I know that Psalm 2 is commonly referred to as a royal psalm. I know it was likely used at the coronation of a new king in Jerusalem. I also know that it in some way prophesies about Jesus, the Anointed one, as The King that will someday judge the earth. But when I read Psalm 2 I think of myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of myself as a king coming into a kingdom. That would be foolish! No, I think of myself as the one raging against God. Psalm 2 begins with the question “Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain?” It is a question most likely directed outward, away from the chosen nation of Israel, toward all those seeking to rule over Israel. It was pointed directly at the rulers of the earth seeking to rebel against the law and rule of God.
But such rage and plotting is not limited to the nations, and it certainly was not a new human behavior at the time of the writing of this psalm. Humanity’s first sin began with the question “Did God actually say…?” Eve (and Adam) saw in the eating of the fruit a way to find wisdom on their own terms (look it up, compare Genesis 2:9 with Genesis 3:6). Ever since that moment, the human race has continued to seek ways to undermine the authority of God. What’s worse, is that it’s not the others, the distant others who are the culprits here, it is us, and more specifically, it is you and it is me.
On my good days I don’t realize that I question God’s authority. I wake and go about my day doing generally nice things to and for people, or at the very least not doing anything overtly bad. Then I lay my head on the pillow at the end of the day thinking that I was a pretty good guy doing pretty good things and how it is that God should be pretty happy with me. But even on these good days, I know I am not too terribly concerned with what God really wants me to do or how he wants me to behave. I haven’t meditated on his word. I haven’t sought his guidance for my daily choices. I haven’t waited for his answer. I live as if I have found a sweet spot in society in which I can live comfortably without being a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad person. Those are my good days.
But on my bad days…well come to think of it, lets not talk about those. Suffice it to say that when I look back on my bad days I realize that I have raged against God’s will. I plot to do those things that I find interesting even if I know, and sometimes because I know that he won’t like it. (I told you, I’m not a very good person). I may not lay siege to a fortress behind which sits an enthroned king, as the Babylonians did, but I certainly undermine the foundations of God’s holy fortress by asking, along with the serpent, “Did God actually say…?”
I sometimes wonder if the only way I’ll get things straight is to be broken with a rod of iron like the vain raging nations of Psalm 2. Do I need to be dashed to pieces like a clay pot before I realize my error? Sometimes I think that is the only way that God can get my attention. Maybe my life needs to be made a shambles and I need to be ripped from all I once found dear, leaving me alone with the pieces to wonder how I let my life spiral out of control. Maybe it is only in that state that I will be able to finally accept God and what he has said.
But if I am being honest, this makes me very mad. If God is so good, why am I so repulsed by him and his goodness on my bad days? Why does evil seduce me? Why am I not allured by good? And why must my choices always lead to destruction? But when the anger subsides, as it always does, I realize that is my lot in life. In fact, I think it is all of our lots in life to be constantly living in the tension between accepting God’s word and questioning it. And because I am such a dense person driven by my evil desires, I think it is only just that the way to reach someone like me is letting me see and live the consequences of my choices. It is the only way for me to realize that my raging and plotting against the Lord are in vain.
I think this might be another reason why this is a royal psalm: it is about the enthroned king before whom we must learn how to bow. It is about we who seek to break free from his ways, yet learning the inevitability of his reign. It forces us to ask how we neglect his ways, deny his kingship, and ultimately rebel against his authority. And it tells us that the blessed man, the one who meditates on his law day and night, ultimately finds refuge in him alone.