This was originally written for LRBC on September 3 2017.
Christians are taught by the New Testament to read the Old Testament in light of the coming of Christ. Sometimes this is tricky, but it does help us to make sense of why we aren’t meant to live according to all the old civic and ceremonial laws that you find in places like Leviticus. Largely, though, it gives us a fuller picture of the gospel and how we may live according to that. Psalm 2 does this by showing us in poetry the relationship between God and the hostile world, and our place in that particular angle of the gospel picture.
The first of Psalm 2’s four stanzas (vv. 1-3) sets the scene: rebellion. The nations of the world, both peoples and rulers, are set against God and his ‘Christ’, his anointed king. The reason? To be independent from his rule – the same rule that is such a delight to us in Psalm 1:2. Throughout history and amongst the various cultures of the modern world, humanity has been active to resist and revolt against the Creator and his rule.
The second stanza (vv. 4-6) gives us an contrasting picture to the opening scene. In response to the agitation of the gathered nations, the Lord in heaven is simply seated, laughing at the ridiculous efforts below (hence also the ‘why?’ of disbelief in verse 1). The Lord sits, needing to do nothing, because his response has been already made and is the decisive move in this whole psalm: his Christ has been deployed (v. 6). What his Christ has done has already determined the outcome of human history, which the decree of stanza three outlines (vv. 7-9).
The final stanza (vv. 10-12) is where the Christian may find words to share in light of all this. Our part is not to watch in silence, nor to voice scorn and contempt. Rather it is to warn and to welcome on behalf of our King who rules the whole earth. It is his wrath that we must fear, and so the only place of refuge is in him. Psalm 2 shows us how we can view the world, and gives us our voice and message to it.