Psalm 2 – Refuge in the eye of the storm
The second psalm contrasts with the first in that it expands the horizon way beyond the contrast between individuals that Psalm 1 describes to a vision of nations in conspiracy against God and His anointed one. The historical context is almost certainly the vassal nations that had been subdued by David and had given tribute to his descendants who were now rebelling against their overlord in Jerusalem. The anointed king in David’s line whom God has place as ruler of Judah is being conspired against as these nations begin to assert their own identity, casting off his shackles. Yet as the Spirit guides the psalmist, this regional turmoil becomes symbolic of a greater conflict – the mass rebellion of humankind against our Creator. We have rejected God’s rule over us, accusing Him of despotism and believing we can be masters of our own destiny. The anointed becomes not merely a king in David’s line, but the ultimate davidic ruler, the Messiah. It is the response of the nations to Christ that comes into view in prophetic perspective.
How does God respond to the rebellion? According to verse 4, He laughs. He scoffs at the foolishness of nations that believe they can fare better without Him. He balks at their audacity in thinking that simply by ignoring Him they can live as if He was not there. God’s sovereignty is not dependent upon humankind’s recognition – His kingdom is not threatened by sin and His eternal purposes cannot be thwarted by human rebellion. Yet this laughter is not the lighthearted giggle of a simple mind. It is a prelude to the rebuke of verse 5. God’s wrath is real and it burns intensely against human beings in their sinfulness. God has appointed His king (verse 6) and any who reject Him reject God and all hope of salvation from God’s righteous anger.
Then in verse 7 the voice shifts and we have an amazing insight into the words of God to His anointed. Here is the Father speaking to the Son, speaking of the day in which He became His Father. Applying these words to Jesus raises a tricky question – when did God become Jesus’ Father? Some have suggested an adoption at Jesus’ baptism, but that neglects the clear testimony of Scripture to the reality that God entered our world in human flesh when Jesus was conceived. Others have suggested that the relationship between these two persons of the Godhead shifted with the incarnation so that only from that point onward did the second person of the trinity, who we call Jesus, relate to the Father as a Son. A third possibility is that ‘today’ is an eternal day – the Son has always been the Son and the Father the Father. Perhaps we cannot decide definitively between these two possible answers and certainly we shouldn’t speculate beyond what Scripture reveals. The point as we read verses 7-8 is surely that the Father is speaking to the Son and promising that all nations will be His inheritance and He will be their undisputed ruler. No historic descendant of David ever reasserted that kind of authority, even over the minor nations around Judah, but Jesus fulfils this promise. He will be King over all!
The psalm ends (verses 9-12) with an invitation to the world’s rulers, and by extension to us. We can acknowledge the Son of God (‘kiss’ refers to the ceremony in which a ruler would have acknowledged the overlordship of a greater king) and serve Him in reverence, or face God’s wrath. There is no other place of refuge from God’s judgement than in His Son. This may not be a popular message today, but it is as true now as when the psalmist first penned these God-given words. There is a certain paradoxical nature to this psalm – the storm surrounds the Son, yet He is the refuge from it. Jesus, God’s anointed, is both Saviour and Judge and the day that is coming, when He returns in glory, will be the day both of great loss and of great consolation. Which we experience will depend on what we do with the anointed King, the Lord Jesus Christ.