The Word Made Fresh
1Why are the nations in such an uproar,
and why are the people making self-serving plans?
2The kings and rulers of the earth conspire together
against the LORD and against the people of the LORD.
3They plot their rebellion
and think they can break the hold God has over them.
4But from heaven God laughs.
The LORD scoffs at their conspiracy.
5God will speak to them in anger,
and they will be terrified by the LORD’s fury.
6God will say, “I have installed the one I have chosen
as king in Zion, on my sacred hill.”
7So, I will announce the LORD’s decree:
the LORD said to me, “I have made you my beloved son today.
8All you have to do is ask, and I will give you the nations to possess.
They are your inheritance, to the very ends of the earth.
9You will break them apart as with an iron rod,
you will shatter them like a vessel of clay.”
10So, all you kings had better be wise.
you rulers have been warned –
11Serve the LORD with fear and trembling.
12Worship at the LORD’s feet.
The LORD’s anger can come quickly, and you will perish.
Those who trust in the LORD will be rewarded.
1-3: We learned in the historical books of Kings and Chronicles that there were times in Israel’s history when Israel’s king (God’s anointed) exercised rule over adjoining nations – Edom, Moab, Damascus, and so forth. And there were times when those nations rebelled against Israel’s dominion. This psalm refers to such an occasion.
4-6: The point of view from Jerusalem is that God has made these other nations the servants of God’s anointed one who rules on Zion, “my holy hill.” Their talk of rebellion is treated with contempt. God laughs at such plans, says the psalm, and those who rebel will be terrified at God’s wrath.
7-9: The king (traditionally this psalm is thought of as one of David’s, although it is not labeled as such) is speaking in these verses. His anointing is seen as an adoption: he is God’s son. The day of his crowning was his “birthday.” He thus rules at God’s pleasure and with God’s authorization to expand the territory and to punish rebellious people.
10-11: Therefore, let those who contemplate an uprising be fairly warned. You would be best advised to “serve the LORD” (and by proxy, the king), or else you will suffer unpleasant consequences. Accept the LORD’s (that is, the king’s) benevolent rule and you will be happy. Well, at least you will be alive.
We will encounter a number of Psalms that proclaim Israel (and Israel’s king) as the rightful ruler of other nations. It is hard to draw a lesson from such psalms that applies to us today. But, as we have pointed out again and again, the Old Testament with all its violence and wrath is the path we must follow to arrive at Golgotha, and an empty tomb.