Psalm 2, The Reign of the LORD’S Anointed
1, Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
2, The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
4, He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
5, Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying,
6, “As for Me, I have set My King on Zion, My holy hill.”
7, I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are My Son; today I have begotten You.
8, “Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage, and the ends of the earth Your possession.
9, “You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10, Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11, Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12, Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
This is a Christological psalm, and it is the first. This psalm starts off with a rhetorical question. Resisting God’s authority is a futile effort, so why do nations seek to be independent of God, or enemies of Him and His children? The word “anointed” in the text is the Hebrew word that translates to Messiah, which in the Greek translates to Christ, as shown in the image below. The New Testament makes it clear that this psalm was written in application to the coming Christ (Acts 13:32-33), as all the psalms are about Christ (Luke 24:44). This psalm, however, is specifically a Messianic psalm that tells of the coming opposition that will be against Christ. Past nations have set themselves against God and the Anointed One, Jesus Christ the Messiah, as current nations still do today, desiring to “burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords” from them—that is, to be independent of God and Christ so as to not be bound by God’s authority.
Of course, God laughs at such futility. One may deny God’s authority, but denying His authority does not unbind you from it, and neither does it make Him any less real. You are bound by His authority whether you like it or not. So believing one can be released from His authority—the Creator of the entire universe and of all things known and unknown—truly is hysterical. As such futile denial occurs, God will ridicule them with His wrath. In His ridicule, He will pass judgement upon them, be it by oppression, famine, pestilence, war, whatever He finds suitable. Yes, our God is loving and merciful, but He is also just. There seems to be this thinking that God is simply this gentle, merciful, graceful, loving Creator. He is all those things, yes, but He is also just and holy, which is exhibited against His enemies in His wrath. In America, it seems this nation is perhaps being punished by a near economic crisis and raising poor, depraved leaders as it continues to condone and even encourage sins such as homosexuality. If such punishment comes, we should not be surprised.
In Scripture, Zion is often used to signify the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel as a whole. Zion was a southern hill upon which a Jebusite stronghold was fortified until David conquered it (2 Samuel 5:6-7). After some time, it became synonymous with Jerusalem. In verse 6, God declares King David as the only king with the representation and authority of His authority. Therefore, as Jesus Christ is made King through God’s anointing in the line of David (see a record of the genealogy in Matthew 1), so He is the only King to exercise God’s authority over Zion (that is, the church of Christ, which is the entire body of believers). If you recall, I discussed in my article The Importance of Fellowship that we get the word “church” from the Greek word ἐκκλησία (eh-klay-SEE-ah), which literally translated means “the whole body of Christian believers.” Furthermore, Since Zion, or Jerusalem, is symbolically representative of all Israel, that includes all Christians of all time (read the following verses in this order Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 6:15-16; and Philippians 3:3). This is because of the promise of the covenant God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be passed through all their descendants; and if you remember, God gave Jacob the new name Israel. Israel’s descendants started as a family, which eventually grew into a literal nation (the Jews), and continues in all Christians today because of the three aforementioned passages I provided in Romans, Galatians, and Philippians.
Thanks for reading through that long digression, but let’s go back to God’s laughing in verse 4, which Martin Luther comments:
Let us laugh at raging Satan and the world (yes, even at sin and our conscience in us). Truly, because the punishment of the godless is delayed up to now, it is certain that God is also laughing, God, who is in heaven and cannot be driven from there by impious men. Therefore He rightly laughs at their vain attempts. (Luther’s Works American Edition, 12:25.)