Devotional Thoughts on the Psalms
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Why do nations assemble,
and people plot vain things,
kings of the earth take their stand,
and regents intrigue together
against the Lord and against his anointed?
“Let us break the cords of their yoke,
shake off their ropes from us!”
He who is enthroned in heaven laughs;
The Lord mocks at them.
Then He speaks to them in anger,
terrifying them in His rage,
“But I have installed My king
on Zion, My holy mountain!”
- Psalm 2:1-8, Tanakh (JPS)
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If I were asked to summarize the message of the Bible with one brief verse, I would choose a line from The Lord’s Prayer: “Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven” (Matt. 6:10, CEB). The story of the Bible is about God establishing his Kingdom in this world.
It begins with a royal construction project, as the King of the universe prepares his holy Temple (Genesis 1). The word for “temple” in Hebrew means “palace,” and what God does on the days of “creation” is to set up the place of his reign. He appoints royal priests — human beings “in his image” — to represent him and multiply his blessing throughout the earth. Then on the seventh day, he rests on his throne, taking up his rule.
Humans failed to carry out the King’s directives, leading to cycles of rebellion, divine judgment, and restoration (Genesis 2-11). These early days of sin and salvation culminated in Babylon, where people gathered together to build their own temple and create their own kingdom. God scattered them over the face of the earth, and then chose one man and his family out of Babylon through which to restore his blessing to the world (Gen. 12:1-3).
The man’s name was Abram, and to him God said, “I will make you very fertile. I will produce nations from you, and kings will come from you” (Gen. 17:9, CEB). From that point on, the people through whom God would restore his blessing began to experience conflict with the kings and kingdoms of the world. Abraham, called to be the patriarch of kings, found himself in danger on several occasions, and ultimately his family, many generations later, found themselves in captivity under the rule of Egypt’s ruler, Pharaoh. God, of course, delivered the Hebrews and led them to Mt. Sinai, where he entered into a suzerainty treaty with them. He became their King and they became his people, his chosen nation.
The story of God’s chosen nation is a narrative filled with battles, wars, and controversies involving the peoples and kings around them. At one point, Israel herself chose a king, and though her motives were bad at the time, God relented and made her into a kingdom. It wasn’t long before Israel had established God’s palace (temple) in the world in Jerusalem, enjoying a season of success and peace during David and Solomon’s reigns.
However, under the kings that followed, Israel split apart into two nations and eventually became exiled once more from their land. The kingdom was destroyed, the temple sacked, the people carried off into the diaspora. Though some returned to the land within a couple of generations, things were never the same. Israel never again had another king but lived under the domination of invading nations for centuries. When Jesus was born, the emperor of Rome ruled the land.
At the outset of his ministry, Jesus publicly announced, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” (Mark 1:15, CEB).
Jesus’ life and ministry led to his death, resurrection, and ascension, by which he took the throne and inaugurated God’s Kingdom in the world. Through his finished work, he did more than conquer the rulers of earth; he soundly defeated the spiritual rulers, the forces of sin, evil, and death that hold all people (not just Israel) captive. By the power of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on his followers, a mission was launched by which outposts of his Kingdom are being established throughout the world, and his people are planting seeds for a harvest of righteousness and peace in the age to come.
So today we who trust and follow Jesus live in anticipation of the day when the Kingdom will be consummated and we will sing the Hallelujah Chorus together: “The kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign forever and always” (Rev. 11:15, CEB).
Until then, every day we pray, “Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven” (Matt. 6:10, CEB).
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This is the message of Psalm 2.
This will be the primary theme of the Book of Psalms.
The nations rage and plot against God and his Messiah (his anointed King).
It does not appear that God is winning the battle.
Therefore we, the people of God, lament and cry out to God.
God answers us and reassures us that his King has been established on the throne.
The victory is sure. Wait on the Lord. Praise the Lord.
“Happy are all who take refuge in Him” (Ps. 2:12, Tanakh).