August 10, 2010 David Balzer

Psalm 2: Don’t mess with God’s King!

Do you remember the Gulf War? Saddam Hussein was taking over Kuwait. The United Nations condemned him. And America started to get involved. Most normal people would have backed down. A tiny nation taking on the might of the UN, and America. It was ridiculous!

But not Saddam! He revved up his people. He conscripted children into the army. He manipulated the international media. He stockpiled weapons. He manoeuvred tanks and planes and missiles.

I remember thinking at the time, “What’s the point? Why is he bothering? He doesn’t have a hope of winning!” It was almost as if he didn’t realise who he was taking on!

And the UN responded by sending in troops. And the message was clear. Don’t mess with UN! Don’t mess with America! You haven’t got a hope!

And in the end, Iraq was beaten pretty quickly. Sent packing with their tail between their legs. And they’re STILL feeling the consequences. No-fly zones. Trade embargos. Bans on imports like medicines.

The message was clear! Don’t mess with the UN!

And in Psalm 2 we get a similar message. Don’t mess with God. And don’t mess with God’s king.

The rulers of this world might rant and rave. Shake their puny fists at God. They might even seem to be getting the upper hand. But the reality is that God just laughs at their feeble plans. They haven’t got a hope. Just like Saddam.

And the centre of God’s plans is GOD’S KING. His special weapon. Just like the awesome US army was the trump card for the UN.

God’s King. He’s someone whose good books you want to make sure you’re in. And that’s the point of this Psalm. Make sure you’re on the right side of God’s King. Because he’s God’s representative. With his power.

So watch out!

1. Pointless Plotting (v1-3)

Look at verse 1. The writer can’t BELIEVE the kings of the nations would even CONSIDER messing with God’s King! It doesn’t matter how big an alliance they form. All their plotting is rather pointless.

(Ps 2:1 NIV)  Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

They think they’re ganging up on one king. But the problem is, this PARTICULAR king has GOD in his corner. He’s appointed, or anointed the king. It’s the ultimate royal appointment. And that definitely tips the scales the other way. Verse 2.

(Psalm 2:2 NIV)  The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.

Listen to what they plot. They’ve got rebellion on their minds. Verse 3

(Psalm 2:3 NIV)  “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”

“We know better. We want to be our OWN boss. Let’s FORGET God. Let’s FORGET his king. Let’s run our own life our OWN way!”

It’s not much different from people today, is it!? We see so many different examples of this type of collaborating. The United Nations itself. It was set up to try to solve the problems of the world. Famine. War. Economic Inequality. Hatred. Intolerance. And even though it seems to be doing good work, it’s building a house of cards. Because they’re problems which CAN’T be fixed by human solutions. They’re leaving God out of the equation, and trying to fix the world with HUMAN answers.

And to leave out God is the same thing as conspiring against God.

Or environmentalism. It’s a world-wide movement. And it’s something good for Christians to be involved in. Because we’ve got a God-given duty to look after our world. But it’s a movement which can’t address the BASIC human problem. It’s greed and selfishness which produces the mis-use and over-use of resources. And that’s never going to be fixed by recycling aluminium cans.

To IGNORE God’s plans for his world, is the same as plotting against him.

Or the new gene technologies. Human cloning. Scientists the world over, collaborating to tinker with the genes of new human beings. They’re so busy working out whether they CAN do it, they’re not spending enough time asking whether they SHOULD do it.

Now, I’m not saying that science is bad, or even that gene technologies are bad, because I’m sure there’ll be some great benefits. But when people start to think that by JOINING TOGETHER, they can go beyond where we’re meant to go, that’s plotting AGAINST GOD.

What about on a smaller scale? How do INDIVIDUALS conspire against God? Morality becomes relative. It must be alright to sleep around – everyone’s doing it. It’s okay to speed, everyone’s doing it. It’s more important to be tolerant than to defend the truth. Because that’s what EVERYONE ELSE is doing.

It’s the same with cheating on your tax, or stealing from work, or updating your car, or upgrading your house. “Everyone’s doing it, so it must be right”. But it’s this sort of collaboration that’s plotting against God, because it’s ignoring his standards.

One more example. The new combined space station. It’s being built in orbit around the earth at the moment. A joint project of the world’s superpowers. And I’m sure it’s going to be useful for something. I’m just not quite sure what! Billions of dollars being spent. The combined resources of the nations of the world. But, ultimately, what’s it going to achieve?

It’s Psalm 2 which gives us the right perspective on all this human endeavour.

Andy Thomas, the supposed Australian astronaut, was speaking from space last week. Describing the view of South Australia as he zoomed past it from 150 km in space. How small everything was. How far he could see. How fine the detail was.

But just imagine the view from a bit further up. Let’s zoom up to heaven, and imagine what God looks at as he looks down on all the human posturing and posing. All the thousands of people shaking their tiny fists at God.

As he looks at that tiny space station. Floating around a tiny planet, around a medium sized sun, which is a miniscule part of just one galaxy among thousands. That’s perspective! That’s seeing things as they really are!

And what does God do? If I was God, I’d just laugh. Look at v4.

2. Don’t mess with God (v4-5)

Is he WORRIED that people are plotting against him? No way! He looks at the best we can muster. And verse 4. The One enthroned in heaven LAUGHS; the Lord scoffs at them. That’s how much of a threat God thinks our plans are.

But God doesn’t just LAUGH at that these rebellious kings. He’s furious. Because when it comes to God, MUTINY is the ultimate mistake. They need to learn that you don’t mess with God. Verse 5. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath

And it’s the same fate that’s coming for the world. No matter how much good it does. Even the U.N. If it ignores God, and tries to make do without him, it’s destruction is coming.

3. Don’t mess with God’s King (v6-9)

God’s full of anger. And wrath. And we’re expecting something big in the next verse. A bolt of lightning. Or perhaps plagues. A natural disaster or two. But God’s got something unexpected. And at first sight it doesn’t seem too awesome at all.

(Psalm  2:5-6 NIV)  Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, {6} “I have installed my KING on Zion, my holy hill.”

It’s a king. A human representative. And God’s message is, “Don’t mess with God’s King!”

But on the surface, he doesn’t LOOK too fearsome. He’s on Mt Zion. That’s the hill Jerusalem is built on. A little hill in dusty Israel. A bit like Rooty Hill. Not much to write home about as far as mountains go.

And Jerusalem wasn’t a BAD size city. But hardly something to compare with Babylon or Egypt or Persia or Lebanon.

And Israel itself was hardly the sort of nation to trouble any decent sized army. And certainly not a combined army. An alliance of a few nations.

And this is where God’s appointed his instrument. The one who’s going to execute all this wrath and anger.

But the important thing is, that God’s the one who’s appointed him. “I have installed my king…” It’s because he’s God’s REPRESENTATIVE that he’s to be feared.

Like an ambassador in a foreign country.

Imagine when the trouble first started in Iraq. And Saddam Hussein gets a phone call from the American ambassador. The guy might only have been a middle level diplomat who drew the short straw. (He got Baghdad rather than Paris).

But Saddam would be in no doubt that this guy was someone not to be fooled around with. Because he REPRESENTED the whole nation of the United States. And it’s the same with God and his king. The king is someone to be reckoned with. Because he’s got God fighting in his corner.

4. God’s guarantees (v7-9)

Listen to what the king says about God’s guarantees to him. Verses 7-9. God’s decree. All the things God promises to deliver.

Sonship (7)

It’s like the conditions of a new job contract. And here the king recites them on the day he’s crowned as king. And the first guarentee is SONSHIP.

(Psa 2:7 NIV)  He said to me, “You are my Son ; today I have become your Father.

Now we immediately think about Jesus here, don’t we? God’s Son. It’s what God said at Jesus’ baptism. “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” But it’s not really that unusual for normal human kings. For example, God says the same thing about Solomon who was going to build the temple. 2 Sam 7:13.

He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. {14} I will be his father, and he will be my SON.

Inheritance (8-9) – Jer 18:1-8:

God’s saying that his relationship with his king will be as close as father and son. And what does a father normally give a son? An inheritance. Verse 8. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

It’s God’s right to give because he made it. And that means his king has the right to rule the whole earth. Just like God does.

But it’s a funny kind of inheritance isn’t it. We normally think of an inheritance as something nice. A bonus. An unexpected windfall. But not THIS inheritance! Verse 9. You will rule them with an iron scepter ; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

The iron sceptre is a symbol of strong government. Not putting up with any nonsense. And to dash the rebellious kings like pottery is a pretty violent sort of image, isn’t it?

Doesn’t sound like much of an inheritance! But it’s like inheriting the family business. There’s privileges in running the business, but there’s also responsibilities that go WITH the privileges. Like finding the money to pay the staff, keeping the business running smoothly, paying creditors, satisfying customers.

And in this case, the responsibilities of the inheritance are to smash the rebellious kings like pottery. The king inherits the job from God.

It all sounds a bit unfair until we realise that it’s rebellion against GOD that’s being punished. God’s the one who made the pots. He’s the potter. So he can do whatever’s fair with his pots. Listen to how Jeremiah puts it. It’s the same sort of argument as in this Psalm. To rebel against God is as ridiculous as pots rising up against the potter. And God’s got EVERY RIGHT to just squash the rebels, like a potter squashes a lump of clay. Ch 18 v1.

(Jer 18:1-8 NIV)  This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: {2} “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” {3} So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. {4} But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. {5} Then the word of the LORD came to me: {6} “O HOUSE OF ISRAEL, CAN I NOT DO WITH YOU AS THIS POTTER DOES?” declares the LORD. “LIKE CLAY IN THE HAND OF THE POTTER, SO ARE YOU IN MY HAND, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL. {7} (But) If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, {8} and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.

5. A moral to the story (10-12)

Notice what else is in these verses? There’s a WARNING, and a CHANCE TO REPENT. God’s got the right to DESTROY the pot. But at the same time he gives the pot another chance to turn around.

So often, in the Old Testament, that’s the way God works. He’s perfectly within his rights to wipe the sinful people off the face of the earth, but he offers ANOTHER chance to repent. Grace upon grace. Patience upon patience. And it’s just as well for US that God works like that, isn’t it?!

And once again, here in Psalm 2, God’s offering a chance to repent! Verse 10. It’s the narrators turn to offer a moral to the story. A conclusion.

(Psa 2:10-12 NIV)  THEREFORE, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. {11} Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. {12} Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment.

The lesson to be learned from all of this, is that rebellious people need to repent. Wisdom isn’t found in plotting and meetings. Wisdom is to recognise God’s right to rule. “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling”.

And that’s going to mean swearing allegiance to HIS KING as well. “Kiss the Son, lest HE be angry and you be destroyed in you way”.

And that’s how the Psalm finishes. Well, almost. There’s one last line. It’s the writer’s final take on the whole saga. He’s given the warning. The NEGATIVE. And then he finishes with the POSITIVE. What’s going to happen to those who are on the side of God, and on the side of his king. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him”.

Whoever takes refuge in God, and in his king is blessed. Whoever flees to the king, and asks for refugee status, is blessed. Like American citizens who fled to the American embassy in Baghdad in the first few days. The whole weight of the United States government was behind them. Diplomatic channels, special aircraft charters, emergency operations, high level negotiations. They took their refuge, and things worked out well.

6. Who’s the King?! (Acts 13:32-33)

So that’s the Psalm. Man’s plans versus God’s. And for man to think he can measure-up is just laughable.

But it’s really God’s KING who’s the focus. He’s God’s INSTRUMENT for justice and rule. He’s the one God chooses and crowns and adopts. He’s the one who gets the inheritance.

But WHO IS HE? Who is God’s King in this Psalm? It could be about David, or Solomon. Or, in fact, ANY of the kings who followed after them. But the problem is, none of them really measure up. Israel’s best were still nothing to how this king is described. David and Solomon weren’t a PATCH on THIS king. They were just SHADOWS of the reality.

The king who’s described here is the IDEAL. The PINNACLE. He was a king who was God’s Son. Not just a son because of a title he received, but a son by NATURE. Who was truly related to God.

And the reality in this Psalm is a king who was MESSIAH in a much fuller way than David or Solomon ever was. He’s one who rules over all the kingdoms of the world. Who rules them with an iron sceptre.

And that’s never happened in Israel’s history. They’re STILL WAITING for it. If Psalm 2 was the text for the sermon today at Bondi synagogue, my guess is that’s what the Rabbi would say. “We’re still waiting for this king! Oh boy, when that day comes, everyone better watch out!”

You see, the Psalm’s really describing A PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE. All the things the king says are PROMISES from God. Things that will come in the future. But no king ever lived up to his end of the bargain, and so God’s promises remained just that. Until the one king came along who could live up to the decription. And that was Jesus. And that’s what Paul says in Acts 13.

He’s talking in the synagogue in Antioch. Talking to Jews who knew their Old Testament. Who were hoping for the promises in Psalm 2 to come true. And he gives a bit of a history about Israel. And how Jesus fits in. He’s no imposter to David’s throne. Because he’s from the line of David himself. And so the promises to the king are promises to him. Pick it up from v20.

(Acts 13:20-23 NIV)  “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. {21} Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish,… {22} After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ {23} “FROM THIS MAN’S DESCENDANTS God has brought to Israel the Savior JESUS, as he PROMISED.

And he continues in v26.

(Acts 13:26-27 NIV)  “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. {27} The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, YET IN CONDEMNING HIM THEY FULFILLED THE WORDS OF THE PROPHETS THAT ARE READ EVERY SABBATH.

The king has come:

The very plotting of kings, described in Psalm 2, is fulfilled in everyone who plotted against JESUS. But it’s not just the PLOTTING that’s fulfilled. God’s promise to his king is fulfilled as well. The king has come. Verse 32.

(Acts 13:32-33 NIV)  “We tell you the good news(the GOSPEL): What God PROMISED our fathers (in Psalm 2) {33} he has FULFILLED for us, their children, (when? How?) by RAISING UP JESUS. As it is written in the second Psalm: “‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’

When did this king come? When was the coronation? The crowning of God’s King happened at his RESURRECTION. THAT was the moment when God could say. Yes, you are my Son. You’ve done the job that I planned. You’ve defeated the greatest enemy of all. Death, itself.

NOW, you rule over the nations with an iron sceptre.

God’s king was the hope of Israel. Hope for future victory. But the GOOD NEWS is that the hope has been realised. The promise has come true. The king has ALREADY come.

And that means that the warnings are for NOW. Warnings not to mess with God’s King. The nations who conspire against King Jesus need to submit to him, or perish. YOUR FRIENDS who conspire against King Jesus need to submit to him. or perish.

And because the king has come, the time of blessing is here, too. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

“Blessed are those who serve the Lord with FEAR. And who rejoice with TREMBLING.” Blessed are those who recognise that to approach a holy God isn’t to be done lightly, and flippantly. There is to be fear before God. Trembling. Yet there is also to be rejoicing. Rejoicing that we are on the right side. Not rejoicing with a buddy who’s good fun to be around. But rejoicing that you’re in the corner of truth and victory and relationship and power.

Blessed are those who TAKE REFUGE in King Jesus. Who refuse to take refuge in the tempting offers of the world. Who refuse to flee to science, or technology, or world peace, or materialism, or pluralism. None of these can fix our basic human problam. None of these can save us from the wrath of God’s King.

Life is only TRULY lived when it’s within the refuge that Jesus offers. And when all of this world’s Towers of Babel are seen for what they really are. Empty words. Wind ruffling the leaves. It’s the safe refuge of King Jesus which offers the only calm and peace that’s real.

Don’t mess with God’s King. And don’t mess with God’s people who take refuge in him.

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