Friday, 27 January 2012

Psalm 2

Psalm 2 along with Psalm 1 is often described as the introduction to the whole book of Psalm. There is even some tradition of treating them together. There is a continued treatment of the person who is blessed, moving from the Psalm 1 analysis of the personal action to the Psalm 2 passage where persons play a part in community.

The rebellion of the people in verse 1 and 2 is clear. The leaders in these verses are representative of their nations, their communities. However these very leaders are also targeted for their desire to break out from the way of the Lord. The sin is rebellion, not giving God the honour he deserves, not submitting their life to God's counsel and plans and refusing to be moulded by God.

The actions of these people are rightly ridiculed, they are trying to defy the King of kings, the Ruler of everything, the Counsellor, the Potter and Creator. They are his subjects, his servants, those who without his wisdom will bring upon themselves ruin, the clay and the created.

One of the main difficulties a reader might have is the theme of God's wrath, fury or anger. How can our God who loves be as angry as this Psalm seems to portray him? Many would say that their image of God is one of a smiling paternal figure who looks down on us with compassion and grace. Others would say that this Psalm vindicates there image of a frowning, angry God who just wants to throw lightening bolts down at us. When he doesn't rain down lightening then we assume he is either the smiling paternal figure or he is incapable of doing so or both.
When we see a government or organisation where the leader says and does one thing and the people under him say and do another, we call it corruption or bad management. A company cannot continue profitably with that level of conflict. A government is corrupt when the people inside it no longer work together with purpose to manage the country well. A good leader would naturally be angry at the failings in his government or organisation. A secure leader would naturally laugh at and deride the actions of powerless individuals working against his good leadership. I recognise that many people will look at the previous two images and question the goodness or the ability of the leader, however if you assume his goodness and ability, the leader has every right to be angry and would be furious at the actions of those under his jurisdiction. Our image of God gives him human form and characteristics (the Bible is full of God expressing emotion and he created us in his likeness, he is similar to us), so therefore the smiling paternal figure must also be angry with the state of affairs.
The frowning, angry God is also the God who in this very chapter, coronates and anoints his son who willingly suffered and died for humanity and for you specifically. He obviously loves all of humanity if he can be angry towards them and still be willing to die for them. This very coronation is the very act of intervention that shows his power, love and anger. God is angry with the rebellious nations, loves them and has already shown that he is far more capable than just raining down a few lightening bolts, he can be incarnated, live, die and conquer death.

This affects our lives very tangibly. In verses 10-12, the leaders and people (in other words, us) are instructed to serve the LORD (YHWH) understanding our position in relation to his power. To praise God and be joyful at the awe-inspiring work of God through Jesus Christ. To submit to God's plans and counsel in the purity of our lives and submit to the King Jesus Christ. Blessed are we who do so with reverence.

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