Monday, September 9, 2019

Psalm 2: God's soverignty, God's Son and God's Blessing (Psalms in the Key of Life: Songs of Hope amidst real life)

here is the audio of this sermon from Hope Central September 21st part 1 and part 2 

I’ve never experienced a coronation. Queen Elizabeth 2 came to the throne in 1953. I know some of you here will remember it, you may have seen it on the news reel or listened on the radio. But it was the year my parent’s got married and I wasn’t born till a decade later.

I do have this vivid almost surreal recollection of seeing the investiture of Charles as the Prince of Wales in 1969. It would have been the first thing I would ever have seen on TV. I was five and we must have gone to some ones place to watch, because we didn’t get TV till 1972, for the Munich Olympics.

I think my children will see at least two coronations in their lives, and I think that they just maybe times for the nations in the commonwealth and for our own nation of some upheaval, and change. It will seem the natural time to have the debate over whether to sever the ties with the monarch and become a republic or stay in the commonwealth. I fear it could be our messy Brexit like moment.

That gives us a glimpse into the background to Psalm 2, a royal Psalm which scholars see as being part of, or at least drawing some of its words and images from  the coronation of a Davidic king, among the nations that may have been subject to Israel thinking this was their time to break free and be independent.  It speaks of the true king in heaven, the LORD, appointing his chosen king, as his son, on the throne. It contains the words of that king acknowledging God’s true sovereignty. It finishes with a warning to the nations to accept God’s chosen king and a beatitude: a declaration of blessing for those who find their refuge in him’.

 By the time the psalms were compiled, it would have taken on a very different meaning. With the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile into Babylon in 532 BC, the affirmation that the LORD was king would have spoken to the nations who thought they themselves had ultimate power, and it encapsulates the hope that Israel had of God’s sovereignty and God’s messiah, a king like David coming to set things right again… to rule over the nations of the world. A hope and a promise that  Christians from an early time, by the fact it is quoted in a prayer in Acts 4 and the reading from Acts 13 we had today, saw fufilled in the person of Jesus Christ. A hope that we too have amidst the seemingly chaotic churn and blur of history, a hope that looks forward to a future fulfillment…as it says in Revelation 11:15.A time when ”The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah and he shall reign for ever and ever”. A hope that we can find refuge in until that consummation.

We are working our way through a series called “psalms in the key of life: Songs of hope amidst real life”, looking at selected psalms. Psalms that speak of trust in, and reliance on God amidst the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, deep dark valleys and high mountain tops of life. That lead us in  giving thanks to God for his constant love and faithfulness. That proclaim our hope is in him. Last week we looked at Psalm 1, which speaks of how an individual can be blessed by mediating on the psalms, on all of God’s word. A Psalm that is seen along with Psalm 2 as the introduction to the whole collection. Today we are looking at the second part of that introduction that takes that individual blessing and looks at it on the larger scale of what happens nationally and internationally. The two are held together by starting and finishing with a beatitude of how one can find blessing, as an individual by hearing and putting into practice the word of God and in the midst of what happens around us by putting our trust in the sovereign God and his Chosen king and son. So the psalms speak to us individually and corporately as God’s people, to find our blessing and hope in the LORD.

Verse 1-3 speak of the nation’s conspiring together to throw off the rule and reign of God. We are used to seeing international summit’s where national leaders gather together to deal with this issue or that crisis, and that is what is envisaged here. The nations are plotting and planning to walk away from God. It’s a parallel on an international level of the wicked and sinners and mockers in Psalm 1 who chose to walk away from God and his word as the wisdom they need to sustain them for life. Commenting on this Psalm, Gerald Wilson says ‘In an age that glorifies independence and freedom we often find ourselves on the side of the nations…Our society would have us believe that true happiness comes through personal freedom” we think of God’s rule as heavy shackles and fetters that stop us from becoming what we want to be… However   when we come to realize as it says in Romans 8:15 that it is not slavery but adoption as God’s children, it is loving family ties not imposed oppression then we find real freedom in Christ. Gerald uses the illustration of marriage, which some call ‘the ball and chain’ and others realize is the liberation of a faithful loving relationship.

In verse 4-6, God responds to the nations rage. It is a declaration of God’s sovereignty. We see God laughing, the combined power of the nations is comic and laughable compared to the true power of God, who created the whole universe. At the time of King Solomon, when Israel was at the height of its powers, this may have been backed up with military prowess, but it still rings true even when Israel found itself subjugated to the empires that rose and fell throughout history. AS it is still today God is the one who rules and reigns in history and nations and empires rise and fall at his command and rebuke. Kings and leaders, law makers and governments need to remember they will be called to account by a higher authority.

But that sovereignty is also seen in God’s moving in history. His rule and reign was to be reflected in the king of Israel, the Davidic kings, and Israel’s mission was to show the justice and goodness of God to the nations. It was God’s purpose in sending Jesus Christ, to see his kingdom established on earth, it is what God is doing through his people, the church, now as we pray ‘thy kingdom come’ and as we meditate on God’s word, live it out and see it impact and transform the world around us. It is God’s sovereign purpose that people will know the justice and peace of God in this world.  Amidst the swirl and seeming chaos of history we know that God is working out his purposes and plans.

Then in verses 6-9, God’s chosen king, the anointed one steps into the scene. The Davidic king or the messianic figure declares, not their own right to rule, but because of their relationship with God, that they will rule.

It’s quite a significant passage because for the only time in the psalms do we get the idea of the anointed one, God’s chosen King being associated with son-ship.  In ancient times Sonship meant not only being adopted by a father into a family, but also the responsibility to reflect the values and traits of the one who adopts them. The Davidic kings were to rule in a way that reflected God’s justice and mercy, as a way of showing the world and calling the nations to come and worship the LORD. But they are words that point us to Jesus Christ as God’s only begotten son, the one in whom John’s gospel tells us ‘ no one has seen God, but the one and only son, who is himself God and is in close relationship with God has made him known”.  God’s kingdom has been inaugurated, or begun, by the coming of Jesus Christ, and we are to be ambassadors of that rule in how we live and as a church so that people will see the goodness of God and come to worship and serve him, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…

v10-12 serve as a warning and a call to the nations to serve the Lord. To be wise and see the rule and reign of God and his messiah as a positive, the same way as the Individual in psalm 1 sees the word of God as a reliable life giving water source. The same warning and blessing is in this psalm as in psalm 1 that the way leading away from God leads to disaster and destruction, but leaning into kiss the king and finding our refuge or putting our trust in God is the way to know blessings.
The picture of kissing the son, is like nobles and kings coming to acknowledge a new king. To kiss his feet was a way to acknowledge his power over them. To lean forward and kiss is also the root of the word in psalms we have for worship. In Matthew’s narrative of Jesus birth we see the wise men from the east doing just this, it is a foreshadow of the gentile nations coming to a saving knowledge of and worshiping Jesus Christ as Lord and king.

How does this psalm then speak to us, as God’s people today.

Psalm 2 serves as an introduction to the Psalms, the two Psalms together remind of that God speaks and acts and blesses both the individual and us corporately as God’s people. It speaks to us as Christians from beyond the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of God’s word and the focal point of God’s moving and acting in human history. The psalms are like those road signs on the way north counting down the km till you get to Whangarei, as we read and meditate on the psalms they are a sign post that point us to Jesus Christ… That source of living water, God’s chosen King (messiah) and son. 

The Psalm also reminds us of the sovereignty of God. It is easy to get concerned and confused and worried by all we see around us, nations heading in different directions, the movement of our western society away from its biblical basis, its Judeo-Christian foundations, and feel a growing anti-Christian sentiment,  but the reality from Psalm 2 is that God is in control, and sovereign. In Acts 4 the disciples face persecution and opposition for the first time from the religious authorities in Jerusalem and they respond in prayer, quoting Psalm 2 acknowledging the nations will rage and revolt against God’s rule, but also acknowledging that they serve God’s messiah Jesus Christ, and it tells us the place where they met shock and they were filled afresh by God’s Holy Spirit, his assuring presence and power. The same presence and power we know in our lives as well.

The psalm speaks to us of God’s missional nature. God’s desire to see all nations come and know his merciful rule and reign, to acknowledge his Son Jesus Christ as LORD. We saw that in our reading from Acts 13 where Paul quotes this psalm to call people to faith in Jesus Christ. It under girds for us Jesus call and commission on the church… All authority in heaven and earth is given to me, therefore go and make disciples in every nation, baptizing them and teaching them to obey all I have commanded you…

It also calls us to live with a different loyalty and priority because of God’s sovereignty. For the early Christians to affirm that Jesus was Lord and to declare his good news was a very political statement, it said that things should be Done Jesus way, god’s way, in the face of a society that was declaring ‘Caesar is Lord, and proclaiming the benefits of the good news of that, in roman law and culture. It is still a very political statement for us today… Shane Clairborne, who started the community ‘the simple way’ in Philadelphia's poorest neighborhood,  has written a book called “Jesus for President”. It is Claiborne declaring like Psalm 2 does that the kingdom of God is not to be confused with the western dream and consumer society, but is a call to live a radically different life. One which has lead him to be imprisoned for feeding homeless, standing on the stairs of the supreme court to oppose the death penalty and more recently a tour of the country with an anvil, beating hand guns and other weapons into garden implements. Living counter culturally, living with Jesus setting the agenda.  

Finally, like the nations and kings we too are to find our refuge and shelter in serving and worshiping God’s chosen king, Jesus Christ. That refuge is not an escape from the world, but rather a call to radical involvement trusting that God has us and is with us in all of life’s circumstances, as we will see as we look through the psalms. It is a call in the words of Jesus to put first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, to kiss the son… Jesus who has been coronation was the cross, whose kingdom has broken into the realms of humanity with his resurrection, and who will come again to set all things right.

No comments:

Post a Comment