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.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“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.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
The idea of kingship pervades this psalm. Most of the psalms that talk about kingship are either divine kingship or human kingship. This psalm integrates both. The psalm is not titled nor is the author identified but Peter and John in Acts 4:25 ascribe it to David.
The psalm describes both David and Jesus. Jesus is both the Son of David and the Son of God. The promises God made to David are fulfilled in Jesus. There is little doubt the psalmist is referring to David, however, the ultimate reference is to Christ, the King of Kings.
Many conspired against David to try and prevent his kingship, from Saul to the neighboring kingdoms. But David was made king by divine appointment. He did not seek the position nor even desired it. When the threats came, he took courage in the confidence that God would keep his promises. Leaders plan and scheme how they can overcome God and His plan. It reminds me of an audio story I was listening to about a memorial to Abraham Lincoln. It was built into a hill so it was partly underground. It was made of sturdy brick and mortar. When it was finished, one of the architects said it was so strong not even God Himself could destroy it. I remembering thing at the time, “That sounds like a challenge.” Sure enough, the next sentence said within a year the building was destroyed by fire.
Why do nations plot in vain, indeed? We deny the sovereignty of God because we want to be sovereign. We want to rule. We cannot stand the idea of someone else ruling over us. So we rebel and say, “There is no God. We are the masters of our destiny. We control our future. We define our story.” God sits backs and laughs at our ignorance and arrogance. Because when all the leaders of the earth and all the people have united to rebel against God, it is nothing to God. God is sovereign, completely sovereign over all the earth, over all the nations, over all the leaders, over every person and over you and me. When God declares a thing will be so. It will be done regardless of whom or how many oppose it.
God both laughs at the pitiful attempts to reject Christ’s kingship and His will and brings His wrath upon them. Often when we fail to see the wrath and justice of God, we may feel He has abandoned His promises but as John Calvin said “Let us, therefore, assure ourselves that if God does not immediately stretch forth his hand against the ungodly, it is now his time of laughter.”
Here is a good place to understand the how the term “begotten” is in the bible. In verse 7 “The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Begotten does not mean made, created or birthed. It means put in a place of honor. God did not make or create David that day. David was born several years prior. So understanding begotten as birthed or made would be incorrect. This becomes very important when understanding the deity of Christ. Christ is the only begotten Son of God. Christ alone is in a place of special honor. The Father loves the Son as no other. The Son, Christ, hold a special office.
Since this psalm also describes Christ, God has given to Christ the entire earth. It all belongs to Him. The Father will do whatever is required to bring the nations in to submission. This psalm speaks quite plainly about the wrath of God. To avoid His wrath we must submit to His Son, the begotten of God.
The Father’s love for His Son is great. We have been given to the Son as His inheritance. We belong to the Son. The Father will not tolerate rebellion against the one He loves. Yet we will scheme and deny His kingship. The fact that we do not see His wrath now is because this is His time of laughter. It is also His mercy to allow us to repent.
Repent now and find your place of safety in Him, lest you get caught up in His wrath.