Psalm 2 “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters.’ The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’ I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron sceptre; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.’ Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
It was May 14th in 1980, a Wednesday, and it was 80 yards away from this building in the much larger Baker Street Congregational Church which we had borrowed for the occasion. What was the occasion? It was the last time that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was to preach in Wales. Within a year the ministry of the wisest, most helpful and inspiring preacher of the 20th century had come to an end, but I had the honour of chairing that May 14th meeting. Why do I mention it? It was because he preached on this psalm on that occasion. It was in his view a ‘big text’, a significant passage of scripture, his last words to the Wales he loved, important enough to bring to the 700 people who had traveled from all over mid-Wales to hear the beloved Doctor.
I turned back to my journal for that day and read these words of mine, “At 7 p.m. there was not an empty seat in the chapel, and hundreds of young people were there. The singing was wonderfully powerful and harmonious. Stephen Turner from New Zealand did his part in reading and praying. The reading from Acts chapter four made me suspect that the Doctor was going to preach a sermon I had heard some years ago of the building being shaken when the church had prayed, but in fact Dr. Lloyd-Jones preached on Psalm 2. It was his customary theme for these occasions, so necessary and thrilling, on man and his inability to cope with life, impotence and madness and the great works of the living sovereign God. He said he had been an observer of this conflict throughout the century, having come to Aberystwyth for the laying of the foundation stone of the National Library in 1911. His exhortation to ‘kiss the Son’ was moving, and at the end of the day I felt like weeping.”
What I am doing is trying to whet your appetite for these words. They are not an obscure 12 verses of the Old Testament, written 3000 years ago with little relevance for anyone in Wales today but rather, as Dr Lloyd-Jones often said, “There is scarcely a more relevant passage of Scripture that we could hear at this present time . . .” than this psalm. Uncharacteristically the Doctor allowed a recording of it to be made, and it still circulates this town. Now if you are interested in learning more of the meaning of the second psalm then I must tell you of a great extended sermon on this psalm written by Walter Chantry in his book Praises for the King of Kings (Banner of Truth, 1991, pp.12-48). If you have Walt Chantry’s writing and can hear Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ sermon then you have much of what is needed to experience the life of this glorious psalm.
You will quickly see how the twelve verses of this psalm are neatly divided into four quarters, each of three verses. They are like four power point presentations in which David’s world view, a simple and consistent philosophy, explains to us the world God made but which now has rebelled. The living Christ, the Messiah and King of kings, appears in all four scenes, and he holds everything together. In him all things cohere. He is referred to as the ‘Anointed One’ in verse two, and God’s chosen ‘King’ in verses seven and twelve, and as God’s ‘Son’ in verse twelve. Yet the speakers in each of the sections are all different; in the first strophe the speaker is the atheistic hegemony; in the second stanza the speaker is the Lord; in the third section the speaker is his anointed, the Messiah or the Christ, and in the last three verses the speaker is the author of the psalm.
The names of the authors of the first two psalms in the Psalter are not announced, but the New Testament ends that silence. In Acts chapter four and verses twenty-five and twenty-six we are told that it was God, through the mouth of his servant David, who said these words. The words of Psalm two were written on a scroll by David; they were inspired by God. David composed them; God gave them to him. Through David’s mouth God spoke. All the authority of heaven lies behind these words, as well as all the beguiling spirituality of the great shepherd king. Here we are confronted with a world and life view which all of us should make our own because it’s the one true approach to life. It is real, up-to-date and very important. We live in a world of financial and economic upheaval, of Islamic revolution; we see the USA coming to the end of an interminable campaign for the election of their president. That nation seems to be on the brink of choosing an untried, young candidate. In our own land we are facing a recession, and the bubble of house prices has burst with a vengeance. In this town shops and businesses are closing down and the future is not going to be easy.
King David in our psalm is actually explaining the upheavals of every generation and civilization. The first three strophes of this psalm define the scale of the predicament that mankind is in. The final stanza calls on you to take decisive action. King David pleads with you. God urges you to consider what you have heard. Divine counsel and human wisdom join together exhorting you to take on board the lifestyle and the convictions of this psalm.
- THE MUTINY OF MAN, OR CHRIST REJECTED.
“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters’” (vv. 1-3). There is a unity of evil forces plotting against the Lord and his Christ. They are people of authority. They are called ‘kings’ and ‘rulers.’ They are the atheistic leadership, the Marxists, scientific humanists, godless pleasure worshippers, agnostic media barons – the world of mass communications being in their hands – the world of homosexuals, the network of paedophiles, the arms manufacturers, the military tyrants that govern in African and middle-eastern countries, the false religionists, the cults, the doctrinally indifferent ecumenists who all oppose the God of the Bible. These are the kings and rulers of the earth plotting together.
The Psalm begins with the word ‘Why?’ It is the word written across our civilization today. “What is it all about?” says a world which has turned its back on God. This ‘Why’ reflects the bewilderment, the anxiety and the fear of man in rebellion. Why is o
ur world in such a turmoil? Why the increase in crime and the full prisons in an age of undreamed of prosperity? Why is self-harm so common, with men’s hearts failing them with fear? Why are drugs and alcohol essential for millions to maintain the status quo in life? Why? That is the cry of the masses; it is also the sob of lonely despair, but here it is also the cry of astonishment felt by the writer, David, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, at mankind’s rejection of the loving rule of God and its rebellion against its King. We can understand rebellion against the tyrants of the last hundred years, against Stalin and Mao and Hitler and Mussolini, rebellion against apartheid and fascism and Marxism, yes we know why men rebel against injustice and poverty, but rebellion against the Preacher of the Sermon on the Mount, the one who says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”? Why? That makes no sense at all. You are spitting in the face of the one who has given you everything valuable in your life. The most precious gifts, your parents, your husband or wife, your children, your long life, your success, your friends, your health, the very breath that is in your mouth – all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above. Yet you have spent your days throwing aside his authority over you. Why?
What do we have in these verses? It is as if we are looking down on a gigantic battlefield as men do battle with God. Verse one describes the troops assembling for war. Verse two describes the generals preparing for the conflict and planning their strategy. They are leaning over a map of the world and they are pushing with their sticks one battalion to this front, another regiment to that front as the war rages everywhere. You cannot avoid being involved in this conflict. You cannot be a neutral like Switzerland was, watching the allies fighting Fascist Nazism and claiming to be ‘unaligned.’ America could easily have done the same; it was three thousand miles away from Europe, but it could not be ‘neutral’. It fought with us for freedom in World War 2, to its great credit. You too are drawn into the conflict described in this psalm, because for the natural man the enemy is Jehovah and his Christ. You are drawn in because this Lord says he actually is your God; he created you; he is going to judge you; yet he is prepared to become your Saviour – on his own terms. You have to respond to these claims. You find yourself a combatant; you are in the midst of a theatre of war and at the present time there are those among us on the wrong side. The nations have drawn you into their conspiracies and plots, and you have been infected by their rage against God; you are spoiling for a fight. “Who is the Lord that he should reign over me?” you cry. “I will not have this man rule over me.”
You are not a neutral observer, or a reluctant combatant. You are not an ignorant conscript. You show that you believe in this war. I am referring to your cold and indifferent words about Jesus Christ and tell you that they have been heard in heaven. Around us there is venom; there are fierce war-cries; there is hatred for the Lord whom men oppose. You have read the atheistic books; you have subscribed to the propaganda advertisements written on the sides of London buses. You’ve allowed yourself to be recruited into this vast army gathered against the Lord and against his Anointed. “He that is not for me is against me,” said Jesus the Son of God. “Let us break their chains,” you say, “and throw off their fetters.” You disdain God’s claims to be keeping you alive, that your breath is in his hands, that he is the author of your best gifts, that you must give an account to him on the day of judgment. He says, “It is appointed unto men once to die and after death the judgment,” and that riles you. It riles the politician, those in academia, the feminists, the business world, the media and the military world. All is restlessness and scorn as they together participate in a universal crusade. All are united in first of all marginalizing God, and then eliminating every divine influence from their lives.
No wonder David begins by asking ‘Why?’ It is the why of indignation. It is the why of astonishment. David is shocked. It is all so senseless to those who know God and his glory. Do these people have another shepherd? Who is their teacher now? Who can tell them the answers to the great questions? Where did this world come from? What is the purpose in life? What is death? Who can remove my burden of guilt? What must I do to be saved? You have no answers to this. Have millions been helped by God’s anointed one? Yes, millions claim that this has happened. Have burdens been lifted and lives sorted out in extraordinary ways? Yes. Then it seems so senseless, such an absurdity, to declare war against God and his Messiah. Yet we have it in every nation of the world, and you have it clearly articulated by the modern best-selling atheists. You heard it on the lips of the late Kingsley Amis, the novelist. It wasn’t that he disbelieved in God, he said, he hated God, and his son, Martin, another novelist, approves of such sentiments. That spirit illustrates perfectly the New Testament statement that the natural man is at enmity against God. There is this mainspring that moves all kinds of people day by day, the members of parliament in London of every political party, but also the prostitutes of Soho; the bankers as well as the homeless men and women, the millionaire sportsmen, the Chinese teachers, the Marxist guerillas, the socialites, the scholars, the pick-pockets. There is one link uniting them all, their refusal to bow before Jesus Christ. There is a universal enmity against God; they are all galvanized to spend a lifetime in rebellion. They are determined to destroy every influence of God and his Messiah. They all join in the mutiny against heaven.
You could see it when Jesus walked this earth, how fierce enemies, Herod and Pilate, a Jew and a Gentile, joined together to throw off the fetters of Christ’s teaching. They put the Lord on the cross. Religious competitors who hated one another, Pharisees and Sadducees, became one in their determination that the Lord wouldn’t speak another word. Both the Jewish and Roman legal systems were determined, in the face of all the contrary evidence of his total innocence, to find him guilty. “Let us break his chains,” they cried. “Away with him! Away with him! Release unto us Barabbas.” It all came from the spirit present in the hearts of the fallen human race, a dark vicious depravity in the human heart. It’s there in the little old lady who lives down your street. She greets you as you push the pram and walk with the children. How sweet she appears, but press her on the claims of Christ and see how resistant she is. The sweet old candy becomes as hard as a ball-bearing. Of course it is there in the serial killer who will never leave that prison again, but it’s also in the pensioner who walks with a stick. The old lady and the serial killer are both alike deicides. It would not matter to them, they both say, if God were dead. They want to live their lives without God interfering and telling them what to do. Who is to claim he is the one true and only God? Who is he to give to women the sole ability to bear and nourish children? Who is he to restrict men’s sexual relations to their wives within marriage? Who is he to take away a woman’s right over her body and her unborn child? Who is he to condemn suicide? They don’t want his commandments, or his day, or his Book, or his people, or his salvation. Men would gladly strip God of his law-making powers. They would make the King of kings mere figurehead
royalty, a design on a postage stamp, a God without any bite. Their great anthem is “I did it my way.” You remember how that song goes on and on; he has many regrets, the singer says, but this is the one thing he’s proud of, that he did it his way. Then he comes to his great conclusion, slowly and stridently he sings, “I did it MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY way” and he hangs onto that word ‘my’ for many long seconds to be greeted with tumultuous applause, because he is articulating what the whole audience thinks. Yes, whatever life is all about (and no one can know, they insist), we did it our way. It is a popular song at funerals, and you could weep.
That is the driving force explaining life on this planet. We are a rebel people. What criminal insanity! “Why?” What monstrous madness. It is outrageous. We are depraved and corrupt. We are thankless and vile. Whatever is going to become of us? That is the beginning of David’s philosophy.
- THE SUPREMACY OF GOD, OR CHRIST APPOINTED.
“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’” (vv.4-6). David turns from looking at the teaming anthill of this earth to look above to the one divine figure who is there. There is only one God; the Father is God; the Son is God and the Spirit is God. These three are one God. The atheistic world is full of clamour; there is the propaganda machine, the brass bands, the nationalist music, the warriors being given their campaign medals, the heroic paintings of the workers, the newsreels of the hapless prisoners of war, the festivities as the triumphant generals are welcomed by the adoring masses. All that, and then, the next scene is very different; the lens focuses on the living God in the dignity and peace of his throne room.
How is it there with him, the King of Heaven, as he sees the world he has created and sustained, the world he loves, shouting out its hatred at him? Maybe he wrings his hands in total frustration? Does he beat his bosom in despair? Does he cry to the archangels for advice to know what to do? It’s a runaway world, and how does God respond? Does he wish that his hands were on the steering wheel? No. We are told that he laughs! He isn’t laughing in amusement or delight. God is holding these rebels in contempt and he scoffs at them. The impregnable Sovereign sees these specks of dust shaking their fists at him, and he derides them. There is, perhaps, no word in the Bible more terrible in its meaning and implications that God laughing. How are they living? By his power and goodness alone. They have survived so far by his mercy alone – see how they acknowledge this when they or their families are facing a big operation. In the hours when their loved ones are under the knife and anaesthetic do they find themselves praying? Oh yes. Alec Ferguson the manager of Manchester United told the Times this week that when one of his team was recently taking a crucial penalty he prayed, “O Lord, let him score!” and then, having scored, annoyed with himself, he vowed he would never pray again. Little chance of that. Wait until his wife is seriously ill. Men are made by God with a sense of God that is ineradicable. They cannot avoid thinking of God, but all the time are clamping down on that fact in their rebellion. Their breath is in his hands; they live in him; they move in him; they have their being in him. They will pray. It is he who actually gives them the mental capacity and physical energy to cry out, “Away with him! Crucify him! Release unto us Barabbas.” They will kick against the goads of conscience. It is he who empowered the shoulders and arms of the man who flogged God’s anointed until the blood ran down his back. It was God who gave strength to the soldier who hammered the nails through the hands and feet of the Christ. He will kick against the goads. God sits in the heavens and hears their arrogance. These pipsqueaks might huff and puff, “When I see God I will have a thing or two to tell him!” No you will not. Your mouth will be stopped. The Lord mocks their vaunted boasting, pomp and show.
Here is a fight, it’s a boxing match, and in the right hand corner is a lump of clay utterly inert, and in the left hand corner is a potter. Who is going to triumph over the other in this one sided contest? Who will be the winner? There can only be one, and so it is with us and God. It is futile for creatures of dust to war against the omnipotent one. Are the gates of heaven rattling at Dawkins’ book? Are white faced inhabitants of heaven talking in hushed tones on the street corners of the Jerusalem above? Are the angels worried? Do man’s rockets reach the throne of God and it shakes? It’s all a joke. Can a flea triumph over an elephant? Should a rabbit fight with a lion? Will a million midges by one consent blot out the sun! Have you seen a toddler getting angry sitting on the lap of its father – a professional boxer – and smacking its Daddy’s face? What does the adult do? He laughs. A child cannot injure a man of war. God is a rock who will not be moved. Hear mighty Isaiah:
“Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing . . . Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing” (Isa. 40:15-23).
The massive army of the atheistic empire is marching against God, but there is no unease in heaven. There is displeasure, but no panic. There are no fresh initiatives. He has planned before the foundation of the world what he will do. He is sending his Son to crush the head of the serpent who leads this rebellion. The coronation has already occurred; “I have installed my King on Zion” (v.6). He has unilaterally appointed Christ to rule over all the earth. God is not canvassing for earth’s support. He is not pleading for the wealthy to send donations to his campaign for King. He has not pleaded for an election. “Our God is in heaven; he does whatsoever pleases him” (Psa. 115:3).
When Christ came into the world he was born a King, not a prince. The magi brought him gold as became his royal statues. Throughout his life his sovereign power was displayed over creation – the winds and the waves obeyed him – over the devil, over diseases of every kind and over death itself. His kingly might was not hidden from Galilee. He was not a paper king. At his trial the theme is Christ’s kingship. Soldiers mimicked reverence before the King of the Jews. Pilate had a sign written and nailed above his head, ‘Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.’ When Jesus came he did not ask for their suffrage. Man’s opinions or approval were never sought. The Lord of hosts had installed him as the King, and earth’s democracies trembled before him. That was the message that the early church took around the Mediterranean b
asin, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). I am not pleading with any of you, “Please make Christ King.” Jehovah settled that issue long ago. I would be just as foolish to plead with you to obey the law of gravity. “Please don’t float off into space!” There is as much chance of that as your knees not bowing and your tongue not confessing that Christ is Lord in the tremendous day that’s coming nearer and nearer. It is the Lord who “does what he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Dan. 4:31). He rebukes Ahab, and Jezebel, and Nebuchadnezzar, and Pharaoh, and Pilate, and Herod, and Caesar in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath. He has often proved himself to be terrible to the kings of the earth. In 360 Flavius Claudius Julianus reinstated pagan worship in the Roman Empire. He persecuted many Christians. He taunted one of them before his death, a man called Agaton; “How is your carpenter of Nazareth? Is he finding work these days?” Agaton replied, “He is building a coffin for the Emperor.” The Roman Empire is long destroyed and Christ is still destroying his enemies and preparing a place for each one of his people.
Christ has been installed on God’s “holy hill” (v.6). Everything associated with him is holy, how he has dealt with you and yours, how he tells you what to do, how to behave, how he’ll deal with you on the day of judgment – it is all holy. You can’t bribe him or fool him. There will be no miscarriage of judgment in that day. Moral integrity incarnate will sit in judgment. Holiness is going to triumph in the cosmos. The very system of righteousness that men despise will Jesus Christ uphold. He is the King of glory. He is clothed in the beauty of holiness. He is the spotless Lamb of God always doing what pleased his Father. It is in the gospel that his servants preach that the righteousness of God is revealed. It is a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell that Christ will one day install. That is the next great event in the calendar of redemption, and so his people are making themselves spotless preparing themselves for the new world.
What Christ is this that is presented by David in this psalm? He is no little lamb of the Mother’s Union. He’s no would-be Lord, frustrated by man’s indifference. To him belongs the world; the future is Christ’s; of him and through him and to him are all things. To him is glory for ever and ever. He will reign until all his enemies are lying down before him with his feet on their necks. One kick and the devil flies into the bottomless pit. The foundation of our world and all our hope lies in a quiet throne room in heaven. God’s purposes are ripening fast and unfolding every hour. His plan for the world is not in jeopardy. His King is reigning, and his kingdom is being built on schedule despite the raucous voices of the kings of the earth.
- THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST, OR CHRIST COMMISSIONED.
“I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron sceptre; you will dash them to pieces like pottery’” (v. 7-9). Here again is the throne room and it is full of tranquility and dignity; there is a sense of purposeful authority in all you hear. A new figure makes an appearance and our attention is drawn from Jehovah to gaze upon the Lord’s ‘Anointed One”, the King, crowned and installed on Zion. This section is filled with the words of the enthroned Christ. The Lord Jesus is the actual spokesman, but what he is doing is to repeat to us the word that God had said to him at his coronation as the crown was put on his head and he was commissioned as the newly installed King. “This is the decree of Jehovah God. This is what he said to me on that occasion, ‘You are my Son . . .” and so on to the end of this strophe. We hear Christ repeating to us the mandate God had given him, defining what his mission would be as the nations would be his inheritance and he would rule them in their rebellion with a rod of iron and finally in their impenitence and unyielding hatred of him he would destroy them.
Here we meet the same Lord Jesus who destroyed the demons congregating in the poor infested Gadarene demoniac. He sent them into the herd of swine and into the depths of the sea. We are meeting here, I say, the same Christ who once came down from heaven and repeated to men the very words that God had given to him. He is the faithful Servant of the Lord, but he is more than that, he is the Son of God one in essence and being with the Father. When a father begets a son he begets a hundred per cent human being, not 90 per cent or 99 per cent. Whatever the father is his son also is. A reptile begets a reptile 100 per cent. A bird begets a bird 100 per cent. A man begets a man 100 per cent. God begets God, 100 per cent. If the Father is infinite, eternal and unchangeable then the Son is infinite, eternal and unchangeable too. He has all the attributes of God, and all the prerogatives of God; he is to be worshipped and prayed to and obeyed and loved with all one’s being exactly as the Father is loved. He and the Father are one. The Father holds the Son in the deepest affection; how wondrous is his love for his Son; “You are my Son” he says with incomprehensible and immeasurable love. Jesus wants the world to know that he is the beloved Son of God that we may honour him just as we honour the Father.
Then to this glorious Son Jehovah conveys all the nations of mankind. He is going to extend his reign over every nation in the world. I am from the nation of Wales, and my nation has been put under the jurisdiction of the Lord Jesus. From Anglesey to Monmouthshire, from Powys to Pemrokeshire, every city and every hamlet, each street and the little white houses high on the hills – they are Christ’s inheritance and portion. There is not one square inch of Wales over which Christ does not cry, “It is mine!” It is his estate granted to him by his Father. Absolute sovereignty over Wales and every inhabitant who lives within its borders is his. None can contest his right to do with them as he pleases. All power over Wales has been granted to the Lord Jesus. Christ’s full dominion stretches over the whole Principality. The gospel of Jesus Christ the King is to be preached in every single place, in every institution, in the government and prison, in the school and hospital, in the mines and in the businesses, in the shops and docks.
Here we are at the western edge of Europe and we are Christ’s possession, and what is true of this nation is true of all the nations of the world. King Jesus has the right to give life and to end it; he has the right to save and the right to condemn. Nothing happens in Wales because of mere chance, or because the Lord Jesus has given up for a minute his authority over our land. It is not that when he was looking away for a fleeting second the devil jumped in and did something. Always go back to the first cause for everything that occurs in your own life and in the life of your nation. Christ has ultimate authority for Wales.
All things have been decreed to Christ; complete authority is his, yet the w
ay he exercises that authority is by his intercession, by his continually asking his Father for this inheritance. It will be through the reign of the royal High Priest, the one who ever lives to make intercession for his people. So we hear him praying at the end of the meal in the Upper Room his great prayer of John chapter 17; that is the means God has ordained to fulfil this end, that one day all things will be under the authority of Christ. SO he teaches us to proclaim and to pray. When you pray say, “Thy kingdom come.” May the reign of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be spread throughout our nation, for we see not yet all things put under his feet.
One day our nation with all the others will be judged by this great King. This is the Christ who made a whip out of cords and drove the money-changers out of the temple and overturned their tables. This is the Christ who in his own body took the wrath of a sin-hating God towards his people. He will one day display terrifying wrath on every impenitent and intransigent nation. His weapon is an iron scepter and their constitution is as fragile as a clay pot. Who shall stand when he appears? He will dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. In the last day he will be “revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction . . .” (I Thess. 1:7-9).
Is there no hope? Is there any relief from the crushing terror David has put upon your conscience? Listen to the final word-picture.
- THE POLICY OF THE GOSPEL, OR CHRIST RECEIVED.
“Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (vv. 10-12). Be wise Brown! Be wise Obama! Be wise Mugabe! Be wise all you rulers of Eastern Europe and Asia. Be wise everyone with any influence or authority at all. Be wise bankers! Be wise generals! Be wise teachers! Be wise disc jockeys and programme hosts! Grow up! Don’t dismiss Jesus Christ with slogans that you don’t understand. Don’t say, “Science says . . . evolution says . . . the experts say . . .” “Be wise,” says David, “let me warn you. God is so great that he should be served with fear. He can put you in hell, so serve him with trembling and let that note characterize your rejoicing too.” There is no way you can lounge around in his presence, putting your feet up and talking to him as if you were a couple of buddies. Please serve him. Yes, serve him. Don’t serve self. Spend your days serving God, and then for ever and ever serve your Lord. You will always be his servants; being a servant is never to cease so develop a servant’s mind and heart now. Let the mind that was in Christ be also in you. He took the form of a servant and you must take that form too.
Serve him with fear and rejoice with trembling. Let me illustrate that to you. There was a construction worker high on a multi-story building who slipped and stumbled but caught a cross bar of the tower. Desperately hanging on to it like a monkey he inched his way down and down until he finally reached safety. It took him thirty minutes. When he reached the ground he sat on a spot for half an hour alternately weeping and laughing. He had been spared! He was alive, but his life could so easily have been destroyed. He wept and rejoiced. So it is when sinner passes from death to life. God could have justly condemned him, and yet he found mercy. Henceforth he’ll serve God with reverence and godly fear for our God is a consuming fire.
So, “Kiss the Son!” (v.12). When Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel he kissed Saul. It was a symbol of homage and allegiance. Bow the knee to King Jesus; own him as your own Lord. End your rebellion. Bring to him all that is yours. Submit to him. Enter the ranks of his subjects. Follow him wherever he directs; do whatsoever he says. You are in the presence of a great King so your life must be one of worshipful submission.
Jesus is Lord. Therefore, we are to serve him in our jobs. We don’t work for the big pay cheque; rather, we work to serve the Lord. We don’t work for our own glory, advancement, promotion; rather, we work for the honour of our King. We don’t enter any kind of occupation; rather, we enter only those in which we can serve the Lord. We aren’t satisfied merely with punching the time-clock; rather, we give our best for the Lord.
Jesus is Lord. Therefore, we are to serve him in our marriages. This means we are to be faithful in thought, word, and deed. This means we are to keep our promise to love until death do us part. Jesus is Lord. Therefore, we are to serve him in the way we bring up our children. We are to teach our children to love God and to respect authority. We are to give them a Christ-centered education. Jesus is Lord. Therefore, we are to serve him in the way we treat our parents. Boys and girls and are to honour their father and their mother. People of all ages are to respect authority. Grown-ups are to remember and love and visit elderly parents.
Jesus is Lord. Therefore, we are to serve him in our homes. This says something about the kinds of books and magazines we read. This says something about the kind of programmes we watch on TV and the sites we visit on the web. This says something about Bible reading and prayer. Jesus is Lord. Therefore, we are to serve him with our bank account and credit cards. Our money does not belong to us first of all. It belongs to the Lord. Our spending habits are to reflect that.
Jesus is Lord; He is a demanding Lord. He demands to be served with fear. He wants us to totally serve Him in every area of life. He wants us to hold no area back. Then you will know the great promise at the end of the psalm; “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (v.12).
Now we are going to sing a metrical version of this psalm, and I was reminded of one day in the life of Murdoch Campbell, the father-in-law of Douglas Macmillan. He tells us that he was in a service and the minister gave out Psalm 2 to sin and as the psalm was sung, “eternity seemed to touch my spirit. What we call the ‘time-barrier’ seemed for a moment, to dissolve. I felt I could see through the vistas of future ages. It was as if I had entered another world – a world of unspeakable peace. All the confusions, conflicts, noise and hatreds which distress our present world had passed away. All opposition to God in his moral rule, and in the government of his grace, had ceased. All hostile voices were for ever silenced.” Blessed are all who take their refuge in him. Let us take refuge in him.
2 November 2008 GEOFF THOMAS