It is impossible to ignore what is going on in the Middle East. Israel has (again) been attacked. Hamas has invaded the Jewish homeland, engaging in a horrible terrorist raid. Much is yet to be seen in how this will play out, what Israel will do, and what impact this war will have on the rest of the world.
Many are asking: What does this mean for Israel? What will the nation do? How will they respond? What if other surrounding countries join the attack to wipe out the Jewish nation?
I am not a prophet; I do not see the future; I have not been informed about God’s specific plans for His chosen people. So, on one level, it is difficult to answer such questions in any definitive way. But that doesn’t leave us without some way of bringing our thoughts in line with Biblical truth. For me, Psalm 2 is a place to start. Here’s how it opens:
Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His anointed. (2:1–2)
The church in the book of Acts turned to the words of this psalm as the foundation for their prayer when they faced their initial persecution (Acts 4:23-41). The words penned by the psalmist do find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ, God’s ultimate “anointed one” (or Messiah). But might it be right to understand some not-ultimate fulfillment of these words? Seeing as our God has always been doing what He carries out supremely in the life and sacrifice of His Son, could there be a sense of a lesser fulfillment to be seen in these words in Psalm 2?
There are passages in the Old Testament where the reference to God’s “anointed one” does not point directly (or ultimately) to Jesus Himself. In 1 Samuel 12:1-5 and 2 Samuel 1:14, Saul is referred to as the anointed of the LORD. David is spoken of as the anointed of
God in Psalm 18:50. Even Cyrus, a pagan king, bears that title in Isaiah 45:1. What is of particular interest is that the nation of Israel is also referred to as the anointed of the LORD in Habakkuk 3:13.
Where does this lead us in our thinking of what the psalmist states in Psalm 2? Although the opposition to Jesus that we see in the Gospels is the ultimate fulfillment of these words, perhaps we can also say that there is some sense that this psalm also has in view the antagonism of the nations of the world against the LORD and His chosen nation. This thought might well be reinforced by the reference to “Zion, [God’s] holy mountain” in Psalm 2:6–a reference to the nation.
If it is right to understand an implication of this psalm for the nation of Israel, then there is some comfort and help for us in what the psalmist wrote.
God knew, thousands of years ago, that the nations of the world would continue to oppose God Himself and His nation. We see that playing out. God affirmed that, ultimately, the plans of those who oppose God and His people will prove to be vain (2:1). And the psalmist calls our attention to how God responds to those who dare to come against Him and Israel: “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them” (2:4).
What is the climax of this psalm? Where does God’s dismissal of His enemies lead? It ends with the ultimate anointed one ruling all the nations of the world (2:8-9). Whatever is currently going on in the Middle East, no matter how we understand what is playing out, the final climax is clear: God’s supremely anointed one, Jesus Christ, will judge the enemies of God (and of His people) and will make clear that all authority is His.
How should we respond to this truth? The call is simple: Serve the one true God, rejoice in Him with trembling, and do homage to the promised Messiah, the Son (2:11–12).