Series on the Psalms, Text: Psalm 2, Title: The Inevitable Kingdom


We learned last week that a major function of Hebrew poetry is to apply the law of God to the life of the believer in the varied circumstances of life. We saw that Psalm 1 sums up the importance of God’s law-word in the life of the believer. Psalm 1 belongs to a group of psalms usually designated as wisdom psalms. There are many other thematic ways to classify the Psalms. Some are obvious such as psalms of praise and psalms of thanksgiving, Then there are laments which express the fear or sadness or anger. These Psalms take us to the heart of the human experience of living in a fallen world and the frustrations encountered. There are also Psalms of confidence like Psalm 23. But one of the major themes of the Psalms is kingship. Although there are many Psalms that focus precisely on  kingship because they are psalms of coronation or Psalms applicable to specific events, this theme of kingship and the kingdom of God is foundational to the Psalter. The first reason for this is that the entire concept of the true God entering into a covenant relationship with His people is presented in the Torah or Books of Moses according to the model of the great King or suzerain making a treaty with his servant people. Secondly the entire theocracy of the Old Testament, that is, the organization of Israel as a people, is based on the idea that God is their King.  Prior to the advent of kingship in Israel, God was their only king. Afterwards the earthly kings were his representatives. Thus I believe the editors of the New Geneva Bible are correct in saying that Psalm 2 as well as Psalm 1 are introductory to the whole Psalter. In summary fashion, Psalm 2 sets before us the ultimate choice as does Psalm 1. Where Psalm 1 focuses on the commands of the king or the stipulations of his covenant, Psalm 2 focuses on allegiance to the true king. Charles Spurgeon also sees these two Psalms together as an introduction to the Book of Psalms and he writes, “The first shows us the character and lot of the righteous: and the next teaches us that Psalms are messianic, and speak of Christ the Messiah, the Prince who shall reign from the river even unto the ends of the earth, They are in fact the preface to the entire book of Psalms.”  Since Jesus taught his disciples that all must be fulfilled which was written in Moses and the prophets and the Psalms concerning him must be fulfilled (Luke 24),  it is fitting that the Psalms should also begin with a Psalm which clearly alerts the reader to this fact. In Psalm 2 we see: the  opposition  to the kingdom of God, the  ordination of the kingdom of God, and the obligation of the kingdom of God.

I The Opposition to the kingdom of God

The overall  civil and political implications of this Psalm are clear. The opposition is between God’s kingdom and the world in verses 1-3, Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The effect of the entrance of sin into the world is to corrupt society. As is made clear by the story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 and by your daily newspapers and TV news, the centralization and organization of society aggravates man’s sinfulness. Regarding Babel God says, now nothing they propose to do will be withheld from them and God confused their language and scattered them. Thus not only sinners mock God, but human societies oppose his rule and his kingdom. They do this deliberately, taking counsel together. When we read "against the Lord and his anointed" we must think first of the anointed King of Israel who was the leader of God’s people. Specifically this is David who is identified in the New Testament as the author of this Psalm (Acts 4:25). It soon becomes clear in the language of the Psalm that this ruler is regarded as the Son of the real King,  who is God Himself. In the light of the New Testament which allude to this Psalm in Matthew, Acts, Romans, and Hebrews it is David’s descendent, Jesus the Messiah, who is ultimately in view. He combines an earthly kingship over God’s people with the ultimate sovereignty of God Himself. Over against all opposition God sovereignly ordains His kingdom.

II The Ordination of the kingdom of God

The description of this ordination begins with God mocking his enemies in verses 4-9, The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” A fitting response. He mocks them because none can stay his hand or say unto him what are you doing (Daniel 4:35). We have a royal decree which cannot be thwarted. By His mercy to David and by his approval of His only Son God not only establishes his throne but he declares victory over all enemies. In a limited way this was fulfilled during the reign of Solomon in the subjugation of the ungodly, but the New Testament applies this Psalm to the resurrection, ascension and Session of Jesus at God’s right hand in Acts 13:32-34, We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words: “I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised,” and also in Hebrews 1:3-5. Whatever the  triumphs of God’s king and kingdom in the Old Testament, the ultimate ideal and fulfillment is in Jesus Christ’s dominion over the nations. It was ordained and consequently is absolute. The final defeat of all enemies can only come through David’s Son, Jesus. There is therefore an obligation.

III The Obligation of the kingdom of God

The obligation is not to be a fool but to be wise, as in verses 10-12, Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. 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 is a juggernaut. It is an inescapable and inevitable conclusion to human history. One must submit or perish in the way. Not only we individually but all expressions of human society must acknowledge his Lordship. All must embrace his kingship or endure his wrath. It doesn’t take much, “when his wrath is kindled but a little,” or “his wrath can flare up in a moment.” Notice please that Yahweh, the God of Israel, is to be served with fear. This does not mean slavish fear of final judgment. The next line says rejoice with trembling. Those who embrace God’s representative rejoice in his royal decree, but they do so with a trembling that knows the consequences of any other course of action.

Summary of Psalm 2

Psalm Two presents the inevitable triumph of God’s kingdom because of His sovereign decree. God’s covenantal kingship permeates the entire Psalter. God holds all the opposition of peoples and kingdoms in derision because his purpose is to establish his kingdom and restore his dominion through the Messiah who is both Davids Son and God’s Son. Rebellion is futile because the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ.