Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas in Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage,
  And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
  And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His anointed, saying,
  “Let us break Their bonds in pieces
  and cast away Their cords from us.”
(Psalm 2:1-3)
King Herod went into a rage at the news of the new King born in Bethlehem, God’s anointed one — Messiah (Hebrew), the Christ (Greek). The anointing of God breaks lifts the burden and shatters the yoke of oppression, but Herod wanted no part of it, precisely because he was one of the oppressors.
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
  The LORD shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
  And distress them in His displeasure,”
“Yet I have set My King
  On My holy hill of Zion.”
(Psalm 2:4-6)
Christmas celebrates the birth of this King, who comes to set all things right. The oppressors of this world thought they were in control, but it turns out that they were seriously self-deceived — what a laugh!
“I will declare the decree:
  The LORD has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
  Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
  The nations for Your inheritance,
  And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
  You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”
(Psalm 2:7-9)
This is the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, whose glory we behold, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God’s truth shines a searchlight on the lies of the tyrants, and His grace — the favor of heaven — is far greater than their cruelties and comes to wipe them out. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the words of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
  Be instructed, you judges 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,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
  Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.
(Psalm 2:10-12)
Wise men came, kingly in stature, and bowed before God’s anointed one, for they understood the portent of the heavenly sign. "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy” (Matthew 2:10). They kissed the Son, as it were, honoring Him with gifts befitting a great King.

This psalm begins by depicting the conspiratorial rage of tyrannical kings and despots, but suddenly — and surprisingly — ends with an invitation to receive wisdom, a repentance that ends in exceedingly great joy. It is a promise of blessing — the power of favor of heaven — on all who entrust themselves to God’s anointed one, Jesus Christ.