Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.(Psalm 2:1-3)
The first two Psalms go together. Perhaps it isn’t immediately apparent, because in some ways they are completely different, but I believe the Holy Spirit led those who placed them side by side as the opening of the Psalter.
Psalm one examines a lone individual, a God worshipping , scripture meditating disciple who has made a serious break with the thinking of his day. He is separate internally, he seeks other counsel than the prevailing opinions, he loves to be constantly re-oriented in his soul to the Word of God.
He is described in the singular, whereas the “ungodly”, the “sinners and the scornful” are pluralities in the Psalm. The assumption is that it is their worldview which is the prevailing thinking of the day. This one stands alone, and nourishes himself by a different fountain than everyone else.
The second Psalm, on the other hand, looks at the whole world. The entire planet is in a state of revolt, led by its political, educational, and religious leaders. The nations of the world are in turmoil, and their populations are gripped by an empty illusion,( A vain imagination). Traditional restraints are cast into the wind, a kind of social revolution is taking place, led by the elite on all levels.
I believe that though this Psalm has been fulfilled in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, involving the collusion of Pilate, Herod, and the corrupt high priests of Israel, (Acts 4:25-28) there is a further eschatological application of it as well. This Psalm is a prophecy of the geopolitical and cultural reality at the time of the coming of the Lord in Glory to Judge the world in Righteousness.
The nations are definitely in an uproar, indeed, “the heathen Rage“. Consider our times,
China rages, for it is awakening after two centuries of humiliating subjugation by western colonial powers,(the opium wars, etc), the harrowing World War 2 experience, a massive social upheaval , Communist revolution and the pragmatic decision to Capitalize their economy while remaining a totalitarian communist entity .
The perception is that it is time for China to take her place as a world power, increasing her presence in the competition for African resources, oil and gas, military dominance of the Pacific region , etc. China’s generals are bellicose in their pronouncements about their ability to reach cities like Los Angeles with their missiles. To the long remembering Chinese, there are definite scores to settle.
Russia also rages. The desire for the former glory as a world superpower has catapulted former KGB operative Vladimir Putin into a popular icon in Russia. The Russians have been newly empowered by oil money, they are re-arming at an alarming rate, and the brutal crushing of Georgia, in the final days of the Bush presidency was reminiscent of the worst of the old Soviet suppressions.
Russia also sees itself as a player in the middle east, arming Syria ,Hezbollah controlled Lebanon, and aiding Nuclear Iran in spite of world sanctions.The Obama administration virtually handed over the US post World War 2 influence in the Middle East to Putin, and he wasted no time in wreaking havoc, entering in to Syria, bringing Iran in with the Russians, and seeking to establish a Shiite crescent to withstand the western backed Sunni world.
The Muslim World rages also, due to several converging factors. The rebirth of the State of Israel, and its successful repelling of invasions by combined Muslim armies has humiliated and inflamed the Moslem world. The existence of Israel, a modern, secular, western democracy in the very heart of the middle east is an affront to Muslim pride.
Iran has been empowered by the Obama administration’s gift of 150 billion dollars of US taxpayer funding, and has also embarked on a Nuclear program, in spite of the Ayotollah’s insistence that the destruction of Israel was “non-negotiable”!
Libya has been decimated and reduced to a terror state of chaos and violence. Hillary Clinton famously boasted that “We came, we saw and HE(Gaddaffi) died!”, as a result of US and European foreign policy. Gaddaffi had long warned that should he be removed by western powers, the buffer to uncontrollable black African immigration would also be removed and Africa would swarm up into Europe, destabilizing the once civilized European nations.
Syria has been dissected for all of the world to see. The nation of 22 million has lost of her population due to death and displacement,(there are ten million Syrian refugees), as a double proxy war plays out, between Russia and the West and between Shiite and Sunni Muslim. Russia, Iran and even Turkey are fighting Sunni rebels backed by the EU and the United States. The stateless Kurds are holding their own ground against all of the above and Sunni rebels armed by the US have carved out a state the size of Indiana, in order to reestablish the Sunni Caliphate,which was disbanded in 1924.
The secularizing trend that swept the Moslem world after World War 1 has been seen as a failure in the Ummah, and perhaps even the cause of Islam’s failure to eradicate the Jewish state. There has since been a revival of radical ISlam.As a consequence, Islamism has swept the world,in the form of Wahhabism, a puritanical Sunni version of Islam. It has been fueled by oceans of oil money , pouring out of Saudi Arabia, literally radicalizing once complacent Muslims from Indonesia to California, causing havoc.
When a Christian is revived and becomes more like Jesus, good things happen, people are helped, healed, encouraged, virtue is promoted and everyone benefits. When Muslims are revived to become more like the pirate and murderer that they consider to be ‘the perfect man’, bad things, terrible and even violent things happen.
The Nations of the World are in an uproar, Africa is turbulent, India and Pakistan are both Nuclear, and hate each other with a passion, Shia Islam has conducted the first successful modern Jihad, with the help of the Jimmy Carter administration, pulling the rug out from underneath the Shah of Iran. Europe is literally dying, due to birth control and abortion, and the Western democracies are going broke, thanks to the failed Socialistic policies that became widespread after World War 2.
This is the setting of Psalm 2, where the attention is turned to the leaders, the Kings of the earth, and the rulers.