Psalm 2 Sermon from the November 2011 Prayer Service
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday Nov 2nd 2011: The Season of Pentecost, Psalm 2. “Prayer for Peace” Prayer for the Nations.
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then He will speak to them in His wrath,
and terrify them in His fury, saying,
“As for Me, I have set My King
on Zion, My holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to Me, “You are My Son;
today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage,
and the ends of the earth Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest He be angry, and you perish in the way,
for His wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” Good question. The Psalmist gives the answer; he says, “The kings of the earth set themselves; and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD, and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us burst Their bonds apart and cast away Their cords from us.” He Who sits in the heavens laughs;” Have you ever heard the Yiddish proverb "Man plans, God laughs?" Working from this Yiddish proverb Woody Allan said it like this, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.” Good German Jews, the Yiddish, knew Psalm 2 and it must have been the source of their inspiration because in Psalm 2 we see this same sentiment. There are rulers in the world who wish to rule on their own apart from God: This has always been the case. There are people in the world who wish to rule on their own in their lives apart from God: This has always been the case. We in our lives do the same, breaking the first commandment and the fourth commandment: there are times when each of us plots to “burst [God’s] bonds apart and cast away [God’s] cords from us.” Even if it’s just a plan in the mind of the person it is a work against the will of God. This Psalm is a prayer of repentance against such sin, and a prayer of acknowledgment of the true and powerful will of God in creation.
When we think of God laughing at plans to remove Him from the world, from the lives of the great, from the lives of the regular, from the lives of the powerful; from the lives of the weak; to some it doesn’t sound so bad. God laughs and say, ‘... Oh you silly people I’m not so easily set aside!’ It sounds sort of nice and fluffy ... except this isn’t what follows God’s laughter. What follows the laughter of God in Psalm 2 is Holy “derision. Then [the psalmist says that God] will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, “As for Me, I have set My King on Zion, My holy hill.” The heart of Psalm 2 is Messianic in nature; it is a prayer for the coming of the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed. So Who is the King the Father sets on His Holy Hill? It is Jesus. Where is this King enthroned? (Upon the cross on the Father’s Holy Hill) In this you can see the great paradox of the crucifixion. For we who believe, the word of the cross is the power of God, it is life, but to those who are perishing it is foolishness, it is a weakness to be plotted against.
Therefore Psalm 2 is also a prayer for the leaders, the rulers, the kings of the world; that they would consider themselves to be servants of Christ and not a final authority. That they would recognize the dominion of God over them and the place of the King of kings over them, the one that God the Father refers to saying, “Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage, and the ends of the earth Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” The warning is there to those who would defy the Authority of God, “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”
Jesus is a terror to the conscience of those who hate Him but to those who love Him, to those who have become His lambs, His sheep, Jesus is not terror at all, Jesus is peace. But peace is hard to come by in a world filled with war. We are lucky, here in Regina, we have not had bombs dropped on us: we have not had a war fought on our soil. Pablo Picasso’s painting “Guernica” shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a continual reminder of the tragedies of war. It was painted in response to the bombing of Guernica, by German and Italian warplanes at the request of the Spanish Nationalist forces, on the 26th of April 1937, during the Spanish Civil War.
The totalitarian dictator of Germany Adolf Hitler and the totalitarian dictator of Italy Benito Mussolini were both involved in the discussion to add their national weaponry into the destruction of Guernica in Spain. As they participated in the bombing all the while they wished to help set up another totalitarian dictator, another fascist in Europe, another peer. Francisco Franco who was the benefactor of the bombing of Guernica became Spain’s leader and actually out lived both Hitler and Mussolini remaining mostly neutral during WWII; Franco was never the peer Hitler and Mussolini had hoped he’d be. Their big plans came to nothing when compared to where they desired their plots to go. Yet their plans did go somewhere, their evil plans in disregard to the law of God went into wickedness: hundreds died in the Guernica bombing of 1937 and hundreds more were injured. Hitler and Mussolini and other world leaders later plotted to take over the whole world treading heavily upon the Body of Christ and ignoring the place Christ has over them. They did not seek to take refuge in Christ Jesus as the psalmist suggests, they took refuge in themselves and the outcome was not pleasant. Hitler dies cornered in a bunker; pistol in his hand, shot in the head from an apparent suicide, there even followed an attempt to make it look like he’d died in bomb strike. From this ignoble end he would go to meet the Christ at the judgment seat. Mussolini dies by firing squad, executed, his body is taken to Milan where it is publically strung up at an Esso Gas station and abused by the very people he ruled. From this ignoble end he would go to meet the Christ at the judgment seat.
What sorts of rulers would they have been if they took refuge in Christ Jesus, what sort of leaders would they have been if they had accepted their place as servants of Christ Jesus? If they had set aside vanity and sought after Christ Jesus: If they plotted peace and not war.
Not all prayers are for our personal needs, it is good to pray for the nations, to ask God to intervene in matters more widely focused than the matters of our daily lives. Any family with a soldier in it prays for peace. Psalm 2 is a pattern for such prayer: In it we can see that it is perfectly acceptable to pray for kings, nations, for a turning away from violence. We pray to God with our laments, we seek after peace in our prayers, knowing that Christ Jesus is the Prince of Peace and we long for the day when peace comes to all the faithful. We likewise pray with the knowledge that kings and leaders and rulers who stand in defiance against Christ Jesus will meet difficult endings. History teaches that those who disregard the Lord often meet sticky ends and even if they die at a ripe old age in relative good health, the one who denies Christ Jesus will one day meet Him as all people will, and on that day what will their plotting amount to? What will their plans in opposition to peace avail them? This is a solemn warning to all whom, having known Christ, decide to disregard Christ.
As for you, dear Christian, in times of war pray for peace, “Kiss the Son [Who is Christ Jesus and] take refuge in Him.” Keep the solider, whose vocation it is to protect the people and bear the sword of the king in your prayers, praying that they like their leaders, and all people, would actively turn away from vanity and avoid wickedness and every evil. Pray that the Holy Spirit would focus their eyes, and our eyes, ever on the Holy Hill of Calvary where the Father has placed His Son, Christ Jesus, to be our King: He Who is enthroned upon the cross and rules the world with forgiveness and peace: A beacon and a blessing to all who take refuge in Him. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”