God’s Rule and Man’s Rebellion: Psalm 2: Part I Whose World Is It? The Reality of Rebellion 
Christ is King in the Midst of Rebellion

Introduction: Rebellion is a reality in God’s world. The five-part series: God’s Rule Man’s rebellion: Psalm 2 gives God’s answer to man’s rebellion. God’s answer is best for God and for man. Both of those truths are denied and Psalm 2 helps put them into perspective.

Psalm 2 is linked to Psalm 1. Based on Jewish and Christian traditions, the two may have been one manuscript. Psalm 2 continues to develop the doctrine of two ways begun in Psalm 1. Psalm 1 depicts and contrasts two groups of people and their ways: the sinner or wicked man and the righteous man. The wicked man is wise in his own ways and has no firm foundation but denies that fact. God’s ever-seeing presence and scrutiny of man and his ways is ignored or denied. This man produces bad fruit and he is judged appropriately. He cannot stand in God’s presence (1:5-6).

Psalm 2 picks up the description of the wicked in terms of their rebellion (Psalm 2:1-3). To their own destruction, they desire to be unfettered and unhooked from God and His Anointed One. They have a problem with God. The result is a revolt of cosmic proportion. The revolt begins in the individual’s heart and moves outward to involve nations and the world. Creation groans as well. Sin and misery, personal and national, are the consequences. It is not a pretty sight. The cosmic and individual treason will continue until Christ returns. These are the facts from God Himself.

Psalm 1 describes the righteous man which Psalm 2 identifies as the Lord’s Anointed (Messiah), Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God (2:6-9). While Psalm 2 may have reference to the lesser King David and even his descendants, Psalm 2 primarily focuses on the eternal Son of God as the future Divine Messiah and mankind’s response to Him. John 1:10-11 highlights mankind’s rebellion in the context of the nation of Israel. To say that fallen mankind does not like God, His rule and reign, is an understatement.

Psalm 2 does not downplay mankind’s rebellion. Rather and in contrast, the Holy Spirit highlights God’s control, majesty, and personal relationship with His people in the context of mankind’s futility and failure in seeking to dethrone God. Amazing love!

Psalm 2 is frequently quoted in the New Testament where it is applied to Christ as the Son of David and God’s Anointed (Acts 4:25-27; 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5; Revelation 1:5; 2:27; 12:5; 19:15). From start to finish the Psalter rings out that Jesus is King. The magi, Gentiles nonetheless, got the message and came to worship baby Jesus, the Christ and King (Matthew 2:9-11). They did not come to the city of Jerusalem or the temple. They came to worship the King as an early fulfillment of the Bible’s teaching that everyone will bow the knee to the exalted King Christ (Philippians 2:9-11).

Psalm 2 follows a simple four part outline: the psalmist speaks (v.1-3); God speaks (v.4-6), the Lord’s Anointed speaks (v. 7-9), and the psalmist speaks in conclusion (v.10-12). We will take up the message of each speaker in following blogs.

1. Compare and contrast the doctrine of two ways as set forth in Psalm 1 and explained in Psalm 2. What do you learn?
2. Look for similarities in the lesser and greater David. What do you learn?
3. Note the use of Psalm 2 in the New Testament. What is the significance of this fact?

God’s Rule and Man’s Rebellion: Psalm 2: Part II
Whose World Is it?
Corporate Rebellion: Its Origin and Continuation

We begin the series God’s Rule Man’s Rebellion: Psalm 2 by focusing on the first speaker (v.1-3) which is the psalmist himself:
v.1: why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain;
v.2: The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One;
v.3: “Let us break their chains,” they say “and throw off their fetters.”

The psalmist posed a why question as he began the psalm. Why is mankind rebelling? He pictured the nations and their rulers as rebels. He characterized these people as attempting to overthrow Yahweh. The psalm does not contain an answer. The psalmist thought it incredible that mankind would rebel against God. The major reason given for his incredulity is the futility of rebellion – they plot in vain. Their efforts separated God from man and they accomplished no good purpose. Yet mankind denies its rebellion. Separation from God seems logical and beneficial. Such is the legacy of the Garden and God’s judgment as recorded in Genesis 3.

The psalmist was asking an age-old question of whose world is it. He recorded mankind’s universal and definite boast that this world is mine. From fallen man’s perspective, life is about me and competing with God is necessary and even commendable. Since rebellion is commendable, it follows that crushing God’s agents – prophets, kings, and the Messiah – is necessary.

In the first three verses, the psalmist vividly expressed the content of the human heart as one of hatred against God and King Christ. If this was a coronation psalm, it depicts a nation’s response to a new king. In the near East, the coronation was often the occasion for mutiny and revolt against the crowned king. The messianic king who was to stand as God’s agent in the theocracy called Israel was a free target to be attacked. It is no wonder that King David had such a hard time with enemies within and outside of Israel. Such was the case for the greater King David, Jesus Christ, who came into His own but His own people rejected and rebelled against Him (John 1:10-11).

The psalm pictures the cosmic war of nations and individuals waged against God. The war is within the heart of every person, believer sometimes and non-believer constantly though in varying degrees. This war was first announced in Genesis 3:15. Adam chose Satan’s counsel and way which is to please and worship self in lieu of worshipping and pleasing God. After sin, Adam was in God’s presence as one defiled and corrupted. God chose not to kill Adam. Rather, God exiled Adam and Eve from the Garden and away from His presence. Mankind’s downward descent was underway. Subsequently, in all ages, the nations, rulers, and people have raged and rebelled against God. In that way they live out their corruption. As a whole, fallen mankind as a unit does not like God and His ways. Foolishly and futilely they are determined to attempt to unshackle themselves from God (v.3). They desired to give God a piece of their mind and do their own thing. This is the picture that is described in Psalms 10:1-11; 14:1; 53:1 and that which Paul described in Romans 3:9-19; 8:5-8; and Ephesians 2:1-3. Ignorant and arrogant mankind attempts to reverse his created, God-designed position as a dependent being.

The psalmist summarized mankind’s attempt in one word – futility – which is part of the curse for covenant breaking (Leviticus 26:16). Attacking God and rebelling against Him serves no useful purpose. Moreover, it expresses the biblical truth that fallen mankind attempts to suppress the truth about God and self. Fallen man leans on its own understanding, is wise in its own eyes, and lives by I want and I deserve.

Note the psalmist’s response to the rebellious people (v.1). It is one of the most important features of the psalm. He is dumbfounded and astonished that mankind would respond to God and His rule in the way described. Obviously the psalmist and the leaders and the nations have a different view of themselves and God. The two verbs translated as conspire and plot carry the meaning of turbulent and vigorous discontentment. Since the fall and God’s judgment, mankind continues to function in a counterintuitive and counterproductive manner (Proverbs 8:32-36). The psalmist describes this approach in terms of union. Mankind is united against God and His Anointed. This rebellion was expressed by Cain (Genesis 4), by the builders of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11), and by Pharaoh (Exodus 5:1-2).

Verse 2 pictures a person who is dug in, hunkered down, and firmly entrenched against God. The picture is not a pretty one. It is the reality of all mankind not just Israel. King David and the greater King David was God’s agent chosen to build a kingdom of righteousness and peace. However both were faced with much ungodly resistance from among their own people (see Psalms 3-4; 22:7-8; 71:10-11 and John 1:10-11).
Verse 3 records the people’s earnest desire to be rid of any dependence on God. The picture is realistic, common, and bleak. Man pretending to be God is idolatry. Man worships himself at the expense of God without a concern for others.

1. What is the cosmic war and what is the war within?
2. How do Genesis 3:15 and Galatians 5:16-18 picture the cosmic war and the war within the heart of every person?
3. How is it possible to consider God as the source and end of all that exists and happens?

God’s Rule and Man’s Rebellion: Psalm 2: Part III
Whose World Is It?
God’s Response

The second Speaker is Yahweh-God, the Father:
v.4: The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them
v.5: Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath saying,
v.6: “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

In verses 4-6, the psalmist paints a picture of God and His response to rebellious mankind. He laughs and He scoffs! God’s response is not heartless derision but a highlighting of the absolute absurdity of fools (see Proverbs 1:26-28; 8:32-36). God declares Himself as the One enthroned. The picture is in marked contrast to fallen mankind who are want-to-be gods and kings. In God’s response, the psalmist declares non-negotiable truths: God is, He speaks from His throne in heaven, and He is controlling, sustaining, and reigning now and forever. He is actively engaged in running His world. God is alive and active! He dwells in heaven but He has His “hands” on the pulse of every person and every event. Later, the psalmist emphasizes God’s presence, power, purpose, and goodness.

Throughout the Old Testament, God pointed the people not only to an earthly Zion but to the heavenly Zion. God was highlighting His presence. Heaven is God’s throne and the earth is His footstool (Psalms. 24:1-2; 29:1-11; Isaiah 66:1-2). He is Lord in heaven above and on the earth beneath. Psalm 2 declares that this is God’s world and that He has a mission: for His Son to bring a people for Himself into His presence (John 6:37-43). Fools and foolishness will not thwart God’s plan but are part of it (Isaiah 14:27; 43:13).

God reiterates the fact that He will not be mocked. Rather, He is the Mocker and Rebuker. He is somebody to be reckoned with. Hiss words and works are synonymous. When God speaks, it happens. Some theologians speak of the performative power of God’s word (dabar). When God speaks, it is so. There is power in the word; it accomplishes God’s purpose (Isaiah 55:11). The psalmist recorded God’s clear and direct statement: I have installed my King on Zion (2:6). God established the lesser David and the greater David as Davidic kings. Both kings will be installed in God’s own royal city – the earthly Zion and the heavenly Zion, respectively. The earthly Zion pointed to the heavenly Zion (Hebrews 12:18-21. 22-24; 13:14) and the lesser David to the greater David. The Psalm makes clear that this is God’s world, that He is in charge, and that His Son is God and King.

A major theme of Psalm 2 and throughout the Psalter is the Kingship of King over nations and people (Psalm 10:16; 47:2; 84:3; 95:3; 145:1, 13; 146-150). As demonstrated in this series: God’s Rule and Man’s Rebellion: Psalm 2 demonstrate that relationships matter and are dependent on God’s covenantal faithfulness. God is Sovereign King and Lord over all. God is at home enthroned in heaven. But He has His representative on earth. King David was the prototypic king to indwell Zion and he pointed to the greater David (2 Samuel 7:11-16). The psalmist expressed God’s vision: Christ, His eternal Son and the Messiah, is King now and forever (Psalm 2:7). A full-orbed presence of God and His Anointed is depicted in heaven, in Zion/Jerusalem, and among His people. An attack on God’s people is an attack on Jesus Christ and it is an attack on God.

1. What is your response to God’s laughing (see Psalm 59:8 and Proverbs 1:26-28)? What is the psalmist’s purpose for using this description of God?
2. God is active and involved in Hs world, the just Judge of the world: see Psalm 5:5-6; 7:11. How does that description fit Kingship?
3. How have you mocked God and His Anointed in terms of distrust and disobedience?

Psalm 2: Part IV
Christ is King and Speaks in the Midst of Rebellion

The third speaker is the Son, the Messianic King:
v.7: I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me “You are my Son, today I have become your Father.
v.8: Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of earth your possession.
v.9: You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.

In verses 7-9, the psalmist recorded the response of the Messianic King to God. The Lord announced the fact that God’s Anointed was His Son and He was God’s King. Therefore, His reign and kingdom were established and were to be consummated. These are powerful words that convey victory, hope, comfort, and encouragement in every generation.

Embedded in God’s words to the Son and the Son’s response are the fact of Yahweh’s presence, power, control, and Fatherhood. Moreover, they highlight God’s relationship with His Son and His people through His Son. God gave direction and promises which the Son gladly acknowledged and accepted. The two were one in glory, unity, and purpose although they two distinct persons.

The Messiah, the eternal Son of God, was to function as Prophet. He would proclaim the word of the Lord (v.7). He was to function as Priest both as the sacrifice and sacrifice-er, and as intercessor – “ask of me” (v.8). He was to function as King because He was God’s agent (v.9).
These verses had relevance to David’s earthly kingdom as recorded in the first two books of the Psalter and the historical books of the Old Testament. But from the New Testament we learn that the verses looked forward to and were to be fulfilled in Christ’s triumphant and eternal reign as the risen, exalted King (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5; Revelation 1:5; 2:27; 12:5; 19:15). Moreover, Christ is the righteous man described in Psalm 1. He is the prosperous One and the One in whom the Father was well-pleased (Matthew 3:17; 17:5).

In these verses (Psalm 2:7-9), the Messianic King proclaimed the significance of relationships. Both David and Christ were Davidic Kings and the Lord’s servants. The greater David, Jesus, was His Son (2 Samuel 7:5, 14; Psalm 110:1). King Jesus had a one-track focus: to please His Father.
In eternity past, the Triune God covenanted to bring a people into His presence in due time – when the time is fulfilled (see John 6:37-43; 10:11-13, 14-18, 25-30; 17:2, 6, 24-26; Galatians 1:4; 4:4; Ephesians 1:10). In eternity past the Father gifted the Son with a people. In John 6:37-40, we read that the Son receives His people from the Father (6:37), retains His people (6:39-40), and will resurrect His people (6:39-40). The Son returns God’s gift to the Father and the people will enter into the divine presence. The Son completes the true love cycle as the exalted King of kings and Lord of lords (1 John 4:7-12; 1 Timothy 6:16-17).

All Davidic kings were to imitate Christ in the areas of pleasing the Father and kingship. In the theocracy of Israel the adage is: as the king goes so goes the nation, God’s people. The king’s vertical relationship (to God) was to control the king’s relationship to the people. No king in the Northern Kingdom followed Christ and only a few (four –or six) did in the Southern kingdom. In marked contrast, the greater David, King Jesus, never failed. He was what the kings, King David, and Israel were not.

Israel had grievances with and distain for the lesser David who was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 7:46; 13:22). Israel had her own idea of how to live. They often imitated their king which wasn’t King Christ or even King David. They were an idolatrous, self-willed, self-serving nation. David, as God’s agent and king, imperfectly and in anticipation of the greater David, pointed to King Christ whose reign would be absolute. Christ would rule with an iron scepter emphasizing His power and might (v.9; see Genesis 49:10; Revelation 12:5; 19:15). In light of God’s person, power, and position, the Psalm highlights the futility, foolishness, and consequences of opposing God and His Anointed.

1. Psalm 2 is a preview of the Father’s opinion of the Son: see Matthew 3:17; 17:5. The Father was well-pleased with the Son: Why?
2. Is the Father well pleased with you? Give reasons for your answer. Why should He?
3. The overriding feature of Christ’s life is especially depicted in John’s gospel (4:31-34; 5:19-30; 6:38; 8:28-29): what is it and how does Psalm 2 fit into that picture?

Christ is King in the Midst of Rebellion: Psalm 2: Part V

The fourth speaker is the psalmist himself who speaks again:
v.10: Therefore you kings be wise; be warned you rulers of the earth.
v.11: Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
v.12: Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in his way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Continuing our series: God’s Rule and Man’s Rebellion, I focus on the last three verses. They conclude with the significance of God’s rule ands Man’s rebellion: Psalm 2. In these last three verses (verses 10-12), the psalmist entreats and warns rebellious mankind with an emphasis on the rulers. The conjunction, therefore, alerts the reader and the listener to listen up and take stock of God in His world. The psalmist warned the people in every age to abandoned their disastrous, rebellious mindset and lifestyle.

The leaders and nations were unwise and foolish – arrogant and ignorant – which is the nature of self-servers. God’s rule and man’s rebellion flows from a heart that functionally says: move over God! What the Psalmist recorded in verses 4-6 had relevance for people then and for us now. Likewise, In verse 10-12, the psalmist invited and commanded the rulers, the nations, and us, to be wise and prudent. The call to lay down their arms and submit is in stark contrast to the rulers’ activity described in verses 1-3. They were to distinguish between good and evil, clean and unclean (Leviticus10:10-11). Their thoughts and desires were to come in line with God’s. They were to put off trusting and pleasing-self and begin to trust and please God. God’s rule and man’s rebellion always clash. man must learn that God is the Winner and Victor. Those outside of Christ are the losers!

Submission to God rather than living for self is fundamental for every creature in God’s world. It was for Christ! In order for this to occur they had to change their view of God and themselves, corporately as a nation and individually. It involved the whole-person. Thoughts and desires about God and themselves had to change. This required a radical, supernatural change from the inside that only the Holy Spirit could perform. Proper and God-honoring actions would follow. A different mindset was needed and would be evidenced by joyful, humble submission.

In a nutshell, the psalmist called the leaders and the nations to fear the Lord. He reiterated Proverbs 3:5-8. Trusting in God and fear of the Lord or trusting in self and being wise in one’s own eyes are the only two choices for anyone, anywhere, and any time. The psalmist offered an interesting combination: fear the Lord, joyfulness, and trembling. This trio was instrumental in a proper response to God and His providence. Further it was evidence of an internal, supernatural change. This response characterized the greater David, King Christ, who is the eternal, preexistent Son of God. Jesus always feared the Lord thereby pleasing God in lieu of Himself. Yet, He was overwhelmingly satisfied and contented with the lifestyle of covenantal faithfulness as the God-man (John 4:31-34; 5:19-30). The psalmist called for everyone everywhere to imitate the response that was perfectly modeled by King Christ.

What an exciting vision and understanding of Jesus Christ. This knowledge is linked with knowledge of self. The psalmist’s words in verses 9-11 seem to echo John the Baptist’s words as recorded in John 3:30, where John wrote that the Baptist must decrease and Jesus was to increase. The words of the psalmist and John the Baptist teach mankind several things: they are not God, this is not their world, and they are unable to thwart God’s plans. In fact, their rebellion is part of God’s plan for His glory and the good of His people (Romans 8:28-29).

The psalmist closes with a call for grateful, loving submission: kiss the son (v.12). This is another call to fear the Lord. It is a call to love God as a nation and as one of His children. The psalmist added a positive and a negative motivation for submission. First, God is a God of wrath and does not bless His competitors (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). Second, those who submit are blessed. The psalmist returns to Psalm 1:6. Those who bow the knee literally and figuratively to King Christ are actually fearing the Lord, trusting Him and not themselves, and taking refuge in Him and not themselves (Proverbs 3:5-8; Psalm 46:10). They are truly blessed (Psalms 1:1-3; 2:12).

1. As a believer, in what ways do you function as the leaders and nations did as recorded in verses 1-3?
2. How does Psalm 150 echo God’s words as recorded in verses 4-6 of Psalm 2? To what time framework is Psalm 150 referring? What is the reason given to praise God?
3. How does Psalm 2 help you visualize Jesus as God, Lord, and King