Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sermon Follow Up: The Plan (From Psalm 2)

This sermon follow up is from the sermon series, "Psalms:  The Greatest Hits, Vol. One".  Check out the links at the bottom of the blog post to watch or listen to the sermon and to find out more information about Stone's Throw Church. 

I can clearly remember opening up a new album in the 1980’s in anticipation of seeing what the band looked like and what they were singing about in the lyric sheet.  A lot of the music I listened to when I was younger needed printed lyrics or I would never have known what the singer was saying.  I wanted to know what Robert Plant was singing about and to discuss with my friends the secret meaning of Led Zeppelin’s songs.  Unfortunately for me, Zeppelin never printed their lyrics in the record sleeve.  I can clearly remember reading the words to Metallica’s “Black” album and feeling a sense of familiarity with “Nothing Else Matters” shortly after my brother Mark died in a car accident, but also being haunted by the words of the song “Follow the God That Failed”.
I wasn't allowed to listen to so-called “secular” music when I was younger.  I, like many other kids from fundamentalist Christian homes, would argue that we were only in it for the music and not the lyrics.  Our parents didn't buy it.  Why?  Because lyrics and their meaning are powerful.  It’s never “just about the music.”  The Psalms contain the most powerful lyrics ever written.  The Psalms can be sung to any style of music and it will always be about the words.      
As we begin this series we will start with Psalm 2.  It is a royal Psalm that would have been read at the coronation of a new king.  The introductory verses and the last stanza would have been read by a priest overseeing the coronation.  The new king would read the middle stanza followed by a priest completing the reading. 
The Psalm begins with a series of questions about the hilarity of man’s attempt to overthrow what God has planned.  In ancient times, when a throne was vacant even for a moment, many of the under rulers, and those who aspired to power would begin to plot against the rightful successor to the throne.  The opening words of Psalm 2 were written as a warning to any and all that might be conspiring against the new king.  The message is clear – what God has set up no man can destroy. 
The priest would continue to read verses 4-6 as he declared that the King was God’s anointed ruler.  The King would then read verses 7-9 to establish his authority.
In the final verses the subjects are given a choice.  They can take refuge in the Lord or they can be crushed by God and His chosen king. 
Psalm 2’s meaning would develop with the history of Israel.  Just like the meaning of songs develop with experience today, so too would the Psalmist’s words take on their truest and deepest meaning in the years to come.  When God’s people were sent into exile in the 6th century B.C., they no longer had a king.  In fact, they were now persecuted, homeless, and enslaved to a foreign land.  The old Israel had passed away and it seemed that God’s promise to establish an everlasting throne through the line of King David had been forgotten. 
But many in Israel trusted in the promises of God.  These promises are reflected in many of the Psalms.  The second Psalm became a Psalm of future hope.  It became a Messianic Psalm as “the Jewish people had to live for centuries under foreign overlords—Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman.  Except for a brief period, they had no king of their own, no “messiah” crowned and ruling in Jerusalem over a sovereign state.  Increasingly hopes centered on the future.  One day God would send another king, descendant of the royal family of David, who would crush all his people’s enemies and rule in freedom and peace—the king to come.”
This Psalm is about Jesus.  This is why Charles Spurgeon the great 19th century preacher wrote about Psalm 2 saying, “We shall not greatly err in our summary of this sublime Psalm if we call it The Psalm of Messiah the Prince; for it sets forth as in a wondrous vision the tumult of the people against the Lord’s anointed, the determinate purpose of God to exalt his own Son, and the ultimate reign of that Son over all his enemies.”
In Mark’s Gospel we see that this Psalm was always about Jesus.  In Mark 1, Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist.  As Jesus is coming up from the water, God the Father speaks from heaven, quoting Psalm 2:7, “You are my son.”  Furthermore, in Luke 9, when Jesus is transfigured, God the Father once again quotes His own words spoken 1500 years previous when He says, “This is my son.” 
The biggest promises of Psalm 2 were fulfilled when Jesus came to deliver all of God’s people in every nation from their rebellion. 


Humanity continues to rage against God.  The Church often looks past themselves and to the rebellion of the culture around them and gleefully looks for the day when the laughing God of heaven will destroy all the great sinners.  We can’t wait for God to rage against the machine of debauchery, rock n’ roll, druggies, whores, opposing political parties, our next door neighbor’s barking dog, and liberal theologians.  We miss the point, the conviction of Scripture, and the words of the Holy Spirit. 
Will God punish the wicked?  Of course.  Should a Christian long for justice?  Yes.  But just like the under rulers who wanted to sit on the king’s throne in ancient Israel, we also want to sit where Jesus sits.  We want to be the Savior.  We want to be the Messiah.  We want to rule where Jesus rightfully and graciously rules.  We conspire against God.  Our flesh is crafty.  Self-righteousness is harder to root out than immorality. 
In this Psalm God gives Himself a choice in responding to our rebellion.  He can either destroy all of humanity or He can offer them salvation. 
This song tells of our rebellion.  We plot against God, we set ourselves up as God and we want nothing to do with God.  But God graciously wants something to do with us.  He warns us to “be wise” and “be warned.”  Why?  The Apostle John tells us in his Gospel and in his pastoral letters.  God wants something to do with us because He is love and because He loves us (John 3:16, I John 3:12).  Paul tells us in Romans 5 that this love is not because of anything we have done, will do, or can do, but rather because God is gracious. 
Instead of conspiring against God we are called into relationship with Him – to “Kiss the Son.”  When God calls us to serve with fear, He means He desires that we worship Him.  That is the only place where we can really rejoice – in worship of Jesus.
Everyone worships something.  Worship is making much about something.  The Christian makes much about Jesus.  Worship is not just the act of singing.  A song is one way, but not the only way to worship.  A song declares truths about everyday life.  Psalm 2 expresses this truth:  God is calling a wicked and rebellious people to be in relationship with Him.  Those who do will be blessed. 
John Calvin writes, “The concluding sentence of the psalm qualifies what was formerly said concerning the severity of Christ; for his iron rod and the fiery wrath of God would strike terror into all men without distinction, unless this comfort had been added.  Having, therefore discoursed concerning the terrible judgment which hangs over the unbelieving, he now encourages God’s faithful and devout servants to entertain good hope, by setting forth the sweetness of his grace….he opens to them a sanctuary of hope, whither they may flee, in order not to be overwhelmed by the terror of God’s wrath…”
Our hearts are idol factories by nature.  We deserve the worst that God has to offer and yet He graciously gives us the best that He has to offer.  Do you feel that you are under judgment and that you have rebelled against God?  The very One you are running from is calling you back home to take refuge. 

·         Read and pray through Psalm 2.  Ask God to reveal areas in your life that you have tried to sit on His throne.  Thank Him for the refuge He has given us in Jesus.
·         Read Psalm 2, Mark 1, and Luke 9.  In what ways do you see Jesus in the Psalm?
·         How would you define worship? 
·         Why do you think Psalm 2 is important to understanding the earthly ministry and now heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ?
·         What encouragement do you have about the evil in the world and the message of Psalm 2?
·         Spurgeon writes, “Indeed, the Son must first kiss us by his mercy, before we can kiss him by our piety.”  What does he mean by this? 

If you want to hear more about this you can download/watch/listen to the entire sermon here.
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