Seated with Christ in Heaven: A Reflection on Psalm 2

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.


Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
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.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
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.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
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.


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Psalm 2

Those who do not believe are rebels.

Without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, no one can see the truth of this universe.

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“For finite, sinful humans, true freedom is the ability to live in the confines of the law and grace of God…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.

“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.

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“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.

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.

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Further Reading

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The External Cross: A Pastoral Letter
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Qingdao: How to Pray
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Qingdao: Locals and Outsiders
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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

About Shenyang

Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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About Qingdao

Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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About Nanjing

Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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About Kunming

Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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About Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 21 million people. The city has a rich history that spans over 3,000 years, and it has served as the capital of various dynasties throughout China’s history. Beijing is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven. The city is also a hub for political, cultural, and educational activities, with numerous universities and research institutions located within its boundaries. Beijing is renowned for its traditional architecture, rich cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene, making it a must-visit destination for travelers to China.

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About Shanghai

Shanghai is a vibrant and dynamic city located on the eastern coast of China. It is the largest city in China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of over 24 million people. Shanghai is a global financial hub and a major center for international trade, with a rich history and culture that spans over 1,000 years. The city is famous for its iconic skyline, which features towering skyscrapers such as the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower. Shanghai is also home to a diverse culinary scene, world-class museums and art galleries, and numerous shopping districts. It is a city that is constantly evolving and reinventing itself, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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