The Raging Nation:
Ever since the fall, there has always been sin in society. There’s always been nations that sets itself against God and shakes its fists. In our own country right now, the moral fabric is degrading. People are angry, confused, and lacking rationality. Churches and government, once viewed as necessary institutions for the betterment of society, is now seen as an unnecessary evil. Rioting and thievery, once viewed as lawlessness, is now increasingly seen as a moral obligation. Racism, once defined as the belief of one’s superiority or inferiority due to a person’s race, is now understood as any societal structure that results in racial inequality or disparity. Gender identity and expression, once understood as a binary matter and governed by God-ordained biological sex, is now seen as a fluid spectrum and social construct.
All of this is simply a reflection of the condition of the human heart’s opposition to divine rule, to claim both the right and the ability to determine what is good and bad. As the world continues to plunge deeper into the lie of the crafty serpent, they believe meaning and truth resides somewhere else than faith in God. They believe the pursuit of happiness is found in autonomy and following every impulse and desire. As Christians, what are we to do in the face of great evil? What are we to do when we see the world crumbling before us and the future seems bleak?
The Son is My Refuge:
The answer: We delight in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:2). Psalm 1 serves as a reminder that there’s a future for those who trust in the Lord because the way of righteous is the way of blessing. The following psalm, Psalm 2, complements this message by showing us the One through whom that blessing comes. In Psalm 2, the psalmist invites us to take refuge in God’s royal Son, who will secure His triumph by enduring the rage of the nations, in order to find satisfaction. It serves as a message of hope and a dire warning for those who try to take refuge elsewhere.
The God Who Laughs. Psalm 2 begins with a question: “Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain?” (verse 1). The nations raise their fists against God and conspire to do something that will ultimately end in vain. Verse 2 specifies this rebellion: the kings and congresses view God’s law as undue restraint, take counsel together against God, and pass laws in order to thwart God’s will. Not only do they stand against God, they stand against his Anointed—the Messiah. With one voice, they say to God and the Anointed: “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” (verse 3). The bonds and cords are the yoke of God’s kingship—that is, the restraints of God found in the law. However, they have plunged deep into the original lie of the crafty serpent in the garden—that divine statues are restrictions that holds humanity from true happiness and freedom. As a result, they rage before the living God. Psalm 2:1–3 reflects humanity’s broken desire for self-rule.
Yet, God is not threatened. On the contrary, verse 4 states: “He who sits in the heavens laugh; the Lord holds them in derision.” The One who sits in heaven laughs at the kings of the earth! Who would have thought of this—divine laughter!—when social justice warriors plot their antagonistic agendas, government officials categorize abortion as health care, psychologists label pedophilia as an acceptable sexual orientation, scientists assert that there are more than two genders, philosophers claim there is no God, and critical theorists claim that the oppressed are incapable of sinning? When you see a nation raging, you can be sure that God is laughing and shaking his head in disdain. God’s rule will not be overthrown.
The Royal Son and Greater David. Then God responds with anger: “Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’” (verse 5–6). God’s response to sinful rebellion and anarchy of the nations is to announce the enthronement of the King. The question, then, is: Who is the King? The immediate context informs us that this is not David for he was never designated God’s “begotten Son” (verse 7), nor did he ever receive the nations as his inheritance (verse 8), nor did he execute global judgment and establish global peace (9), nor was he a refuge for the righteous ones (verse 9). David was a king, but not the King since he was only a man. The King is God’s royal Son by nature and right. Psalm 2 looks beyond David.
In fact, the New Testament informs us that Jesus is that King. Psalm 2 points to Jesus as the greater David, the Anointed One. The apostle Peter read the raging of the nations and people plotting against God and the Anointed in Psalm 2 as a prediction of the execution of Jesus by the hands of Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and the Jews (Acts 4:24–30). Furthermore, even the three great offices of Christ are set before us in Psalm 2: Jesus is King—he is established in Zion who rules the nations with a rod of iron through His saints (verse 6; Rev 2:26–29); Jesus is priest—he offers sacrifice (and is the sacrifice!) to God on the behalf of all (verse 7; Heb 5:5); Jesus is prophet—we must hear his words (verse 10). Jesus is the Son begotten of God!
So, what are the implications of Psalm 2? First, the psalm offers hope. We can be confident that those who take refuge in Jesus will find satisfaction because Jesus secured his triumph by enduring the rage of the nations (verse 10–12). At the same time, we can have confidence that those who plot against God do so in vain even though, for a time, it may seem that they are making headway. Even though the sun was dark, the disciples ran, our Lord was in anguish, the Jewish leaders mocking, and Satan’s apparent victory, God overcame evil and was able to do what He intended to do through all this. The serpent, through the raging nations and rulers, did his best to destroy the glory of the royal Son but instead found himself quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by God. God made evil serve the overcoming of evil. This is why nations plot in vain.
Second, the psalm serves as a warning. Self-rule will result in derision, wrath, and destruction. God’s rule cannot be thwarted. He may endure taunting and mocking and resistance for a time but God does not tolerate it forever. There will be a day when all wickedness will perish forever. The so-called blessings of this world perish along with the wicked. Therefore, we do not put our hope in an earthly ruler. It does not matter who the next president is because our faith is not in a world ruler. There is refuge in no one else. God makes this emphatically clear that our hope is found in the enthroned Son of God. The clearest way to take refuge in the royal Son is through submitting to God’s Word. Jesus is the only One who can deliver you, provide forgiveness of your sins, and bring fullness of joy. The one who trusts His Word is always blessed.
Tuezong Xiong (BS, University of Northwestern–St. Paul) received his bachelors degree in Pastoral Ministry and Bible at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul. He is currently studying at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, MN for his Masters of Divinity. He is the husband of Pa Kou. He also blogs at www.tuezongxiong.wordpress.com.