Psalm 2 Rage Against the Mashiyach

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Questions: Why do we rebel? What is the goal of rage? Does this bother God? Click “Read More” to pursue answers in the Psalms.

Lord, speak to me through your Spirit and your Word, your Body and your Blood;
that I might know you as you are, and manifest the image of Christ in this world,
and the world to come. Amen.

Psalms 2:1-12

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine 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 bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

Have you ever felt the urge to rebel? Not so much disobeying the rules in pursuit of a greater good, but simply flaunting authority to show that you could, to assert your independence?

I have, though I was hardly a rebellious child (though I did pull a few subversive pranks in high school :-). Some of that was certainly a healthy (if delayed) aspect of adolescent separation from parents. But the rest of it, I must admit, was (is?) driven by a rage against what at least part of me considered the burdensome, unfair yoke of God. In a sense, this is the flip-side of the Psalms 1 man who loves the Law of the Lord, since he understands the blessedness that flows from obedience.

In my perhaps limited experience, the primary purpose of rage is to assert our own power and identity (even if in self-destructive ways), to force others to acknowledge and reckon with us: to stick it to The Man, if you will. Which makes God’s reaction both appropriate and annoying:

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

Doh! So much for “showing God who’s boss.” Now it’s his turn:

Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

What’s interesting is that this isn’t just about rebellion against God, but also against his lawful intermediaries. While presumably talking about David, its hard to avoid the Messianic implications:

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou [art] my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give [thee] the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth [for] thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Ouch. Yet, the focus isn’t so much on punishment as warning:

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.

In fact, the Psalm actually ends on a positive note:

Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him.

This Psalm really is the perfect complement to the previous one: a stick to follow the carrot. God wants us to follow the Law because it is good for us, as well as for others. Yet He will punish us if we break the law, because it harms others (as well as ourselves).

Prayer

God, I confess I identify with both the Psalm 1 man and the Psalm 2 kings. Fill me with a holy fear of your awesome power. Thank you that you are so great, you are not scared or intimidated by my rage or childish schemes, but ever seek my redemption. Father, replace my foolish rage with a humble rejoicing, that I may know the blessedness that comes from surrendering myself to you. I ask this through Jesus the anointed one, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title, using the Hebrew term for Messiah, is a reference to yet another rock band whose name I like even if I don’t know anything about their music…

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