Posted in

Psalm 2: A Global Perspective

            Have you ever been troubled by the fact that Christians fervently pray for a parking spot at a crowded mall on December 24th but don’t pray for those suffering under oppression in North Korea?  Worse yet, maybe that describes your prayer life.  If so, Psalm 2 is for you.

            In my previous two posts on the Psalms I wrote about how Psalms 1 and 2 serve as an introduction to the whole Psalter and then how Psalm 1 contrasts the paths of wisdom and folly.  Psalm 2 complements the more individual concerns of Psalm 1 with a global perspective.

            The subject of Psalm 2 is the rebellion of the nations, especially their rulers, against the Lord.  It begins with a question.  “Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?”  This is not the poignant why question of many psalms that struggle with the success of the wicked.  It is more of a derisive question, something like “Why are they so stupid as to oppose the Lord?”

            The structure of Psalm 2 reveals how the believer can have a global perspective and yet not lose hope in light of the horrors that are daily committed around the world.  The poem is divided into four sections.  Verses 1-3 describe the rebellion of the rulers of the earth against the Lord.  They look at the situation on earth.  Verses 4-6 picture the Lord’s reaction in the heavens.  His rule is unthreatened.  He laughs at the folly of the earth’s rebels, and his declaration of sovereignty will strike terror in them.  Verses 7-9 still speak from the heavenly realm.  The Lord’s decree is related by his Son.  That decree is that he has been appointed to crush the rebellious nations and rule over them.  The fourth section, verses 10-12, concludes Psalm 2 by returning to earth with a warning to its rulers to be wise and serve the Lord and honor his Son as the true king in order to avoid being destroyed by God’s wrath or judgment.  They are then promised God’s blessing, if they take refuge in him.

            How then can we have a global perspective that is truly biblical?  Psalm 2 moves from considering the earthly to listening in on the heavenly and then returning to the earthly.  By doing so it clearly teaches us that a biblical perspective on world affairs is possible only by viewing the earthly realm from a heavenly perspective.

            Psalm 2 is also a messianic psalm.  It is applied to Jesus Christ several times in the New Testament.  At his baptism God the Father identifies Jesus as his beloved son (Matthew 3:17), and the risen Lord is proclaimed the ruler of the nations in Revelation 2:26-27.  A heavenly perspective sees Jesus as the rightful ruler of the earth. 

            Here are four suggestions to help us have a globally-concerned spirituality.

  • If you are someone who isn’t interested in politics and currently do not pray regularly for the world situation, confess to God that your spiritual life is sub-biblical.  As a start, ask God to direct you to some group or nation that is not yours and begin to learn about them and pray for them.
  • If you are a “newsaholic” but don’t pray about the news, confess to God that your spiritual life is not pleasing to him in this regard.  Discipline yourself to read or hear one news report, think about it and then pray about it before exposing yourself to more news.  If you don’t, you’re most likely just watching the news for entertainment purposes.
  • Because Psalm 2 calls the rulers to the wisdom of repentance and faith, we should be praying for and financially supporting missionaries and national Christians in their ministry of proclaiming the kingdom of Christ, and let’s be hopeful.  God is not threatened.  His kingdom will come.
  • Notice that Psalm 2 starts in mockery of the rulers’ folly but finishes with a plea to them.  I find it all too easy to criticize and denigrate leaders.  A global spirituality commands us to pray for rulers (2 Timothy 2:1-2).

            Next time we’ll see how the connections between Psalms 1 and 2 demonstrate that we need both kinds of spirituality.

37 thoughts on “Psalm 2: A Global Perspective

  1. I definitely agree with you! I like the hymn (I think it is a Presbyterian one) This is my Father’s world, and to my liensnitg ears, all nature sings, and ’round me rings the music of the spheres. Creation’s beauty and intricacy shows us God’s creativity and love for us, and we must show our respect for that gift. I’ve heard some people confuse the idea of the fallen world (meaning we are sinners so our life in this world is separated from God) with the idea that the Earth is unimportant and can be used any old way, but to me that is so obviously wrong.Oddly enough, also inspire me to appreciate the wonderful gift that the Episcopal liturgy calls, this fragile Earth, our island home. I love those words!

  2. Hello Bill,
    Yes, verily I agree.
    I must confess, I hang my head in shame. I am guilty of not praying as I ought to. Over here in the UK we have currently Queen Elizabeth II diamond Jubilee celebrations. I am sure you may be subjected to it on your news channels.
    My bible teaches me that the Monarchy is a God ordained institution, and also that I should pray for them. I pray that they would come to repentance and faith in the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Currently we have about 1,000,000 plus people (physically lining the streets, plus countless others in street parties and watching on TV etc)celebrating this Jubilee and they are all saying; ‘What a wonderful Queen she is’ and ‘We have had 60 glorious years of her reign’!
    Well there are some half truths here! The Queen may have been on the throne for 60 years ( I am 51) but when I think of all the wicked laws that she has ‘rubber stamped’ in those years, sold our sovereignty to the EU, and how she has presided over a rapid moral decline in this once ‘Great Nation’ I do fear for this Nation’s future. Her husband Prince Philip once said that he would want to be re-incarnated so he could come back as a ‘killer virus’ so he could wipe out half the world’s population! (You and I could be their targets)The rest of the family as far as I am aware are biblically illiterate as well. This very well resonates with the idolatrous kings and queens of Israel and Judah.
    Yes the coming GLORIOUS millennial 1000 year reign WILL start very soon after the darkest night of Israel’s history. Not far away I believe, maybe in our lifetime?
    If only our Queen would read and believe 2 Samuel 23.3-4. KJV;
    ‘The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.’ I believe this Scripture perfectly describes the glorious Millennial morning soon coming upon God’s earth! How the creation will sing!!

    Jesus IS LORD.

    1. Thanks, Colin. I don’t know that I understand completely the British political system, but, at least since I have been paying attention, my understanding is the Queen has very little real legal power. If she weren’t to sign a bill, they’d probably remove that veto right too. But maybe a godly monarch should do that and especially could use his or her position to share and show the gospel. Thanks again.

  3. This has made me realize the importance of Christians in regards to politics. We must not disconnect ourselves from the affairs of the world, or criticize figures we don’t agree with, as I often tend to do. Thankyou for this urge. I will now try to obtain a not so “sub-biblical” spirituality, but one that prays for the leaders of our nation as well as other nations.

    1. Thanks, Andrew. It seems that we both have the same tendency in this matter. It is difficult not to be so negative, when we see the harm some leaders do, but who said the Christian life, even our prayer life, would be easy?

      1. I agree with Andy that We must not disconnect ourselves from the affairs of the world but we must not be too focused on them and forget about our prayer life. I also agree with you Bill that our prayer life would be so much easier if we didn’t have global conflicts to also focus on.

  4. I do like global news and politics, I wish I kept up more, and now I ceratinly know that I should approach them differently. Thanks for your insight on how to approach global issues with heavenly perpective. I wonder though, how or what to pray for in global conflicts. Should we pray simply that God’s will be done or for a specific outcome?

    1. Thanks, Benjamin, and I’m glad to hear of your interest in global news. With regard to prayer, we should always be praying for God’s will to be done. This is why the Lord’s Prayer is so important. At the same time we can certainly pray for specific outcomes, if we believe that is God’s will. Of course, we must ready to submit to his will, if it differs from ours.

  5. I think the part about this message that is the most difficult to apply is staying engaged in world politics while at the same time trusting that God is in control. It is easy to be caught up in earthly things and forget that all this is only temporary. Like you wisely wrote, “A biblical perspective on world affairs is possible only by viewing the earthly realm from a heavenly perspective.” Sometimes it might help just to picture God sitting in the heavens and laughing at human rulers. The purpose of this is not to be disrespectful or mocking, but to have reassurance that our King is untouched, no matter how much we may dislike a particular ruler’s policies. God is still the one in control, and we are much better off taking refuge in him than in any fellow human.

    1. Yes, the powerful picture of God’s assured victory and rule helps us not to worry even while we involve ourselves in prayer for the world’s affairs. Thanks, Brook.

  6. Similar to what Andrew said, I think it is easy to forget how important it is for Christians to be involved in politics. I think we have heard the idea to “be in the world, but not of the world” so many times that we forget there are still things in the world we need to take part in, such as politics. This may just be me, but it seems like we, as Christians, have a way of distancing ourselves from what happens in the world.

    1. No, your right, Elisabeth. We do distance ourselves. Not being of the world does not mean being unconcerned with temporal affairs. “World” means the systematic opposition to God and that we don’t have any part in, but we should pray for temporal affairs. “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Thanks.

  7. I find myself guilty of much of what you mentioned. I’m fairly interested in politics and try and keep up on current news, but I never stop and pray about it. As you said, I read the news for entertainment purposes only. Thank you for calling that to my attention.
    I’ve been told many times to always pray for the leaders of the world, but I have never been told to pray for the outcome of events. That’s why I wonder, if the outcome of all events are already predestined by God, why would I pray about them? I cannot change God’s mind, so what is the point?

    1. Your question about how predestination appears to cancel out the need for prayer is an important one with a long history. My answer would be that we know that God is sovereign and we know that we are commanded to pray; so our reasoning may be faulty or just inadequate. We follow what the Scriptures command. Go with what we know, not with what we don’t know. In addition, I believe that God does use our prayers to accomplish his foreordained purposes. Thanks for the good question, Maddie.

  8. I have several questions regarding this passage.
    1)Is mount Zion an actual mountain or metaphorical?
    2)This “Anointed” one. I am assuming it is Christ, but this Psalm is written by David who is before Christ. So, how can the rulers, kings and nations plot against him and take counsel against him?
    3)When it mentions breaking them with an iron rod and dashing them to pieces,is it referring to the evil people and nations?
    4)In verse 8 it says that He will make the nations your heritage, is it possible that this could be a reference to Abraham and making his descendants as numerous as the sand and stars?

    1. Thanks, Sydni. These are good exegetical questions.
      1) Mount Zion is another way of describing Jerusalem, which sits on a hill, but it could be used metaphorically to represent God’s rule anywhere.
      2) Remember that Christ, Greek for “anointed,” is also from the line of David, who was the anointed king. You can see in Psalm 3 that he faced severe opposition. On the other hand, the early church prayed from this portion of psalm to describe the opposition Christ and his servants face from the world’s leaders.
      3) Yes, these are symbols of judgment, here especially applied to the nations and their leaders.
      4) It probably has the Abrahamic promise in the background, but eventually we should see this fulfilled with Christ’s rule on earth.

  9. This is world can be so confusing and messed up sometimes, thank you for reminding us that God is bigger and that we should pray for the world instead of just worrying about the world.

  10. I find it so very hard to keep up with news these days because of the oppression i feel when i watch news reports. Whenever this new great thing happens i could care less, but i now realize that it is important to know about current events so you can express what you believe on an equal playing field with others.

  11. Something that confused me when I was reading this chapter was in verse 2, during the conversation about the rulers plotting against the Lord and his Anointed. The Anointed obviously refers to the Jews and the nations of the earth oppose them. My question is, do the words rulers and kings refer to a specific event in history, or is this looking to the entire history of the Jews and they’re enemies?

    1. Actually, Brian, the Lord’s Anointed would be the King or Messiah, which is our translation of the Hebrew for “anointed.” I think that the psalm reflects the general opposition of the world’s rulers to God’s purposes.

  12. I find this very interesting, especially considering the actions that have taken place in Syria. I have never considered how passively I listen to current world events.

  13. I watch the news every morning, and i have only prayed for things that apply to me, like the people in charge to make good decisions. I will definitely start praying for what I see there

  14. Whenever I was reading this Psalm and trying to comprehend it, world view had actually never crossed my mind. Thank you for the explanation, I was pretty confused. Reading this caused me to realize the importance of remembering God’s will in our prayers. Often it can seem like He is not blessing us even though we are taking refuge in him. It is important to keep eternity in mind and not just act out of rashness because of a present situation. I was wondering what the meaning behind the statement “For His wrath is quickly kindled” was. Because I had always understood the Lord to be slow to anger and that we should imitate Him in that way.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts, Gabby. Your question about his wrath is a very good one and your concern is the one we should have. I believe we need to remember that this is addressed to rulers who have a great responsibility to lead their nations in a just way. The psalm then says that the Lord or his Anointed will not stand for their wickedness, but will surely bring judgment upon them.

  15. Why does God allow other cutlets to have a different world view? Does God reveal his lorry to these people so that they may choose between right an wrong?

    1. I see you corrected yourself in another post, but I must say “cutlets” sound appealing! I’m not sure that I have captured your meaning completely. God does allow people and, I’m sure, nations to go their own way because of their sin (Romans 1:24, 26, 28), which has made them fools rather than wise (Romans 1:22). Psalm 2 describes the folly of opposing the Lord, but I’m not sure that it says much about worldview. There seems to be a typo in your second question that makes it difficult to understand. What do you mean by “lorry”?

  16. I am very interested in foreign cultures and politics, so this is a very interesting topic to me. Still, I feel I am lacking in my prayer for other countries and missionaries in those countries. I really liked what you had to say on this Psalm and I hope to be able to commit it to my own life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *