Editor’s note: This is a reflection on Psalm 2, written by a Chinese Christian. This year, we hope to focus on studying and praying through the Psalms alongside the church in China. We hope the global church will be blessed and enriched by the Scriptural interpretations of the Chinese church, as they share through their own cultural lens and based on their specific circumstances.
1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 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.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
Those who do not believe are rebels.
Without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, no one can see the truth of this universe.
“Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain?” There are only two kinds of people: the people of God, and the enemies of God. There is no third kind of person. Of course, if you look at a specific moment, those who think they are God’s people could actually be his enemies; and in the camp of God’s enemies, there are those who will one day awaken and turn to the bright side.
Psalm 2 sums up the political, economic, cultural, war and peacetime situation of unbelievers as one of “rage” and “plot[ting] in vain.” Humans unite against “the Lord and his Anointed” because they want to fight for their freedom. They feel that God’s grace and righteousness is actually bondage, and want to have complete freedom to do whatever they want. Yet no one but God has absolute freedom. No one but God deserves absolute freedom. For finite, sinful humans, true freedom is the ability to live in the confines of the law and grace of God. There is no real freedom apart from his law and grace—but the world knows neither God nor itself. Those who are of the world see law as bondage, and grace as a rope that binds them. They try hard to break free of law and grace. The end result is not only a lack of freedom, but slavery to sin in this life and slavery to death for eternity.
The king of heaven deals with these rebels by setting up a messianic king.
God treats rebels with “derision,” “wrath,” and “terror.” But more importantly, God did not erase these rebels. Instead, he set up a redeeming king on their behalf. This king would come to recruit and accept these rebels and receive all those willing to surrender.
God could have used the flood to destroy disobedient sinners. It was not even necessary to use the flood; he could simply “roll up” this universe and strike them from a different dimension. In one moment, all the rebels would cease to exist. But instead, God decided to reveal his love and patience to mankind. Instead of striking us out, he sent a Messiah to save us.
Today we see the cross alone, but do not see the iron rod of the Messiah.
Jesus Christ is the promised Anointed One mentioned in the Old Testament. He is the Son born of the Father in eternity, the perfect God from God, Light from Light, and the Son who will come to bear the inheritance as the Messiah, the perfect man.
All nations will be given to Jesus as an inheritance, and the ends of the earth will become his possession. He will judge the world and “break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” When this happens, it will be the end of time, and all the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of Christ, our Lord. All powers that resist God and do not believe in Christ, whether in heaven or on earth, will be cast into the lake of fire with sulfur.
However, in this time we do not see Christ’s iron rod, but the cross on Calvary. Christ conquered these rebels and established the kingdom of heaven not by power, but by powerlessness; not by might, but by sacrificial love. This is something that humans, by their own reason, morality, and tradition, cannot fathom.
Jesus said, “ I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.” This speaks of Christ’s first coming. One day, he will come again. When that time comes, he will no longer use the cross to smash the power of unbelief, but a rod of iron.
Those who do not surrender to Christ will perish; those who surrender to Christ will be blessed.
Today is the time the gate of grace is wide open. Today, it is still possible to wake up, repent, and be disciplined. The world has heard that Jesus is love, that Jesus laid down his life for us, that Jesus was crucified for us—but the world does not know that Jesus is king, that Jesus is Lord, and that Jesus will judge all unbelievers with righteous anger.
Why do we tremble and rejoice as we serve God? We tremble because we know we are not worthy, and that no one can come to the Father except through Christ. We rejoice because we are blessed, at at this moment we are seated with Christ in heaven.
“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way.” Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, who have not been reconciled to him, and who do not abide in the peace Christ offers dwell with the wrath of God on them. One day, they will enter into eternal destruction.
“Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” Whoever trusts in Jesus Christ has been reconciled to God by the grace of Christ. Those who trust in Jesus enjoy peace on earth in this life, and blessedness in heaven forever.
Hallelujah, thank you Lord! May we all be born in the cross of Christ, and may the iron rod of Christ soon smash the nations and subdue all the kingdoms of the world. May praise and honor and glory and might be to him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever! Amen!
Elder Li Yingqiang is an elder of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu. He and his wife have two children.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for God to open the eyes of unbelievers, that they may see the beauty in God’s law, and embrace his kingly rule.