Meditations On The Psalms
+ In the name of the Lord’s Anointed, Jesus Christ. Amen
1: Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2: The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
3: Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4: He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5: Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
6: Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7: I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8: Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9: Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10: Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11: Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12: 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.
Our Psalmist begins this Psalm with a question. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?”
The Hebrew word used here for heathen is the word “goyim”, which is the plural form of “goy”, and means “nations”. Though it is usually used of Gentile nations, it does not necessarily exclude Israel in this case.
Our next word, “rage”, can also be translated as “uproar”. Our word imagine is the word “yeh-gu” and can be translated as “devising”, “meditate”, and “ponder”. It is the same word used in Psalm 1 when it says “on his law doth he meditate day and night”. One might then translate the verse as “Why are the nations in an uproar, and the people meditating on vain things?”
This is a verse that asks a question but does not give us an answer.
I don’t know that the Psalmist is looking for an answer. He might well be, but I would say the question is merely rhetorical.
I won’t give an answer, but allow me to repeat the question for further reflection: “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing?”
Moving on to the next verse we find it is not only the people, but the leaders of the nations as well: “The kings of the earth set themselves…”
What does that phrase mean? The Hebrew word translated “set” is “yatsab” and can also be translated as “stand” with the meaning of “to station oneself or to take one’s stand”.
So then “the kings of the earth take their stand”.
“… and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His Anointed.”
Here we are given two persons that the kings and rulers of earth are taking a stand against. The first person is “The LORD”. The word used is not “Adonai” but pious Jews would substitute that word when reading it as not to pronounce the Holy Tetragrammaton, which is the sacred name of God in Hebrew made up of the letters “yud”,”hay”,”vav” and “hay”, usually rendered into English as Yahweh or Jehovah. The second person mentioned is “[The Lord’s] Anointed”. In the Hebrew the term is “Mashiach”, which is “Messiah”, and in the LXX, the word “Christos” is used, which is “Christ”.
So these kings and rulers come together for the express purpose of standing up against Jehovah and against Christ. What do they then say when they take their stand? “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
Spurgeon writes: “But what say they? What is the meaning of this commotion? ‘Let us break their bands asunder.’ Let us be free to commit all manners of abomination. Let us be our own gods. Let us rid ourselves of all the restraint. Gathering imprudence by the traitorous proposition of rebellion, they add- ‘let us cast away’- as if it were an easy matter, -let us fling off ‘their cords from us’. What? O ye kings, do ye think yourselves Samsons? And are the bands of Omnipotence but as green withs before you? Do you dream that you shall snap to pieces and destroy the mandates of God- the decree of the Most High- as if they were but tow? And do yiu say ‘Let us cast away their cords from us’? Yes! There are monarchs who have spoken thus, and there are still rebels upon thrones. However mad the resolution to revolt from God, it is one in which man has persevered ever since his creation, and he continues in it to this very day. The glorious reign of Jesus in the latter day will not be consummated until a terrible struggle has confused the nations. His coming will as a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap, and the day thereof shall burn as an oven. Earth loves not her rightful monarch, but clings to the usurper’s sway; the terrible conflicts of the last days will illustrate both the world’s love of sin and Jehovah’s power to give the kingdom to His Only Begotten. To a graceless neck, the yoke of Christ is intolerable, but to the saved sinner, it is easy and light. We may judge ourselves by this, do we love that yoke or do we cast it from us?”
How often do we find in society today those wishing to “break God’s bands asunder”? How often do we find those who would “cast the cords of Christ away from them”? To say “We shall not be under His authority any longer. We know what is best for us, and it isn’t what is found in the ancient tome concerning the words of an archaic deity. No! These are different times, and we know so much better than our naïve forbears”.
So here they come against the Lord and against Christ saying these things. What then is God’s response to all of this?
…To Be Continued