Psalm 2: When the laughing stops.
Psalm 2 is a “Messianic Psalm: because it speaks of Jesus, the promised Messiah. Read Acts 4:25. That verse is a quote from Psalm 2:1 which Peter then applied to Jesus. Twice the author of Hebrews applied this Psalm to Jesus (1:5, 5:5).
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. Psalm 2 details the activities of both groups and describes, as Psalm 1 did, the end for each. Psalm 1 ends with the declaration “the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” Psalm 2 presents the Anointed one, or Jesus, who will provide the way for sinners to be declared righteous and will ultimately judge the wicked.
The Psalm divides into 4 stanzas, each 3 verses long, with each stanza looking at man’s sin from a different perspective. In stanza 1 which is verses 1-3, we have the situation viewed through the eyes of the Psalmist, although anyone today who reads the paper or checks the news online can relate to the question of verse 1. Read verses 1-3.
The Psalmist looked out at the world and saw that society was in rebellion against God. The leaders of that society wanted to end the rule of God. Verse 3 answers the question of verse 1 regarding whypeople conspire against God. Verse 3 declares that they no longer want to be tied to God’s rules and regulations. The people wanted to be free to live as they desired. It was a society that wanted the freedom to do what every man decided was right in his own eyes. The key to overthrowing restraints was being united, that is agreeing together. All we hear in the news today is that “obviously the commitment of the majority is changing and so must we” or “a new consensus shows… so get in line.”
In verse 2 the Psalmist described that activity as ultimately a rebellion against God’s Anointed one. You’ll notice that the word “Anointed” is capitalized. The Hebrew word used there 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 and Jesus as Lord of lords and King of kings.
Stanza 2, (verses 4-6), takes us behind the scenes for a heavenly perspective at man’s rebellion. They present the issue from God’s perspective. Read verses 4-6. The Psalmist records that God is laughing at the efforts to dethrone Him. Man can rebel but he cannot unseat God. We are answerable to God. God is 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 laughing at the efforts of man to dethrone Him. If ever the hope of dethroning Him held a possibility, and it really never did, the Cross and the empty tomb settled it all. Sin is serious and nothing to laugh at but the idea that one can dethrone God and thereby nullifying His declaration to judge sin is a joke. God is on the throne and not moving over.
In verse 5 the Psalmist declared that God will not always laugh at man’s futile efforts to dethrone Him. The time will come when He will speak. When God stops laughing it is all over. Judgment will come. When the laughing in heaven stops judgment on earth begins.
Verse 6 declares that God has installed His King. Just about every translation capitalizes “King.” Jesus will rule because the God who laughs at attempts to rebel against Him has decreed that He will. Read Philippians 2:9-11.
Stanza 3 is found in verses 7-9. Read verses 7-9. Here Jesus spoke and said that the Father had named Him “Son,” which is capitalized because it refers to Jesus. The whole declaration of what God has promised is repeated and amplified in the New Testament. Twice, at His baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration, God called Jesus His Son (Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:5). History is going somewhere, and God is not only totally in control of it, but it is right on time. Our legalization of sin is not derailing His plan or even slowing it a bit. Jesus will reign.
Notice particularly verse 7 announces, “I will proclaim the Lord’s decree.” Note it is a decree that God made. God can make that decree because He is still on the throne.
Verses 8 should impact how we view missions and our own personal witnessing. In verse 6 the narrator spoke for God and declared what God had done in the past, that is God’s decision to install Jesus as ruler of the earth. In verse 8 the narrator shared what God’s plan is for the future. That plan is to have the rule of Jesus spread to the entire world. God’s plan is to use the church. Read Matthew 29:19-20. God’s plan is for the whole world to hear the message of salvation and that will only happen through His church and those of us who make up that church.
Stanza 4, which is the final scene, is recorded in verses 10-12. (Read verses 10-12)
That stanza presents a warning, a command, and a promise. It begins with a warning to those who are 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. Think how appropriate that is to our generation when those who are seeking to rebel against God often describe themselves as the wise ones and Christians as the fools unwilling to give up outdated traditions. Sinful man defies God in the name of science, or education, or coming of age. Read Psalm 14:1. God says, “ Get wise, smarten up. I’m on the throne.”
Verse 11 commands us to serve the Lord with fear. In David’s day to serve the king was far more than doing little things for him. It was a commitment to him, to being his subject, to supporting him. When this is translated to the Anointed One, or Jesus, it is a call to belong totally to Him in every way. It is a call to be His subjects who are always seeking to be obedient to Him, to doing His will, to supporting Him in every way.
The biblical concept of service is not simply what we do, it is what we do as an expression of worship. Some translations actually translate the word “serve” as “worship.” Genuine worship or service is to be a time of celebration or joy because we recognize the awesome nature of the one who sits on the throne and the privilege we have of serving Him.
Verse 12 is an additional command. To kiss someone was a sign of loving submission to someone. The idea is that we are to not only serve Him, which in a sense we must do since He is sovereign, but that we are to do so lovingly. Psalm 2 called for a kiss of genuine love and commitment to Jesus, God’s Son.
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, the ones who honestly take refuge in God are those who are truly blessed, or as a word we perhaps 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. Read John 10:10.
Psalm 2 ends in the same way as Psalm 1 did. It presents only two alternatives for man. Man can refuse to acknowledge God and in which case “He will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment.” Or man can commit to following God, in which case God will “Bless all who take refuge in him.”
Psalm 2 reminds us that Jesus is on the throne. He will rule forever and ever. The rebels in any era who seek to deny that truth will ultimately be judged for their foolishness while those who trust God and His Word will ultimately be happy.