When the Worlds of Kings Seem Large

 Image by  Myles Tan

Image by Myles Tan

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."

 

He who sits in the heavens laughs;

the Lord holds them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath,

and terrify them in his fury, saying,

"As for me, I have set my King

on Zion, my holy hill."

Psalm 2:1-6

I'm in a season, ordained by God, in which the Psalms have become my voice in so many ways. There is a comfort in reading the words of men, inspired by the Word of God, reflecting truth and emotion relevant for all times and all people.

I recently began reading Eugene Peterson's book, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer. His reflection on Psalm 2 has given me comfort in God in the midst of uncertain days. I went to bed last night fearful about things both near and far. I worry about the plots of men, and the sinful plots of my own heart. 

Here are Peterson's words:

Psalm 2 shows people plotting against [God’s word], the word that determines all existence. [...] They put their minds together to rid themselves of this word so that their words can rule.

The people who do this appear impressive: they are both numerous (nations and peoples) and prominent (kings and rulers). A lot of people reject the word of God; they not only reject it, they turn their rejection into a world power. These people command most of the armies of the world, direct the advances of science, run school systems, preside over governments, and rule in the marketplaces. If these people are in active conspiracy against the rule of God, what difference can prayer make? [...]

Intimidation is as fatal to prayer as distraction. If we are intimidated, we will forfeit the entire world of culture and politics, of business and science to those “who set themselves....against the Lord.”

What is at issue here is size: we require an act of imagination that enables us to see that the world of God is *large*—far larger than the worlds of kings and princes, prime ministers and presidents, far larger than the worlds reported by newspaper and television, far larger than the world described in big books by nuclear physicists and military historians. We need a way to imagine—to *see*—that the world of God’s ruling word is not an afterthought to the worlds of the stock exchange, the rocket launching, and summit diplomacy, but itself contains them.

Far more is involved here than simply asserting God’s sovereignty. We need a way, a convincing, usable, accessible tool for realizing the largeness of God in the midst of the competing bigness of the world. If we fail here, prayer will be stunted; we will pray huddled and cowering. Our prayers will whimper.

Psalm 2 answers our need by presenting Messiah. Messiah is God’s person in history. God is not exclusively in the business of dealing with souls, he is also active in cities. Messiah is God’s invasion of the secular, his entry into the world where people go to school, go to work, go to war, go to Chicago. He enters—and he enters *in person*. His word is not only what we meditate in the scriptures, it takes shape in history and we see it in action in a person.

[...]

The work of Psalm 2 is to provide access to largeness, and thereby to rehabilitate the intimidated imagination so that it can grasp the enormous range of the word of God.
— Answering God by Eugene Peterson (HarperCollins, 1991).

The psalm goes on to give us a glimpse of God's true King, His Son, and the hope we have only in Him:

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."

 

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.

Psalm 2:7-12

So if, like me, you find yourself praying whimpering prayers--prayers full of doubt and cynicism--take heart. "He who sits in the heavens laughs." He is bigger, far greater, than all of this.

But He is not an uncaring God. "Blessed are all who take refuge in him." He invites us to do so.