Psalms 2:1-4 (ESV)
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD holds them in derision.”
Context – How Does This Fit In With Scripture as a Whole?
A psalm of David.
Interpretation – What Does This Mean in Context?
Many commentators agree that while this psalm was written by David and reflects the conflicts he faced throughout his reign as King of Israel, these verses portray the hatred and conflict between God and his enemies.
The Hebrew words used for “nations” and “peoples” are goyim and le’umiym. They express the idea of a people without respect and engaged in agitation against God as seen in the word ragash, translated “rage” meaning tumult, noise, violent commotion, or agitation.
The phrase, “…against the LORD and against his Anointed” in verse two comes from the Hebrew al-Adonai v’al-meshicho which literally comes from the root meshiach or messiah. Meshicho is commonly understood to refer to the Greater Son of David or Mashiach ben David whom we know to be Yeshua, or Jesus.
Application – What Can We Take From This?
There are people reading the blog and listening to the podcasts all over the world. Some of us are believers in Jesus and others aren’t. There is a perception by many non-believers, and particularly from folks far on the political left that because Christianity has had a highly influential role in the global power-structures for hundreds of years that the world inherently favors the Christian faith.
This view, itself, is flawed and based on false thinking for a number of reasons. While Christianity prevailed in the latter years of the Roman and Byzantine Empires, throughout the Medieval period, and into the modern/colonial era it wasn’t the prevailing worldview globally; that notion is based on a Euro-Centric understanding of history and it overlooks the social and anthropological history of most places – especially in the far east and the global south.
For instance, Buddhism and Hindusim were, and still are heavily influential in India and much of Asia. The Japanese traditions of Shinto and Bushido had a strong hold well into the mid-20th century. Islam has had the ancient Near East (aka the Middle East), North Africa, and much of Asia, as well as many regions of Southeast Asia for the better part of 1,500 years.
And while Christianity spread into much of Africa, many Africans (including some Christians and Muslims) continued to observe their animistic and matriarchal traditions to this day. One such case of this can be found in the islands of Comoros near Madagascar. And, of course, how could we forget the rejection of God by the multitude of atheists and agnostics since the Enlightenment?
The truth is that the Western embrace of Judeo-Christian culture and values was just another cultural system that fell under the umbrella of human civilization. It has definitely had an effect on the global community, to be sure, but it is foolish to assume that Western culture has completely dominated all others.
Yet with all of that said, this understanding fails to account for reality that we are spiritual beings temporarily living in a temporal world. There is a bigger picture that this psalm is addressing, which is that we are a part of the spiritual conflict between the Godly and the demonic.
That conflict manifests through the global superstructure, referred to by many Christian’s as the World System.
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed…”
The nations rage and the people plot against God’s plan and commands because they are antithetical to the carnal nature of the World’s System. As natural humans we have bought into the satanic lie that we can be our own God or that we can in someway outshine God’s brilliance and we get frustrated when we inevitably fail in those endeavors – so we push back harder. But,
“He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD holds them in derision.”
Despite how hard we fight against God and against His Will, we will fail. Our greatest resistance is laughable to Him, and it makes us his enemy.
This passage from David’s psalm speaks not only to what happened, but to what always happens. Humans plot and rebel and then we fail. The message of these verses is to repent of our own folly and to walk humbly with Jesus, in His grace, forever.