I love the way this psalmist wrote this song. He is so upfront and straight forward. He says it like it is so there are no questions needed after. And he gives us another characteristic of the Blessed man. So lets jump in!
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” -Psalm 2 [KJV]
Again we can observe a theme in the psalms- the theme is in the final verse. Now, Acts 4 attributes this Psalm to David, but it is still unclear, and has a different writing style from his other psalms, in my opinion. Regardless, we know these words to be truth. The psalmist tells us there are two clear paths- One of defying God and one of full surrender to Him. One is clearly a path of destruction, and the other to a blessed life. The heathen here is understood as a nation (it can also just refer to a single person or small group of people) who has set itself against the Lord- those who have no religious affiliation. Specifically, those who didn’t believe in the God of Israel. In Hebrew we have “Qedosh Yisrael”*- The Holy One of Israel. This is the God who gave Moses the law and won’t stand for treason; who chose Israel as a holy nation to be set apart for servitude to God; the One we have the privilege of belonging to. By reading the words God gave to Moses, we can tell the God of Israel despises sinful acts. And the psalmist tells us the heathen were raging! Like they were up in arms against God, intentionally breaking His laws! Whether they had heard of God or not, their sinful actions were a direct defiance of who He is. [*I have owned at some point the book by Ann Spangler “Praying the Names of God”- excellent book, I took lots of notes, but I give my books out when I finish. I recommend this book to anyone trying to dig deeper into the character of God!]
And they “imagine a vain thing”. I have taken this to mean not just with everything they do (thought, word, and deed) being fruitless, but they also entertain those “Hollywood thoughts”, which applies to believers too! (It’s connected to trust!) You know those thoughts? I don’t consider myself to be a “romantic”, but there are days when I have been struggling through a trial and am so emotionally and spiritually exhausted that I will pray a friend would come give me a hug out of no where (and physical touch isn’t even my love language!). But I don’t just wish for it, I play out the scene in my head into the most unrealistic, drawn out, best ending possible scenario I can picture! Or even the times I get so excited to share what God is teaching me, and I can’t wait to share it with my friends, so I will play through how the conversations will go and what is best to say…this usually results in raised hopes that get crushed hard when everything goes exactly how not imagined! I let myself down because I trust in my own abilities and seek only to bring myself happiness, and that takes away the desire in me to let God do His will through me, thus my efforts are vain and fruitless. Even more so for the heathen, who can do no good without Christ, so all they do is in vain.
The psalmist is being real- he is pleading for the answer “why?”- like “what’s the point?”. There are kings electing themselves, putting themselves in charge, judging themselves as competent and capable to rule; and rulers who are banning together, making plans to thwart the LORD and his people. The psalmist is not able to make sense of these vain human desires when he knows that God is jealous and vengeful for His people! He has that trust! He even goes on to declare God’s goodness; how the heathen can be broken down easily and how it is best to serve the LORD.
He knows God sits on his throne and sees the attempts of man at overthrowing Him, but He is not threatened or afraid, He laughs at it, because God sits in peace in His Heavenly Kingdom where man cannot hope to reach. This knowledge should be a comfort to all those who seek righteousness and trust in God. He says the all who oppose God will become frustrated and they have their end. And God won’t just sit by and let the heathen get away with their defiant acts- first he speaks to them, because He is full of mercy! He is the established King.
And so God gives a decree about His Son. This is an endearing thought- God gave only Jesus Christ that name- “Son”. It is not used for anyone else. Jesus was not created, but begotten by His Father, which is a special relationship. Ultimately, Jesus will rule over all nations, as that is His inheritance. (Revelation 11:15 gives a peek into what that will look like!) Jesus will reign with such great power, it is so foolish to defy the LORD and His Son- it would have no benefit. The kings of the earth should give up their defiance!
LORD in Hebrew here is “Adonay” which is Lord or master. It is used to show a master/servant relationship and fits well with the psalmists’ lesson. Adonay is the One we surrender everything too, not just our material possesions, but every aspect of our life should be a sign of surrender to His will and goodness. In fact, the psalmist says to “serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” This fear and trembling is a reverence to God that comes from knowing His abilities and understanding His character as God of Israel. And those who trust in Him are blessed. [Again, that book by Ann Spangler!]
Then we come to “Kiss the Son”. This is an interesting cultural act that is lost in our first world society for most. I have had several cultural and religious experiences with a kiss on the cheek- one was simply my ignorance in not letting a middle eastern person kiss my cheek (I knew them well enough and it was offensive to deny them. Lesson learned), and then I have times when I am with my sisters in Christ and we agree to greet each other with a kiss on the cheek (I have not had any brothers talk about this with me.) Here it is a sign of submission and affection to the one we serve. The humble kiss of one who considers himself inferior- we should know our place, and also rejoice for our relationship with Him!
The first psalm was about the righteous being blessed. His path is a difficult one to walk, but full of many good things! Now we learn of the ones who trust the LORD. I have experienced some incredible blessings from trusting God- such as getting a job and finding a house within 24 hours of leaving my family behind to journey to a place I had never been with two bags to my name and no real plan but to trust God. But I also want to share a more recent trial I have been going through, you’ll have to bear with me though as I am withholding details to not give the appearance of any sort of hate:
Songbird and I often meet at his apartment to talk (he has a table and chairs, I do not). Usually there are others for our fellowship nights, but tonight the others were busy, so it was just us. We sat on the floor in the beginning, just sharing, and we began talking about how much we wanted to pursue God, but how much the world was holding us back. We only chatted for a bit before he hopped up and began cooking hotdogs so we could feed some street folk (one of my favorite activities!). After serving for a little more than an hour, we came back to his place and sat at the table, nibbling on some unleavened bread. I think we sat in silence for a while before continuing our earlier discussion. (It is a theme in our friendship, plenty of silent moments. I think we both like to process in our own time.) I started by reading Romans 8, then he shared John 14, and it reminded me of the story of Elisha’s calling. (I will make a blog post about this, it is one of my favorites! But our talk was meaty, deep, and intimate and lasted 4 hours, and won’t fit here.), and we began talking about what ‘plows’ needed to be burned in our lives. This was when God started to reveal that the people I came out here with at first (and I love these people, they are great! My family away from home.) were people I needed to break some ties with. I was heartbroken over this thought and filled with fear- both things that I have learned to take as a sign from God that He is preparing to do something, but it wasn’t helping me motivate myself to talk to them. When the time came, and I told God I was ready to do what He wanted, I was covered with peace! This story ends with me being disowned by these people I love, but it revealed that I wasn’t trusting God, or even letting Him into the things I was doing with these people. (this ‘thing’ was exercise related, not something bad in nature.) God did use my time with them to grow me, and I am so thankful that He has reclaimed me from it now! It hurt a lot, and I have had to work on trusting others again while also trusting God, but I have been so blessed!
I tell you this to encourage you. What I did was not easy, and the results should have shattered my world more than you know. But God knew this, and He was ready. It was like a ‘trust fall’ into the Saviors’ hands. It is worth it- to seek out those things holding you back from putting your full trust in Him and taking the fall into the hands of the One who created you. It can be scary, and it will most likely not end the way that you would like it to, but it will end the way God needs it to so you can trust Him again.