Today’s Summer in the Psalms passage is Psalm 2:1-12. You can read Psalm 2 here.

Let me start with the question I have been pondering for the last few days as I have read this Psalm.

What is your view of God as king?

As you consider that question, think of it in a very personal way.  How would it or does it affect your life personally that God is king, king of the nations, king of your life?  A king with absolute authority to rule!

This Psalm is the first chronologically of what are called “royal psalms”.  These psalms were primarily concerned with the human kings of Judah who understood themselves to be uniquely authorized and empowered as Yahweh’s adopted sons.  This means these psalms help us understand how the kings understood themselves, their authority, their roles and their hopes.

With this understanding, from Psalm 2 we learn several things:

  1.       The nations do not want Yahweh or his anointed as their king. (vs. 1-3)
  2.       God will install his king anyway. (vs. 4-6)
  3.       The nations will be the inheritance of Yahweh’s king (vs. 8-9)
  4.       Yahweh’s king is to be feared and respected lest his anger flare up. (vs. 10-12)

This last realization is what I have been wrestling with for several days.  It does not fit with my view of Yahweh as king.  In this Psalm we have a king whose anger flares up quickly; a king who smashes the nations like clay pots (earthenware).

There is a hint of grace, in the last few verses, indicating if you pay homage to the son, if you worship Yahweh in reverence you can be blessed and find refuge in Yahweh.

But what of this anger and wrath?  Especially in a Psalm that is Messianic – meaning it tells us what God’s coming Messiah will be like.

This is where the royal psalms category helps me. It is important to remember these Psalms tell us how the human kings understood themselves and their authority.  They believed that one day all of the nations would be under their rule (and the rule of Yahweh).  They were a tribal, warring culture.  It was the nature of life in those days.  I think this psalm helps us understand why the first disciples of Jesus believed he would throw off the rule of the Romans in a militaristic fashion.

The introduction to Messianic Psalms (on the previous page) tells us that these psalms were either quoted or fulfilled in Jesus lifetime as we know it from the four gospels.  This is definitely true for this psalm especially for verses 6-8.

But as for Me, I have installed My King

Upon Zion, My holy mountain.

I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:

He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You.

‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,

And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.

We know that Jesus was installed as king. His coronation day was on the cross.  The sign above him read “The King of the Jews.”

We also know that God said to Jesus, ‘You are my Son’ at Jesus baptism in Matthew, Mark and Luke and that God says about Jesus, ‘This is my son’ during his transfiguration in Matthew, Mark and Luke. We know that Jesus is called God’s begotten son in multiple passages in John and the book of Hebrews quotes this Psalm in several places specifically referring to Jesus.

Lastly, we know that the nations are Jesus inheritance.  In Matthew 4, when the devil is tempting Jesus, in the 3rd temptation, the devil offers Jesus all of the kingdoms of this world if He will fall down and worship him.  Jesus refuses to worship the devil, but even the devil knew that Jesus came to rescue and reclaim the nations.  In Revelation it is proclaimed that the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ.

What doesn’t seem to fit is the description of anger and violence in verse 9 and 12.

‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,

You shall shatter them like earthenware.’

Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,

For His wrath may soon be kindled.

How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

But these verses would make sense to us if we were Israelites living in a warring nation or living as a slaves in our own land under Roman rule.

Yet when Jesus comes as king and is installed it was very different than anyone thought.  He came as a servant.  He came as one whose wrath did not kindle quickly. He rescued and reclaimed the nations not through a show of militaristic power, but through his own sacrificial death.  He rescued not by using his power to force others to submit, but by submitting himself even unto death, death on a cross.

What a beautiful picture of the servant-king, our Messiah!  Today, we can still give Him homage, worship him with reverence and rejoice with trembling.

So I return to my initial question, What is your view of God as king?

Is it of a God who forces you to submit to his rule?

Or is it of a God who uses his power to serve, rescue and invite you to live His way in His kingdom?

How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

{If you have thoughts about this Psalm or any of the others we’re covering this summer, hop on over to our Facebook group,  where we’re hoping to experience conversation and community around the Psalms this summer!}

Matt Meyer grew up in Plattsmouth, NE. He has been involved with Campus Impact since he came to college in 1989 – 4 years as a student, 10 years as a volunteer coach and 13 years in his current role as College Pastor of Spiritual Formation. This summer he looks forward to grilling out, reading and riding his bike every day that he can! He can be reached at mmeyer@lincolnberean.org.