"THE COUNSEL-CHAMBER OF THE WICKED"
1. Please turn in your Bible to the second Psalm. When you’ve located that Psalm please stand for the reading of God’s Word, and we’ll 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.
2. 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 potter’s 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."
3. For my exposition this morning I will give you a brief overview of this second Psalm. And to quote Charles Spurgeon again this morning, as I did last Sunday morning, this psalm is best understood as a fourfold picture. But this morning’s exposition will look at the second Psalm under a bit of a different light
1A. FIRST, WE SEE MAN’S UNITED REBELLION AGAINST GOD FROM DAVID’S VIEWPOINT
"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."
1B. The Entire Human Race Is Arrayed Against God And Against His Anointed. But The Anointed Who Is In Our Immediate View In This Portion Of The Psalm Is David, Anointed By The Prophet Samuel To Be The Second King Over Israel, Succeeding Israel’s First King, Whose Name Was Saul.
2B. From The Time Of His Anointing David’s Life’s Journey, However Circuitous The Route Seemed, Was Toward The Throne Of Israel. As The LORD’s Anointed He So Closely Identified With The God Of Israel That God’s Cause Was His Cause, God’s Objectives Were His Objectives, And Opposition To God Was Properly Seen By David As Opposition To Him, As Well.
3B. What Opposition Did David See During His Lifetime? He Saw Saul’s Opposition To Him, Though He Served Both God And Saul Competently And Faithfully. He Also Saw Opposition From The Surrounding Nations As He Struggled Over The Years, Climbing In Stature As God’s Hand Was Upon Him.
4B. This Man, Who Had Once Been A Mere Shepherd Boy, From The Status Of A Renegade, A Common Outlaw, Whose Only Claims To Fame Had Been That He Had Killed The Mighty Goliath And Was Running From King Saul, Grew To Become A Renown Warrior And The Only Man In The World Who Could Command The Respect And Devotion Of The Famous Mighty Men.
5B. So, Verses 1-3 Are Very Much David’s Thoughts, David’s Questions, David’s Observations. But They Are Also The Thoughts, The Questions, And The Observations Of The One David Foreshadowed, The One Of Whom David Was Merely A Type, The Lord Jesus Christ. And As David Identified With The Cause Of God, The Lord Jesus Christ Is The God Of The Cause.
2A. NEXT, WE SEE THE UNITED REBELLION OF MANKIND FROM GOD THE FATHER’S VIEWPOINT
"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."
1B. Much Is Made By Some These Days That God Has A Sense Of Humor. I Remember A Heated Discussion I Was Once Engaged In With Pastors Who Felt It Entirely Appropriate To Tell Jokes And To Engage In Laughter During The Course Of An Evangelistic Sermon, As If Humor Would Somehow Help A Lost Sinner Fear God And Dread Wrath. And I Remember The Comment That One Of Them Said, "Well, God laughs."
2B. Yes, My Friends, God Laughs. But God’s Laughter Here Has Nothing Whatsoever To Do With Humor. Rather, It Has To Do With Man’s Wickedness, It Has To Do With Man’s Folly, It Has To Do With Man’s Spiritual Stupidity. And It Would Be A Mistake To Say That God’s Laughter Here Is In Any Way Associated With Anything That’s In Any Way Funny.
3B. You See, In This Psalm, God’s Laugh Is Associated With God’s Wrath. And There Is Nothing Funny About God’s Wrath, His Pent Up Rage And Fury, The Outpouring Of Just Punishment On The Wicked And The Unsaved. So, It’s Good To Recognize That Not Every Laugh Is A Response To What’s Funny. In This Case God’s Laughter Foreshadows His Judgment Concerning The Ridiculous Notion That He Can Be Successfully Opposed By His Creatures.
3A. THIRD, WE SEE THE UNITED REBELLION OF MANKIND FROM GOD THE SON’S VIEWPOINT
"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 potter’s vessel."
1B. In Verse 7 We See The Father Speaking To The Son, Declaring To Him In Eternity Past The Perpetual Relationship That Must Always Exist In The Unchangeable Godhead, Between The First Person Of The Trinity And The Second Person Of The Trinity.
2B. And Make No Mistake About How Crucial To A Sinner’s Conversion This Must Be Understood To Be, My Friends. For You See, Only One Who Is Fully God, Forever God, And Not In Any Way Less Than God Can Save Sinners From The Wrath Of God. As Well, Only One Who Is Fully Man Can Save Sinful Man. So, The Savior Has To Be, Must Be, Can Only Be, Both God And Man . . . And Must Be, Therefore, The Eternal Son Of The Living God.
3B. It Is This One, The Eternal Son Of God, Who Seeks The Salvation Of Sinful Men, Who Is Here Told By The Father To Ask For The Heathen For His Inheritance, And The Uttermost Parts Of The Earth For His Possession.
4B. But Notice Also, The Son Of God Recognizes That The Father Will Someday Break Them With A Rod Of Iron And Dash Them In Pieces Like A Potter’s Vessel. Who? Those Who Are Not Converted.
4A. FINALLY, WE SEE THE UNITED REBELLION OF MAN AGAINST GOD FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
"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."
1B. What Is It To Be Wise? What Is It To Be Instructed, To Possess Knowledge? Is It Not The Fear Of The LORD? And It’s The Holy Spirit’s Ministry In The Lives Of The Lost To Kindle In Them The Fear of God, To Make Them Aware Of Their Failings And Their Animosity Toward God, And God’s Anger Toward Them. For God Is Angry With The Wicked Every Day, Psalm 7.11.
2B. As Well, It’s The Entire Goal Of The Holy Spirit Of God To Exalt The Lord Jesus Christ And To Point Men’s Attention To Him, To Speak Of Him, To Lift Him Up As The Only Savior Of Sinful Men’s Souls.
3B. And How Does The Holy Spirit Engage In This Christ-Exalting Ministry? In Two Ways: First, There Are The Promises Of Blessing In Store For Those Who Trust Christ, Which We See Here. Then, There Are The Frightful Warnings To Those Who Do Not Kiss Him, Who Do Not Trust Him, Who Reject Him, Who Shall Perish And Suffer God’s Wrath If They Are Not Converted To Christ.
1. I trust that you are meditating upon the Law of the LORD day and night. The Psalm presently considered is one of those priceless gems that’s well worth the time spent pondering it.
2. Do you think much about the conflict between God and man, about the contest for supremacy between the heathen and the people against the LORD and His Anointed?
3. This is one portion of God’s Word that would serve you very well to think about. You see, there is no middle ground in this cosmic conflict of the ages. You are either an enemy or an ally of the LORD and of His Anointed.
4. As you ponder which side of this conflict you fight on, brother Isenberger will come and lead us in song. After we sing I will bring my sermon, titled "The Counsel-Chamber Of The Wicked." Let’s stand.
1. Last week the text of my sermon was Psalm 2.1: "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" And in that verse we saw that the immediate purpose of the text was to describe the opposition that David faced from the masses in his ascent to the throne of Israel and in consolidating his rule as God’s anointed. The eventual and prophetic significance of the verse, of course, applies directly to unregenerate man’s opposition to God and to His Son, Jesus Christ.
2. This morning we move on to verses 2 and 3 of the second Psalm: "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." We really are in the counsel-chambers of the wicked. These are the thoughts and words, the conspiracy if you will, of those who rule over the mindless multitudes.
3. We certainly realize by now that this Messianic Psalm packs a one two punch. It describes the situations once faced by David, as God’s anointed king over His chosen people. But it also perfectly summarizes sinful man’s age old opposition to the LORD and to His Anointed, Jesus Christ, which will reach its climax in the great battle of Armageddon, at the time of Christ’s second coming in power and great glory.
4. So, taking verses 2 and 3 for my sermon text, and recognizing that these two verses expand on the thrust of Psalm 2.1, narrowing our attention to the kings and rulers of the teeming masses of people, let us consider these two verses in light of their cosmic significance.
1A. FIRST, LET US CONSIDER THE AGREEMENT THAT CAN BE SEEN
"The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed"
We see two types of alignment, two sides in the conflict of the ages here in verse 2.
1B. First, There Is What I Will Call The Axis
1C. The word "axis" has no significance to you who are younger, but to anyone older than me the word has great significance. You see, in World War II the nations of Germany, Italy, Romania and Japan were known as the axis powers.
2C. They were nations who had no natural affinity with each other, really, and would no doubt have waged war against each other eventually, had they won the world war. But for the purposes of achieving their short term goal of conquering all of Europe and England, North Africa and the Middle East, they banded together, leaving Japan with the Far East.
3C. For a short while Germany even collaborated with the Soviet Union. But this was solely for the purpose of dividing up Poland and Scandinavia. And after those countries had been conquered Germany attacked the Soviet Union, believing that they could successfully wage a two front war.
4C. How like those mentioned in this Psalm. The "heathen" and "the people" in verse 1, of course, refer to the Gentiles and the Jewish people, both united in their opposition to God and His Anointed, Jesus Christ. And here in verse 2 we see the same unholy collaboration of axis powers by their leaders. The "kings of the earth" cannot include the king of the Jews, because the king of the Jews is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. But in the Jewish community it is the "rulers" who take counsel against the LORD.
5C. Now, as we approach the Easter season, I am reminded by my friend Ben Friedman that down through the centuries persecution of the Jewish people has been justified by some who labeled them "Christ killers." But this is an inappropriate label to apply to God’s chosen people. Specifically, the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ was an event decreed by God, carried out by both Jews and Gentiles, but caused, if you will, by your own sins against God and mine.
6C. So, let us be careful to oppose any anti-Semitism during this time of year, or at any other time. Rather, let us understand that all men, as incited by their rulers and their leaders, both stood against God and His Anointed, and will in the future again stand against God and His Anointed, even as they presently stand against God and against His Anointed, in their opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2B. If Those Who Oppose God And His Anointed Are The Axis Powers, The LORD And His Anointed, And Those Who Stand On Their Side, I Designate The Allies
1C. Forever the LORD and His Son have been allied for the good of mankind. From before man’s fall into the depravity of sin the LORD and His Anointed have been allied for man’s good and for man’s benefit.
2C. It was God Who gave His Son to die for the sins of mankind, and it was the Son Who was willing to leave heaven’s glory and all the prerogatives of deity to suffer and bleed and die to secure the salvation of some sinful men’s souls.
3C. And over the course of time, as history advances toward the great climax of this conflict between God and men, between the kings of the earth and the rulers of the people and the Anointed of God, as events and the end of this age build to a final eruption, the agreement of the parties on each side of the conflict will grow more obvious.
4C. We saw it just before the crucifixion of our Savior 2000 years ago, when the Jews, the Romans and that Idumean tetrarch named Herod agreed to the execution of the Lamb of God.
5C. Pharisees, who were antagonistic toward the Sadducees and Herodians, nevertheless banded together to collaborate with the Romans and with Herod, in a grand Satanic conspiracy of kings and rulers united in their opposition to the LORD and His Anointed.
6C. So, there is agreement among the wicked in position’s of leadership. When they can agree on nothing else they will agree to oppose the LORD and His Anointed.
2A. NEXT, LET US CONSIDER THEIR ANIMOSITY
Why is there this great opposition to the LORD and to His Anointed? Why did it exist in David’s day, and then in Jesus’ day? Why has there existed this opposition down through the ages? Why are the Sudanese rulers murdering so many harmless Christians and enslaving the ones they do not kill? Why are so many Hmong tribesmen who have come to Christ slaughtered, though they pose no threat to anyone? Why was a Christian missionary and his sons burned alive in India, though they never harmed anyone? Why did the Auca Indian chief butcher and then eat Jim Elliott, who only wanted to introduce his people to Christ? Why are Christians in the United States the only group of people it is politically correct to insult and demonize and degrade and verbally assault? And why will all this seething resentment against the Lord Jesus Christ come to a head at His second coming, with most of the world powers at war with each other suddenly realigning themselves at that time to oppose the LORD and His returning Anointed?
1B. My Friend, It Has To Do With The Nature Of Man
1C. You may deceive yourself into thinking that you are for some reason a cut above, or perhaps cut from different cloth than the rest of mankind. But you are wrong.
2C. The problem with man’s evil opposition to God is not a problem related to education. It’s not a problem related to culture. Neither is it a problem related to habits. It’s a problem related to nature. You see, it is the very nature of these kings and rulers which sets them in opposition to God and to His Anointed.
3C. Consider: When Adam and Eve plunged into sin by an act of their wills their souls were thereby contaminated, defiled, damaged, skewed and perverted, distorted and warped.
4C. And the result of their experience has been felt by every single human being descended from them. In Paul’s treatise to the Romans the consequences of Adam’s fall on all who have succeeded him we find in this concise summary, 5.12: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
5C. "All men" means you. Thus, you have inherited a nature that is evil, a nature that is defiled, a nature that is contaminated, a nature that is opposed to God, a nature that is actually dead. And the kings and rulers over us are no different than you are.
6C. No wonder you have done the things you have done. No wonder children do the things that they do. And no wonder our leaders have deceitful and wicked hearts that will connive and lie in such a way that people think them good when they are evil, think them truthful though they lie, think them honorable though they are dishonorable.
7C. Are not some of them better than others? Oh, yes. To be sure some are better than others. But none are good. None are righteous. None seek after God. All have fallen short of God’s glory. All are deserving of God’s wrath, just like you.
2B. But This Issue Cannot Be Entirely Understood By Consideration Of Man’s Nature Alone. We Must Also Consider The Nature Of God.
1C. God is holy. God is high and lifted up. God is righteous. God is good. God is love. God is merciful. God is true. God is kind. God is light. God is omnipotent. God is unchangeable. God is glorious. God is invincible. God is immortal.
2C. I could go on, but you get the point. God is perfect in every way to the nth degree, as is His Son, Jesus. So, how heinous must be the crime of sinning against Him in the smallest way? How wrong is any wrong done to Him? How regrettable should be any rebellion against Him?
3C. Yet precisely because God is what He is, by nature, and because man is what he is, by nature, does this animosity exist between those who lead other men and between God and His Anointed. If man, which is to say you, hates all that is right and proper and good, how can one in authority be expected to be any different, with the enticements and temptations he faces?
4C. Oh, people claim to want righteousness and goodness, but in measured doses only, please. In actuality, both the moguls and the masses want wickedness and not righteousness. And God, being holy, hates that which is evil, that which is wrong, that which refuses to do right.
5C. It is no wonder, then, that the apostle Paul’s description of himself and the God he had thought he was so wonderfully serving as a Pharisee, before his conversion, was that they were in fact "enemies," Romans 5.10. Can it be different for anyone else? You are God’s enemy, and so are those in authority over us God’s enemies.
3A. WHICH BRINGS US TO THEIR ACTIVITY
"Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us," verse 3.
1B. These Are The Words Of Those Kings And Rulers Who Saw Themselves Enslaved And Who Clamored For Freedom And Liberty. But They Are Also The Words Of Those Who Simply Do Not Understand, Or Who Refuse To Understand.
2B. Yes, The Kings Of The Nations Surrounding David’s Israel Did Chafe Under His Dominance And Military Restraint. They Thought Themselves Unjustly Subjugated By This Hebrew King, And It Galled Them To Pay Tribute To Him. But They Did Not Understand God’s Good Purpose In It All. David’s Rule Over Them Actually Hindered Their Ability To Lead Their Forces Into Greater Sin Against The LORD And Against David, His Anointed. So, David Was Providing For Them A Great Spiritual Benefit By Conquering And Subduing Them And Quashing Their Sinful Impulses.
3B. And When The Lord Jesus Christ Came, The Kings And Rulers Moved Against One Who Would Save Their People From Their Sins, And Who Would Release Their People From Their Bondage To Sin. To Be Sure, They Would Become, As Paul Wrote, Bond Slaves Of Jesus Christ. But Far Better To Be Bond Slaves Of Jesus Than Remain Slaves Of Soul-Damning Sin. Or Was It Loyalty To Christ Instead Of Loyalty To Kings That The Kings And Rulers Feared Most Of All?
4B. And What About Breaking Their Bands Asunder And Casting Away Their Cords? Kings And Rulers Obviously Hate The Thought Of Restraints That Would Be Put Upon Them By God. They Hate The Implications Of Being In Submission To God And To His Anointed. Under Such Conditions They Could No Longer Lie And Cheat And Steal And Whore Around. No Longer Would Pride And Arrogancy Flourish And Blossom.
5B. Why Would President Clinton Favor The Rule In His Life Of God And Christ? Or Mayor Bartlett? Or Jimmy Swaggert? Or Jesse Jackson? Or Ted Kennedy? If The LORD And His Anointed Ruled In Their Lives They Couldn’t, They Wouldn’t, Cheat On Their Wives Any More.
4A. SO, THERE IS THE AGREEMENT OF THESE KINGS AND RULERS AGAINST GOD AND HIS ANOINTED. THEN THERE IS THEIR ANIMOSITY, FOLLOWED BY THEIR ACTIVITY. BUT FINALLY THERE ARE THEIR ACCESSORIES
1B. Throughout Psalm 2.2-3 David’s complaint is against the kings of the earth and the rulers who have taken counsel to oppose God. And since this is a Messianic Psalm, we can be quite sure that David’s complaint in his day only faintly echoes the Lord Jesus Christ’s complaint today.
2B. The masses of the heathen rage. We saw that in verse 1. And the people imagine a vain thing. But particular attention is paid to those who lead the multitudes, the kings and the rulers. These are the ones who have conspired, who have plotted, who have schemed against the LORD and against His Anointed. Today they are both the politicians and the immensely popular.
3B. I have rehearsed the Scriptural accusations leveled against the leaders of people, those who form popular opinion, those who direct the flow fad and fashion. Hell will be a profoundly punishing place for leaders who have led the multitudes against God and His plan. But let us not forget, entirely, their accessories; those without whose help they could not maintain their power over the people. I speak, of course, of you. You here today who are an accessory to the crimes of the leaders.
4B. Here are three ways in which the guilt of the leaders described in verses 2-3 is shared by you here today who are unconverted, who are as Paul stated "enemies" of God. First, you are a compromiser. Second, there is your complicity. Third, there is your collaboration.
1C. As a compromiser you yield where you ought to resist and make shameful and dishonorable concessions. So long as you remain unconverted you will be a compromiser, just the kind of person wicked rulers need to guarantee there will be no opposition to their wrongdoing.
2C. Your complicity arises from the fact that you do some of what the wicked rulers lead others to do. They openly reject Christ’s rule in their lives, while you quietly oppose Christ’s rule in your life. They openly break bands and cast off cords, while you quietly break bands and cast off cords. They make the repulsive music, but you listen to it. They print the gossip magazines, but you buy them. They produce the filthy movies, but you attend them. You see perfectly how your life and lifestyle supports the activities of those who openly oppose God and His Son.
3C. Finally, there is your collaboration. The wicked leaders lead, but you follow. They lead in the breakdown of public morals, in the elimination of the social constraints to wrongdoing. And you know what you do? You follow their lead. It is said that all that’s needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. But that’s wrong. What’s needed for evil to appear to triumph is for vast multitudes of evil men to collaborate with them. But evil will not triumph. Mark that down. Evil cannot triumph against the LORD and against His Anointed.
1. You are not a shaker and mover of public opinion. You are not a great leader of men. As a matter of fact, you fully understand that you are a rather ordinary guy, a quite normal woman, and that you stand out in the crowd only to those who know you and love you.
2. But you are as guilty as guilty can be. There is a conflict of cosmic proportions that is being played out as I speak. It is God versus the forces of Satan, God’s Anointed against all the demons of Hell and all the unsaved alive on earth, right versus wrong, good versus evil, holiness versus sin.
3. And guess what? You are on the wrong side. To be sure, God’s greatest judgment will fall on the kings of the earth and the rulers of the people. But understand that the kings of the earth and the rulers of the people have no clout, have no power, have no influence, unless people choose to submit to them, to go along with their wicked rebellion and opposition to God. And you do.
4. Whether it be the cultural leaders or the political leaders or the false religious leaders who are aligned against God and His Son, Jesus Christ, they could not oppose God and Christ as they do without the compromise, without the complicity, without the collaboration of people just like you.
5. What I am saying is, You are a part of the problem instead of being a part of the solution. You are not as bad as the worst of them are. But the worst of them couldn’t be as bad as they are without your compromise, without your complicity, without your collaboration in some way.
6. So, what I propose is that you walk away from it all. I propose that you rid yourself of the compromise, the complicity and the collaboration by becoming a Christian. Instead of standing against the LORD and His Anointed, I advise you to flee to Christ and from now on stand with the LORD and His Anointed.
7. We dismiss this morning by taking our hymnals and turning to hymn number 406 and "Who Is On The Lord’s Side?" If you are not on the Lord’s side I urge you to step into the conference room when we are dismissed so you and I can talk about you becoming a Christian and getting your sins forgiven.