Jesus Is King
Topic: English Passage: Psalm 2:1-12
We live in a world governed by very powerful and very influential people. I’m talking about real power to shape the world. The world, on a global scale, really isn’t much different from an elementary playground. There are leaders, and there are rivalries, and there are alliances that shape what’s going on in individual nations and in the world at large.
U.S. News has a report listing most powerful countries in the world. The article says, “The world’s most powerful countries also are the ones that consistently dominate news headlines, preoccupy policymakers and shape global economic patterns. Their foreign policies and military budgets are tracked religiously.”
A nation’s power ranking ins based on its leadership, its economic and political influence, its international alliances, and its military strength. The top ten countries in their Power Rankings, from 1-10 are: The United States, Russia, China, Germany, The United Kingdom, France, Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Those are the countries that most contribute to shaping our world, for better or for worse.
Imagine what it would be like to be in a position of authority and influence, both in your own country, and all across the world. That’s what it means to be a head of state.
Incidentally, at least here in the United States, that’s also what it means to be international celebrity. You have the power to sway the culture. In the strictest sense, we don’t live under the rule of kings and queens, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have very powerful people governing and shaping this world. Those are the type of people that Psalm 2 is aimed at—those who rule and shape the world. And in this context, they are known as “kings.”
No matter who the world’s leaders and influencers are, God wants us to know that there is only one true King, and that is Jesus Christ. This is the message of Psalm 2.
A month ago, we studied Psalm 1, which is a very personal psalm. The message there was: You need to make a choice. Are you going to walk in accordance with God’s word and experience His blessing? Or will you reject Him and perish? Psalm 1 is a personal message.
Psalm 2, on the other hand, is a global message, aimed at the kings of this world, and then by extension to everyone else. In a world driven by corruption and immorality, Psalm 2 is a refreshing and needed reminder that God is still sovereign. And to drive that point further, Psalm 2 gives us four messages concerning King Jesus and the world.
The first message comes in verses 1-3, and it is this: Jesus is King, but the world rejects Him. Jesus is King, but the world rejects Him.
Look at verses 1-3 again—Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
Verse 1 is a question, but, for the most part, it’s a rhetorical question. Why does this world rebel against the Lord? Why does it rage? Why does it plot?
The word used there for “rage” carries the idea of an angry mob in a riot. It’s an adult-sized tantrum against God. That’s the emotional element to their rebellion, but there’s also an intellectual element. That’s in the second half of verse 1. They plot against God. They are actively thinking about ways to push against God’s law and promote their own ungodly agenda.
We have clear evidence of that in our own nation, especially with the advancement of abortion and the LGBTQ agenda. Those are clearly, codified expressions of rebellion against God. And we’ve also got very clear evidence of that in other nations where there is genocide and the official promotion of anti-Christian messages. Apart from that, there is also the hidden things we don’t see. This world is set against Christ.
Verse 2 says they “set themselves” against the Lord and against His Anointed. The Hebrew word for Anointed, as most of you know, is Messiah. The Greek word is Christ. For the Israelites, the anointed of God was the king, and we know now that the final Anointed One is Jesus Christ.
The kings of this world take counsel together against God and against whoever represents Him. They rebel. We need to stop being surprised by that. Jesus said that’s what the world is going to do.
So, united in their rebellion against God, this world has a message, and we get that in verse 3. “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” In other words, “Let’s get rid of these restrictions God has placed upon us. Let’s free ourselves.”
Rather than embrace the design of the Creator, and rather than receive them as loving protection for society, this world sees God’s instructions as bonds and cords. To them, they’re like chains keeping prisoners enslaved. They are ropes or muzzles meant to keep an animal under control. That’s how the world sees God’s law.
That’s nothing new. That is the lie through which sin came into the human race. Satan told the woman, “God is trying to keep you down. He is withholding something from you that is good. He is not to be trusted. You need to take control of your own life, and stop listening to Him.”
So, she and her husband ate of the forbidden fruit, and all mankind has been infected with sin. Unregenerate humanity is now enslaved to Satan. He is the prince of the power of the air. He is the “god of this world,” and he is still orchestrating a rebellion.
I think it’s interesting to point out that Daniel chapter 10 speaks of a demonic power known as “the prince of Persia,” and there’s also another demon who is called “the prince of Greece.” And those kinds of titles indicate that, at least in that time, Satan had demonic influence over the major empire of the world. Think about that.
As the god of this world, Satan, in a general sense, and perhaps even in a more specific and direct way, is orchestrating the nations and the kings of this world. First John 5 tells us that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. Satan is still under God’s sovereignty, but in His righteous judgment and in His perfect plan, God turned this world over to Satan for a time.
That’s why you and I need to stop being shocked whenever we see either overt or subtle evil in this world. That is the way of this world. Wickedness is exalted, and God’s truth is pushed aside. This world is in open rebellion against Him.
So, going back to the question in verse 1, why do they do that? They do it because they are part of this worldly, satanic system. That has always been the case. We may not have been aware of that or seen it as clearly in previous generations, but that has always been the case. The kings and nations of this world, under the direct or indirect rule of Satan in this world, rebel against God. So, again, stop being surprised by what we see. That’s going to happen.
But, like I said earlier, the question in verse 1 is less theological and more rhetorical. And the rhetorical effect comes in the very last word of verse 1. Why do they rebel in vain? In other words, why are they fighting back if it isn’t going to make a difference? This response is complete foolishness. It’s meaningless. It’s all in vain.
And this lead us to the second message of Psalm 2. Message number 1 was: Jesus is King, but the world rejects Him. Message number 2 is this: Jesus is King because God appointed Him. Jesus is King because God appointed Him.
The world’s message to God is, “We are not slaves! Stop telling us what to do! We are kings!” But here is God’s message for the world—God has rejected you, and He has appointed His own King. God has appointed His own King. Look at verses 4-6 with me.
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
The kings of this world rebel against God, and God mocks them. Verse 4 says He laughs. He holds them in derision. That means He ridicules them. They have no idea what they are up against. The Lord sits in the heavens. He is mightier than they could ever imagine. They don’t have a clue Whom they’re dealing with.
A couple weeks ago, somebody posted a video online where some ordinary high school basketball player challenges a 43-year-old retired NBA player to a pickup game at the gym. That game ended 11-0 for the NBA player because it wasn’t really a match. There’s no comparison there.
One article, commenting on the video, said, “A high school basketball player learned the hard way that even the ‘worst’ NBA players are still the best in the world at what they do.
That difference between an ordinary high school basketball player and someone who retired from the NBA is an infinitely smaller example of the difference between the authority and the power of the kings of this world and God. There’s no comparison. So, God laughs at their ignorance. He mocks them.
But God is not simply amused by their response. He is insulted, and He responds. Verse 5 speaks of a future day, when God will respond in wrath. He will terrify them in His fury. This is our God who will not be mocked. As the Creator of this world, as the One who made all nations, He righteously responds with justice. This is not out-of-control anger. This is not a kingly tantrum. This is God’s holiness on display, and He will punish all who reject Him.
The world may reject God as its king, but God has rejected them, and He will set His own King in place. That’s God’s message in verse 6—As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.
Zion is the most prominent hill in Jerusalem, so it represents the authority of the city. The true power of this world is not centered in Washington D.C., or in any other foreign capital. The true power of this world lies with the King of Israel, the King of the Jews.
The Old Testament saints would have looked to the line of David for its king, and they would have been waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise that a Son of David will come who will rule this earth forever.
Of course, we know who that King is. It’s the King the wise men came to see after He was born. It is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David. Psalm 2 is another messianic psalm, extending the kingly line of David to the coming Messiah.
Jesus’s full power and glory and authority has not been made known in this world yet. Israel, for the most part, rejected Him. That’s why they are in what Jesus called “the times of the Gentiles.”
One day, however, Jesus will return, and Israel and the rest of the world will know who He really is. You don’t have to wait until that day to know for sure, though, because God has told us who He is. Look with me at verses 7-9. This is God speaking directly to His appointed King. This is the King telling the world what God’s message to Him is. Verse 7.
I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
Message number 1 from Psalm 2 was: Jesus is King, but the world rejects Him. That came form verses 1-3. Message number 2, from verses 4-6 was: Jesus is King because God appointed.
The third message in this Psalm tells us what kind of King Jesus will be. Here’s the message: Jesus is King, and the world will serve Him. Jesus is King, and the world will serve Him.
God has eternally and emphatically decided and declared who it is that will rule this world on His behalf. And it is His Son. That is God’s decree.
Verse 7 uses the language of begetting, which means bringing someone into this world. For an earthly king, this would have been talking about the day a prince and future king was born. He would be honored because of and in expectation of his future role as king.
Well, in Jesus’ case, when did that happen? When did God bring Jesus into this world? That’s what we celebrate at Christmas, the miracle of the incarnation. The Son of God came to earth in human flesh. That wasn’t when Jesus came into existence, because Jesus is eternal and uncreated God. But the conception and the birth of Jesus was the miracle by which the Son of God took on flesh and blood and was truly human.
In Acts 13, we read another way to apply this to Jesus. Paul is preaching in a synagogue, and he applies Psalm 2, verse 7, to Jesus’ Resurrection. And that seems appropriate, especially when we consider what we learned last week. The Resurrection of Jesus was God’s stamp of authenticity on His Son. It was God emphatically declaring, “This is My Son, who will rule the world.”
Every legitimate king of Israel understood that he had been placed in that position by God. But, there is something different about the King in Psalm 2. This king is called a Son. That was something new.
Israel, as a nation, was called the son of God. You might recognize the words of Hosea 11:1, where God says, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” But this Son of David, this individual, since He embodies the people, is declared to be God’s Son. That’s not a title He assumes. That’s who God says He is. This would have been totally unheard of at the time this was written.
Now, on the other side of the New Testament, we’re used to hearing about God the Father and God the Son. But the Israelites didn’t understand that. They knew that the earthly king acted on behalf of God, but they would never have called him the Son of God. But that’s the wording used to describe this King. And that’s the wording Jesus used to describe Himself. That’s what enraged the Jewish authorities.
Not only does God refer to this King as His Son, He promises to give Him authority over all the nations. That’s verse 8—I will make the nations your heritage…The ends of the earth will be Your possession.
The same way a father leaves an inheritance to his son, God is going to give this King authority over every nation, over every corner of the world.
I’m not sure if you know this, but this is a passage that missionaries use sometimes as a promise that God will give them converts in a foreign nation. But that’s not at all what this verse is talking about. This isn’t talking about conversions; this is talking about absolute authority. This is talking about dominance and judgment. And you can see that clearly in the next verse.
Verse 9. Again, this is God talking to His King—You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
A rod is the instrument of discipline and correction. The word can also mean “scepter,” which is the symbol of a king’s authority. And this rod is made of iron, the strongest material the Israelites knew about.
This King will rule with strength over the arrogant kings of the world. He will humble every nation. The second half of verse 9 says He will break them in pieces the way a clay pot shatters when it hits the ground. This is God’s King and God’s Son. He will come in perfect judgment against the kings and the nations that have rejected Him, and He will rule in perfect justice.
When is that going to happen? And what’s that going to be like? The answer comes in Revelation chapter 19, and I’d like you to turn there with me. Revelation 19 is a passage you need to be familiar with.
Revelation 1-3 is God’s message to the church. In light of who Christ is, churches are called to remain faithful, to endure. Then in chapters 4-18 you get a description of the Great Tribulation, which is a 7-year period where God’s wrath comes upon the world. During that time, you get horrific judgments on the world, and there is a pronounced persecution on the people of God.
That period ends with one-world system, united against God and against His truth. That worldly system is known as Babylon, and all the kings of the earth are allied with it. That system, however, will come to an end. God’s judgment will come, and Christ will come physically. That’s Revelation 19.
Look with me at Revelation 19, verse 11—Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. This is the war of God’s judgment on the nations and their kings.
Verse 12—His eyes are like a flame of fire. In other words, He pierces into the hearts of everyone. He sees everything. And on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.
Does that sounds familiar? That’s exactly what it says in Psalm 2. This is the earthly reign of Jesus Christ, and it begins with a demonstration of His justice over the world that has rejected Him.
Verse 15 continues—He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Maybe you grew up hearing those phrases repeated, and they’ve lost some of their significance. Jesus is King of king and Lord of lords. It doesn’t matter who these earthly rulers think they are. I doesn’t matter how powerful they are in this world. They will all bow before Jesus the Christ. They will either bow in judgment, or they can bow now in repentance. But no earthly authority, no celebrity or political leader has the authority to escape Jesus. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
I’ll let you read it for yourselves, but in the verses that follow in Revelation 19, there really isn’t a battle. It’s a slaughter. The birds are invited to feast on the flesh of kings and captains. And then, Satan himself is captured and enslaved for 1,000 years. That time period is known as the Millennial Kingdom. You can read about it in Revelation 20. It’s a thousand-year period when Christ reigns as the Son of David, and His people will reign with Him.
If you have trusted in Christ—if you are relying exclusively on Him for salvation from your sins—you will be resurrected from the dead, and you will reign with the King of kings.
So, again, there’s no need to be surprised at the wickedness in this world. And there’s no need to despair about it. Jesus will win. Jesus will conquer them all. And knowing that truth, we come to the final message of Psalm 2.
Message number 1: Jesus is King, but the world rejects Him. Message number 2: Jesus is King because God appointed Him. Message number 3: Jesus is King, and the world will serve Him. And now, message number 4: Jesus is King, so bow before Him. Jesus is King, so bow before Him.
Psalm 2 ends with a final message from God to the kings of this world. Here it is.
Verse 10—Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12Kiss 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.
In the first 9 verses, there were zero commands. Now, we come to the closing three verses, and we have 5 commands. Be wise. Be warned. Serve the Lord with fear. Rejoice with trembling. And kiss the Son.
This is the message God has for our nation and for every other nation. It’s not ultimately a message about conservative politics or liberal or progressive politics. God’s overarching message is: “Bow before My Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is true wisdom. The opposite of being wise is being foolish. So, our heavenly father would have the kings of this world, the influencers in this world hear this message: Don’t be stupid. Humble yourself before Jesus Christ.
How many rich or powerful people have crowds of people following them around? And who are the powerful and famous people you tend to esteem? No matter what their life looks like, if they don’t serve Christ, they are foolish. Their life will come to nothing. They can have all the wealth and prestige of this life, but it will mean nothing for them on the day of Christ’s judgment.
The rulers of this world don’t need our adulation. They don’t need our flattery. They don’t need us to idolize them. They need us to warn them that the true King is Jesus Christ. And He is coming again in power and glory. And they need to fear Him right now.
They need to “kiss Him” as verse 12 puts it. A kiss was the expression of submission and humility and allegiance and service. If they don’t do that, His anger will be kindled one day, and they will perish forever. When they see Christ, there will be no turning back. There will be no chance for repentance.
There is no place safe from the wrath of Jesus Christ, unless you are united to Jesus Christ. That’s the heart of the final line in this psalm. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
As one author put it, “there is no refuge from God, there is only a refuge in God.”
This is the message God has us here to spread. We don’t need to be surprised by the sin in this world. We don’t need to despair. And we definitely don’t want to envy those people whom the world exalts but who reject our Lord. We are on the winning side, because we belong to Jesus the King.
Neither Joe Biden of the United States, nor Vladimir Putin of Russia, nor Xi Jinping of China, nor Kim Jong-un of North Korea, nor any group of Hollywood or sports celebrities is going to dictate what happens with the world. The true King is Jesus Christ. This is what the church has understood since the very beginning.
I think it’s fitting to end our time today, by seeing these truths in action. So, turn with me to Acts chapter 4. We’re just going to read a passage, and then we’ll close. Turn with me to Acts chapter 4, verse 23.
This is right after Peter and John were arrested for preaching the truth, and then released with the mandate not to preach again in Jesus’ name. Look how the church responded. Acts 4, verse 23.
23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
They knew they were being persecuted, but it didn’t surprise them. Because they knew God’s message about the true King of this world. They knew Psalm 2. So, they pray…
Verse 27—for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
In other words, they’re saying, “God, You just keep doing what You’re doing, and we’ll keep doing what we’re doing. We’re gonna keep preaching the message that Jesus is the Christ, the King of the world.
Verse 31—And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
By His Spirit, May the Lord grant us to speak with the same boldness. Let’s pray.