This Psalm is for leaders of nations (but it can also apply in principle to anyone who leads, such as employers, local councils, etc). There can be no denying that most leaders today, including religious leaders, are wicked and godless. Some are awful in the extreme. Some African countries are like beacons in the dark, displaying a morality and truthfulness rarely found in the West, especially concerning the immorality of sexual aberrations.
Let us harass our leaders to get morality right, just as they insist on harassing us to follow their foul lead. We can expect the West to fall in tatters, because it does not just reject God - it forces people to act out sin, by law and by example. Those who stand firm are punished, but those who act sinfully are praised.
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
Why do people rage and do abominable things? The answer is obvious – the rulers of the earth conspire together to oppose God! This cannot be more pertinent to our own day, when godless rulers devise laws to force us to accept their wickedness, calling evil good and black white.
To allow sin to proliferate is one thing; to write laws to pressure everyone to accept and promote them is quite another. To use those laws to penalise and criminalize moral people who will not accept sinful laws is Satanic.
The Psalm describes those who ‘rage’ as ‘heathen’. Let us understand that heathen cannot ‘rage’ unless we let them do so and leaders encourage them! Who are the ‘heathen’? Heathen are not only those who are in totally godless regimes. They are also those who reject God and His ways in any way.
In this text, ‘heathen’, gowy, can mean non-Hebrew (Gentile) nations. But, interestingly, it can also refer to Israel. So, my interpretation is correct... we can have ‘heathen’ in our very midst, even in the churches. Figuratively, it can mean ‘swarm of locusts’ that destroy everything in their path. This is much like nations today who reject God.
The heathen rage, ragash – they are in tumult, and conspire with each other to do what is sinful. They conspire, too, to remove God’s influence and commands, by removing His book and His people, relegating them to trash piles and calling them evil, using the law to crush conscience. We cannot deny that people who use law to enforce evil do so because their cause is unjust, without logic or genuine reason. Again, we cannot deny that this is what most nations are like today, to the detriment of the people.
It interests me that leaders accept and promote evil, when evil destroys nations, and yet fight against and remove anything good and moral that builds-up a nation! There is a definite reversal of values and logic, where black is made white and white is made black. God warns people who do this: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). Read the whole chapter to see what God thinks of those who make His world into a pit of evil. Then tell your leaders.
The ‘people’ in this text are the whole nation. Whether by law or otherwise, when a nation accepts evil as good, its people, including believers, are complicit by their silence. We must always shout-out in opposition when leaders cause the nation to slide into a grievous pit of wickedness. What matter is that we stand for truth.
If we do not, the people will “imagine a vain thing” without challenge. To ‘imagine’ here means far more than thinking up something. It means to mutter (a word used in connection with evil necromancers) and growl, to meditate on evil, to devise plans and plot against others. This is what happens to a nation that has lost self-control, and is encouraged in evil by its leaders. In the west whole nations howl like demons, by rejoicing over wickedness. But, this can only happen if they are given their head.
This is the only reason we are seeing the most wicked of sexual evils openly flaunted publicly, in books, magazines, TV, radio, music and films. Turn anywhere in society and sex is prevalent; but not ordinary sex – it is mainly perverse activity. It is true to say that these awful activities would not even be known if it were not for freedom given to them by leaders and law! This is why homosexuality is now so public and arrogant – leaders give them the law to do so. Without it, the devilish people who practice it would not come out in public to seduce fools and the ignorant, especially the young.
In this way ordinary people become wicked, and, in defying God, invite disaster from Heaven against them. This is because what they plan, do and promote, is vain, riyq – empty, idle, fruitless, without any merit. People today laugh at morality and yet it is morality that can prevent them dying of AIDS and other diseases of filth and sexual disobedience. They prefer the opposite of truth and goodness, and so reap the whirlwind. The root, ruwq says it all – the people who do these things ‘empty themselves out’, to become shells of individuals, with no pleasant thing in their lives. Popular UK TV series such as ‘Eastenders’ show lives devoid of God, unpleasant, wicked, without any joy or godliness. Sadly, the series is a reflection of society as a whole, and so society watches it to reinforce and confirm its own sinfulness.
The people, then, howl like dogs to maintain evil, because those who are supposed to lead under God prefer wickedness. Christians must remember this – leaders are only there if they do what God demands, otherwise they have no business being leaders, and Christians have no business electing them. Leaders who are wicked are judgments upon the people who elect them, so the people must repent and remove the wicked men who rule. But, sadly, God may not allow this for a season, just as Israel remained under Egyptian rule for a long time. Sin has consequences, and when we allow it to be foisted on us by leaders, we will be dealt with by God, to our earthly discomfort or demise.
You will note from the text that these rulers, who arrogantly set themselves up in power (much like Obama, Cameron, etc) conspire together to bring down the things of God. To do this they must combine forces with sinners to get rid of the “anointed” of God. In this text the “anointed” is the mashiyach – the Messiah, king of Israel. This is confirmed by the words: “against the LORD (Jehovah: the Father), and against his anointed.” Obviously, Jehovah’s anointed can only be His Son, the Messiah.
It can also refer to patriarchs as kings, the high priest, or even Cyrus. But, in this text it must only refer to the Messiah, and therefore God’s reign over Israel. The same can apply to us today, when, to get rid of Gospel influence, leaders condemn Christians as representatives of God, using law and other means to do so. The way this is done is phenomenally hateful, with all manner of wickedness preferred to holy living.
Between them, these awful leaders determine to “break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” The “their” in the text refers to both Father and Son. Such evil leaders see God’s commands as restrictive (which they are!), like bands or cords. The leaders wish only to be rid of God’s demands, because they want to sin freely. Only, of course, people cannot sin ‘freely’ – because they are bound by Satan! Therefore, to be freed of God’s gracious and merciful demands, leaders are content to be bound by the vengeful Satan! Does it make sense? Of course not. But, that is what evil people do when they reject God… they deliberately harm themselves.
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
So, wicked leaders decide to be free of God (which is impossible) and conspire together to rid the world (or at least their country) of God. How foolish. Do they not realise that if God exists, He knows everything they think and do in advance? He listens to their stupidity, watches their antics, and laughs in derision! Leaders, thinking they are clever, laugh at God, Who, in turn, laughs at them… but He has the last laugh, because He will judge them and send them to hell.
God will not let them get away with it, even on this earth, for He will show His wrath and bring trouble on their heads, displaying His anger. You might think that people such as this DO get away with it. No, they do not. Their public lives are one series of public relations exercises, but their personal lives will be ruined by their own sins and fears. God will indeed judge them on this earth, as if in preparation for their judgment at the end of time. On this earth they put out an aura of success and power, but later they will rue the day they rejected God, crying out in anguish as He gives them their just rewards.
He will tell them that He has set up the true ruler in Zion, Zion being the holy city, the spiritual Jerusalem. Jesus Christ would come and destroy their power with His own, which is supreme and beyond human thinking. Though evil rulers killed Jesus as a man, He rose again as the triumphant Christ, and can never, ever, be deposed by earthly men. Until the end of time wicked men will rule the world, but their rule is as nothing compared to the eternal ruler of all things, God. Thus, they are like jesters pretending to be kings, without true power or any kind of validity.
Verse 7 then gives us the words of Christ, Who says, “I will declare my decree.” Earthly rulers cannot stop or stint the laws of God! They like to think they do, but they do not. Christ is making a declaration, not offering a possible scenario. He is speaking affirmatively. He WILL declare, caphar… without a shadow of a doubt. What He declares WILL come to pass, regardless of the intentions of evil men.
Christ recalls that His Father told Him: “Thou (art) my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” The normal word for son, ben, is used, but in this case it means Son of God, hence the capital. It also bears the idea of being established or made permanent, banah, which is appropriate given the actual wording. This fixed position for the Son is a decree, choq – an ordinance or law prescribed by God. No man, no evil ruler, can cause God’s aim to be changed! God said it, so He will bring it to pass, crushing evil rulers as He does so. The root, chaqaq, underscores this finality of God’s rule, which is engraved or inscribed, much as it was inscribed in stone before Moses.
The Father told the Son that He was now begotten, yalad. That is, His divine pedigree was given and as God He was now set on the path of His holy plan (in terms of time – as yowm suggests, ‘always’: in eternal terms the plan was already known). Nothing could, or will, stop it.
The Father adds to His statement, saying that if Christ asks for it, He will be given the heathen and the whole earth for Himself. Satan tried to trick Him later, when He became a man, with a similar but fake promise, without success. In other words, the Son would be given the heathen as His nachalah or property, to use and dispense with as He saw fit. This He will certainly do at the end of time, when He sends them to their place of punishment forever and ever. Of course, such a statement is almost superfluous, because God owns everything anyway, including the heathen. But, this is said through the prophet who wrote the psalm, for the purpose of instructing the people.
The heathen will come to know the wrath of God, Who, in Christ, will “break them with a rod of iron”. He will “dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Those who assume God would never do harm to people are gravely in error. God is a God of Love… but also a God of wrath, and He warns that He will show His wrath to those who reject Him, or cause harm to His people. To ‘break’ is to do them harm, to injure them, to break apart. Do not mistake His intention. If you throw a pot to the floor it will shatter into tiny pieces. That is what God will do to the heathen and to wicked leaders.
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
The penalty for being wicked rulers is just and final… yet God gives every ruler the opportunity to listen to, and obey, Him, before the penalty is given. Though these words are mainly for the Israelite rulers, they also apply to all rulers in any age, for God is their Lord, whether or not they like it. It is wisdom to obey God and not to sin.
If the rulers and judges serve God with fear, and seek to do His will, they will avoid His wrath, and can rejoice. But, as we know, right up to modern times, rulers are despotic and prefer their sins to following God’s ways. That is why we have murderous times, and lives filled with anxiety, evil and violence. Rulers seem unable to understand the simple equation – if they allow or bring in sin, then the nation suffers. If they obey God - which is what ‘serve the LORD’ means - everyone’s lives are renewed and made good.
Rulers must “kiss the Son”, the Messiah, before He gets angry with them, because once that happens there is no going back – God MUST execute His wrath. The ‘kiss’ is the usual eastern custom of kissing the ruler to show submission. Those who do not submit will perish – never attain to their eternal rest, and probably know earthly trouble, as so many evil rulers already have found out. His anger is kindled greatly when rulers are wicked and reject godliness. The reason is that they have the lives of their country in their hands: if they go down a path of evil, they encourage the whole nation to do likewise. So, their guilt is far greater. Western rulers of today should know this, for they are wicked in God’s eyes, and bring harm to God’s people, deliberately. God will indeed judge and penalise them… including those who allow it to happen silently.
Those who listen and obey shall know peace and God’s mercy. We have already mentioned the African countries that prefer godliness to sin. God will help and encourage them, and we should support them in their efforts. But, rulers of our countries who despise God must be voted-out and removed.
© August 2010
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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