If you are like me, you probably have watched the news in recent weeks and thought, “What in the world is going on?” The devastation, suffering, and loss of life we are witnessing in Ukraine are nothing short of heartbreaking. Who in their right mind bombs hospitals, schools and places where mothers and children are hiding? It is easy to look at such a tragedy and come to the conclusion that the world is out of control.
The Poet Robert Browning wrote, “God’s in his heaven – all’s right with the world.” The sentiment also appears in the closing lines of the novel “Anne of Green Gables,” where the optimistic orphaned heroine Anne Shirley uses the same phrase to sum up her philosophy of life. Is that true, though? Does God being on the throne in heaven assure that all is right in the world? God is certainly on heaven’s throne, but all is not right with the world.
Times like these trouble Christians and non-believers alike. What do you do when the world seems chaotic? To whom do you turn when it seems like no-one is steering the ship? Does God know what is going on? If so, why is He allowing these atrocities to take place? The non-believer throws up her hands in a fatalistic demonstration of hopelessness. “Qué será, será” she replies.
I believe that as followers of Jesus, we know we should react differently. Our hope transcends generational wars, dictatorial leaders and human tragedy, right? The answer is a resounding, “YES!” Unfortunately, though, many Christians don’t know where to turn when the world is at war, when their life blows up, or when their hope fades.
The book of Psalms is the answer. Written as man’s prayer response to God’s Word, the Psalms offer us a refuge in the midst of the storms fo life. They give us a language to communicate our fears, frustrations and failures to God.
Psalm 2 was written to demonstrate the sovereignty of God in the midst of a chaotic world. Many believe that the first two psalms go together. Although written at different times and by different authors, they join together in one glorious message.
When Psalms 1 and 2 are read together their unity and contrast become apparent.
– Psalm 1:1 and Psalm 2:12 show that man is blessed whenever he avoids the wicked and meditates on God’s Word.
– In Psalm 1:6 the way of the wicked will perish and in Psalm 2:12 the wicked nations will perish.
– In Psalm 1:2 the righteous man meditates on God’s law, while in Psalm 2:1 the peoples plot/meditate (same Hebrew word) against God and His law.
I believe the first two verses of Psalm 2 are intended to be humorous. Who are these kings and nations who think they can plot against God? As we mentioned before the term “plot” comes from the same Hebrew word for “meditate” in chapter 1. The idea being that these rulers think about and dwell upon how they may rebel against God and exalt themselves to godlike status. (That sounds like certain modern day world leaders)
Such a ludicrous plan reminds of me of ants in an ant farm plotting against the human who takes care of them. Such a rebellion is an effort in futility. They are not smart enough nor strong enough to overcome their powerful caretaker. He would be humored by their anarchistic plans. The same is true with God. It is absolutely impossible for God to be successfully opposed.
A famous example of a king who opposed God was the Roman Emperor Diocletian (245-313 A.D.). He was a self-proclaimed enemy of Christianity and persecuted the church mercilessly. He publicly claimed that he had defeated Christianity. He even went so far as to set up a monument on the frontier of his empire with this inscription:
Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ for having extended the worship of the gods.
Well, Diocletian died at the age of 68 and Christianity lives on. Did his fervor and passion to oppose and destroy Christianity worry God? Absolutely not! Verse four gives us a description of God’s thoughts of Diocletian and others rulers who oppose Him.
Psalm 2:4 – He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
The idea is simply that God is unmoved by their conspiracies and connivances. He sits unmoved in the heavens and continues with His divine agenda. Did you grasp that? The world is never out of God’s control. Although nations may be at war, the economy may seem chaotic and mankind may be increasingly rebellious, God’s sovereign purposes and plans will assuredly be carried out. You can fully trust in Him!
In contrast to their wicked and weak leadership, God has placed His own King on the throne. He replies to these recalcitrant rulers by saying…
Psalm 2:6,7 – “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
In other words, contrasted with the wicked kings who oppose Him, He promises to crown His own King. Who is the King to whom He is referring? Without a doubt, this Psalm is messianic.
Although the immediate context points to David as the divinely appointed King in Zion, God is clearly pointing towards the ultimate King, Jesus Christ. In other words, the answer to a world that seems out of control is Jesus!
Jesus was begotten by the Father. God sent His Son to eliminate the opposition, set the world in order and establish God’s Kingdom on earth. As the living representative of the Triune God on earth, Jesus brings clarity to confusion, calmness to chaos, and control to an out-of-control world. We believe He has already established His throne and one day will return to take possession of His kingdom. He is the eternal Son of God! (Hebrews 1:3-5)
The kings and rulers of the earth are warned to be wise and to “kiss the Son” (2:12). To kiss Him is a demonstration of His sovereignty and our submission to Him. Whether willingly or not, one day every despot, every ruler, and ever tyrannical leader will bow to Jesus recognizing Him as King over all of creation.
Philippians 2:9, 10 – Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What do we do when the world seems out of control? We turn to a Psalm that was written to be read, sung and prayed during a time of distress. The early church recognized the significance of this great Psalm. They took refuge by praying Psalm 2 as they faced persecution (Acts 4:23-35).
So, in our troubled times, when it looks like the enemy is winning, when it looks like World War III is on the horizon, we can do the same thing. Let’s join the early church in praying Psalm 2 as a demonstration that our faith and our hope is in Jesus.
Psalm 2:12 – …Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.