Comfort for God’s People In Election Year Madness

why do the nations rage?

My grandfather spent a lot of time in foxholes. As a soldier in General Patton’s Third Army, he landed at Normandy shortly after D-Day. Following the Allied forces as they advanced toward liberating Paris from Nazi control, he was often under enemy fire. One time, he dove into a foxhole unlike any other he’d been in before. It turned out to be a cave, carved out of a hillside, complete with shelves, a fireplace, and most importantly, a door! He found what many seek, and rarely find; a place of refuge in a war zone. 

Why do the nations rage?

In wartime or not, for the child of God–God himself is our foxhole, our refuge, and strength in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). A refuge is a place of shelter from a storm or an escape from physical or emotional harm. As wonderful as a refuge is, there’s coming a day when the nations who foolishly think they can go to war with God and win, will seek refuge from his wrath, and not find it. 

In Psalm 2, we’re introduced to a spiritual standoff between God and the nations. It’s a royal psalm pointing to the Messianic King who sits in heaven and Zion. He’s the ruler of heaven and earth, and yet, the kings of the earth rage against him and seek his overthrow. While David was the anointed king in Israel, this psalm points beyond David, to the greater David, Jesus Christ. It begins this way…

‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”’

Psalm 2:1-3

The first two Psalms are bookended with blessings. Psalm 1 begins with “Blessed is the man,” and Psalm 2 ends with, “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” The first Psalm describes the two paths of life for individuals, and the second, the ways of submission and rebellion for the nations. Together, they form an introduction to the entire Psalter, showing us the paths of life God blesses.

Even though Psalm 2 was written 3,000 years ago, it reads like one of today’s headlines. There’s nothing new under the sun, and the nations have been raging against God since the Tower of Babel. But during election year madness, when so much seems uncertain and upside down, perhaps we’d benefit from a fresh look at Psalm 2. The nations rage, the rulers plot, but we can take heart, the Lord sits enthroned above and he will not be moved.

Breaking bonds

It shouldn’t stretch our imaginations to picture kings and rulers plotting to overthrow all that is good and orderly. In verse 3, the rulers conspire to break free from the old ways that have stunted their so-called “progress.” Today we see, the bonds of marriage and family, law and order, and sex and gender bending before our very eyes. But the bonds they seek to break are the very bonds that show us God’s kindness and love. 

His bonds are not shackles, but boundaries established for human flourishing. Ironically, it’s the casting away of these bonds that leads to oppression and misery. The Lord said to his people through Hosea, “I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them” (Hosea 11:4). 

His bonds break yokes, not create them. How foolish to reject the Creator’s design, but the deceiver has been recycling these lies since the garden. “Did God really say?” and, “You will not surely die.” His bonds protect and bring blessing, but Eve found them confining, and so do the nations. In their pride and arrogance, they shake their fists at God and attempt to break free from him.

The God who laughs

So what is God’s response to their mutiny? He is not threatened by them. On the contrary, he laughs. 

“He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.”  

Psalm 2:4

Despite what it feels like from Earth’s perspective, this is no cosmic battle. God is not threatened by their bond-breaking, nor is he plotting with his angelic hosts how to put down the rebellion on earth. No, he laughs at their attempts to come against him and break free from his created order.

Have you ever thought of God laughing?

To be on the receiving end of God’s laughter would be terrifying, but his laughter produces something entirely different in the hearts of his people. David Mathis said,  “For God’s people, his laughter gives great comfort. God laughs to dispel our fears. God laughs to remind us no purpose of his can be thwarted. We do not fear along with the rebel nations, because we have heard his voice. We have received his promise. Wonder upon wonder, undeserving as we are, he has set his favor on us, in his Son. Who are we to dishonor him by not receiving the promise of his word?”

While we might fear what the nations’ rage will mean for us, Psalm 2 reminds us this is temporary. While there’s mutiny in his kingdom now, that won’t always be the case. He will break his enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel (9). Yet in his mercy, he gives one last warning.  

Kiss the Son

“O kings, be wise, and be warned. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (11). The warning is to wise up, reverse course, and kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way (12). 

Kissing the Son means to pledge your allegiance to him. For the nations, and the people who make up those nations, the only way to avoid the terror of God’s judgment is to turn away from their rage and kiss the Son instead. 

His arms are open wide now, and refuge is found only in him, but that will not be the case forever. There’s coming a day when the very bonds the kings seek to break free from will become God’s actual chains of judgment around their necks. 

“He will come to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, and bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written!” (Psalm 149:7-9a).

The Anointed reigns

No matter where you get your news, one consistent theme emerges from every news feed: the nations are raging and the rulers are plotting. This mutiny against the Lord’s Anointed, and attempts to break free from his loving bonds will one day end. Child traffickers, liars, cheaters, terrorists, and their like, won’t escape God’s judgment.

If you’re like me, you need to be regularly reminded that the way things are is not the way things will forever be. Our hearts grieve to see the human suffering this bond-breaking produces, but Psalm 2 comforts our hearts that God’s Anointed reigns. 

When we look across the landscape of the next year or the next decade, we shouldn’t fear. No matter how advanced the enemies’ tactics may seem, it’s laughable to God. If Nineveh did the unthinkable and repented of her sins, we should likewise pray with faith for our nation to also repent and “kiss the Son.” 

No foxhole, no matter how secure, can provide the refuge our souls need most. In war and peace, comfort is found for the people and nations who find refuge in him. Let us not grow weary in inviting others to know the Lord’s Anointed, the one enthroned in heaven, the greater David, and to know that his bonds are those of love! This is the way of blessedness for people and nations!


P.S. This post will likely become an ongoing part of a series on the Psalms. If you want to dig deeper, grab this free ebook on Psalm 23.

3 Responses

  1. So good! I loved your point about the irony of the bonds that God has lovingly put upon us that the nations are trying to break free from only to lead to more misery for them. Such an interesting point! This was very needed; thank you!

  2. Hallelujah! I love how you drew out the laughter of God and included the quote from Mathis. I did a study on God’s laughter recently and this seems to be the tone of it. Great piece! Thank you.

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