1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
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 burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
The news is full of reports of wars and rumors of wars, declared and undeclared, within nations and between them. Some conflicts are just, but even those are executed by flawed and sinful men. No action is perfect or tidy, and killing was never part of God’s plan (i.e. His moral will). Most conflicts, though, pit the wicked against the wicked, and all too often war is waged because a group of people who wants to be the oppressor, rather than the oppressed. They don’t want to answer to anyone—to God or man—for their daily activities, or for the atrocities they may commit in the name of freedom.
The Lord’s response is to laugh. It is not a joyful laugh; He is not entertained by the deaths of humans. But human efforts at absolute autonomy truly are ridiculous. With God out of the picture, we would cease to exist. With Him in the picture, He can only be in absolute control. Any effort to unseat Him will fail, and will involve considerable sin and suffering.
The Lord does not stop with wry laughter, however. He acts into human wickedness. “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill (v. 6).” He has raised up a perfect king to reign over men, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He suffered and died at the hands of sinful men, men who thought they were independent of God’s authority. But even that was part of God’s plan. It was not a surprise, or the results of a Plan B. Christ’s purpose was to die—to set men free.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed.
But it is not an absolute freedom, to live however we please. “Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life (Romans 6:22). The Psalm portrays Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, not just as a suffering savior on the cross, but a reigning king on God’s holy hill. But to serve Him is true freedom. It is what we were created for and it leads to eternal life.
Pray for peace, where there is war and conflict around the world, between thugs and nationalists and false religions. The only hope for all is the true freedom that comes from submitting to Jesus. And we must pray for our own hearts, as each of us craves an independence that would not be for our good. Pray that we might submit to God and know peace.