Jean’s Gospel: Psalm 2: Jesus Christ Reigns! – Part 4
“This is the concluding article in a 4-part series on Psalm 2. It is a prophecy of Christ, that He would suffer and become King of the whole world.
“1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
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 burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.’ ”
In Part 1, we examined how the suffering and death of Jesus fulfilled verses 1-3, as confirmed by the witness of the apostles in Acts 4:24-28.
“4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 ‘As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.’ ”
In Part 2, we examined how God held the whole world in derision by raising Jesus from the dead, setting Him on His holy hill, and subjecting all kingdoms of the earth to Him.
“7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
In Part 3, we examined how Christ reveals His divinity as the Son of God and builds His Church worldwide through His Word.
This week, we continue in Psalm 2, beginning at verse 10:
“10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
The psalmist concludes this prophetic poem with exhortation and the promise of a blessing. God has seated Christ as King over the whole world. Says Jesus: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matt 28:18) “Now therefore” says the psalmist, to all human kings, that is, to those who rule and judge the earth: “Serve the Lord….”
The psalmist passes over the common people to address the world’s loftiest people. In Christ’s kingdom there is no partiality on account of a man’s station (James 2). Christ descended to the humble, even to being baptized by John, to fulfill all righteousness; while on the other hand, He bestowed on humble John the majesty of baptizing the King. Similarly, the exalted in the world must humble themselves before the King, while the King bestows royalty upon the lowly of the world.
It is a rare person, who endowed with political or monetary power, will humble himself before the King. The rich and powerful typically are surrounded by underlings who constantly flatter and puff them up. The common response from the “wise” of this world to the message of Christ’s kingdom is: “would you teach us?” (John 9:34) Or in many countries the response might just be prison or execution, as befell John the Baptist.
“Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.” (Ps 2:10)
Therefore, the exhortation from the psalmist is bold. To the “wise,” he says: “be wise.” In other words, “O kings”, surrender your earthly wisdom for true wisdom which comes from above through faith. This is necessary because prosperity or adversity in visible things subverts every man who does not, by faith, understand the things which are not seen.
By contrast, faith unites the soul to the invisible, unimaginable, eternal Word of God, and at the same time separates it from all things visible. Thus, Paul taught: “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” (1 Cor 2:12)
“Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Ps 2:11)
If one would be wise, he will “Serve the Lord….” How do we serve the Lord? We serve the Lord by having Him alone as our God, as Jesus teaches us: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matt 6:24a)
Jesus also says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Therefore, in order to serve the Lord or have Him as our God, we must believe in Christ. Then He will work in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13).
We rejoice in the Lord, by rejoicing in His Word, in His righteousness, in His wisdom, which alone bring us salvation, and not in our own righteousness or our own wisdom.
We serve with fear and rejoice with trembling, because, as Jesus taught: “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2) It is not a fear and trembling that God might abandon us at any minute or strike us down in His anger, but of the afflictions that accompany His work in us to separate us from the desires and lusts of the old Adam. Thus, we rejoice in our sufferings (Rom 5:3). On the other hand, if all we experience is outward peace and prosperity, we may have a hidden idol.
“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Ps 2:12)
The psalmist concludes by exhorting us to worship Christ: “Kiss the Son….” By this he means: adore Christ as the Son of God and true God; receive him as our Lord and eternal helper and Savior; and embrace Him as our most beloved Brother, Friend and the Bridegroom of our souls.
The psalmist adds: “lest he be angry….” In other words, do not delay when you hear the Gospel; do not be deceived into thinking that Christ is far from us or looking the other way. Do not be like the servant who said: “My master is delayed” (Matt 24:48).
But instead: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” The psalm ends with the promise of a blessing for those who “take refuge”, that is, who trust in Jesus alone for their salvation! This trust or faith in Jesus, that He died for our sins and was raised for our justification, is a refuge. It bestows upon us a gracious Father, the Holy Spirit our Comforter, the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, all without any merit of our own.
It is a very difficult thing to hold fast this trust in the midst of so many resisting adversities and so many alluring prosperities, which the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh set before us. Therefore, this is a work of divine grace, and not of human power, about which Luther encourages us to confess:
“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.” (Small Catechism, Article Three)
Therefore, let us kiss the Son, submit to the pruning of our divine Vinedresser, and rejoice in the salvation of our Lord. Amen.
Thank you for reading. This concludes our look at Psalm 2. Amen.