The Lord Reigns
If you have a Bible, please go ahead and open up to Ps 2.
As you all are very aware, on Tuesday of this week we will our national election for President of the United States. This will not be the only item on the ballot on Nov 3, but the Presidential election will be the most consequential. I have read, I don’t know this to be the case, but I have read that this is to be the most consequential Presidential election ever. I suppose we don’t know that until we see how the results play out but people who I respect say that. So I tend to think along those lines as well. My wife was speaking with a friend of hers from Dallas this week, and her friend told Kathryn that at her friend’s job, the management of the building will have armed forces for this next week, to protect the building from rioting. Wow. That’s crazy. That’s not normal.
It is important for you all to remember what it is my job is here as Senior Pastor. My job is that of a pastor. Me and Pastor Jesse are not politicians. Our responsibilities lie elsewhere. We deal with God, Scripture, sin, grace, counseling, and shepherding. We are pastors, not politicians. My job is to proclaim the gospel. My job is not to wade into political discussion.
Now let me be clear. There’s a whole host of political issues that the gospel has a bearing on. The Bible speaks to many matters that are political. And when appropriate it is important for pastors to make those connections for their congregation between the truths of Scripture and political philosophy. We cannot divide the secular from the sacred. God’s truth in Scripture has a bearing on all of life. Pastors must uphold that and teach that.
This morning I want to teach on a bedrock theological principle that has also has political consequences. This statement will provide us comfort and hope regardless of what happens in this world. And this statement forms the most basic political philosophy that we must have as Christians. This point is so basic that it unites all Christians. It is a point that all of us who claim the name of Jesus Christ can and should agree to. It is a non-controversial point but a powerful one. It is a point that binds us together as Christians and provides us the most hope for our nation. The idea is this simple affirmation: “The Lord Reigns.” Hence the title of this morning’s sermon.
This idea for this morning’s sermon came from a quote from John Newton. Newton lived in the 1700 and 1800s. He wrote the famous hymn, “Amazing Grace.” He was a key figure in the British Empire’s abolition of the African slave trade. He was a godly man who had a profound impact upon history. Listen to what he says. He writes,
There is one political maxim which comforts me: ‘The Lord reigns.’ He will take care of His own cause; yea, He will extend His kingdom, Men have one thing in view; He has another, and His counsel shall stand.
Life is unsure. Politics are unsure. Who knows what the future holds? One truth remains through it all. One truth ought to serve as the bedrock of our life and of our political philosophy: the Lord reigns.
This morning’s sermon comes from Ps 2. This is a tremendous Psalm for expositing the idea that the Lord reigns. I have four points for you this morning.
Mankind is Evil
The first point this morning is this, “Mankind is Evil.” This point comes from the first section, vv. 1–3. Read this passage with me,
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
The Doctrine of Depravity
What we see here in this passage is the doctrine of total depravity expressed within the political realm. The doctrine of depravity refers to the wickedness of mankind. Over and over again, on every page of Scripture, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, the Scripture testify of man’s sinfulness. If you read the Bible and you come away with the belief that man is inherently good or even neutral, you’re reading the Bible incorrectly. One of the most basic affirmations Scripture makes is that man is wicked.
To prove this point, let me read for you two passages of Scripture, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, that communicate this point of man’s total depravity. So for the first passage from the Old Testament. Listen to this from Gen 6:5,
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
The context of this passage is the great flood that God sent upon the earth. This is how Moses describes the state of man’s nature prior to the flood. Listen again.
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
That’s bad. Real bad. Ouch. Now that is man before the flood. Did the judgment of the flood do anything to purify man’s heart? No it didn’t. Man’s nature after the Flood is still the same as it was before the flood. Listen to how Paul describes man’s nature in Rom 3. Paul, in bringing together several Old Testament passages regarding man’s sinfulness, writes this,
None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Things haven’t changed. Man was totally depraved in the OT and remains that way in the NT. To summarize what the doctrine of total depravity is, I’ll take a cue from the doctrinal statement at Dallas Theological Seminary, my beloved seminary. This is what they write regarding man’s sinfulness,
Every child of Adam is born into the world with a nature which not only possesses no spark of divine life, but is essentially and unchangeably bad apart from divine grace.
What a well-put-together statement. Man is “essentially and unchangeably bad apart from divine grace.” Wow. That’s true. Psalm 2 further evidences that truth.
And this doctrine of depravity effects everything that man does, politics included. Depravity doesn’t just effect this part of a person’s life or that part of a person’s life. The effects of depravity are total. Hence the doctrine total depravity. Sinfulness effects every area of a person’s life, even politics.
How is this political depravity discussed in this passage? Well it comes out in each verse. In v. 1, the גוֹיִ֑ם, the “nations,” the non-Jewish, Gentile nations, they “rage.” This term “rage” can also be understood as rebelling, to be furious. A good illustration of this can be seen in the ungodly rioting and looting that have taken hold of our nation in 2020. They people rage. They revolt. They rebel and destroy property.
The reason why wicked plans of the nations always end in futility is introduced in v. 2. Now David transitions from speaking about the nations in general to the rulers and kings of those nations. The raging of the nations is personified in the wickedness of their rulers. The rulers of the nations get together in order to scheme regarding a plan to overthrow the reign of YHWH and YHWH’s anointed one. The rulers of the earth want to overthrow the ruler of heaven and earth.
How does David describe this revolt against God’s law and order? At the end of v. 1, David says that the wick plot “in vain.” The word for “vain” here means “empty, worthless.” David recognizes that this rage is utterly pointless and vain. The plots of the nations, their wicked scheming and planning of evil end in futility. These plans are silly, vain, empty, worthless, destined to fail. Why? Because mere mortals can never overthrow God’s reign and rule. Such an idea is utterly inconceivable. Mortals want to overtake the Immortal One and His Immortal King. Such pursuit is vain, empty, worthless, destined to fail.
We compare the foolishness and futility seen in this passage by means of political rulers trying to overthrow YHWH’s and His Annoited’s reign and rule with the idea of trying to go to war with a Super Soaker. During the Summers, we’ll have the sprinkler going, have a pool filled up, and also we really enjoy having super soakers. Super soakers are those cool water guns for kids. Fill them up with water, pump them, and then shoot. They’re a lot of fun. Even as an adult I enjoy playing with them. They’re fun but there not guns. Let’s be clear about that. They shoot water at weak pressure. They don’t shoot bullets. It would be the epitome of foolishness to go to war with a Super Soaker in hand. Try to destroy a tank with a Super Soaker. How foolish is that? That’s is similar to what these wicked kings and rulers scheme to do. It is utterly futile.
Don’t Tread on Me
And notice what they say in v. 3,
Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.
This expression is a desire for the wicked to be free from God’s rule. The wicked confess their desire to break from God’s sovereignty. “Bonds” and “cords” were used by Kings in the ANE to control people’s. The wicked here are saying to God, “Get your hands off of us.”The wicked want freedom from God.
Dear friend, our desire for freedom ought to have its limits. If you like the political statement, “Don’t tread on me,” you need to be careful you never apply that to God. God is always in control of you and your life. You should never seek to run from his reign and rule over you. That is utter ungodliness.
What was true in the time of ancient Israel, when this Psalm was written, is true today. While times have changed, political philosophies have changed, and technology has developed, the nature of man remains the same. What was true for David is true for us. Man is wicked. He is depraved in every part. This wickedness expresses itself in a desire to overthrow God’s reign and rule. This plays out in every election, in every political cycle. How foolish and wicked are man’s pursuits.
God is Sovereign
The Lord knows all this, of course. He is well acquainted with man’s ways. He knows that the wicked want to overthrow his reign and rule. God’s response to the wicked is mentioned in vv. 4–6. Now I am segueing into my second point, which I have entitled, “The sovereignty of God.” Each verse in this section, vv. 4–6, details a response from YHWH to the wicked. Each response details that God is sovereign over the wickedness of man.
YHWHW first response to the wicked and to their pursuit to overthrow His reign is that he ridicules them. The text reads,
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
First, notice how the passage speaks of YHWH’s posture. He is sitting. What is he sitting on? A throne. God is enthroned in heaven. He doesn’t need to get up out of his seat. He’s not bothered. He is in total control. He’s in heaven and cannot be hurt by the wickedness of man.
Form his seat, he mocks the wicked. The text says he “laughs” at the wicked. “Laugh” here is YHWH laughing not comically. YHWH is not laughing at a funny joke. YHWH is laughing at the foolishness of men. God is mocking the wicked. That idea is expressed again at the end of v. 4 with the phrase, “holds them in derision.” This statement, “holds them in derision,” means that the Lord taunts, scoffs, mocks the wicked. What YHWH is doing here is he is looking at the wickedness and foolishness of man, and he laughingly mocks them.
God doesn’t go out and vote. God doesn’t go out and protest. God doesn’t go out and riot, when confronted with the wickedness of man. What does God do? He laughs. He mocks. He mocks from the position of siting. The wickedness of man doesn’t even rouse God to stand up.
Also, he responds to the wicked with anger. This idea is expressed in v. 5. It reads,
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury
YHWH’s response is firm and harsh. He will not go along with the wickedness of the nations and its rulers. His response is anger, indignation, wrath, and judgment. He will “terrify them in his fury.” God is boss, and he let’s the wicked know that he is boss.
In v. 6, YHWH tells us of his political program. David writes this in v. 6,
“I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.”
This is YHWH talking. YHWH has established “his King.” This King was also mentioned in v. 2.That political program centers on what Psalm 2 refers to as YHWH’s “Anointed One.” Look back with me at v. 2. As mentioned previously, the attacks against YHWH are also attacks against YHWH’s “Anointed.” The Hebrew word here is מַשִׁיחַ. This word is where we get the English word, “Messiah.” In v. 6, YHWH specifies that he has established his King, which is his Anointed One, as King. Who exactly is this King?
Taking the concept broadly, this King is the Davidic King. The Davidic King is the ruler of Israel who YHWH establishes. At first this was David himself. But ultimately this concept finds its fulfilment in the Lord Jesus Christ. YHWH is foretelling in Psalm 2 the reign and rule of Jesus Christ. YHWH political program on earth has been established on earth via the Davidic King, who is ultimately the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Messiah.
The Messiah’s reign has been established on Zion, YHWH’s holy hill. Zion is a reference to Mount Zion, or to the city of Jerusalem. The Messiah’s ministry centered on Jerusalem, Mount Zion. Jesus was killed near Mount Zion and he will one day come again and establish his rule and reign during the millennial kingdom on Mount Zion. draws attention to the location of the Messiah’s reign.
God is not taken aback by the wickedness of man. He sits and he laughs. And he visits the wicked with wrath and fury. He is not concerned. He is not glued to the TV, waiting to see what unfolds. He reigns. And he has a political program. That program is the rule and reign of his Son.
Jesus is King
In vv. 7–9 David switches from focusing on YHHW talking to now focus on the Messiah talking, who is Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is telling us here what it is his Father had told him. The Messiah is letting us in on a conversation that he had with YHWH, This is what the Messiah, Jesus Christ, says in Ps 2.
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
First, let’s deal with what it means when the text says, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” The way this idea is applied in the NT, specifically in Acts 13:33, is to reference Jesus’ exaltation by the Father after his resurrection. Jesus here in v. 7 is forecasting the day when the Father will exalt him after his resurrection.
This Messiah will receive from the Father complete political authority of the whole world. Verse 8 reads,
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
This is a reference to the future Messiah’s exaltation. Similar to the idea mentioned when the Father says to the Son, “Today I have begotten you.” After his resurrection, Jesus is given authority and power of the world. He is exalted. We studied this is Phil 2. Remember this from Philippians?:
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus was exalted by the Father. In Psalm 2, we have an early prophecy of this. The Father has given to the Son the nations as his heritage, the ends of the earth as his possession. All people will bow before Jesus Christ. The King.
As a ruler who faithfully follows after his Father’s character, the Messiah too expressed his indignation towards the wicked nations and the wicked political rulers. The Messiah will be the means by which YHWH exercises worldwide governance. This is mentioned in v. 9. Verse 9 reads,
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
The Son of God’s political governance will occur through might. In some situations, peace is not attainable. And in those situations, where the stubbornness of man’s heart becomes so strong that man does not submit to the Lord and to his Messiah, the Messiah will shatter the ungodly. Specifically take notice of how the last line describes this judgment. The Messiah will “dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Think of a clay pot. If you shatter a pot, it’s impossible to put it back together. The Messiah’s judgment will be final and ultimate. The judgment he executes on the nations and on their wicked rulers will be unreversible.
What we see in this passage is that YHWH, God the Father, tells us of his political program. This program centers on the Son of God. YHWH will give to his Son all authority. The Son will inherit the nations, will rule the world, and will distribute justice to the wicked. The Lord’s reign is execute through YHWH’s Son. He is the King of the earth, the ruler of the cosmos.
What’s the application of all of this? David has specific application for us in vv. 10–12. Summarizing what David says, my fourth point is this, “Honor Jesus.” Honor Jesus. That’s how we obey these truths found in Ps 2. Let’s look at the passage.
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
What you will notice about this passage is that it is the application is geared towards political rulers. It specifically says that in v. 10.
Many of you work in government. You have power and influence. You have a say in very important matters. You have an important job. Praise God for your position. Praise God for his blessing upon you. But with that power comes responsibility.
My youngest son loves Spider Man. In the story of Spider Man, this maxim is quoted to Spider Man regarding his superpowers,
With great power comes great responsibility
How true is that. This Psalm teaches that. Specifically, leaders and rulers have tremendous responsibility to God. Political power come withs great responsibility. God is not indifferent towards you and how you exercise your office. As we touched on in the first point, there is in you and in all of us this depravity that drives us away from the Lord. Our ungodly ambition can drive us towards wanting godlike status and control. The Lord warns you here. The Lord warns politicians and rulers that if you adopt an agenda, if you are driven by ungodliness, you’re plans will fail. Utterly. God warns you ahead of time to not have ungodly ambition. Be wise in how you govern and manage. Serve the Lord. Do nothing else. Be kind to others. “Kiss the Son” from v. 12. That means pay homage to Jesus. Only his purposes will stand. Stand on principle, not on what is popular or acceptable. Govern and legislate and oversee in light of the reign and rule of our Lord. Nothing else will stand. Only what is done for Jesus will last.
The Rest of Us
While the application of this passage is geared towards rulers and kings, the same principles are true for us who do work in government. We all have the obligation towards serving the Lord (v. 11) with fear and rejoice with trembling. We all have the obligation to “Kiss the Son,” (v. 12), that is, to pay homage to Jesus Christ, the one to whom will reign and rule. All people have the obligation to turn from their inner depravity and honor the Son. We all have the responsibility.
How do we do that now? In this political season. The first thing that we should do is vote in light of Jesus rule and reign. Our vote should accord with what it is that our Lord teaches.
That’s not what I want to focus on, though. In the Christian life, especially in a season like the one we are in, there is a temptation towards becoming too fixated on the political realm. There is a temptation towards neglecting and forgetting about the realm of redemption, while focusing exclusively on the political realm. This is a temptation I have felt. Politics are important but redemption, salvation is far more important.
The way this might manifest itself in your behavior might be that you haven’t opened up your Bible to study it this past week, but Fox News has been on for the majority of the day. Or, it might look like you’ve been talking to everyone you know about the Presidential election, but you haven’t witnessed to anyone in months.
This fixations on what’s happening now and what will happen next week leads to worry, stress, anxiety, and fruitlessness. You become ineffective as a Christian when you neglect the Lord your God. You might be a good patriot, but you are failing as a Christian. We need to change that. We need to address that.
We want to honor the Lord, first and foremost. Honor him. Share his word. Pray to him. Love him. Be careful re: your attention.
As I alluded to at the beginning of this sermon, this seems to be a very consequential election. It does. Maybe at no time in our nation’s history has our future and success as a country be in such peril. Maybe our turn towards socialism and even worse communism is contingent upon this election. Maybe so. Our future could turn out badly.
Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter. The outcome of this election does not matter. The drama that is currently playing out in the world right now is a drama that Psalm 2 tells us of. As Ecclesiastes says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” God has a plan, God has a decree. His decree is that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, will reign over heaven and earth. That is going to happen. Leaders will come and go. God raises up good and bad leaders.
We want to be informed. We want to be involved. We don’t want to put our head in the sand. But ultimately the reigning and ruling is not up to us. It’s up to God. God reigns and rules. God laughs at the wicked and HE will establish his throne by means of his Son. We need to be wise and vote wisely, but don’t for one second think that you or anyone else is in control. No. The Lord reigns.
I want to end this morning with this passage from Psalm 146:3–5. It says this,
Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.