The opening verses of Psalm 2 unveil the rebels who resist the authority of God. This passage reveals the posture of rebels who are poised to dethrone God. These rebels rage against God and plot against him (v. 1). They oppose the LORD and his anointed (v. 2). These rebels make autonomy their ultimate goal (v. 3). They want to be free from God’s demands. They want to be free from God’s laws. And these recalcitrant rebels seek freedom from God’s reign and his rule.
Here’s the fascinating irony: Every rebel who searches for freedom apart from God is in bondage, and will, in the final analysis, be subjected to the almighty wrath of God. When you flee from Christ to be free from Christ you build a self-imposed prison around your life. Stated another way, when you submit to Christ’s lordship, you will rest securely in your newfound freedom.
The essential message of Psalm 2:1-5 is this: We enter the danger zone when we resist God’s rule and reign in our lives. How then, should people live before God? Psalm 2:6-12 provides an important answer. We will learn that rebels must recognize Christ’s right to rule and respond reverently to his kingly authority. Then and only then, will we find ourselves in the safety zone.
RECOGNIZE HIS RIGHT TO RULE
God possesses royal authority. He is a transcendent and majestic God who deserves our unhindered reverence and obedience. Notice several aspects of his kingly reign.
The Components of God’s Kingly Reign
First, the installation of the King (v. 6). There is a crucial distinction here between the Father and the Son: “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, on my holy hill.” Note the exalted status of his kingly reign. To set someone in a particular place suggests a unique position.
Christ is presented as his enemies’ King. C.H. Spurgeon says, “What are all the mighty men, the great, the honorable men of the earth to Jesus Christ? They are but like a little bubble in the water; for if all the nations, in comparison to God, be but as the drop in the bucket, or the dust in the balance (Isa. 40:25), how little they must be the kings of the earth!”1 Christ is presented as his saints’ King. Christ rules “over their wills, over their affections, over their judgments and understandings, and nobody hath anything to do here but Christ,” writes Spurgeon.2 Christ is presented as his Father’s King. Christ not only rules in the hearts of his people; he rules over a “providential kingdom, by which he rules the affairs of this world, and so he is the king of nations.”3
Psalm 99:1-5 emphasizes this reign. Indeed, his reign is righteous, sovereign, and omnipotent. His is a just and holy reign. This is the kind of King you would want to serve. This is the kind of King you would want to submit to. This is the kind of King you can find refuge in!
Second, we learn about the position of the King (v. 7). The Son speaks of a decree: “God’s decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will, whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time.”4
The decree tells of the eternal begetting of the Son. The Nicene Creed (revised in 381) confesses faith in “one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father before all time, Light from Light true God from true God, begotten not created.”
John Frame helps us understand the meaning of the term, begotten:
Among human beings, begetting normally occurs in a sexual relationship. It occurs in time so that a human being who did not exist at one time comes into existence at a later time. But eternal begetting is surely neither sexual nor temporal, nor does it bring into existence someone who otherwise would not have existed, for God is a necessary being, and all three divine persons share the attribute of necessary existence.5
Third, Psalm 2:8 describes the inheritance of the King: “As of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” The inheritance of Christ is absolutely comprehensive. There is nothing outside the scope of his sovereign control. That is, his kingly reign knows no bounds. He owns everything; he rules over everything and everyone. He is sovereign over the nations; he is sovereign over rulers; he is sovereign over our decisions; he is sovereign over our wills; he is sovereign over all. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory, forever. Amen” (Rom. 12:36). Abraham Kuyper rightly observes, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”
Fourth, Psalm 2:9 describes the judgment of the King. The focus on verse 9 is on them. The focus is on the rebels who resist God’s rightful rule and reign in their lives. The focus is on the rebels who refuse to recognize Christ’s right to rule. John Stott describes the judgment of God as his “steady, unrelenting, unremitting, uncompromising, antagonism to evil in all its forms and manifestations.”6
Are you numbered among the rebels who refuse to recognize Christ’s right to rule and reign in your life? There comes a time when every person is faced with a reality check. Christ has been installed as the King. He has a high and holy position. Indeed, he is exalted above everything and everyone. He will judge every person who resists his rightful rule and reign. His wrath will fall on every person who refuses to recognize his sovereign rule. With the reality before us, the psalmist helps rebels understand this important principle: We must not only recognize Christ’s right to rule; we must respond reverently to his kingly authority!
RESPOND REVERENTLY TO HIS KINGLY AUTHORITY
Pay careful attention! This passage is marked off by the words, “Now, therefore” (v. 10). The psalmist urges us to “be wise.” He urges us to “be warned.” Three responses, therefore, are appropriate from those who respond reverently to his kingly authority.
First, serve Christ. ”Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Ps. 2:11). The Hebrew term for serve means “to work; to toil; to accomplish something.” But the word also has the flavor of worship:
““And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deuteronomy 10:12, ESV).
“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4, ESV)
“Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” (Psalm 100:2, ESV)
Serving Christ, according to Psalm 2:11 involves serving the LORD with fear. “Genuine faith is expressed in, and animated by, a reverential awe, and this is the basic meaning of the biblical idea of the fear of God. Unless there is personal awareness of the awesome and majestic sovereignty of God, it is impossible to have a meaningful faith existing in one’s heart.”7 God-centered fear is struck with the majesty of God, which expresses reverence to him. God-centered fear involves a mixture of rejoicing and trembling. When we come into his presence, we are filled with joy and Christ-exalting awe!
Second, submit to Christ. ”Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way …” (v. 12a). Remember, this King as been installed. His is a lofty position. And his inheritance includes all things. Our responsibility, then, is to kiss the Son. That is, we must submit to the One who is sovereign over all things:
- We submit to him when he calls us to love our neighbors.
- We submit to him when he calls us to love our enemies.
- We submit to him when he calls us to put him first – above all things.
- We submit to him when he demands us to repudiate our idols.
- We submit to Christ by laying down our arms, turning from our rebellion, and by turning to him in faith.
- We kiss the Son.
The consequences are terrible and traumatic for anyone who refuses to submit to God and kiss the Son, namely, the almighty wrath of God. This is a punishment that the unrepentant will endure eternally. John writes, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36, ESV).
Responding reverently to Christ’s authority involves serving him and submitting to him. But there is a third requirement, namely, satisfaction in Christ. The Bible speaks of the one who takes refuge in Christ. To seek refuge is to find safety. To find safety is to be satisfied and to find refuge under his wings (Ps. 36:7; Ruth 2:12). God is called a child for those who take refuge in him (2 Sam. 22:31). Over and over again, we are told in Scripture that the one who takes refuge in Christ will be blessed:
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” (Psalm 5:11, ESV)
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8, ESV)
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” (Nahum 1:7, ESV)
The sum total of service, submission, and finding satisfaction in Christ boils down to this: it involves living a repentant life; one that responds reverently to his kingly authority. You show me a person who refuses to serve Christ, submit to Christ, and find satisfaction in him and I’ll show you a person who has no clue about living a repentant life. Robert Letham says, “In short, the believer is a repentant believer or he is no believer at all.”
But you show me a person who recognizes Christ’s right to rule and responds reverently to his kingly authority, I’ll show you a person who is truly blessed; a person who is living in the safety zone.
What is the proper response to Christ’s kingly authority? We are to respond reverently by serving him, submitting to him, and finding our satisfaction in him. Each response is an act of worship.
Are you responding reverently to Christ’s kingly authority? Can you say that your service to God is a reflection of how you respond to him? Do you submit to his authority? Do you humbly submit to the authority of your employer? Wives, do you humbly submit to the authority of your husband? Children, do you humbly submit to the authority of your parents? Each of these questions is a snapshot of how you respond to the kingly authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We must recognize Christ’s right to rule and respond reverently to his kingly authority. And we respond reverently to his kingly authority by serving Christ, submitting to Christ, and finding our satisfaction in Christ.
Recognizing Christ’s right to rule and responding reverently to his kingly authority is another way of saying that you are exercising faith in God. Several years ago, I served at a church that tore down a building that was packed with asbestos. We hired a firm to remove the hazardous material. Here’s what we were told: Anyone on the premises must wear a hazmat (hazardous materials) suit which is combined with a self-contained breathing apparatus.
Faith in Christ is the “hazmat suit” that shields us from the wrath of God. Don’t presume upon God’s grace. All rebels will face God’s almighty wrath. But everyone who believes in Christ and his triumphant work on the cross will know eternal life and stand secure in the safety zone!
We must recognize Christ’s right to rule and respond reverently to his kingly authority. And we respond reverently to his kingly authority by serving Christ, submitting to Christ, and finding our satisfaction in Christ. Then and only then, will we find ourselves standing in the safety zone.
Soli Deo Gloria!
- C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David (Peabody: Hendrickson), 16. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- WLC, 12. ↩
- John Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2002), 21. ↩
- John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 173. ↩
- Wlwell, W.A., & Beitzel, B.J. (1988). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (782). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. ↩