
Psalm 78 speaks of this day. "In his days may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more. May he also rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust… And let all kings bow down before him, All nations serve him" (Psm. 78:7-9, 11).
So if all this is true, what's the wise response of all those who seek to oppose this Mighty King? Verse 10, "Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth.
The call is for all humanity to be wise, to consider their frail state and consider the reality of a God in whom they owe their obedience. It is having them consider the day when God's wrath will come upon them for their sinful folly. The call is for them to consider reality, to be wise with the time they have remaining. And what is true wisdom? Proverbs 9:10, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
Therefore, verse 11, "Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.
What a beautiful description of the heart that God desires. He wants reverence. He wants respect and holy fear and honor. And yet He wants us to do it with joy. Fearing God without enjoying Him would be slave-like servitude. Yet joy without fear would be presumption on the Almighty. After all, if these kings expect this much from their subjects, how much more should they expect the living-God to expect it from them?
Therefore, verse 12, "Do homage to [some say 'kiss'] the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled."
And here is the beautiful thing about God. Being God, He will not change His opinion about sinful man nor change His response toward their rebellion. Those who refuse to align with Him as their true King and serve Him with joy and reverence, the verse says, bring about His anger and kindle His wrath.
Yet the sovereign King is also the sacrificial Lamb. The Ruler of the world has made a way for sinful humanity to be forgiven. And He will receive these once-rebels if they lay down their arms, surrender and come to Him on His terms.
You see, the Monarch of humanity died for the sins of humanity. While deserving the worship of angels, the humble King of kings went to the cross to pay the penalty humanity deserved to pay. Jesus Christ, the sinless One was declared the sinner when He received our transgressions and was punished in our place.
So the true King of the world has declared that all must worship Him. Yet we can't do that. So the true King of the world, the King of anger and wrath, made the way to Him possible in love and mercy. And to all who honor Him, profess loyalty and allegiance to Him, He forgives. He rules over them not with a rod of iron, but as a good shepherd and His people submit to Him with reverence and delight.
The final verse of Psalm 1 says, "The way of the wicked will perish." The final verse of Psalm 2 warns the reader that he need not "perish in the way." And the way to do that is trust the One who is, John 14:6, "The way, and the truth, and the life; [for] no one comes to the Father but through [the Son]."
No wonder the Psalmist closes in verse 12 with, "How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" This Psalm teaches us that there is no refuge from Him, only refuge in Him.
Jesus is God's appointed King. Remember, all other human authorities are under His lordship. All will be called to an account. Yet all are given an opportunity to lay down their arms are surrender. Those who do will enjoy His refuge - peace in this life and blessedness in the life to come. And all those who refuse - the Bible teaches anger, wrath and judgment.
So as this world appears to spin out of control, may we take heart that the King of the World is still reigning and extending a pardon to His enemies. Yet one day He will vindicate His name by crushing the rebellion and delivering His people.