This psalm shocks. Not if we skim it, but if we ponder it. .
First, the psalmist claims the world’s nations are rebelling against the Lord’s chosen ruler.
Why do the nations plan rebellion? Why do people make their useless plots? Their kings revolt, their rulers plot together against the Lord and against the king he chose. “Let us free ourselves from their rule,” they say; “let us throw off their control” (Psalm 2:1-3, GNT).
Paranoid psalmist seeing Israel’s enemies revolting against God’s chosen king? We might presume so, except that author Luke cites the plot to crucify Jesus as the fulfillment of this psalm. In other words, it’s ultimately about the world’s rebellion against the Lord Jesus . . .
As soon as Peter and John were set free, they returned to their group and told them what the chief priests and the elders had said. When the believers heard it, they all joined together in prayer to God: “Master and Creator of heaven, earth, and sea, and all that is in them! By means of the Holy Spirit you spoke through our ancestor David, your servant, when he said, ‘Why were the Gentiles furious; why did people make their useless plots? The kings of the earth prepared themselves, and the rulers met together against the Lord and his Messiah.’ For indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together in this city with the Gentiles and the people of Israel against Jesus, your holy Servant, whom you made Messiah. They gathered to do everything that you by your power and will had already decided would happen” (Acts 4:23-28, GNT).
Represented by Herod and Pontius Pilate and the Gentiles and Israel’s people, the nations gather in rebellion against the Lord and his chosen ruler. God has come in human flesh and blood and the nations reject and execute him. Furthermore, the powers that be forbid his followers to even speak in his name.
Second, the psalmist declares rebellion is futile. So much so that the Lord mocks their feeble schemes. Hard to imagine the Lord mocking anyone, isn’t it! No tougher a stretch for some, though, to imagine God angrily terrifying anybody with his fury . . .
“From his throne in heaven the Lord laughs and mocks their feeble plans. Then he warns them in anger and terrifies them with his fury. ‘On Zion, my sacred hill,’ he says, ‘I have installed my king'”(Psalm 2:4-6, GNT).
The nations’ plots are “useless”. Their plans are “feeble”. Set aside for a moment that these plots and plans are against the Lord and his chosen ruler. See them simply as the plans for world leaders to govern. All government isn’t bad. In fact, the apostle Paul urges Christians to obey the state authorities because God established them (Romans 13:1). But look at world conditions. Threatened by nuclear powers. Refugees fleeing the burning Middle East. Terrorists killing innocents and hacking into critical computers. Corruption common wherever you look. Governments holding it all together with duct tape. Ordinary people cry out for “good” government. Might the world’s be “bad” because they’ve “killed” the Lord’s chosen leader?
Third, the psalmist warns earth’s rulers to bow down and serve the Lord or else his anger will flare and kill them . . .
“‘I will announce,’ says the king, ‘what the Lord has declared.’ He said to me: ‘You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask, and I will give you all the nations; the whole earth will be yours. You will break them with an iron rod; you will shatter them in pieces like a clay pot.’ Now listen to this warning, you kings; learn this lesson, you rulers of the world: Serve the Lord with fear; tremble and bow down to him; or else his anger will be quickly aroused, and you will suddenly die. Happy are all who go to him for protection” (Psalm 2:7-12, GNT).
Jesus is the Lord’s son. He’s the king who receives all the nations whose military force he shatters like a clay pot. Therefore, the psalmist warns the nations’ “kings” to fearfully, humbly serve the Lord, lest his anger flare and kill them.
Sounds more like radical Islam than Judaism/Christianity, doesn’t it! To a world that views God as overseer and therapeutic helper, this God’s a stranger. A warrior. A world government leader. A potential killer.
Let’s make no mistake. When Egypt and Babylon and Assyria marshaled armies against Old Testament Israel, they fought the Lord’s chosen ruler. When Herod and Pontius Pilate and the Gentiles and Israel sentenced Jesus to death, they rebelled against the king the Lord had chosen to one day rule the world.
In Psalm 2 the psalmist doesn’t pray about personal salvation; he prays about world politics. And he warns the world’s rulers now to serve the Lord. For the whole earth will be his.
“Lord Jesus, your Father will give you all the nations. The whole earth will be yours. You will shatter their rebellion like a clay pot. Herein lies the ultimate failure of human government. Not faulty policies, but misplaced faith–faith in false religions, faith in godless worldviews, faith in economic programs and military might.
“Lord, mercifully gather world leaders to the foot of your cross. Bring them to saving faith and then to righteous rule. And may that repentance begin with ordinary people like us. May we serve you. With reverence. May we bow down to you. And show by our lives that our citizenship is in heaven, that we belong to the kingdom not of this world. May we go to you for protection we need. And find our joy in living under your rule.”