God Has Installed His King

Psalm 2

[1] Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? [2] The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. [3] “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”

[4] The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. [5] Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, [6] “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

[7] I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. [8] Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. [9] You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

[10] Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. [11] Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. [12] Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Introduction

Martin Luther called the book of the Psalms “the Bible in miniature.” He was absolutely right. If you spend time looking through the Psalms you’ll find so many familiar themes, so many familiar ideas that are found all over the word of God. If you were to make a regular practice of meditating on the Psalms—even memorizing some of them as you’re able—you will be equipped with a treasury of the Bible’s Wisdom.

The Book of the Psalms is one of the most often quoted books in the New Testament. You may even have recognized one of the key phrases in today’s Psalm. “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” Keep your ears open for that one—it becomes one of the keys to understanding what this Psalm has to say to us.

One pastor, writing about the whole Book of the Psalms, noted that the Psalms are not grouped together by subject, and they are not grouped chronologically. But as you read through the Psalms, you’ll notice that they do fit into different categories. You will find Psalms that praise God. You will find Psalms of lament. You will find psalms that do both. You will find wisdom Psalms that present a godly way of life. Finally you’ll find the Royal Psalms.

Psalm 2 is one of these Royal Psalms. It celebrates God’s Anointed King over Israel. It holds the King up as the symbol of God’s plan for the world. And it contains clear allusions to Jesus Christ. It is also referred to as a coronation psalm.

We can divide Psalm 2 into four sections. Verses 1–3 introduce the wicked conspiracies of the nations. Verses 4–6 reveal the LORD’s response. Verses 7–9 describe God’s King on Zion, and verses 10–12 contain an admonition to the nations.

Well, we’ve got a lot of material to cover this morning and not much time, so let’s dig in, shall we?

The Wicked Conspiracies of the Nations

[1] Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? [2] The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. [3] “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”

The psalmist begins as God’s anointed king is reigning, apparently, over the whole world. Now the historical kings in Israel never in fact reigned over the whole world. But God does. God created the heavens and the earth. God owns everything. Psalm 50 tells us that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. When he placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, he gave Adam the responsibility to care for and cultivate the Garden. He gave Adam the responsibility to name the animals. God placed the Garden under Adam’s care. Later, when God gave the Law to Israel, even before they had a human king, God was making plans for a king. In Deuteronomy 17, God made provision for a king to rule in Israel as God’s representative.

The story told in part one of this Psalm is the age-old story of sin and rebellion against God. Some of the pagan kings of these conspiring nations even thought themselves to be gods. They certainly were not gods. But they thought of themselves that way. And the text says that they gathered together against the LORD and His Anointed One. They were rejecting the LORD’s authority. They perceived the LORD’s rule as a chain that they wanted to get rid of. But the psalmist is confident from the start that they will fail. They conspire and plot “in vain,” verse one says.

Now pay close attention to the phrase “anointed one.” That phrase was used to translate the Hebrew word, Messiah. In Israel, God made a covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7, in which he promised that David’s throne would be established forever. This promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, about whom the angel Gabriel said Luke 1:31, “he will reign over the house of Jacob forever.”

So If you’re listening to me as a person who does not believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, as God the Son, as your rightful King, then you need to see yourself as being represented by men and women who plot in vain, like in verse 1. You need to see yourselves among these would-be gods, these pretenders to the thrones of their own lives. You see, Romans 1 tells us that God’s eternal power and divine nature are made known in creation—they are clearly understandable. So these people in Psalm 2, just like you and me, knew that God exists and that he is in charge. But in the same way that they bucked against God’s authority, you buck against God’s authority if you do not recognize Him as your Lord, and then repent of your sins and recognize Him as your Savior.

Now if you’re listening and you are a Christian—that is Jesus is your Savior and Lord—then you should respond to this text in three ways. First, you should be thankful that God has saved you. Because Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 6:11, after writing a list of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God, that some of you were that way too. If you’re now a Christian, you used to be a rebel, and that salvation should bring you some joy and thankfulness. Second, you should pray that God would keep shaping you in Christ’s image, so that you continue to put to death that old rebellious man or woman you once were. And third, you should pray for and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those people you know who are still dead in their sins. Because faith, as Paul teaches in Romans 10:17, comes through hearing.

The Lord’s Response

In verses 4–6, we see the Lord’s response to the nations’ vain plotting:

[4] The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. [5] Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, [6] “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

The Lord laughs. The Lord scoffs. The Lord rebukes. These pagan nations do not prevail. God is not moved. Think of a teacher and a kindergartener. Now the kindergartener may put up a real fuss if he doesn't want to come back in from recess, but the child will not prevail. The teacher must continue class, and the teacher has the authority to put a stop to the child’s tantrum.

So the Lord is not intimidated by the raging and plotting of the nations. Instead, the Lord rebukes them. God will not put up with their substitute-gods. The content of God’s rebuke is that he has installed his King on Zion, his holy hill. Charles Spurgeon, that great English preacher, wrote, “Is not that a grand exclamation! He has already done that which the enemy seeks to prevent. While they are proposing, he has disposed the matter. Jehovah's will is done, and man's will frets and raves in vain. God's Anointed is appointed, and shall not be disappointed.” This points directly back to the promise that God made to David to establish his throne forever.

So friend, Jesus Christ the anointed one, is sitting on the throne in heaven right now. If you are still trying to sin on the thrown of your own life, and if you still fail to acknowledge Christ as Savior, know that God’s wrath, God’s rebuke, is, as the psalmist writes, terrifying. But Jesus Christ is King. He is Lord. But not only that, he has died on the cross and he has risen for the sake of so many who did not know him. He took the wrath of the Father on himself for those who trust in him. If you put your trust in Him today you can be counted among his people.

God’s King on Zion

In verse 7, the psalmist moves on to describe God’s decree—the anointing of God’s king on Zion:

[7] I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. [8] Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. [9] You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

The kings over Israel were designated as sons of God. It is from this relationship that the kings had the authority to rule over Israel and administer justice. At a king’s coronation, they were recognized as sons of God, and were invested with this authority.

I mentioned earlier that this is one of the keys to understanding this Psalm. This announcement here—“You are my son”—is the announcement God makes when Jesus is baptized in Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, and Luke 3:22. “You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” At Jesus’s baptism, two things happened God was anointed as the messianic King of Israel. In Acts 2:33 and Hebrews 1:3, he sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. This is the where the king sits. In Hebrews 5:5 the author writes that at the same time he was made a high priest.

In Jesus Christ, we have the fulfillment of God’s promise to David. Jesus is sitting on David’s throne right now. Jesus is the king, not only of Israel, but of the whole world. He has an iron scepter. He has the authority to dash the rebels to pieces like pottery. Right now, he is displaying mercy by putting off his judgment. If you’re not a Christian, you are being given the opportunity to turn away from your former rebellion. You don’t have to continue under the wrath of God. But be sure that Jesus is a righteous judge, and he will crush the rebellion on the last day, along with all of those who continue to rebel.

If you are a Christian, though, that is if you are trusting in Christ as your savior and following him as Lord, then he has given you his righteousness. You are made a part of the body of Christ—the church. When God looks at you, he sees the righteousness of His Son. You will not be crushed on the last day, but you will be saved. You will be blessed.

Admonition to the Nations

The psalmist moves again to a warning. He gives an admonition to the rulers of the earth:

[10] Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. [11] Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. [12] Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

This admonition is a gentle admonition, though. These rebellious would-be gods are being given a chance to turn to the LORD’s Messiah. They and we are called to turn to the Lord’s anointed with the kind of fear you ought to have before one who could have thrown you in to hell, but didn’t.

You and I are being challenged to give up those idols we cling to. We are being challenged to confess our sins, and to leave them, to run fast away from them. You are being called to stop loving yourselves more than you love God. You and I are being called to fear, love, and trust God above all things.

If any of you—staff, residents, family members—have any questions at all about anything you’ve heard, please ask me. I’d be happy to talk to you more about it.

Conclusion

To conclude, I will leave you with a quote from Charles Spurgeon that seems to summarize this psalm very well:

The first Psalm was a contrast between the righteous man and the sinner; the second Psalm is a contrast between the tumultuous disobedience of the ungodly world and the sure exaltation of the righteous Son of God. In the first Psalm, we saw the wicked driven away like chaff; in the second Psalm we see them broken in pieces like a potter's vessel. In the first Psalm, we beheld the righteous like a tree planted by the rivers of water; and here, we contemplate Christ the Covenant Head of the righteous, made better than a tree planted by the rivers of water, for he is made king of all the islands, and all the heathen bow before him and kiss the dust; while he himself gives a blessing to all those who put their trust in him. The two Psalms are worthy of the very deepest attention; they are, in fact, the preface to the entire Book of Psalms…. The first shows us the character and lot of the righteous; and the next teaches us that the Psalms are Messianic, and speak of Christ the Messiah—the Prince who shall reign from the river even unto the ends of the earth.

Preached 27 June 2009 at Springhurst Health & Rehab.

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