"THE PROPHETIC QUESTION"
1. Two weeks ago I preached from the first Psalm, in which David wrote that the blessed manís "delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." Psalm 1.2.
2. I hope youíve been meditating on portions of Godís Word since then, and hiding His Word in your heart. Whether you are converted or lost, such an activity can only be beneficial for you.
3. So important is meditation to a man or a woman that Paul commended the practice to his young student, Timothy, even after he had become the pastor of the Church in Ephesus. He wrote, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all." First Timothy 4.15.
4. And what I do is print out a portion of Godís Word on a piece of paper and then tape it with double backed tape to a three by five card to slip into my pocket.
5. Throughout the day I can retrieve that card and look at the portion of Godís Word I am meditating upon that day, or set it next to my computer screen to glance at from time to time. In this way I can meditate on the Law of the LORD day and night. I urge you to adopt a similar practice and to train your children to do the same.
6. That said, please turn in your Bible to the second Psalm. When youíve located that Psalm please stand for the reading of Godís Word, and weíll read all twelve verses together responsively. I will read the odd numbered verses and I want you to read the even numbered verses in unison aloud.
7. Are you ready? "1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potterís vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."
8. For my exposition this morning I will give you a brief overview of this second Psalm, which is, as Charles Spurgeon wrote, best understood as a fourfold picture.
1A. First, WE SEE THE NATIONS RAGING IN VERSES 1-3
1B. In Verse 1 An Angry Question Is Asked, Or Two Angry Questions Are Asked, Concerning The Masses: "1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?"
Do you see how itís actually two questions, joined together in a compound sentence?
1C. "Why do the heathen rage?" And the word "heathen" refers to non-Jews, to Gentiles, those not given the Law of Moses and who are not physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Why do these people rage?
2C. And why do the people imagine a vain thing? This portion of the Bible, given by inspiration of God, nevertheless expresses Davidís viewpoint. To him "the people" refers to his people, to the Jewish people, the covenant people of God. Why do his people imagine a vain thing?
2B. If Verse 1 Looks At The Masses, Verses 2 And 3 Looks At Those We Might Call The Moguls, The Mighty, The Powerful, The Elite Few Who Exercise Power
"2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."
1C. Notice the open and active opposition that is described here. To be sure, Davidís immediate meaning was with regard to the opposition that he, as the LORDís anointed king, faced. Those surrounding Israel, who David had subdued in battle at the direction of his God, greatly resisted and chafed under Davidís rule, not recognizing that Davidís rule was the LORDís rule over them.
2C. So, yes, they did attempt to break the bands of constraint and cast away the cords of control. They didnít want David to rule over them or to pay homage to him.
3C. But it must also be recognized that this is a Messianic Psalm, and that while David is in view immediately, the Lord Jesus Christ is in view eventually. What opposition David experienced on a human scale the Lord Jesus Christ will experience on a cosmic scale.
4C. And if opposition to David was opposition to the LORD, imagine what opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ is seen to be by the same LORD.
2A. Second, THE LORD ON HIGH DERIDES THEM IN VERSES 4-6
1B. We See The LORDís Posture In Verse 4
"4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision."
1C. This verse shows the LORD high and lifted up from the wicked manís perspective, and shows both the LORDís actions and His attitude toward those so foolish as to attempt to oppose Him.
2C. Unsaved men who think they will get away with anything? Wicked fools who think they have any hope of triumph? God laughs. Do you see this? God laughs. He laughs because even the thought of successful opposition to the plan and purpose of God is utter nonsense.
2B. His Punishment Is Described In Verse 5
"5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure."
1C. He is silent for the moment. His displeasure is not much seen in this age in which we live. There is no obvious discomfort of His wrath . . . for now.
2C. But notice the word "then." "Then" refers to the future, not the present. It refers to what shall be, not what now is. "Then" has to do with that which is anticipated, or that which is dreaded. But "then" also has to do with what shall surely come to be, what shall surely come to pass, what is in no wise avoidable or escapable . . . the sure judgment of God.
3B. Then, In Verse 6, Is His Purpose
"6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion."
1C. The exaltation of Godís king is His plan and purpose. The establishment of His king on Mount Zion is what will give Him pleasure.
2C. And what is it, really, which the heathen and the people oppose and resist with every fiber of their being? Itís this. Itís the setting of Godís king on His holy hill Zion.
3C. Whether it is the enthronement of Christ Godís king in your life or the enthronement of Christ Godís king on His holy hill of Mount Zion, that is what you oppose who are unconverted, the exaltation and the enthroning of Jesus Christ as the King of kings and as the Lord of lords.
3A. THE THIRD ASPECT OF THIS PICTURE IS THE PROCLAMATION OF THE DECREE BY THE SON IN VERSES 7-9
1B. First, We Need To Take Note Of The Relationship Between The Father And His Anointed
"7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."
1C. Itís important to note who is speaking in this verse. What we have here is the Son of God making a statement, "I will declare the decree," followed by the Son of God stating what the LORD had previously said to Him, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."
2C. So, the Son of God is speaking when He announces that He will declare Godís decree. Then He reveals what the Father had previously said to Him, apparently in eternity past: "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."
3C. Thus we see, the Lord Jesus Christ is here declared to be the eternally begotten Son of God, with such a relationship with the Father that had no beginning and certainly can have no end.
2B. Next, We See That The Father Speaks To His Son Of A Request
"8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession."
1C. Itís important to note here that we are reading the Fatherís directive to the Son to ask of Him two things: The heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession.
2C. Therefore, to put to rest forever the question of whether or not it is proper for one who believes in the sovereignty of God to pray for the conversion of the lost, we see that God the Father specifically directed His eternally begotten Son to ask for the heathen for His inheritance.
3C. And lest there be any confusion on this, those who were the heathen are those of us who are now converted Gentiles, #1, and to ask for something from God is what we call prayer, #2. So, Jesus prayed to His Father for the unconverted Gentiles to become His inheritance, which is the same as asking God to save them, us.
4C. "Pastor, should I pray for the unconverted?" I used to answer, "Paul did." Now I will answer, "Jesus did. And He was told to by the Father."
3B. This Third Portion Of The Psalm Closes With Retribution
"9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potterís vessel."
1C. What has God decreed for those who oppose Him? What has He laid out for those who are His enemies, those who are not taken captive by the Gospel and transformed into His children, through faith in His Son, Jesus?
2C. Destruction. Ruin. Catastrophe. Horror. Imagine, if you would, a piece of clay pottery fashioned with a potterís hands. But the potterís vessel is flawed, marred, hideous and ugly, repugnant to the potter. What will the potter do to the vessel? He will destroy it, smashing it beyond repair or any semblance of usefulness. This is the end of the unconverted.
4A. THE PSALM CONCLUDES WITH ADVICE GIVEN TO KINGS AND TO OTHERS
1B. First, Wisdom Is Enjoined
"10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
2B. Next, A Way Of Life Is Encouraged
"11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
3B. Third, A Warning Is Given
"12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little."
4B. A Beatitude Draws The Psalmistís Inspired Poem To A Close
"Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."
1. What a treasure trove of spiritual truth this short psalm contains! And what an amazing expanse of inspired thought.
2. From the heights of heaven to this low earth and even lower Hell. From eternity past to the prophetic and climactic future. From the sinnerís punishment to the saintís triumphant blessing. From the decree of God to the prayers of the Savior. From the throne room in heaven to the millennial kingdom.
3. My, what grist for the mill we have in this psalm. What profound things to meditate upon and contemplate. And what questions to consider.
4. And speaking of questions, what about the questions asked at the beginning of this psalm, but not directly answered? "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?"
5. It is to that question, or to those two questions, that we will turn our attention after brother Isenberger comes and leads us in singing a hymn.
1. "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?"
2. We know this conflict is between the heathen and the people on one side and the LORD and His anointed on the other.
3. This conflict flared up when David was Godís anointed king over Israel and he united the Israelites following the death of king Saul and subjugated the surrounding nations. This conflict was seen again during our Lordís earthly ministry, culminating in His passion, when both the Romans and His Own people moved against Him.
4. But the ultimate expression of these questions will come as a result of the end of the age opposition that will rise up against the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of His glorious return.
5. For you see, these questions anticipate in their ultimate fulfillment things that have not yet reached their full fruition, opposition to the LORD and to His Anointed that has not yet expressed itself as fully as it someday will.
6. So, for your benefit today, we address this entire matter under three headings.
1A. First, THE QUESTIONS WHICH ARE POSED
To remind you, there are two questions which are posed:
1B. The First Question Is "Why do the heathen rage?"
1C. Iíve already told you that the word "heathen" refers to those who are not Jewish, those who are unconverted Gentiles. Why is it that these people "rage," whether it was in Davidís day, during the time of our Lordís first advent, or as predicted in anticipation of His second coming?
2C. Occurring as it did, some 3000 years ago and then 2000 years ago, and predicted to happen again when Jesus comes again, and from our own observations and history recognizing that it has happened throughout Church history, what precisely does it mean to "rage?"
3C. To "rage" is to froth like waves up against a sea coast cliff. It refers to crashing and dashing in wild and uncontrolled fury. The word originally refers to the gnashing of teeth. Oh, how the heathen rage against the LORD and against His anointed, against His Christ. But why?
2B. The Second Question Is Why Do The People Imagine A Vain Thing?
1C. You already know that this question is asked about the Jewish people, whether in Davidís time, during Jesusí first advent, or in anticipation of His second coming. They imagine a vain thing.
2C. Something worth noting here. The word "imagine" here in Psalm 2.1 is exactly the same Hebrew word as is translated "meditate" in Psalm 1.2.
3C. The blessed man mediates in the Law of the LORD day and night. But the unsaved son of Abraham engages in exactly the same activity, meditation, but on that which is vain instead of Godís meaningful Word.
4C. So, "the people imagine a vain thing," literally, meditate upon that which is utterly without substance, that which is meaningless, that which is empty and void. The question is why?
2A. THE ANSWERS ARE ACTUALLY QUITE OBVIOUS
1B. The Heathen Rage Because They Are Lawless
1C. Remember that this is Gentiles we are talking about, unsaved people like you. "But Iíve never raged against God or His Anointed, pastor." Only because youíve not yet been confronted with Godís desire to subjugate you to His will with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the Gospel and its implications become clear to you there will be a raging against God and His Anointed, I promise you.
2C. And why is this? Because you are lawless and unruly. You see, an unconverted Gentile like you is similar to a wild horse who resists with all his might the bit and bridle that will save his life, that will tame his wild and rebellious spirit, that will render him useful and with purpose for his life.
3C. Not that God and Christ seek to rule you by any dispensation of Law, for that is not Godís will for your life. But what you resist, what you fight, what is abhorrent to you isnít any notion of Law, itís any notion of submission to the will of another, even if that Other is God, Himself.
4C. So, though Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, the heathen raged against Him. And though Jesus will someday come again to reclaim that which is rightfully His and to sit on the throne of His father David in Jerusalem, as it is only right that He do, the heathen will rage against Him even more ferociously.
5C. Why? Because, though it is right for Jesus to rule, the heathen are not interested in whatís right, but in what they want. You are not interested in whatís right, but in what you want. Therefore, rebellion and resistance to the Gospel as it is preached now is just a small token of the fierce resistance you will throw up against Christ when He comes again.
2B. The People Imagine Vain Things Because They Are Unconverted
1C. Jewish people really are Godís chosen covenant people. And Jewish people know in their heart of hearts that they really are different from Gentiles. And you know something? They are.
2C. But just because they are different from Gentiles doesnít mean they donít need to be converted just as Gentiles need to be converted, because they do. They donít think they do, but they do.
3C. Among other things Godís Word says about Jewish people, we see that they do not rage against the LORD and against His Anointed, but they do imagine a vain thing. Not "vain things," but a vain thing.
4C. What is that one empty and meaningless thing which grabs the attention of the people? I suspect itís the false belief that they are already in submission to the LORD and His Anointed that that they donít need to be converted.
5C. Remember, after all, what Jesus said: "There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13.1-5.
6C. The point that He made was that you are just as much in need of conversion as those who died catastrophically and without warning. That, I believe, is the great need of every lost man, including every Jewish lost man.
3A. I CONCLUDE WITH THESE SOLUTIONS FOR BOTH THE HEATHEN AND THE PEOPLE
You who are here this morning without Christ, whether you be rich or poor, educated or not, Gentile or Jewish, you have a single great need, though your reactions and responses to that great need may differ. It is likely that you rage against God and His Anointed with an intensity that reflects your own awareness of what God wants of His subjects. The more you see what God wants the stronger is your rebellion. For some who visit our services there may be the vain notion that you are already converted or that conversion is what others are in need of and not you.
No matter who you are, this is what you need:
1B. First, You Need To Be Convicted Of Your Sins
1C. For some of you the Holy Spiritís work will be to convince you that you are sinning against God. For others the Spirit of God needs to convince you of the seriousness of your sins, since although you recognize your sinfulness you are unaware of the seriousness of those sins.
2C. Do you bristle at the notion of actually submitting to God and actually surrendering to Christ? You need to be convinced of the great wickedness of your independent spirit and your haughty demeanor. You need to be made to see that it is just plain wrong for you not to submit to God and the Lord Jesus Christ. And you need to be made by the Holy Spirit to feel genuinely bad for the vain thoughts you have that such a thing as conversion is not needful for you as it is needful for others. What pride is reflected in such thoughts. What arrogance.
3C. Your grieving and quenching of the Holy Spirit needs to end. And it needs to end soon, before you cross the deadline and commit the unpardonable sin and the Spirit of God strives with you no more.
2B. But If You Are Convicted Of Your Sins You Need To Be Converted
1C. So long as you fail to see yourself as a needy sinner in the sight of God youíll never get converted. So long as you see yourself as flush and flourishing youíll never see your need of Godís Anointed, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be your Savior from sin.
2C. But if, for just a moment, you see yourself as poor and needy, and you will come to Christ, He will save you from your sins for ever more.
1. I conclude with two remarks: First, you who are unconvinced and unconcerned about your sins need to recognize that God has no obligation to strike fear into your hearts. He has no obligation to deal with you about anything. So if I were you I would begin to concern myself with these issues of sin and salvation, since itís your eternal and undying soul thatís at stake, not mine.
2. Second, Iíve told you the reasons why the heathen and the people rage against God and His Anointed and imagine a vain thing. Lawlessness and being unconverted. But there is a simple word that encompasses everything Iíve said this morning about you. Depraved.
3. Utterly unconcerned. Utterly incapable. Utterly opposed to the plan and purpose of Almighty God. You stand in irrational and illogical opposition to the One Who intends good for you and seeks your salvation.