Seeker: “Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?”
Preacher: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying,
Preacher & Seeker: “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.”
Preacher: “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision.”
Seeker: Preacher, do you think the Lord God “Who sits in the heavens” really does laugh? And mocks the leaders of the earth?
Preacher: Well, first off, I do not think the Lord God mocks all of the leaders of earth, at least not all of the leaders in all of history. I think the leaders who Christians of good conscious and genuine intent mock, are also mocked by the Lord God. More broadly, I would say that the Lord God laughs when humanity thinks they have everything figured out when in reality they have nothing figured out. But I do not think that is a mocking laugh, but like an indulgent Parent laughs at an innocent and naïve child. And remember, if the psalmist was King David, then he is probably saying that at least one time the Lord God laughed at him. In loose summary, I think the Lord God laughs in amusement at times and in mockery and ridicule at other times. Seeker, read what the psalmist says next.
Seeker: “Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”
Preacher: The warning is given to all pretenders who think that they and they alone have the right of it, the correct attitude and style of government that will last for all time. Leaders may come and go, but only the Lord God the Messiah is truly King and Ruler for all times. Read on, Seeker.
Seeker: “I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He 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.”
Preacher: This passage is auspicious for this day, Transfiguration Sunday.
Seeker: But Preacher! Jesus was not this type of King!
Preacher: Yes, isn’t it interesting that the psalmist holds this type of image of the Anointed One, the Messiah. Truly a vengeful and conquering king. But you are right, this was not the King that Jesus was. Yes, it was on a Holy Hill that Jesus was revealed, and with mighty consults and counselors. And declared as the Son of God. But not the type of King that breaks “with a rod of iron” and dashes them “like a potter’s vessel”. Read on.
Seeker: “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.”
Preacher: While the psalmist might have meant or have realized the intent of his warning – it is a warning to those who seek to rule, how true Ruler-ship is accomplished.
Seeker: But the psalmist says further, “Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling kiss his feet, or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2)
Preacher: What of it?
Seeker: Well, fear, and uh, trembling, with subservience. Perishing and wrath quickly kindled. And to be happy . . . . oh!!!! Fear, as in reverence and awe! Jesus was meek and gentle, accessible to all who came to him, and forgiving. But anyone who set themselves against Jesus the Christ was, is, and will be in a world and world-to-come load of trouble. But if we seek solace in the Lord God will be welcomed and happy!
Preacher: “The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!”
Seeker: You are moving into the next psalm. Okay, let’s see. The psalmist is still at it, imaging an old style fearful ruler. But not quite as scary.
Preacher: “Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.”
Seeker: This King is more approachable, I think. With this King you would have a chance to stand before the Divine and not be reduced to a trembling mass and mess.
Preacher: “Extol the LORD our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!”
Seeker: Or maybe not!
Preacher: You are right, Seeker. This time the psalmist is not warning the people of the earth but inviting them to worship a Divine worthy of worship. But, worship with “fear.”
Seeker: “Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the LORD, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them.”
Preacher: It is very much an Old Testament Lord God. The palmist is reminding me of the duty and obligation that was due to the Divine.
Seeker: “O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.”
Preacher: You can see, Seeker, how the disciples expected one type of Messiah but were presented with a completely different type in the personage of Jesus. And then the transfiguration on the mountain began the process of integrating the man Jesus with the Divine Jesus. That Jesus told them not to say anything until after his death might have been a way of continuing the low key and gentle approach of his ministry. But at that point the Divinity of Jesus would be undeniable. Thus being in relationship with the Divinity would both worship and friendship. Come to think of it, that is just what the Creator desired with Adam and Eve, and by extension all of humanity.
Preacher & Seeker: “Extol the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy.” (Psalm 99)