God’s surprising authority

This second Psalm, like the first one, is about people being made happy by God. The first one began with ‘Blessed is…’, This second one ends in the same way.

Together, they are introducing us to two themes that intertwine throughout the Psalter—a life that pleases God, and the gracious reign of God that makes it possible.

So, we come to the second Psalm.

I can’t think of a prayer more needed than the one this Psalm inspires. It confronts the world’s opposition to God and announces the sovereignty of Jesus Christ whom God has appointed to be in charge.

Why do the nations rage so badly and so constantly? This anger is not just between nations but with God. It’s this argument that leads to our problems with each other. And it is a fury without basis—it’s empty or vain. There is a mountain of evidence that God is good and that we can trust him.

We’ve had this problem from our beginnings. Cain kills his brother because of his witness to God’s goodness. He needs to remove the evidence. Years later, the human race does the same to the Son of God.

That’s how old the problem is. And it hasn’t gone away.

But God always goes right on with his plan. He raises up a nation, and appoints (anoints) a king to lead them. Here, in Psalm 2, the King is David.

David understands that his job is not just being strong but about Israel being a witness to the nations. It’s not about power but about God being good. This is why he’s confident about killing Goliath with a sling shot, not because he can aim well but because this godless man has taunted Israel’s God (1 Sam. 17:36).

David’s successors are also called to lead Israel in being God’s witness to the world. They do not do this well, but they are signs of the King whom God will appoint—no less than his eternal Son.

This Psalm was probably used for the coronation of Israel’s kings, but it predicts the coming of Jesus, born to be ‘King of the Jews’ (Matt. 2:2).

That’s why the early church quotes this Psalm—or, if your like, prays this Psalm—when they encounter the rage of their religious leaders (Acts 4:25-26).

And here is why we need this Psalm to help us pray. When the world hates God, they threaten us. It’s then that we need to know that Christ’s authority is not in question. The arguments against him are not only invalid but lifeless. They can’t succeed.

Here’s the reasons.

First, God himself announces that Jesus is his Son. He says this when Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist (Luke 3:22). He does it again when Jesus is transfigured before some of his disciples (Luke 9:35). He does it again by raising Jesus from death—right here in our history (Romans 1:4). He is saying to the whole world, ‘You need to hear what my King is saying!’ (Acts 5:30-31).

Second, God has promised the nations to Jesus as an inheritance. Opponents to this purpose will be shattered. All nations—the people of all nations, must hear the witness of Jesus that God is good. They must receive the forgiveness and restoration to sonship that he is offering.

Third, the gentleness of Jesus—God’s King—is like a rising tide, unstoppable. He is all of God’s goodness wrapped into one human body. He is also all of God’s authority. Resisting his witness is fatal.

Everyone should get wise, be warned. Especially those who think they are in charge. Everyone should humble themselves to serve God and to reverence his Son—our Lord, Jesus Christ.

When we hear his voice and receive his grace, we understand the meaning of authority. We are delighted, and tremble—all at the same time. He has our full attention.

So, let’s pray.

Father in heaven, we humble ourselves before you. Our anger against you has not been justified. Our boldness has been childish.

You have watched our strutting, amazingly, with patience. And you have continued to reveal what you mean by ‘running the world’ through raising your Son—whom we killed, and giving him authority to raise up a new humanity.

Father, when we are attacked by those who don’t understand how you rule the world, give us the same patience and grace as your Son has demonstrated. And the same confidence in your authority.

How good to know this world is a family affair—that all the nations are a gift from you to your Son.

Help us see through the bluster of those the world calls great. Help us to see the gracious and powerful authority of your King—our Lord Jesus Christ. And tremble before him, with delight! Amen.

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