Psalm 2: When the laughing stops.
Jesus said, according to John 5:39, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” The Old Testament is filled with prophetic promises that detail the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Read Luke 24:25-27 where we have the key phrase “Written in the Psalms.” Those Psalms that speak of Jesus are called “Messianic Psalms.” Many of those Psalms are applied by the writers of the New Testament specifically to Jesus.
Psalm 2:1. is quoted in Acts 4:25 and Peter applied it to Jesus.
Psalm 2 may originally have been part of Psalm 1 since they are connected in some early Hebrew Bibles. Psalm 1 divides mankind into 2 categories, those who follow God and are righteous and those who refuse to follow Him and are described as wicked in Psalm 1:4. Psalm 2 expands on that and details the activities of both groups and their end.
Historically this Psalm was probably written shortly after a new king of Israel had been named and some of nations that had previously submitted to Israel began to rebel. In most Old Testament prophetic writing there was a double meaning, one understood by those who first read/heard it and a deeper meaning that God had for future generations. Psalm 2 fits several Old Testament historical settings, but was never fully realized in those kingdoms. It will be in the promised kingdom of the Messiah or of Jesus that they become a reality.
In all probability Psalm 2 was originally recited using 3 or 4 different speakers. The Psalm divides nicely into 4 stanzas, each 3 verses long with each stanza looking at man’s sin from a different perspective. In verses 1-3 we have the situation viewed through the eyes of the king or anyone today who reads the paper or checks the news online. (Read verses 1-3) The Psalmist looked out at the world and saw that society was in rebellion against God. Many were planning and plotting to end the rule of God. They declare, according to verse 3, that they no longer want to be tied to God’s rules and regulations. Many today want to be free to live as they desire. Many want everyone to accept the idea that sin does not exist, and everyone is free to do as he wishes. The key to overthrowing restraints is being united, that is agreeing together. The Psalmist described all of that activity in verse 2 as rebellion against God’s Anointed one. In most translations that the word “Anointed” is capitalized. The Hebrew word is the one from which we get the word “Messiah” and the Greek word “Christ.” The clamor to be free to sin if one wants to is rebellion against Jesus. The “right to choose” is really the desire to reject God’s standard. Real freedom is freedom gained at the Cross and it is freedom to reject sin and choose God.
Stanza 2 (verses 4-6) takes us behind the scene for a heavenly perspective at man’s rebellion. In verse 4 we find God in a panic, trying desperately to figure out what to do next about this rebellion that is close to dethroning Him as God and placing man on the throne. Actually, that is not what is happening. (Read verses 4-6) The Psalmist tells us that God is laughing at the futile efforts to dethrone Him. Man can rebel but man cannot unseat God. Ultimately, we are all answerable to God. We can try to deny it, side-step it, fight it, or whatever, but God is now and always will be on the throne and His will will ultimately be done.
Don’t assume that God is laughing at sin. There is nothing funny about that. God is merely laughing at the efforts of man to dethrone Him. Sin is serious and nothing to laugh at but dethroning God and thereby nullifying His declaration to judge sin is a joke.
Verse 5 is critical to this scene from heaven. The Psalmist declared that God will not always laugh at man’s futile efforts to dethrone Him but the time will come when He will speak. When God stops laughing it is all over. Judgment comes. Read Revelation 6:15, 16.
Verse 6 is too easily overlooked but is an incredible statement. God declared that He had installed His King. Note again that “King” is capitalized. Jesus will rule because the God who laughs at attempts to rebel against Him has decreed that He will. Read Philippians 2:9-11. There’s no doubt about it! God is on the throne and Jesus will return to rule forever just as God decreed it will happen. We are on the winning side. The outcome has been decreed and is, therefore, certain.
Scene 3 is found in verses 7-9. (Read verses 7-9) The Psalm looks ahead and declared that Jesus would say that the Father had named Him “Son,” which again is capitalized because it refers to Jesus. The whole declaration of what God has assured us about Jesus and what will be His is repeated and amplified over and over in the New Testament. History is going somewhere. God is not only totally in control of it but it is right on time.
Note the declaration that the Anointed one or Messiah, or as we know Him, Jesus, is His Son. Read Matthew 3:17 and 17:5.
The final scene is verses 10-12. (Read verses 10-12) A 4th person speaks. After the Psalmist introduced the Psalm, God the Father spoke in scene 2 and Jesus spoke in scene 3 so some have suggested that perhaps this is the Holy Spirit who speaks here since one of the major ministries of the Holy Spirit is to convict and challenge us. That is worth thinking about.
What does scene 4 tell us? (Read verses 10-12) Those verses present a warning, a command and a promise. Verse 10 is a warning to the kings who have already been identified as those in rebellion against God. It simply tells them to wise up, get smart, wake up and see what they are doing and where it all ends. How appropriate this is to our generation when those who are seeking to rebel against God so often describe themselves as the wise ones and Christians as the fools unwilling to give up outdated traditions. They defy God in the name of science, education, or coming of age. God says to them, “get smart and see the truth of who I am and what I have told you to do.” Read Psalm 14:1.
Verse 11 commands us first to serve the Lord with fear. Keep the initial setting of the Psalm in mind. It was a coronation Psalm and the understanding of those who first heard it were told they were to serve the king. Serving a king was far more than doing little things for him. It was a commitment to him. It’s a commitment to being his subject and supporting him. When this is translated to the Anointed One, to Jesus, it is a call to belong totally to Him in every way. It’s a call to be His subjects who are always seeking to be obedient to Him, doing His will, and supporting Him in every way. That is why Jesus spoke of our being part of a new kingdom. God wants us to know that we are to serve our King in every way we can.
Verse 12 is an additional command that needs to be understood within the culture within which it was written. To kiss someone was a sign of loving submission to that individual. The idea was that we are to not only serve Jesus, which we must do because He is sovereign, but we are to do so lovingly. Read I Corinthians 16:22
The Psalm ends with a promise. It literally says that in contrast to those who plot to be free of God’s restraints and live as they want, those who honestly take refuge in God are blessed, or are as a word we better understand, “happy.” Those who claim the right to do their own thing often do so because they think that sinning will satisfy them or make them happy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who follow God’s way are the genuinely happy ones. That is why Jesus could tell His disciples and us that He came to give us not only life everlasting but the fullness of an abundant life. Life really is better lived God’s way.
Psalm 2 reminds us that God (Jesus) is on the throne. He will rule forever and ever. The rebels who seek to deny that truth will ultimately be judged for their foolishness and those who trust God and His Word will ultimately be happy. This Psalm is a reminder that God is in control and therefore we are challenged to remain true to Him.