God's King
Divine Counsels Concerning Him
Words of Truth

Psalm 2

There are two great lines of truth in the sacred writings, which, for distinction's sake, may be called Church truth and Kingdom truth. The first is only met with in the New Testament; the second is found throughout the Bible. The former tells us of God's counsels about the Lord Jesus Christ, and about His Body, which is also His Bride; the latter announces God's settled determination about the government of this world by the Man of His choice. With both, the incarnation and the cross are intimately connected. As man, the Lord Jesus Christ is Head of the Church, but only after His resurrection and ascension was the Body formed (Eph. 1:22, 23). As man, too, all government of this world will be placed in His hand whom God has raised up from the dead. Thus, the two great features of the first Adam's history before the fall will be found reproduced in the Last Adam--the possession of a Bride, and sovereign authority over the earth. The first Adam, untried and unfallen, possessed the one and exercised the other; the Last Adam, tried in every way possible, and proved to be obedient to God's Word, will rejoice in the former, and wield with an iron rod the latter.

As man, according to Ps. 8, will the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God blessed forevermore (Rom. 9: 5), take the kingdom and rule. As to His divine essence, He is God; as to His person, He is the Son of God; and as to His nature, He is both divine and human. As God, He now sits where none but God could, on the Father's throne (Rev. 3:21). As Son of man, He will sit on His own throne. He occupies now His place on the former. He will by and by occupy His place on the latter. About this it is that our psalm speaks.

When Adam first trod upon this earth, no will was known upon it but God's--every creature obeyed Him; for, acknowledging the authority of man (Gen. 2:19, 20), placed over them by God, they bowed to the Creator's will. When the Lord entered the world, God's authority was for the most part ignored, and will one day be openly defied (Rev. 17:14). Between God's counsels and the world's desires, there is now a wide divergence, as this psalm, in which we are introduced to both of them, makes plain. All appears in turmoil on earth, so different from that quiet scene in Eden, where each animal passed in review before Adam, and God's creatures received their several names from the immortal being formed to rule over this earth. Here, on the contrary, we have the heathen raging, people imagining a vain thing, nationalities and races alike disturbed, and rulers of all grades disquieted, at the thought of subjection to God's will. Man, created in the image of God, is found rising up against His authority. What a picture does this present of the insubordination of these who ought, from their place upon earth, to have set an example to the whole universe of unhesitating obedience to the Creator's arrangements!

Centuries have rolled by since Adam and Eve were in the garden, and each one tells its own tale of God's goodness and mercy to His creatures, and of His unremitting thoughtfulness for all that they require. Doing good, giving rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling men's hearts with food and gladness, is the simple recital of the Creator's beneficence (Acts 14:17), and yet commotion is witnessed upon earth in opposition to the development of His counsels. With different aims for the most part, divided generally by jealousies and conflicting interests, on one point nations can unite, to ward off one issue they can deliberate together. What is it that binds them in one common accord--what common danger do they wish to avert? "They take counsel against Jehovah, and against His Messiah {Anointed}. Let us break Their bands asunder, and cast away Their cords from us." God's Word strips off all disguise, and exposes in its nakedness the wickedness of their design. Jehovah and His Anointed, the Christ, are on the one side, and the powers of the world are arrayed upon the other. It is this which can so deeply stir hearts, and bind by the ties of common interests both nationalities and dynasties.

Will they succeed in their efforts? The psalm answers the question; but, answering it before ever the struggle began, makes manifest God's foreknowledge, as well as His unalterable intention. The confederacy could not be formed till God's counsels had begun to develop themselves, but the plans of men are here foretold to warn the world to be wise in time. On earth, there may be disturbance--above all is calm. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord (Adonai) shall have them in derision." What a contrast does this present to the impotent rage of God's rebellious creatures. He sits in heaven, and laughs at it. The settled determination of the Almighty can no more be overturned than the throne of God itself. He sits, whilst below Him men are in commotion. The term used suggests the immutability of His counsels; so that, if men cannot restrain His actions, they must bend before the might of His power (v. 5).

We are turned, then, from the council chamber of men to hear what God thinks of it all. He laughs them to scorn; for what can might, intelligence, wit, or combination effect, if opposed to God's settled purpose? Men plot and counterplot, often the sport of circumstances, never really the controllers of them, and He who sits on the throne on high laughs at the machinations of mortals. Could the Creator be diverted from His long-prepared plan by the rage and opposition of men, He would not be God, and we could put no confidence in His Word. But He is God--therefore His purpose is unchangeable; He is Jehovah--therefore His Word is unalterable; and on it we can plant our feet, conscious of the stability of our ground. So, to all men's projects about the government of this world, God has but one answer, "Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion." Whatever else may pass away, this Word of our God shall stand forever--a comfort to His people, that neither time nor the world's opposition can produce even a modification of His Word.

Observe the language, "My King," "My holy hill." God appoints the King, and He has a place on earth from which He will never be dislodged. Little thought of by many is that hill of Zion, so long covered with ruins and the remains of former grandeur; but it is God's holy hill still, and He here claims it for Himself. God, then, whom men will at a future day attempt to exclude from His own world, has a place on earth which He calls His own, and a King who shall one day be firmly seated thereon. Should not this arrest attention and arouse enquiry? Are men satisfied with the present arrangement of things upon earth? Clearly, God is not satisfied, for what room is there in the partition of earth by man for the King to have a place, whom God here calls His own?

Originally, God set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the children of Israel (Deut. 32:8.). Then there was room on earth among the nations for His anointed One to reign. What room is there now in man's arrangements for such an event? Men have parcelled out the world as far as they could, have created counterpoises in the preponderance of influence on the one side, and provided checks against any encroachments on the other, but where have they left room for Him to come in, who must and shall reign? The world goes on without Him, and as the opening verse of the psalm shows, desires nothing better than His prolonged absence--willing to put up with anything rather than to have Him present.

What does the reader think of this? 'Tis true, we cannot alter the existing arrangements of nations, for that is not work to which God's people are called. To obey the powers that be is our plain duty, where God's claims do not conflict with human enactments; but, in proportion as we enter into God's thoughts, we must look forward for a brighter day to dawn, and the advent in power of the Lord Jesus Christ to take place. Nothing short of this, as regards the government of this world, will correspond to God's mind; nothing short of it should we desire.

For whom, then, are we to wait? Who is God's chosen King? Let the psalm reply--nor the psalm simply, but a speaker who is now introduced in it, the King Himself, who tells us about His person, the extent of His dominion, the manner of its acquisition, and the character of His rule--disclosing what no mortal ear heard--the Father's communication to the Son, when He entered this world as the virgin's child.

"I will declare the decree: Jehovah said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee." Of birth in time, not of eternal generation, these words undoubtedly speak; and, whilst making this One out as distinct from all angelic beings (Heb. 1:5), they direct attention to One only out of all the myriads of men who have lived and died upon earth, the long-promised Messiah, to whose advent in humiliation the Apostle Paul directly applies them (Acts 13:33). The promise to the fathers was fulfilled when God raised up Jesus. But does not this refer, it may be asked, to His resurrection rather than to His birth? Clearly not. For when the former is treated of, the Apostle defines it thus: "Concerning that He raised Him up from among the dead," and quotes another Scripture with reference to that truth, from Isa.55:3. The fact is, verse 33 is concerned with the Lord's presence on earth, and verse 34 clears up what would otherwise be an unanswerable objection, how, if He was the Messiah, He should have passed through death.

Predicted as God's Son, as well as the virgin's child, how could these statements be harmonized? His miraculous conception explains them. Born of the virgin, He truly was; but conceived of the Holy Spirit. Wherefore, as the angel Gabriel announced to Mary--"That holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1: 35). It is in this sense, born in time, really a man, but God's Son, that the Father's words are to be understood. And though all believers are born of the Spirit, and to be sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty is their title and position likewise, yet of none but Jesus was it, and will it ever be true, that existence as man upon earth is due to conception by the Holy Spirit. Thus distinguished from all angels, because He is God's Son--distinguished too, from all men, because conceived of the Holy Spirit in His mother's womb, we are turned from all who have appeared in the world to One alone as answering the description of God's King. The King Himself it is who speaks, and points out what is peculiar to His person.

Born a man, His position in relation to men is only what could have been expected. On the day of His birth, Jehovah addressed Him, and promised Him the dominion over all the human race, "Ask of Me, and I shall give the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." He must be more than man to have had this communication then made to Him; but as man, born into this world, He is here addressed. All belongs to God, and He promises to bestow it on His Son. What title to earthly possessions can equal this--the free grant from the One who possesses it! The devil offered Him afterwards the kingdoms of the world--not knowing surely that already had it been promised Him by the only One who could fulfill His Word. Unconditional, too, is the promise, which certainly will be made good. How this tells of the perfectness of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Adam, before he was tried, filled the place of head on earth. He fell, and lost it. The inheritance was promised to the Lord, to be bestowed on Him whenever He shall ask for it. Here there is no room for any change in God's plans. When the Lord asks, He shall have all this; for though, as a man untried, He received the promise, in Him there was, there could be no failure. How God here manifests His delight in this One, called by Him, "My Son!" A dominion, wider in extent than ever David or Solomon acquired, is His by free grant from the Lord Jehovah, His Father. Dreams of universal sovereignty men have before now indulged in. Attempts to reduce and to retain in subjection large portions of the earth under one sceptre have been made, and for a time have proved successful; but to none besides His Son has God promised the dominion of the whole earth. All nations, peoples, and languages shall indeed, in the fullest sense, do obeisance to Him; and, differing from all empires that have arisen, His will never pass away. The uttermost parts of the earth, too, are to be His possessions. Regions yet unexplored by civilized men--portions of the world as yet almost blanks on our maps--will be included within the limits of His rule; for no frontiers with which men are familiar, as mountains, seas, or rivers, will mark the boundaries of His kingdom, since the confines of the earth alone will limit His possessions on this globe.

The title and extent of His dominion being declared, the character of His rule is next set forth. As He received the authority from His Father, so by Him is the manner of His kingdom determined. "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." One thing, then, is clear--when He wields the scepter, none will be able to resist the might of His arm. God has given all nations to Him to reduce them to subjection. To resist successfully His authority will be impossible; for the rod of iron will prove itself too strong for the vaunted power of man. To effect a compromise with Him, or to preserve a position independent of Him, will be out of the question, for, as a potter's vessel is helpless in the hands of its destroyer, so will human might be powerless in the presence of God's chosen King.

Complete subjection to Him, as the absolute arbiter of their destinies, will be the only condition on which men will live under His rule. No bonds of love, no silken cords of affection will be the connecting link between Him and the nations on earth. The breaking them with a rod of iron tells of their antagonistic spirit; the dashing them in pieces like a potter's vessel indicates that the exercise of power is the only means of keeping in check the otherwise unbridled will of fallen and unconverted men. What a change all this will introduce from what is now manifested about the Lord Jesus Christ! Ignorance and unconcern about Him now characterize the world; then He will be known and obeyed, however unwillingly, wherever man shall be upon this globe of ours.

God's purpose about Christ thus unequivocably declared, what remains but to exhort men to submit to the authority of the Lord Jesus. Kings and rulers, at the beginning of the psalm, are depicted as taking counsel together against Him. Kings and judges, at the close, are exhorted to obey Him; for to obey God, they must bow before His Son. Professed subjection to God, apart from submission to Christ, is mere pretension, which will not be accepted for a moment. To serve Jehovah with fear, and to rejoice with trembling, to kiss the Son lest He be angry, and they perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little {or, "for soon His anger burneth"-JND footnote}, these are the injunctions given them; for life under His rule, with the retention of place and dignity on earth, is all that is here offered to them. Life, be it observed, not salvation, is the portion held out to them.

But, though the question of salvation is not raised with these kings and judges, there is a little sentence which is pregnant with meaning--"Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." This suggests the existence of a class different from those just spoken of--God's saints, who have put confidence in God's King. Saints on earth, when He shall reign, who will have passed through trials for His sake, will witness that this is true. Saints in heaven will likewise attest the faithfulness of God to His Word. And we know, ere the day of Christ's triumph dawns, that this is so, as we receive with unhesitating confidence the simple statements of the Word--blessed are all they that put their trust in Him now; blessed will they be forever with Him on His throne, beholding His glory, and sharing in the inheritance (John 17:24; Eph. 1:10-14; Rev. 3:21).

But why has He not yet asked for and received the kingdom? Why this delay between God's promise and His petition for its fulfillment? The answer we know, and what an answer we have to give! He waits to be gracious. He waits till the number of the saints, who are to reign with Him, shall be complete. The dominion is His. The promise of Jehovah to Him makes that clear, and His present place at the Father's right hand manifests that the One who was on the cross, the suffering Messiah, is also the One who will appear as the triumphant Messiah; and we know, for He has told us, that He will not be alone on His throne. All who overcome now shall have a place with Him then. In the psalm, which gives the earthly aspect of the kingdom, He recounts God's promise to Him. In Rev. 2:26, 27, which tells about the heavenly aspect, He gives promises to His own, and lets them know that they shall rule as He will, and the extent of His dominion over all nations shall be theirs likewise; for what God is now doing is this--by the preaching of the gospel of His grace--gathering out souls from the world to be companions of His Son when on His own throne.

Why, then, need attention be drawn to this psalm? Because the struggle has begun. Acts 4:24-28 lets us into this secret, and acquaints us with the first actors in the business. Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and people of Israel, were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. From that day to this, the struggle has continued; for just two sides, and two only can there be--neutrality in such a matter is only disguised opposition--for he that is not with Christ is against Him. Yet the issue of the conflict is not doubtful. Christ shall reign, and as all Pharoah's people had to "kiss" Joseph (Gen. 41:40-43); so all allowed to live, when He reigns, must kiss the Son.

God's determination is plain. He has announced it beforehand, but has not told us when He will make it good. But as surely as Joseph, whom his brethren put out of their sight, became lord of Egypt, so all God's counsels about His Son Jesus shall infallibly be accomplished. Successfully to resist Christ's authority then will be hopeless, for power arrayed against Him must only end in the complete discomfiture of His opponents (Rev. 17:14, 19:19-21). But now is the time for proving the truth of the closing sentence of the psalm, to trus t{take refuge} in Him is to be blessed forevermore.