PSALM 2: WHY ARE THE NATIONS RAGING?
Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”
PSALM 2:1-6, NRSV
One way to approach this Psalm is to learn that the early church recited it, and we have evidence of that in Acts. Jewish leaders had threatened Peter and John, telling them to shut up and stop teaching by the authority of Jesus. What was Peter's and John's response? A rhetorical question: "Should we obey you or God?"
They believed what they were doing was of God. Lots of people believe that. They never stop to wonder if they are hurting people in the process. But what Peter and John and the apostles had seen and heard was a restorative, redemptive gospel message, and they couldn't keep quiet about this good news.
So when opposition came, they said this prayer, maybe they sang it, I don't know. And it reminded them who is in charge and how God laughs at the attempts of people who think they are in charge because they rule nations.
The IEB translates the prayer psalm like this:
"Why were the nations so mad? Why did the people of the world plan things against God? That is hopeless. Why did the kings and the rulers of the earth come together against the Lord God and against His Messiah?" (Psalm 2:1-2, IEB).
When we see the nations, including whichever one we live in, raging, would you teach us to envision you laughing and bringing judgment, instead of that rage striking fear in us? Show us how you rule and leaders who think they rule do not.
Watch this video of a dramatization by The Upside Down Theatre Company of the early church singing Psalm 2 after persecution. The original "Upside Down Musical" was done by the International Churches of Christ in Boston, and this version was performed more recently in St. Louis, Missouri. The scene they are portraying is from Acts 4.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.