Why is the world in such turmoil and so full of unrest? Why do the masses support plans and programmes which are so unproductive of permanent good? Why do leaders offer so little positive direction? These vexing "whys" are often voiced in our time. Are there answers? We believe there are. In fact the same questions were asked and answered hundreds of years ago by the inspired psalmist.
"Why are the nations in an uproar and the people devising a vain thing ("an empty scheme" - Berkeley), the kings of the earth take their stand ("rising in revolt - Jer) and the rulers take counsel together ("conspire together" - NEB) against the Lord and His anointed ("the king of His selection" - Bas). Let us tear their fetters apart ("break away from their bondage" - Knox) and cast away their cords from us ("fling off their control" - Moffat) - Psalm 2:1-3.
The answer to the "whys" is clear. "Nations ... people ... rulers" would rather follow their own counsel than submit to the benign government of Jehovah and His King Jesus Christ.
Humanist consensus is preferred to divine revelation.
The blessed bondage of God's beautiful plan is rejected in favour of the cruel and frustrating tyranny of the empty scheme. The perennial cry of earth's rebellious citizens rings out in our day. "We do not want this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14). It is fallacious to consider the struggle between scheming humanists and God the Supreme as a contest between equals, the outcome of which is in question.
Many Christians who should know better are paralyzed by the the fear of humanist conquest and divine defeat, and so sucuumb to passive despair.
The psalmist invites us to look up and see the One "that sitteth in the heavens". The heavenly throne and it's divine occupant is a favourite theme of the Bible writers as they affirm God's sovereignity and seek to encourage respect and faith among men.
God declares "heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool" (Isaiah 66:1 - NAS). "The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven. His eye is upon mankind, He takes their measure at a glance" (Psalm 11:4 - NEB). "In heaven the Eternal fixed His throne and His dominion covers all the world" (Psalm 103:19 - Moffat). In Revelation, the book of consummation, the cosmic control centre is seen as "a throne standing in heaven and one sitting on the throne" (Revelation 4:2 - NAS). The supremacy and finality of that throne is seen in vision by John and described for us.
"And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea and all things in them, I heard saying 'To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and dominion forever and ever" - (Revelation 5:13 - NAS).
The enthroned Jehovah was the source of the psalmist's hope. "To Thee I lift up my eyes, O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens!" (Psalm 123:1 - NAS). And we in New Covenant times "see Jesus ... crowned with glory and honour" (Hebrews 2:9). As far as the heavens are above the earth, so far is "He that sitteth in the heavens" above the "kings of the earth".
How does the Throne-Sitter respond to human rebellion? We return to the second Psalm for some inspired insight into God's ways and intentions. We return to the second Psalm for some inspired insight into God's ways and intentions.
"He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them, then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury; "But as for Me I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain" - Psalm 2:4-6 - NAS.
God surveys man's petty plottings with sovereign contempt. He laughs at the pompous petulance and childish conduct of creatures challenging their Creator. One gets the picture of a little boy, in an angry outburst of rebellion, pummelling his father's knees as the father looks down at him laughing. There is no way the childish blows are going to harm the father. So man's equally ineffective behaviour towards God elicits the laughter of pure ridicule. This is not the only place in the Bible where God's laughter is referred to.
We quote two other passages which will help us in understanding the nature of such laughter. "The godless man makes plots against the good, gnashing his teeth at them but the Eternal laughs at him, knowing his doom is near" (Psalm 37:12-13 - Moffat). Evildoers "snarl like dogs, they prowl even around the townl there they are blustering, arrogant insults on their lips - for "Who" they think, "will hear us?". Thou, O Eternal, thou wilt laugh at them, wilt mock at all the insolent pagans" (Psalm 59:6-8 - Moffat).
But laughter is not the end of the matter. "Then He will speak to them in His anger". Laughter gives way to anger and judgement. The unknown boundary between laughter and anger is marked by that ominous adverb of time - "then". When is then? The "thens" of God are kept in the secret archives of God's purposes. "Get right with God the day before you die" was the counsel of a teacher to his disciples. "But how do we know on which day we will die?" they responded. "You can't know, so get ready today" was the wise reply.
It could be fatal to mistake God's long-suffering for indifference.
History is marked with the "thens" of God, all of them pointing to the final "then" when time will be no more. There is a limit to divine patience. After laughter comes judgement.
Next: Where God has installed His King - Mount Zion.