The King on David’s Throne
Over the past few weeks my wife and I have had some problems with wasps building nests on our house.So, after some google searching, (from some sources I eventually realized were not helpful), I got some bleach, and went to spray them.
Maybe one or two wasps died, but the rest were just irritated, and maybe a small bit woozy. But I noticed they weren’t coming towards me to sting me, not many anyways. They were all gathered around one area, and I was wondering what they were doing. It turned out, they were all gathered around their queen, to protect her from the bleach. I didn’t think much of it at the time, and later Jason Elford destroyed it because he actually had raid (Thank you Jason).
After that we noticed a nest under our deck, in front of our house. So, this time, I got some raid, and emptied it on the nest’s opening in the morning before they were awake. Wasps were dropping one after another dead, I thought for certain that they would all be dead. And they were. Besides the queen. Again.
Now I wasn’t surprised when the queen survived my first sad attempt, because most of the other wasps survived. But this time, not a single one as far as I could tell survived besides the queen. My wife and I did some research, (and have actually been watching wasp and bee documentaries since then, because, praise God for His creation!), and it turns out that all of the wasps in the nest, as soon as they identify a threat of that sort, will surround the queen to protect her, even with their life.
They laid down their lives in loyalty, and submission to their royalty. So, as I was preparing this sermon, I was meditating on this, and how God’s creation can show truths, or patterns to us that we also find in scripture.
Granted, our king, King Jesus, doesn’t need any defending, but submission with one’s life to royalty is a theme we’ll see today in God’s Word. So, if you have your Bible here, open up to Psalm two with me.
In line with Brad’s sermon last week, today we are looking at a royal Psalm. It’s actually the first royal Psalm in the book of Psalms, and it sets major themes and precedents for the Psalms after it.
Themes of God’s sovereign kingship over the nations, an expected king on David’s throne who would rule the nations, and judgment for any who oppose.
Psalm two is one of those classic scriptures that you can fill in, in your mind just by hearing the first few words. Actually, a couple weeks ago I mentioned to someone that I would be preaching this psalm, and when they didn’t recognize which Psalm, I was talking about, I just said “Why do the nations rage”, and immediately they realized the Psalm, and continued the next few words. It’s a classic Psalm about the Messiah’s kingship, His sovereignty over the nations, and His eventual judging of the nations.
And, when we look at this familiar Psalm in light of the first coming of Jesus, (which we should, since we are a New Testament Church) we fill in some of the phrases in our mind. When we see “You are my Son”, or, “Kiss the Son”, we think of Jesus the Eternal Son of God. Again, it’s good and right to do that, this Psalm is applied to Jesus several times in the New Testament.
But this Psalm also had deep meaning to ancient Israel, before Jesus came. So today, we’re going to look both at the meaning it had to Israel thousands of years ago, and the ways Jesus is the ultimate fulfilment of this Psalm.
But we’ll start with looking at its more ancient understanding (to ancient Israel), and hopefully, build a foundation to show Christ as the true and better king of Psalm two.
First, it’s important to recognize that Psalm two is a Coronation Psalm. A Coronation is a ceremony where the new King of a people would be crowned. So, This Psalm would have been sung whenever Israel would crown a new king from David’s line, and this was to acknowledge that the king who was being crowned was being anointed, or chosen by God to lead His people.
It also reminded the people that despite the plots of the pagan peoples around Israel, who hated God, and His people, the Lord was with His people and He was in total control over history, and His purposes for Israel would stand. Keep this in mind as we move through the text.
STRIVING AGAINST ROYALTY
Starting in verse 1: “Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot in vain?” In an Israelites mind, when they read “nations” here in an antagonistic or “bad guy” way, they would have immediately thought of their enemies around them that they’ve had virtually since God birthed them as a people. So, think Canaanites, Philistines, Babylonians, Midianites, etc.
And the verse is asking why do they rage and plot in vain. Why would they plot against God? It is a condescending hypothetical question, because it makes no sense for anyone to dig their heels against God or His people, and especially for these pagan Nations who have seen what happens when they try!
I mean think of the battle of Jericho, or the battle of Gideon when God brought 300 men of Israel up against 135,000 Midianites! God’s people won because God decided that they would! This is why it is in vain for them to plot.
They could have the best most strategic plan, that on paper would prevail 100% of the time, hands down… But if they’re striving against God, it just won’t happen, no matter the odds.
And they should know this by now, but they still rage against God, because they hate him. The heart of man doesn’t care about logic, or reason when it comes to these things, they simply hate God, and weather its by war, rebellion, or sin of any kind, man rages against God until his last breath.
Let’s look at verse 2 and 3: “The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed saying ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us”.
In an Israelites mind at the time, the “anointed” one here is whoever is king in the line of David.
In 1st Samuel 16, we see David is anointed with oil by Samuel to be king. Solomon, David’s son was anointed with oil as well. In 1st Kings 1, we read; “There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.” And it’s likely that when Solomon was anointed, this Psalm was being recited.
So, the immediate identity of the anointed one here is the one who God Himself has selected to be king over His people, and this king was supposed to rule in God’s strength seeking God for wisdom, and obeying Him. He represents God’s authority over the kingdom.
Now as for what these verses are saying as a whole; This is a statement of willful rebellion. When it says “burst their bonds apart, and cast away their cords from us” the idea here is that they think they’re bound by the rule of the Lord. His kingship through His anointed one makes the rulers feel constrained, or bonded, so they want to “break free” from righteous rule, and throw the handcuffs of God’s law away from themselves.
They are not viewing or honoring God and His anointed, as they should, but instead they’re so blind, and saying in their hearts “we will not have God reign over us!”.
One thing this should make us ask ourselves is if the law of the Lord feels constraining to us. Psalm 1, right before this Psalm says that the blessed man delights in God’s law, and that’s how we ought to be.
THE DIVINE RESPONSE
Moving on to verse 4; “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision”. Here we see that God is in no way worried about the plans these rulers are making. He is laughing at and mocking them, as if to say “Go ahead! Do what you will!”
To hold them in derision means to intensely ridicule, mock, and discredit them. God actually finds it humorous and nonsensical that they would even try to escape His kingship, and conspire against Him. And this is what depravity does. It leads to non-sensible irrationality, and destroys our reasoning.
Notice this verse identifies God as “He who sits in the heavens”. This is supposed to draw our attention to God’s authority over the whole universe. David’s throne is in Israel, but God’s throne is in the heavens and governs every created thing.
Like Brad shared last week, Psalm 24 says that the earth, and everything in it is owned by God. This is the basis for God’s mockery. Nobody can stay His hand. God says in Psalm 46 that He will be exalted among all nations, and nobody can stop any decree that comes from heavens throne!
Now look what God says in verse 5 and 6; “Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” Here, God isn’t laughing anymore. His mockery has turned into fury and wrath, and His indictment against these wicked rulers, is that He has already set His king in place. Now when I read this I wondered; “why is this God’s rebuke against these people?
I mean, how impressive is a king in general? Don’t the other nations have their kings? Why is it a threat for God to establish a mere man in one nation, when He owns every man and every nation? Wouldn’t it have been a way better rebuke for God to declare His authority?” But I think when we look closer at this verse, we realize that God is declaring His own authority.
He says “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.” This is God’s declaration that He is going to work through and by the king of His people Israel to establish His plans.
And we already saw at the beginning of the Psalm that when God sides with a people, it isn’t because of the people’s strength that God works through them, but because of His! So, the king that God sets on His holy hill could be the weakest king of all time, and this is still a terrifying threat because it is God working through Him.
And notice it says “on Zion my holy hill”. Zion isn’t inherently holy… It’s just a geographical place… and it certainly isn’t holy because of the Israelites. But it’s holy because God’s presence is there!
His presence in the land sanctifies it! He has decided to make Himself a people to glorify Himself through, and where He dwells is holy! So, remember the pattern of God ruling amongst His people through His king, and His presence dwelling with that people, setting the kingdom apart.
THE INHERITANCE OF THE SON
Verses 7; “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my son; Today I have begotten you.” Again, it’s tempting to read New Testament theology here. “You are my son”. And we wouldn’t be wrong to. In fact, in a bit, we’re going to. But for now, lets just keep in its immediate meaning to Israel, because again, this will help us see Jesus in an even more glorious way by contrast.
The sonship language here is a statement of Grace. In Hosea 11 we read that Israel the nation is God’s son by adoption. It says “Out of Egypt I have called my son”. God rescued this people from bondage and slavery, adopted them and made them His son.
And in 2 Samuel 7, in a prophecy about king Solomon (the direct recipient of David’s throne) it’s said of him “I shall be to Him a father, and he shall be to me a son”. So, in a broader sense “son” here is Israel as a nation as God’s chosen son by grace, but in a narrower sense, and more fitting with this Psalm, its speaking of the Davidic king of Israel, who represents the people as their head.
Verses 8; “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” To make sense of this one, we’re going to have to remember some promises from God back in Genesis. I’m going to read a section from Genesis 12, you don’t need to turn there.
Genesis 12: 2-3: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So, when God called Abraham out of Pagan land and began the nation of Israel with his seed, there came a promise along with that, saying that this great nation Israel, would be a blessing to all peoples. Not just Israelites. God’s purpose has always been to bless all peoples, and Israel was His chosen vehicle to do that.
And we also read in Deuteronomy 4 that as long as Israel was following God’s law, and living in His rule, the surrounding nations would look on them in admiration, and say “Surely this nation is a wise and understanding people. For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord is to Israel whenever they call upon Him” (Deuteronomy 4).
They were supposed to see the righteousness of the law of Israel, and envy the nations wisdom, and relationship with God. By this they could win to God all kinds of peoples outside of Israel.
And in this way the nations would be the king of Israel’s heritage. So, we see that this king is supposed to win people from all nations to Himself, and then do what? What will this king do with the nations he inherits?
THE RULE OF THE SON
Verse 9 says “You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” This king is going to execute justice on the nations he receives, and judge them in righteousness. And if you remember the state of the nations at the start of this Psalm (hardened in rebellion towards God), then it makes sense that this is their destiny once they fall into the hands of this king. And if we look at the language, we see the amazing authority this king will have over these nations. It says “dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel”. Now we know that Israel is being used by God, but this language represents divine authority.
Many other times in scripture rebellious nations are called vessels, and God is referred to as the potter, because He created all things, and we are His vessels. So, this Psalm expects a king in the Davidic line to exercise the very authority of God Himself over the nations, to the degree that it can be said He is like the potter of the nations, and they are like the clay.
So, what do the nations do? Is there any hope for them, or is their destruction under this king certain with no escape? How can they be blessed by God’s people like Genesis said they would be?
Let’s read verses 10-12: “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”
Before I dig into these verses, that phrase “kiss the son”, does not mean a romantic kiss, or an endearing kiss. In those times, people would kiss the hand ring of a king to show submission and loyalty to him. This kiss is a sign of obedience, and reverence. So, we see, that if the rulers of the earth are wise, and obey the Lord, by giving reverence to this son (who remember, we defined as the heir of David’s throne), they can find refuge and protection. And what’s interesting here is another blurring of the line between divinity and humanity of the king, like in verse 8. This heir of David’s throne is said to have his own wrath. “Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way. For his wrath is quickly kindled”.
It doesn’t seem to be saying that God’s wrath will be executed through this king but that a righteous wrath is coming from this king Himself! And again, “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him”.
Now, we know from our historical books that pagans could take refuge in Israel, and serve their God, and be counted among the people. And that’s part of what’s going on here, but I don’t think that’s all.
The verse could say “blessed are all who take refuge in God, through the son”, but it blurs that line, and now they’re commanded to find refuge in the heir to the throne himself.
So that’s Psalm 2. Nations make their plans, but God is sovereign over all of them, and works through His anointed king to work justice, and offer refuge. And this king will inherit all nations forever.
But we know who the true and ultimate king of this Psalm is. We have the New Testament, and a fuller revelation from God, which shows Jesus to be this king who will rule a people on David’s throne! So, what we’re going to do now is scan our New Testament to see how Jesus fulfills this Psalm supremely.
THE TRUE KING
Keep a finger in Psalm 2, but go with me to Acts chapter 4. Now, I’m not sure about you, but when the New Testament quotes, and utilises a passage from the Old Testament, I take it as a free divinely inspired commentary. We don’t have to puzzle together how Jesus fits our Psalm, or wedge Him in there.
This passage in Acts 4 tells us. So, in Acts 4, the Apostles were doing Miracles in the name of Jesus, and preaching the Gospel. And they’re charged to stop preaching in Jesus’ name, but they refuse, and after this they pray to God, and in their prayer, they utilize Psalm 2.
Start reading with me in verse 23; 23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed” For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
So, we see the Fulfillment, or pinnacle of the raging nations of Psalm 2 is when the leaders of the people in Jesus’ day crucified Jesus the true anointed one (actually “Christ” means anointed one).
And it wasn’t just the gentile nations anymore either. Notice verse 27; “For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles AND THE PEOPLES OF ISRAEL”
In fact, the Jews who were supposed to recognize Jesus as the true Davidic king, said “we have no king but Cesar!” (John 19:15) rejecting Jesus as king. And so, when we read that the people said “Let us cast the bonds and cords of the Lord and His anointed away from us” it’s fulfilled by the Jews and the people refusing to have Jesus’ reign over them, so they crucify Him, thinking they’ve won.
But that’s not where Psalm 2 ends, and its also not where what happens with Jesus ended either. What does God do in response to this? He laughs and holds the people who crucified Jesus in derision.
They think that they’ve prevailed against God, but this was God’s plan all along! In fact, Acts 4 says God predestined these men to carry these things out! This is how God made the gospel possible, and covered the sins of His people! This is probably the greatest display of God’s sovereignty ever. How?
What is the worst thing to ever happen in history ever? The most heinous evil act? It’s not the holocaust. Its not any world war, or anything like that. It’s the death of Jesus. He was the only innocent man to ever walk the earth. It was the only truly undeserved crime in history.
Now, what was probably, for our sake, the best thing to happen in history? The crucifixion. On that cross, though it was the most heinous evil ever committed, God made satisfaction for our sins, and made a way for us to approach Him, so that we could be with Him and have forgiveness of sins. God took the worst thing in History, no rather ordained it, and worked it together for our greatest good and His greatest glory.
And then Jesus rose again! - Which can be seen sort of like His Coronation, making Him the firstborn Son of God from the dead, anointed as king of all for His obedience even unto death!
Jesus is the true Son of Psalm 2! When the son of Psalm 2 is “begotten” that doesn’t mean that Jesus was created. He is the eternal Son. But it’s referring to His resurrection, and His right to inherit all things as God’s only true Son. So, Israel was a son by grace, but Jesus is God’s son by nature, and right!
Then God sets His king, King Jesus on Zion his holy hill! Except… Jesus isn’t reigning on a physical throne in Israel right now. So how is He reigning from God’s holy hill? Well, remember, God’s holy hill was identified as the place where God’s presence dwells. The place where He comes and lives, and sanctifies with His presence.
Today, that’s us! We are the temples of the living God, and the Holy Spirit of God dwells in us! 1st Peter 2:9 says that we are a Royal Priesthood and a holy nation for God’s possession.
Christ is reigning in the hearts of His Church, and now, not only Israelites worship the true God, but people from every tribe tongue and nation find refuge in the Son, by trusting in Him! Jesus is inheriting all nations, every time a gentile comes to faith, which is happening all over this earth!
So, Jesus, the true king of God’s people was crucified for our sins, buried, raised to life, as the firstborn from the dead, and is now ascended to the Fathers right hand as King to draw people from every nation to Himself, and He reigns over the hearts and lives of everyone who finds refuge in Him!
And one day His kingdom will fill the whole earth, and He will rule every nation fully, with a rod of iron.
LIVING UNDER THE KING
So, how do we live under Jesus’ kingship? What does that look like? How do we kiss the Son with our lives? Well, I think that there are two extremes that people can fall into here. The first extreme is being brash and overly bold because Jesus is king.
Have any of you ever worked with that guy whose dad owns the company, so he just comes to work and acts like he owns the place? That’s not who we want to be, and its very hard to tolerate that guy.
But I work with a guy whose father-in-law owns the business, and instead of acting like he owns the place, he puts his head down, and quietly works harder than anyone else there out of reverence and respect for his father. He labours out of a healthy fear for His father, but never abuses his father’s authority to be brash and overly confident and do whatever he wants. That’s more what we should be aiming for.
There is also the second extreme of people who assume that since God is king, and is sovereign over all things, that means that they don’t have to do anything. God has it all figured out, and so we have no responsibility or burden.
But we know this isn’t true, because As Jesus ascended to the right hand of His Father to rule the world, He gave us marching orders, to go and make disciples of every nation.
Again, look at Acts 4, this is the very first and main thing the Apostles pray for in light of Jesus’ lordship. Verse 29; “And now Lord, look upon their threats and grant your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness”. They didn’t ask for anything political, or expect a grand revolution against the Romans, but they asked for strength to share the Gospel.
So, now our job is to go and tell people to kiss the Son by obeying the gospel of Jesus while His wrath is still just a little flame, because one day that flame will become a devouring fire.
But we do this with love and charity, while at the same striving to live at peace with all men, and leading a quiet and peaceful life, working with our hands, and making the most of our time (1 Thessalonians 4).
So, in a counter-intuitive way, living under the kingship of the Messiah today, looks like getting up, going to work, working hard with our hands, and being salt and light for Jesus while we do that.
It looks like living for God’s glory in all of the ordinary things, so that the people of the earth see us, and envy us and say “Surely these are a wise and understanding people”. Just like God said the nations would say of His people in Deuteronomy 4.
Now the last thing I want to leave you with this morning is to ask yourself this; Am I kissing or honoring the Son of God with my life? Am I honoring Jesus’ authority over every single aspect of my world, or just my “spiritual things”? It’s a good question to ask while His wrath is kindled only a little.
But if you’re here, and you haven’t been doing that, and you’re fearful, take heart. The Psalm concludes by encouraging us “Blessed are those who take refuge in Him”.
There is still time to take refuge in Jesus, by trusting His work on the cross. By repenting from ruling your own life, and submitting to King Jesus. Now, as we sing “all hail the power of Jesus name”, let that song set the attitude of our hearts as we go into the world, and live for king Jesus.