Chapter 2 – The Coming King: Psalm 2

The Messianic character of this Psalm is established beyond all others by the frequent references to it in the New Testament, in direct connection with the Lord Jesus Christ. To none but Him could its strong language be applied without the wildest extravagance. It contains three striking pictures.


It is a vision of the world in rebellion against God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The first element in the picture is the restlessness of the nations. “Why do the heathen rage?”

To the Psalmist’s mind, humanity is like a heaving ocean, like a troubled sea which cannot rest. The stormy deep is frequently employed as a symbol of human passion, and of the troubled, restless masses of humanity. Along with this, the Psalm expresses the idea of vanity, of unrest and strife. “Why do . . . the people imagine a vain thing?” They are like the ocean, ever fretting but never accomplishing anything by its unrest, beating against the shore in futile rage, and rolling back again into its own restless tides, rising and falling, but never any fuller.

“Vanity of vanities” indeed. Oh, how little has come out of all the world’s ambition and mighty endeavor! What is Pharaoh today but a withered mummy in a glass case? What is Caesar but a particle of dust that makes up old Rome? What has become of Nebuchadnezzar’s grandeur or the very site of his splendid city? Well might the great Frenchman say as he gazed on the splendid pageant of the review of the Grand Army under the Pyramids, “Nothing is lacking here, nothing but permanence.” Oh, how the smallest fragment of all that which came from God lives in immortal glory while the mightiest monument of human greatness passes away in oblivion!

Pharaoh is gone, but Moses remains. Nero is forgotten, but Paul is more illustrious today than when he died under Nero’s hand. Nebuchadnezzar is but a dream, but Daniel’s prophecies are only today reaching their grandest fulfillment. Pontius Pilate and Tiberias Caesar have disappeared, but Jesus Christ, their contemporary, is rising every day, every century, into still more prominence.

On the front of a Mohammedan mosque, centuries ago, was traced in gilt letters the name of Mahomet, but underneath the plaster that bore the inscription, the Christian architect secretly cut in the solid stone the name of God and a verse of His holy Word. This was the verse: “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and his dominion endures to all generations.” Ages passed on, the superficial stucco crumbled from the front of the mosque and left the stone work exposed to view, and then the inscription of God’s holy Word came out in all its bold relief. Today it stands before the eyes of every passer-by a memorial of the imperishable glory of the things of God, and the transitoriness of all man’s boastful pride. How vain, how transient, how futile all the selfishness, the ambition, and the strife against God!

But the figure tells not only of the restlessness and vanity, but also of rebellion. “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.” This is the spirit of lawlessness which in every age has resisted the authority of God and is culminating today, as never before, in a thousand forms of license and lawlessness, and which is to reach its full development in the coming of the Lawless One. We see it in its most extreme forms in the anarchy and socialism of our age and the revolt of men against every form of government and religion.

We see it next in the democratic tendencies of our time. We see it in the bold antagonism of many to the authority of the Christian religion, and the popular demand for a freedom that ignores the Sabbath day, the laws of marriage, and even the restraints of morality sometimes. We see it in the insubordination of the young, the precocious freedom of the children of our land, the dissolution of parental authority and control, and the irreverence and self-will of the young.

We see it in the spirit of freedom that is entering the Church of Christ, lowering the standard of Christianity, the spirit of compromise with the world, the laxity of Christian life, the rejection of the authority of the Scriptures, the tendency to reduce even God’s Word to the standard of human reason, the refusal of the human heart to submit to God’s requirements of personal holiness on the part of His people, the ungodliness and unrighteousness of professing Christians, and the refusal to believe that God requires personal holiness on the part of all who claim to be His people and his followers. We see the two classes even in the Church of God: those who accept God’s holy will in all its requirements, and those who do that which is right in their own eyes.

The age is rapidly drifting into license and lawlessness, and we need not wonder at the bolder forms that the daring infidelity and wickedness assume, in defying the very authority of heaven and claiming that man is able to be a God unto himself. We shall yet see greater things than these. The world is hastening to its Armageddon, “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”


How different is all on the heaven side!

1. How calm and tranquil is Jehovah amid the raging of His foes! He “sits in the heavens.” He is not agitated, He is not oppressed. He is not even doing anything, but calmly waiting till they have spent their force in vain, like the fretting billows against the rockbound coast.

2. He despises all their petty and futile hostility. “He that sits in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” How foolish must seem to Him all the efforts of His enemies to defy Him! How ridiculous the attacks of infidelity upon the Bible, and how vain the fiercest assaults of human and hellish hatred against the cause of Christ! How God loves to confound His enemies by little things, and to laugh to scorn their vain attempt to resist Him.

Once in England, it is said, a bold and blatant infidel had amused and overawed a crowd by his defiance of God to strike him dead; and after again and again appealing to heaven to prove if there was anything in Christianity, without any apparent effect, he turned to his audience and ridiculed the God who was powerless to harm him. Some were influenced by his audacity, but God was waiting. On his way home, apparently in good health, he suddenly fell from his horse, and in a few moments expired. A medical examination was held, it was found that the cause of his death was a little insect no larger than a sand fly, which he had inhaled. This smallest of insects was sent against him to show how contemptible all his strength and opposition were, and how easily God could confound and destroy him by the feeblest of His creatures.

So, again and again, has God turned into contempt the wrath of His enemies. The very place that was once used as a meeting place for infidels in London became an office of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the very arguments that infidelity has turned against Christianity have been found afterwards to be the strongest evidences of the truth of the Bible.

3. At length God’s hour will come, and His mighty voice will speak in anger and His glorious arm be raised in judgment. “Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” God’s judgments have already fallen upon a sinful world, and the vials of His wrath are now preparing for the days of tribulation. So daring has human wickedness become and so audacious human pride, that

“The purging fires must soon begin,
And judgment end the curse of sin.”

4. God’s supreme remedy for all the evils of humanity is His own dear Son, Jesus Christ. Not judgment, but Jesus, is the provision of heaven for rebellious men. So we come to


1. We see the divine King. “You are my Son; this day have I begotten you.” Earth’s true King is no less than God’s eternal Son. That which should be recognized as the height of honor has been the one object of the world’s fiercest opposition. The Lord’s parable has been fulfilled. “Last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But . . . they said . . . This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” But He shall have His inheritance in this little world, the high and eternal honor of having as its King the Creator of all worlds and the highest of all beings.

2. He is the King of Zion, the King of Israel Himself. On the cross the inscription was by the order of an overruling providence: “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS,” and this shall yet be verified in the fulfillment of history. Christ is the only living heir to David’s throne, and on that throne He shall yet sit in glory and majesty.

3. He is the King of His Church. Men have tried to govern the spiritual kingdom of God, but Christ is the only Head of His Church, and all her work and worship should be subject to His authority and dedicated to His glory.

4. He is the King of Nations. “Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.” All earth’s nations are yet to be subject to Him, and all her tribes and tongues are to have a part in the redemption song of which He shall be the theme. But let us not forget how this kingdom is to come to Him. It is to be given to prayer. “Ask of me.” Is this to be His prayer alone, or is it to be His prayer in unison with the Church as inspired by the Holy Ghost? Is this not our high calling, to be the voice with which He shall ask? the priesthood through whom His prayer shall be breathed to heaven, and the world evangelized and brought to His feet?

This is the great force, dear friends, through which the Gospel is to be spread among all nations. This is the mightiest force of Christianity today: believing prayer prompted by the Holy Ghost. This is the mightiest missionary lever. And this is something that every Christian may wield if he will, in the power of the Holy Spirit. It will be found by a reference to the history of missions, that all the great triumphs of the Gospel have been in answer to prayer. It will bring money, it will bring men, it will bring openings for the Gospel, it will bring millions to accept it. Let us mention two simple illustrations.

A few years ago, two or three earnest women were led to ask in united prayer that God would lay it upon the hearts of some men of wealth to give largely to foreign missions. In the town where they held their little prayer meetings there was a very rich man who was opposed to foreign missions and had often spoken of the folly of giving so much to the heathen when there was so much need at home. After a time this man died; and when his will was probated, it was found that he had left many thousands of dollars to foreign missions, and that the will was made at the very time these ladies were praying about this matter. God had quickly answered their prayer and touched his heart, without his knowing whence the impulse came.

Again, in a little town in Ohio, an old minister had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and spent his last days in continued prayer for the world’s evangelization. It was customary for him to write his prayers in his diary, and this he did with systematic order, going around the world and covering in turn every mission field. It was found after his death that in the very order of his prayers God had poured out His Spirit upon each one in the form of missionary revivals, leading to the conversion of many souls. Thus God had answered his prayers with such literal exactness as to encourage us in claiming definite results.

Oh, do we realize how much Christ depends upon us to give completeness to His intercession? He is but the Head in heaven, we are the body on earth, and He needs us to fill up the unity of the prayer and make it the cry of the whole body — not only the Head in heaven but the Bride on earth, with the Holy Ghost inspiring her cry. Beloved, do you realize that your Master needs your prayers? You have prayed much for yourself; do you ever pray for Jesus? He is asking you today, Will you pray for Me and My kingdom? It is one of the promises of the seventy-second Psalm, “Prayer shall be made for him continually.” How much are you praying for Him? How much have you been delivered from selfish prayers? What fruit are you claiming in heathen lands which you may never see?