Christmas in Psalm 2: Futility is Funny
Who would ever want all these screamers and haters? It turns out that Christ does.
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:
the Lord shall have them in derision.
5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son;
this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance,
and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 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.
Have you noticed the news? The world is in a constant uproar! Why is there never peace? Why are we so mad? Why do the nations rage (Ps. 2:1)?
We don’t like God, and we positively hate his Son: “The kings set themselves against the Lord and his anointed, saying, ‘let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us” (Ps. 2:2-3). Each of us in this world of nations loves our own gods and produces them in bulk. But no one loves this One, the anointed, who is given to us by the only true God. Why don’t we love his Son? The whole world loves kings and the making of new laws. In fact, every election cycle, we await a new king and the new law he brings. Jesus should be appreciated for the new regime he claims he will bring. But we set ourselves against the Lord.
We go on anointing new kings of the earth. Meanwhile, the real God and Lord of all puts his own king–unlike any we have ever known–on the top of tiny Mt. Zion (where the temple is). But instead of declaring a blustery new policy and a new law of the land, God proceeded to give his own, eccentric king a fantastic promise: “You are my son, today I have begotten you” (Ps. 2:7). That means God’s Son is not created (like the heretic Arians think), but begotten (not made) in and by the word of promise. Not only is this the triune relation of Father to Son, but God repeated the promise in the Jordan when his incarnate Son was baptized: “You are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11).
God’s Son is not created (like the heretic Arians think), but begotten (not made) in and by the word of promise.
My goodness, what kind of king is this? How will he rule from Zion over his own nation (who demanded an earthly king like all the other benighted kingdoms of the world) to say nothing of the world? This king is like no other; his rule is extraordinary and bizarre. He has no scepter and orb but governs instead by a crackpot system of forgiving sinners (as only God can) and actually taking your sin (as only this incarnate man can). He is divine and human at once! He forgives sinners, and it works.
But the nations rise up in defiance: this cannot be! We will not tolerate such a king who forgives sinners. What if these so-called forgiven sinners end up sinning the more, that grace may abound (Rom. 6:1)? Think of the disaster that would follow. So it is that the Son’s rule offends us and incites violence. We will not tolerate this absolution-kingdom. It is a danger to the social fabric, so we return to our initial question: why the rage over this king? Why call for insurrection when he sets foot on Mt. Zion, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2:3)? Why call Christ’s promise a “yoke” and “chains” when it is free? Why do we hate his gospel? Because we refuse to give up being right ourselves. Rage comes when we collectively lose control and when God elects, and we do not. In our midst, Christ looks down from Zion and sees no power in his people. He cares nothing for our social contracts and democracies and is undeterred by our fuming and frenzy.
He has no scepter and orb but governs instead by a crackpot system of forgiving sinners (as only God can) and actually taking your sin (as only this incarnate man can).
And if we lay down on the ground and throw a fit, what does God do with this rage? He sits in heaven and laughs (Ps. 2:4)! He not only laughs with us but at us. You ought to love God above all things, but in fact, you love your own things and act just like a monkey who cares only for its own offspring. And you have to agree monkeys are funny, swinging from trees, screaming, and making faces. To God, futility is even funnier, especially when you throw a fit in the middle of some sinner’s absolution, screaming, “It’s not right! You can’t do that! What kind of a two-bit kingdom is this?”
So it is that God knows we hate the gospel, and the real reason we hate it is not just because undeserving sinners get into this kingdom but because God gives us Christ alone. The world tolerates tremendous diversity but unites against the singularity of the gospel, saying, “What? Am I nothing? Is my will not free? Is God the cause of our damnation?” And “preacher, are you the only one who knows?” No wonder we crucified Christ for his narrow-mindedness. Jesus is a one-trick pony in a kingdom that only losers inhabit. Jesus doesn’t care at all about what I have faithfully done over the years while all the others ate, drank, and were merry. What kind of a kingdom is he running?
Yet be warned that God is relentless. He will not be stopped. Even when the world rids itself of Christ upon the cross, the Father raised his Son from the dead and said to this crazed king: “Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage” (Ps. 2:8). Unlike Satan, who offered Jesus a worldly kingdom run by the law, Jesus’ Father offered him all of the nations as they are, without one plea. But who would ever want all these screamers and haters? It turns out that Christ does. He is that different compared to all the other kings of the world. Give up your hatred and despising of him. Happy are those who take refuge in him! Raging are those who don’t. Go ahead: Kiss the Son (Ps. 2:12). It won’t kill you to be forgiven. Pucker up and lay a wet one on him because if our futility is funny, Christ’s unstoppable promise is positively hilarious. If God laughs at all our futility, think of his rollicking laughter over the one who is forgiven.