The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Taking Christ Out of Psalm 2: David Exults in Having Yahweh’s Favor

94

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

The book of Psalms is a collection of very emotional Jewish poetry.  It doesn’t contain any prophecy, nor does it contain any references to Christ.  But today you’re told that it does.  Why?  Well, just as Christian teachers today show very little regard for context as they rip lines out of the Bible to make it sound like God is saying what they want Him to say, it was the same back in New Testament times.  In the Gospels, Acts, and the New Testament epistles, you will find many misapplications of Old Testament passages, and many of those passages will be pulled from the book of Psalms.  It is due to the ridiculous lies of New Testament writers that today you think there are a bunch of psalms which speak about Christ.  But, no, there are not.

No one in the Old Testament knew who Christ was, and you won’t find any clear Messianic prophecies about Him being spoken until Isaiah’s time, and even then those prophecies are far from clear.  Our Gods simply don’t feel the need to spell out the future for us, and Yahweh’s predictions of Christ contained both contradictions and deceptions.  A guy can’t rule forever in Jerusalem if He’s also going to be slaughtered for people’s sins, yet this is what Yahweh predicted.  The ruling in Jerusalem bit was a lie, because Jesus never sat down on a throne in Jerusalem, nor did He free Israel from political oppression and turn her into a world power—all of which were things that Yahweh said He would do. 

Now of course Yahweh had good reasons for making false predictions about what the Messiah would do, and we discuss some of those reasons in other articles (see Know Your Bible Lesson 25: Reasons to Hope).  If you want to understand God better, you need to not run for the hills every time you find out He’s fibbing. Instead, you need to pause and remember that as God, He doesn’t have to play by any rule book.  Rules are for creatures, not their Creators.  When we approach God with correct soul attitudes, He is glad to give us further insight into why He does what He does.  But if instead we start accusing Him of stepping out of line as if we are the ones He is accountable to, well then He’s going to take back any wisdom He’s given us and turn us into cotton brains.  It simply isn’t wise to get snarky with the God you depend on to make your mind work.  That’s a battle you just aren’t going to win.

In this post, we’re going to walk you through one of the most famous Messianic psalms—Psalm 2—and we’re going to explain why it’s not Messianic.  You need to learn to stop blowing off the original author’s intent and accepting any ridiculous theory someone throws at you. Lying about what the writer of Psalm 2 meant and pretending he was talking about Christ when he wasn’t isn’t going to take you anywhere good.  You can’t learn by burying your head in the sand.  If you want to know the truth, you to have do some critical thinking and be open to the idea that the spiritual leaders of ancient Israel were just as conniving as Christian leaders are today.  They used Scriptures to try and control people, and they abused Scriptures in order to make people think the way they wanted them to think.  If you want to stop being so easy for Christian teachers to manipulate, you need to learn to think for yourself and go to God directly for guidance in life.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

The language in Psalm 2 makes it clear that it was written by a Jewish king.  Because this king obviously respected Yahweh, it was probably King David who wrote this psalm.  This psalm has the same confident, cocky tone as Psalm 110, which we know for certain that David wrote.  You won’t find an author listed for Psalm 2, but once you understand a few basic facts, you can see why David is the most obvious choice.

So what are those facts?  Well, for starters, not every Jewish king was into writing poetry. David was.  David was a prolific psalm writer and he’d sing his psalms out loud while playing along on his harp.  Another key point is that there are very few Jewish kings who were ever serious about revering Yahweh and David was one of them.  Not only did David have the kind of positive personal dynamic with Yahweh that is described in this psalm, but during his reign, Israel was a very strong kingdom which expanded outward and gobbled up a lot of new territory.

Now when you’re a warrior king like David was and you set out to expand the borders of your kingdom, there are already people living in the land that you take over.  Those people are part of another nation.  Then you come along and declare them all to be your servants.  That doesn’t make you Mr. Popular.  Because you fear retaliation, you hit those people with a heavy tax which is called a tribute.  You basically tell them, “You will make regular payments of wealth to me in the form I choose or I’ll come and trash you.”  And because people don’t want your army to return and hack their loved ones to pieces, burn down their homes, and publicly humiliate them, they give you what you want…at least for a while.

Now your tribute serves two purposes.  First, it builds up your own kingdom’s wealth. Second, it’s your way of trying to prevent your new acquisitions from being able to build up their army and attack you back.  Militaries cost money, and if you keep your enemies poor enough, they can’t afford to beef up their own armies.

To identify the author of Psalm 2, we need a Jewish king who writes psalms, is serious about revering Yahweh, and who reigns during a period when Israel is stepping on the necks of several of her neighbors.  David is the obvious choice, especially when we know for sure that he wrote Psalm 110.

So what prompted David to write this psalm?  Well, he’s probably received word that many of the nations who he’s currently grinding under his sandal are trying to band together to help each other get free from Israel’s oppression.  This was a common response for nations who were stuck paying tribute to other, stronger nations.  Once you can’t beef up your own army, you try and join together with other weak armies in hopes that the whole gang of you will be strong enough to throw off the oppressive shackle of the guy who has taken you all over.

Well, David isn’t afraid of his slave nations retaliating against him—at least he’s not going to admit it in a psalm.  While this sort of situation would make most kings nervous, David confidently mocks those who are scheming against him, because David believes it was Yahweh who gave Israel supremacy over those nations, and David is confident that Yahweh has his back.

Why are the nations so angry? Why are the people making useless plans? The kings of the earth prepare to fight, and their leaders make plans together against Yahweh and His anointed one. They say, “Let’s break the chains that hold us back and throw off the ropes that tie us down.” (Ps. 2:1-3)

Yahweh is the national God of Israel, and He has promised to defend her if the people treat Him well. David is a sincere Yahweh follower, and he has been specially chosen by Yahweh to rule as king.  Now and then, Yahweh would publicly express His favor of someone by telling a prophet to publicly anoint that person to serve Yahweh in some particular way.  When he was a young man, David was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be king over Israel—that meant that Samuel drizzled some perfumed oil over David’s head and declared that Yahweh was appointing him king.  Because David greatly respects Yahweh, he has great respect for the anointing ritual, and he believes that it’s a big deal to be specially chosen by Yahweh.

Now even though David is full of confident mockery in this psalm, he is also a very humble man.  Godly humility has nothing to do with being a shy, quiet personality.  It’s about recognizing that you can do nothing apart from God, therefore you don’t deserve the glory for anything.  David is very good about glorifying Yahweh, and here he says that it is Yahweh who is mocking the nations who are threatening to overtake Israel.  To understand this imagery, you have to understand that the nations in David’s world all had national gods, and they viewed all wars as god wars.  So when Israel captured other nations, those nations interpreted that to mean that the God of Israel had overpowered their gods.  But they also believed that gods had good days and bad days, so just because a god bests you today doesn’t mean your gods can’t defeat him tomorrow.

Well, as a serious Yahweh follower, David believes that Yahweh is totally supreme over all other gods.  He doesn’t view Yahweh as straining to keep other gods and nations in check.  Instead, he correctly imagines Yahweh as scoffing at the idea that other nations could defeat Him.

But the One who sits in Heaven laughs; Yahweh makes fun of them. Then Yahweh warns them and frightens them with His anger. He says, “I have appointed My own king to rule in Jerusalem on My holy mountain, Zion.”

Now I will tell you what Yahweh has declared: He said to me, “You are My son. Today I have become your Father. If you ask Me, I will give you the nations; all the people on earth will be yours. You will rule over them with an iron rod. You will break them into pieces like pottery.” (Ps. 2:4-9)

You shouldn’t take this to be an accurate quotation of what Yahweh said to David.  Instead, David is summarizing general sentiments that Yahweh has communicated to him.  In the historical records of David’s life, we find Yahweh appointing David to be king over Israel. We also find Yahweh expressing great pleasure with David and promising to greatly bless him as a monarch.  Did Yahweh really promise to hand David the entire earth?  Of course not.  David is exaggerating here because exaggerating was what ancient Jews did—especially when they were writing songs.  But David does have valid reasons to claim that he is being specially favored by Yahweh, because he is.

Now today prosperity teachers leap onto Verse 8 where David says that line about Yahweh saying, “If you ask Me, I will give you the nations.”  Because Christian leaders are so good at teaching you how to disrespect God, they encourage you to greedily claim this as a promise to you, while they simultaneously tell you that Yahweh was really speaking to Christ in this psalm.  What kind of sense does this make?  In the first place, this isn’t Yahweh talking–this is David putting words in Yahweh’s mouth.  In the second place, whoever Yahweh is supposedly speaking to, it’s obviously not you or any other modern day believer because this document was written thousands of years ago.

Whenever you try to claim a promise that God hasn’t given you, you’re acting obnoxious.  Suppose you were to say to your friend Martha, “Hey, Martha, I so value you as a friend that I’m going to give you $10,000.”  And then suppose some random stranger runs over right at that moment, thrusts her hand in your face and says, “Great!  Where’s my money?”  What would you say?  You’d say, “Excuse me, but this is a private conversation.”  But then suppose the stranger says, “Hey, anything you say to Martha applies to me as well!”  This is how rude you’re being when you say to God, “Hey, it says right here that You promised to give me the nations, so hand them over!”  How do you think God is going to respond to this?  He’s going to say, “Dream on, dot. I wasn’t even talking to you in that passage.  Where do you get off making such an obnoxious demand of Me?  You won’t see the day that I hand you the world.”  There’s just nothing more low down than trying to steal someone else’s goodies, and that’s what you’re doing when you go rifling through the Bible trying to rip off promises that God made to other people.  But the more you learn to respect context and the original author’s intentions, the less quick you’ll be to participate in the Church’s obnoxious greed fest (see Practicing Discernment: Bible Promises).

Now Jewish men referred to themselves as the sons of Yahweh, so there’s nothing unnatural about David calling himself God’s son.  Today Christians also call themselves the children of God.  But in the New Testament, you’re told that Yahweh is speaking to Christ here in Psalm 2 when He says “Today you are My son.”  And because Bible translators have bought into the ridiculous notion that the Bible is “inerrant,” they first look at how the New Testament writers apply the Old Testament, then they go back in and insert reverential capitals in order to support those New Testament theories.  This is why you’ll see some translators capitalize the word “Son” in Psalm 2–they’re trying to cue you that this is a reference to Christ when it’s so not.  And the only reason they’re doing this is because they’re trying to support what New Testament writers say, even though those writers were obviously misapplying the text.

Christ is God.  He’s not some Jewish king who has just heard that nations who he has conquered are planning to strike back.  Yahweh doesn’t offer to give Christ the nations because as God, Christ already owns everything.  Christ has also always existed—so this business of Yahweh saying “Today I’ve become your Father” as if He just birthed Christ is both absurd and totally derogatory to Christ.  Just because the fool who wrote the book of Hebrews wants to make Christ out to be some bumbling human doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to join his party.  In Hebrews 1 and Hebrews 5, Psalm 2 is totally misapplied as being a conversation between Yahweh and Christ when it so isn’t.  In Acts 4, the early apostles quote Psalm 2 and also suggest Yahweh was talking to Christ.  In Acts 13, Paul also quotes Psalm 2 along with several other passages which are totally misapplied.  Like his fellow Pharisees, Paul was a terrible abuser of Scriptures and you’ll find him constantly taking liberties with the text and ripping out statements and partial statements from all over the Old Testament to try and pretend there is biblical support for the stuff he is saying.  Don’t just assume that any of the New Testament authors are applying the Old Testament correctly until you look up the original context for yourself.

Now let’s get back to David.  Confidence is a good thing when it’s properly applied, and since David has received legitimate promises from Yahweh, he really does have grounds for warning other kings not to mess with him.  But notice how he doesn’t get carried away by saying that he is who everyone should fear—he rightly says that it is Yahweh who the nations need to be respecting, because Yahweh, not David, is the One with the power.  How refreshing to have someone exalting God instead of humans for a change.

So, kings, be wise; rulers, learn this lesson. Obey Yahweh with great fear. Be happy, but tremble. Show that you are loyal to His son, or you will be destroyed by His anger, because He can quickly become angry. But happy are those who trust Him for protection. (Ps. 2:10-12)

Notice how David is promoting the critical soul attitudes of reverence and submission by telling these kings to revere Yahweh and to submit to His agenda, which at this time is to keep Israel strong.  Because David has actually been confirmed by Yahweh in his personal life, he is honoring God to so confidently claim that God has his back.  David is not at all talking like these arrogant fools you see today who first make a big production out of anointing themselves and then strut around claiming to have God’s protection (see Can Christian leaders claim special protection from God?).  When you hear Christian leaders warning you not to cross them, those souls are just being pompous braggarts who are lying about God being pleased with them.

As this psalm demonstrates, David was not at all a shrinking wallflower.  He was a very confident guy, and he wasn’t afraid to let it show.  But because his respect for Yahweh was real and not just a show, he is careful to correctly elevate Yahweh as the One everyone is supposed to be bowing down to.  Even though David is enjoying his current position of power over the kingdoms around him, he isn’t letting that power go to his head by telling those kings that they ought to grovel before him. Instead, David tells his fellow rulers that Yahweh is the One they all need to be focused on.  And instead of making Yahweh out to be some merciless Tyrant, David says that Yahweh is kind to those who treat Him right.  “Happy are those who trust Him for protection.”

When you’re the conquering king, you want to keep the territory that you’ve conquered.  So even though David is making other nations pay tribute to him, he will also protect those nations from attack since he considers them to be part of his territory.  In Psalm 2, he is essentially saying, “Guys, I know you hate this humiliating situation, but you’re just going to have to get used to it.  You see, it was really the mighty Yahweh who handed you all over to me, and He is not going to let you break out from under my rule. If you respect Yahweh and bow to His will, it will go well with you.  But if you keep scheming for ways that you can break free from my kingdom, then the God who truly reigns over my kingdom and over all the nations of the earth will trash you.  Don’t mess with Him.  He’s the awesome Yahweh.”

In David’s cultural and theological context, this is a God-honoring sentiment.  Yahweh is the only God he knows about, so Yahweh is the only God he exalts.   He’s expressing trust in the things Yahweh has personally told him, he’s encouraging other people to embrace God-honoring soul attitudes of reverence and submission, and he’s enjoying his blessed situation with a grateful attitude.  It doesn’t have anything to do with Christ, but it’s a good example of how we can honor God even in the midst of feeling high on His blessings.

FURTHER READING:
Debunking Messianic Psalms: The Real Meaning of Psalm 110
Misapplying David: How Psalm 8 is Used to Insult Christ
Psalm 118: The Cornerstone Who Isn’t Christ
Psalm 23: Yahweh is a Good Shepherd
Psalm 34: David Praises Yahweh as the Savior Who Always Saves

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: