The growing kingdom fills the earth,
With knowledge of the living Word.
The saints proclaim their Savior’s worth,
In every tribe their voice is heard.
We do not see dominion yet,
But Jesus reigns and He will let
Us reign with Him ‘where’ere the sun
Does its succesive journeys run.”
One of the temptations that goes with the study of eschatology is the pressure to force isolated passages of Scripture in to a system. It is consequently rare to see any treatment of the subject that is exegetical, a clear interpretation of the text.
It is my purpose here to look at the teaching of the second Psalm on the birth and growth of the kingdom of God. The only passages we will look at will be the Psalm itself and those New Testament passages which quote and apply the Psalm. Any other passage referred to will be incidental.
For the purpose of our study we will divide the Psalm into four sections. The first section deals with the hostility of the world’s rulers to God’s Messiah (Ps. 2:1-3). The second section shows what God thinks of their chances — He knows they have no chance of success (Ps. 2:4-6).
The third section begins with a prophecy of the resurrection of the Christ. As a consequence of this resurrection, the nations are given to the Christ, and He will rule them (Ps. 2:7-9). The fourth section gives a warning to the world’s rulers. All attempts to resist God’s kingdom will fail. It would therefore be wise to embrace that kingdom (Ps. 2:10-12).
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters” (Ps. 2:1-3).
When the Anointed One comes, the reaction to Him is political. The rulers of the earth take their stand against the Christ. The first two verses of this Psalm are applied in Acts 4:25-26 to Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles adn the Jerusalem Jews. How did they take their stand against Christ? They had Him executed. This New Testament commentary on the Psalm provides us with the starting point; the Psalm begins with a prophecy of the crucifixion. When the early Christians asserted, “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen,” they had good reason for the claim.
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill (Ps. 2:4-6).
The Lord knows how futile it is. There is a glimmer of this in the first section of the Psalm (” . . . plot in vain”), which is now openly declared. The Lord greets their assault on His purpose with derision. It will not and cannot work. The Lord has installed His King in Zion.
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery (Ps. 2:7-9).
The third section begins with a prophecy of the resurrection. This passage, You are my Son, today I have become Your Father (better translation: today I have begotten you), is quoted by Paul (Acts 13:32-33) and applied to the resurrection. We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm . . .”
Thus, we find the crucifixion and resurrection predicted in the first seven verses of the Psalm. This application is not speculation on our part — it is the explicit teaching of the New Testament.
What happens after the resurrection? What is the result of it? “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” The result of the resurrection is that Jesus Christ is given the world He died for. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Matt. 28:18-19).
How does the Lord exercise His dominion? He does so through His saints. The next verse says, “You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” This is quoted in two places in the book of Revelation. In one (Rev. 19:15), the phrase is applied directly to Christ. But in Rev. 2:26-27, the phrase is applied to Christians. “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations — ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery.'”
We see that the Lord is now in a position of authority and dominion over the nations and has been since the resurrection. That authority is mediated through His saints.
Because this is true, the kings of the earth need to wise up. It is this necessity that is presented in the last section of the Psalm.
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Ps. 2:10-12).
This was originally published in The Hammer (Vol. 5, No. 1) in 1986. The Hammer was a publication of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho.