One of my spiritual passions has been reading the Psalms. As a worship leader I have always felt that the Psalms were especially relevant to my ministry.
Once a month I will be sharing a Psalm with you. Last month we looked at Psalm 1.
We already noticed in Psalm 1 the use of a meaningful center - a phrase in the center that summarizes the theme of the poem. The meaningful center of Psalm 2 is found in the first two lines of verse 7: I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son"
The focus of this psalm is God's selected King who is declared His Son.
If we see the last line as a coda pointing back to Psalm 1 and bringing to a close the two psalm introduction to Book 1, then we find a concentric structure built around the meaningful center. (This structure is evident in Hebrew but not always clear in English as some translations have only two lines of text for verse 8 instead of the 3 in Hebrew.)
7 lines - The Nations Rebel
6 lines - God Laughs
2 lines - Meaningful Center
6 lines - The Anointed Ruler
7 lines - The Warning
Psalm 2 is a messianic psalm. In other words, it is a psalm that many understood to be a prophecy about the coming Jewish Messiah. David originally wrote it (see Acts 4:25), though, declaring the God-given right of his line to rule. Therefore, it would also be a Royal Psalm. As such, the psalm had both immediate and prophetic meaning. Jesus, David's heir, would eventually become the complete fulfillment of this psalm.
Psalm 2 is written like a four scene play. The first scene introduces the antagonists.
Scene 1: The Nations Rebel
The nations are in an uproar! They are gathering together to throw off the sovereign reign of God's Chosen Ruler. The rulers declare they will break free of His bonds. Throughout history, and still today, humanity seeks to break free of the reign of God and His Anointed Christ. They rage against His loving laws and strive to set up their own personal kingdoms.
Scene 2: God Laughs
This scene is a line by line response to the previous.
|1||The nations plot||4||God, the Heavenly King, looks down on their plans and laughs with contempt|
|2||The nations form a united front||5||God terrifies them with His wrath and fury|
|3||The nations declare their independence||6||God declares He has chosen a King|
God is not impressed by the rebellion of humanity. He is even pictured as derisively laughing at the foolishness of the rebels. God is sovereign and His plans will succeed.
Scene 3: The Anointed Ruler
In this scene the psalmist introduces the protagonist, God's Chosen King. God has decided to make His own Son the King over the nations. When David wrote this he was probably figuratively thinking of the fact that God had chosen him and protected him like He would a son. But the Holy Spirit was using David to to make a prophecy concerning Jesus, the true Son of God.
God declares that His Son will rule over them all. He will shatter their resistance like pottery struck by an iron rod. When we look at the world today we need to remember that God's story is not yet finished. Jesus will return to bring justice to this rebellious world.
Scene 4: The Warning
In this final scene we return to earth to warn the nations. Destruction is coming, but it can be avoided. Instead of rebellion, choose submission. Serve the Lord and kiss the Son (a sign of submission and respect) or face God's wrath. The author reminds us to "rejoice with trembling." Take joy in God's Chosen King, but tremble at the thought of rebelling.
The parallel structure continues as this section responds point by point with the section before. In fact, all four sections follow this parallel structure.
|1||The Nations Plot||4||God Laughs||7||"You are my Son"||10||Kings Be Warned|
|2||The Nations Unite||5||God Rebukes||8||You Will Rule the Nations||11||Kings Submit|
|3||The Nations Declare Their Freedom||6||God Declares His chosen King||9||You Will Destroy Your Enemies||12||Do Not Rebel|
The final line of the psalm points back to Psalm 1 and reminds us that real happiness or blessing is found in "taking refuge" in the Son of God. Psalm 1 begins with blessing and Psalm 2 ends with blessing.
Rebellion is the natural state of humanity, but this psalm gives us both a warning and a blessing. If we rebel, we will lose and face God's wrath. But if we submit, we can take refuge and find happiness in Jesus, the Son of God and King of kings.
This post is part of a series of posts on the Psalms.
Question: What do you think about the image of God laughing at and mocking His enemies? This is very different from the Grandfatherly image we sometimes have of God! Please leave a comment.
by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory