Psalms Project: Psalm 2 – Safe, Not Shackled

The much anticipated movie “Avengers” opened this weekend. It tells the story of several superheroes who must band together to stop an evil Norse deity, Loki, and his band of aliens. I haven’t seen the movie, but I suspect that the heroes must learn to work as a team. Then, using all their powers, they thwart Loki, at least until the sequel. Strange as the movie plot sounds, it has some similarities to Psalm 2. (Hang in there and maybe you will understand my warped way of thinking.)

In Psalm 2,  we meet the kings of the earth. These kings are tired of being shackled by God and His Anointed (Hebrew – messiah). So they are planning some kind of rebellion to win their “freedom.” Mortals are taking on God. In this case, we are talking about the one, true God, the Creator of all. So, these kings on earth want to take on the King of the Universe, and they have no super powers to help them. God laughs (an ironic twist to Psalm 1). He and His Anointed rule no matter what anyone else does. He can just speak and destroy the kings and their nations. God has already chosen the Ruler – His Son.

Psalm 2 is classified as a “Messianic Psalm” because of its clear mention of God’s special, anointed One, the Messiah. Here, he is called “My Son” and “My King.” He is given the nations as His inheritance. And He will rule absolutely – as with a rod of iron. The nations are warned to properly honor the Messiah (v12) or face His sudden wrath. This is a proclamation of royal authority, perhaps using the same language as the coronation ceremony of Israel’s kings. Is it any wonder that Jesus’ disciples expected a Warrior Messiah to come and destroy the Romans and establish His kingdom on earth? (Of course, they neglected the teachings of other Messianic Psalms like Psalm 22, but we will get to those later.) While Jesus did not fulfill all of these roles in His first coming, He will upon His return.

The New Testament writers did not shy away from associating Jesus with this ruling Messiah in Psalm 2. In Acts 4, Peter and John are released by the Sanhedrin after they had healed the lame man at the Temple in the name of Jesus. When they return to the believers, they testify that Psalm 2 is being fulfilled: Gentiles and Jews gathered in Jerusalem against the Messiah, Jesus, and killed Him. But His resurrection demonstrated His ultimate authority and rule. In Revelation, John quotes Psalm 2:9 four times to remind us that Jesus is coming to rule.

So, what does this mean for us today? First, it is a corrective to our view of Jesus. If we consider Him only meek and mild, an itinerant preacher of mushy love, we don’t know Him. He is God’s Anointed King. He rules, whether we accept it or not. And if we choose to reject Him, we can expect to be broken like fragile pots.

I think the most important message, though, is that God’s rule is a refuge, not a shackle.  Look at how the whole tone of the Psalm changes in the last line: “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” God is not trying to destroy us or keep us from joy and pleasure. No! His way IS the way of life and peace. Boundaries are for our safety, not for binding. Let’s rejoice in our shelter, the Most High God who rules over all.

Read Psalm 1: Planted or Seated?

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Psalms Project: Psalm 1 – Planted or Seated?

Today, I am beginning a project I have wanted to do for many years – a journey through the Psalms. I have started before, alone, but I am hoping that the accountability of a blog (and your comments, etc.) will encourage me to keep going. I plan to write about every Psalm (150 of them) in order.

The stirring Psalm 1 (go read it first!) is my favorite Psalm (at least for now) and is an appropriate beginning to this collection of Israel’s praise and worship. In just six verses, the writer (who is unknown) paints a vivid contrast between the wise and the wicked. And he (or she) provides the wisdom and motivation we need for finding daily nourishment.

It becomes a simple question of whether we choose to be seated or planted. The unwise person is seated. There is a progression here. The unwise person begins walking with the wicked, then stands around with the sinners, and finally settles into a seat with the scoffers. Now the unwise has become wicked like those around him. As a result, there is no blessing from God. He or she becomes dry, useless, and blown away like chaff. There will be no place to stand in the judgment. The wicked will perish. Why would anyone choose this curse? Sadly, too many do.

The writer promises, though, that we will be blessed if we do not choose that dried-up doom. Instead, the righteous one is like the tree planted by the river, always nourished and never wilting. That is the life of blessing I want! How does it happen? I let God plant me in His Word (here called “the law”). I must meditate on it day and night. Meditation in the Bible is not the mind-emptying silliness practiced by eastern religions. Instead, Christian meditation is the active reflection upon and digesting of God’s truth. Like the tree in the picture, I should be leaning toward the water and sending out a multitude of roots into its quenching flow. I can study the Word; I can ponder its impact in my life; I can practice its rules and wisdom; I can mull its truths; I can recite it, sing it, memorize, and pray it. God’s Word imparts life, if I soak it in. It becomes an inseparable part of who I am. Thus, I am blessed and can expect to grow.

How about you? Will you choose to be planted into God’s life-giving Word today? Or will you sit down and dry up with those who perish?

Celtic Christian artist Eden’s Bridge has a lovely rendition of this Psalm called “Blessed is the Man.” Listen as you soak in the beauty of this first Psalm.