1. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying,
3. “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
4. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
5. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them with his sore displeasure.
6. Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.
7. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee.
8. Ask of me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.
9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
10. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.
The theme of this Psalm of David (Acts 4:25) is that Man’s rebellion against God is futile. This is because God has anointed Christ as the king of the Earth. This Psalm portrays the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
In the first verses, the Psalmist sets the scene, asking why the heathen (those who refuse to believe in God or refuse to follow Him) rage, stirring up the general population, and why they contemplate the foolishness which is described in verse 3. Their goal is to destroy the influence that God’s people have thus freeing themselves, morally and ethically, to do what they want, when they want. In other words, they think that only they know what’s best for them.
Going back to verse two, the setting is made more clear: it is not only the general population, but even the kings of the earth and the rulers. They get together to discuss their campaign against God and His Anointed, Jesus Christ. Like a mathematical equation, If they are against God and His Son, then they are against anyone who follows God’s law. The self-importance extends even to those in power — people who should know what is best for the people and how tenuous holding a position can be.
The first two verses are almost said in an incredulous voice — that is a voice of wonder and of disbelief that what is before the psalmist’s eyes is even happening. “How in the world can these people be thinking of this? And the kings! What are they thinking? They should know better than to think they can actually fight against the Creator of the Universe and the Living God!”
Verse four gives an insight into what God is actually thinking when He sees all this happening. It says he “laughs” — does God laugh? Yes, I think he does, but this, I think is more of a shaking of the head and maybe saying to Himself: “Will these people, whom I have created, never learn?” The verse says he has derision for these rebels — I think there is also sorrow. He has given them life, every breath that they breathe is from Him, yet, this is the way they respond. They literally bite the hand that feeds them.
What is the vexation in verse five? It doesn’t specifically state this, but I think it is that God is going to do what He wants to do in spite of the rebel kings and rulers: It is that he is going to set His king, the Anointed One He has chosen, upon the hill of Zion (verse six) – Jesus Christ. This action will cause them even more consternation and rage. This is shown in verse seven with the words, “Thou art My Son; this day I have begotten Thee.” (Acts 13:29-37).
Once Jesus is the king, the rebels will be subject to Him and they will be the recipients of his wrath just as those who believe in Him are subject to His abounding Grace. Christ will be the righteous judge, dealing with each nation.
But there is hope for those who would follow their own path. Verses ten through twelve give us all instructions for living. These last tell us to:
- be wise;
- be instructed;
- serve the Lord;
- rejoice [in Him];
- kiss the Son, i.e., “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31).