The Kings of the Earth
Psalm 2 (NRSV)
1 Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He 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,
with trembling 12 kiss his feet,
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 2 is a royal psalm, celebrating the anointing of a new king of Israel. Yet the new king is no ordinary king. He is the Lord’s anointed (verse 2), the Messiah, whom his enemies, the kings of the earth, are conspiring against. Yet in conspiring against him, they are opposing God himself. However, the Lord, enthroned in heaven, laughs at the plotters for their ridiculous plans. He leaves them in no doubt that he is in control, establishing his king on Zion, his holy mountain (6). God’s righteous fury is against those who oppose him and oppress his people. The powerful may think that they can do whatever they like in opposing God’s purposes, but their plans are worthless.
From verse 7 onwards, the scene shifts from the Lord’s throne in heaven to the anointed king’s coronation ceremony. Old Testament history demonstrates the failure of Israel’s kings; however, the prophets gave hope to the people that one day Gods anointed son/king would come and rule with righteousness, bringing peace and salvation to Israel and the world. God promises that his anointed son will break the power of evil rulers, smashing them like pottery with an iron rod suggesting the utter destruction of such powers (9). Finally, the anointed king takes office and warns the rulers of the earth to serve the Lord with wisdom and fear and ‘kiss his feet’ in the act of submission lest he is angry.
Whether we are insignificant in the world’s eyes or sit in places of power in church or state, we must understand that God is King over all, and it is foolishness to oppose his plans and purposes no matter who we may be. So, whenever we feel insignificant and overwhelmed by forces and powers beyond our control, we need to remember that God is in charge over all nations, and we can share in the blessing of ‘all who take refuge in him’ (12).
Overcome the powerful
and give refuge to the oppressed.
Enable your people to act justly.