Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
Reading today’s passage, I am struck by how angry it is. The anger of the nations, who conspire against God, to achieve “freedom”from the shackles of God’s rule. The anger of God, who laughs and scoffs at their rebellion, and rebukes them in his anger.
How do you feel when you read passages like this one, that speak of the anger and wrath of God? Psalm 2 makes it clear that like it or not, you’re under the rule of God’s king – and he’s some one who gets angry. Are you comfortable with this idea of God?
Psalm 2:1-6 is a dark passage – it tells us that is right for God to be angry at the rebellion of people against his rule. None of us want to submit to God’s rule – every single one of us is a rebel against God. This means thatif God’s rule is to be anything but angry, he also needs to be merciful and gracious towards us. The darkness of Psalm 2 tells us of our need for God’s mercy and grace.
The second half of this Psalm (see Grow Deeper) isn’t quite as dark – it gives us hope that God, despite his anger at our rebellion, is also a merciful God. His King is reigning, but he is not exclusively angry. As verse 11 tells us: “Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”On one hand, God is angry at our rebellion against his rule. However, on the other hand, his rule is also a place of refuge. Psalm 2 doesn’t explain how this can be, but as readers of the New Testament, we know that ultimately, Jesus is God’s King. He took the punishment for our rebellion and God’s anger on himself as he reigned, crucified, from his cross. Anyone who trusts in Jesus no longer faces the anger of God; we now willingly submit to his rule, knowing that it is a rule of refuge where we find God’s justice, mercy and grace. God’s anger is just, but there is more to God than just anger – and his anger is done away with on the cross.
Who rules the nations with truth and justice?
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.
“This is Amazing Grace” (words and music by Josh Farro, Phil Wickham and Jeremy Riddle)
Read Psalm 2, especially verses 7-12.
Reflect on the verses which talk of God’s anger against those who rebel against his rule (eg v9). Deep down, do you really believe that your sin deserves such an extreme punishment as is described here? How do you feel when you know that this is what each one of us deserves, yet it is what Jesus took upon himself at the cross?
Submitting to God’s rule can be a celebration (verse 11), and a blessing and refuge (verse 12). Think of one or two ways in which you are thankful for finding refuge in Jesus’forgiveness. Can you share this blessing with someone in your life today?
Father God, thank you for your justice and mercy. Thank you that you don’t let sin go unpunished, but that you justly deal with all the wrong that is in our world. Thank you for Jesus and how he took your anger against my sin upon himself on the cross. Thank you that he is a good King, and that I can find refuge in him. Thank you that even though I have done so much to make you angry at me, that you mercifully forgive me and transform me into being your person. Please help me to serve you rightly today, and to submit to your rule. Please help me to grow in understanding of what it means for you to be both angry and merciful at the same time.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.