Monday, November 26, 2007
Raging Nations and Psalm 2
As the world's attention is drawn to Annapolis, Maryland, and the so-called "peace" conference, I want to look at world leaders through the lens of the Psalms -- specifically the second one. This is derived from a sermon I preached back in early January.
Psalm 2 is a popular psalm especially for the Messianic prophecy in it. But there is a lot more to glean from it. It is a royal psalm that was written for the coronation of the Davidic kings, in keeping with the Lord’s covenant with David. (See 2 Samuel 7 to review that covenant). We also see in the psalm the future references to the ultimate fulfillment when Christ assumes the throne of His father David. We also see the judgment that falls on the house of David and the ultimate redemption of God’s people.
Note how the rulers of the earth are portrayed beginning in verse 2. It is interesting that this is an active rebellion, not a passive one. Rather than just ruling as evil leaders, they are shown to be actively TAKING COUNSEL TOGETHER against the Lord and His Anointed. The term anointed can be used to refer to the King of Israel/Judah, as in 1 Samuel 24 when David refused to smite Saul. It also refers to Jesus -- the English word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word for anointed one. Our Jewish friends try to dispute that, but that's another post for another time.
In verse 3, look at the complaint of the earth’s rulers. They actually are chafing at the Lord’s restraint, but the Lord actually laughs at them and reminds them that He is sovereign over His creation. Proverbs 21:1 – “The heart of the king is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” We know that God’s wrath against evil is in firm keeping with His holy character. God’s wrath against sin reflects His righteousness.
God is the one who puts kings in their positions and removes them at will. Daniel 2:21 says “it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings.” In recent times, we had an example of that in the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan. I am sure that Turkmenistan’s President Niyazov had no idea he would be immediately ushered in to stand before the real “father of all Turkmen” as Niyazov liked to style himself. I can’t help thinking of that golden statue that revolves with the sun in Ashgabat built at Niyazov’s orders. I remember another statue erected by the order of a king in Daniel 3. That was a remarkable event considering Daniel’s prior interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the warning contained therein. What ultimately happened to Nebuchadnezzar? He ended up eating grass in a field for seven years. God overruled him and judged him for the sin of wanting godlike worship.
How many times do we see this throughout world history? A ruler wanting to be God and ruling like a despot. (As an aside, how many times do we as individuals want to be God? We don’t come out and say it, but when we rebel against the Lord, we are really saying we want to be autonomous in our own lives, aren’t we?)
The psalm ends with a glorious promise to all who trust in God.
As the Annapolis peace conference gets underway, I am thinking about all of this again. In my earlier post on the possible upcoming war, I referenced the Oracle of Damascus in Isaiah 17. Damascus is one of the oldest continually lived-in cities. It has never been completely destroyed and removed from being a city. This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, but it will be in the future. How? Israel? Nukes? It remains to be seen.
No matter what happens, we know from Scripture (and experience) that the Lord's decrees will be accomplished. This is in keeping with Isaiah 46:10 – “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure.’”
Wouldn't it be nice if the world would remember that? It would be really nice if those of us in the church would remember it.