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常存并传达盼望 In Hope We Embark

December 6, 2015, More from this speaker 更多关于此讲员: Rev Enoch Keong (Psalm 2:1-12) For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Psalms
Preached at a Mandarin (Sunday) service

Tags: Messianic

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About Rev Enoch Keong: Rev. Keong is currently serving as a pastor in the youth, young adult and young families ministries in Jubilee Church.
Bible passage (ESV) of the sermon can be found at the bottom of the page.

Preacher: Rev Enoch
Date; 6 Dec 2015
Title: In Hope We Embark

Special occasions and events tend to have their own theme songs. Theme songs are written or selected in order to highlight the main massage of the occasions and events, and to make them impressionable and memorable. This December, we had our yearly children camp and youth camp, where each has its theme song. Our youth camp committee chose the song “Open Hands”, and some says that the choice was prophetic. Because on the very first night of camp, quite a few campers did stood with opened hands, looking up, not to pray for blessings, but probably to study the shower head.

The passage that we are looking at this morning is likewise a theme song for special occasions. In this case, it is the coronation of the kings of Israel. Psalm 2, as like Psalm 95 and Ps 110 are labelled as royal psalms. These psalms are sung to celebrate the enthronement of king or as a prayer for them.

Apart from being the first in the list of royal psalms, Psalm 2 carries with it a few noteworthy characteristics. Allow me to take a few minutes to walk us through them.

First, let’s look at the titles mentioned in the psalm. Psalm 2 is the only amongst Old Testament psalms that labels the king as the Anointed, the God appointed King and the Son. We mentioned that these royal Psalms are used on the kings of Israel, and particularly on the kings of the southern kingdom, Judah. In other words, all of the descendent of David, who were crowned at any point of time in the history of Judah, was at the same time the anointed (or messiah), the king and also the Son.

The title ‘Son’ deserves a little expansion. The words in verse 7 which says, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you” should be understood to mean that the father and son relationship is confirmed during coronation. The king as God’s son hence enjoys a special relationship with the Almighty and shall inherit that which belongs to the father. His task is to make the domain of Yahweh visible on earth.

This privilege that the king has goes to explain the tremendous sense of confidence found in the Psalm. In response to the enemies’ intention to start a revolt , the king says, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” (v. 1) In today’s lingo, the kings is as good as saying, “Guys, why bother?” ” Why waste time?” The king responded to the enemies in such a way simply because God Almighty is on his side. God had even declared to him, and he now parrots the words of Gods saying, “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.”(vv. 8-9)

A song expressing unreservedly that the Judean kings are established by God and that they embody all the special privileges is the first noteworthy characteristic of this psalm. Once we have seen this, it’s time to move to the second things to be said about it.

When we consider the history of Israel, the victory pictured in Psalm 2 was seen clearest from the Exodus account. God verse Pharaoh, the Almighty breaking the Egyptians with a rod of iron and dashes them in pieces like a potter's vessel. But Psalm 2 wasn’t composed till much later. And when we consider the history of the Davidic kingdom, we will find that it was only during David’s time that the empire had stretched to the surrounding areas beyond the borders of Israel. Judah was in fact a subject of other nations for a great part of the empire’s history.

With this we have arrived at the second noteworthy characteristic of the psalm: It sounds tremendously confident and hopeful, but it doesn’t tally with history. The psalm in other words doesn’t reflect reality, and appears to be words of empty promises.

Christians in hearing this might be quick to respond by saying that the fulfillment of the psalm is in Jesus. We will come to that in a little while. But first, we need to ask. Why is a song that give so much confidence but amounts to nothing found in the book of Psalms? Why is it there, and placed as the second entry of this holy song book? What purpose does it serve for the people who first sung them? This leads us to the third characteristic.

When we turn to Book of Psalms, we will find that expressions of elation and cries, praises and confessions starting from the third Psalm and onward. Immediately after Psalm 2 that seems to guarantee victory of the Judean kings, Psalm 3 opens with the cry of King David who is in deep trouble, “O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me” (Psalm 3:1).

The first two psalms in the Psalter are however rather different in comparison. We don’t find in them expressions of human emotions or words of worship. The first psalm is about rooting oneself in the instructions of God. The second verse of the psalm reads, ”…his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” These are words of wisdom rather than expressions of human emotions, much like those in the book of Proverbs. Psalm 2 on the other hand talks about the kingdom and a time in the future where all evildoers will be done away. Matters of the future do not naturally belong to the Psalter, but the prophetic books. Scholars in noticing how different these two psalms are in comparison to the rest concluded that the first two psalms are in fact a two part introduction to the holy song book.

And since the introduction of a book serves to outline its content and to state its aims, we can now answer the question on the purpose of the Psalm 2. The first Psalm uses words of wisdom to encourage readers to seek righteousness before God, to be “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season.’(Ps 1:3) Psalm 2 in stressing that God is the ultimate ruler, the one who holds the future, is calling the people as a community to hope in God. God people need to know that the Almighty sits in heaven enthroned and sovereign, not just relaxing. The second psalm is hence not words of empty promises, neither is it included in the Psalter to predict or to report Israel’s history. Like the other Psalms in the collection, it is God inspired poetry. It gives us the theological perspective to life situations, so that we can form and have the necessary outlook in life.

In short, the two part introduction jointly says, work on righteousness by being like a tree planted by streams of water and have hope amidst all the setbacks in life, for God is the ultimate king.

The Christian author Eugene Peterson has this to say about the first two psalms and us the reader, “Two psalms are carefully set as an introduction: Psalm 1 is a laser concentration on the person; Psalm 2 is a wide-angle lens on politics…we love Psalm 1 and ignore Psalm 2.” We are indeed much more familiar with the first psalm as compared to the second. Aren’t we? Why? I suppose it might be because the first psalm which is about cultivating righteousness, involves active participation on our part and observing one’s improvements along the way, to do and to see results resonate well with our active lifestyle. Psalm 2 on the other hand calls us to hope and to wait. We don’t enjoy waiting!

Do we have hope in God? Brothers and sisters in Christ would say ‘yes’, for it is our hope in God that tells believers apart from pre-believers. But let me ask again, “What difference does our hope in God make in our daily lives?” Are we people who are happy to just know that there’s some hope in God inside us? Or do we face daily life with our hope in God? Do we handle situations with the awareness and certainty that God is the almighty and that he is ultimately in control? Are we people who react and respond to love and kindness, rudeness and unfriendliness with the hope we have in us? Psalm 2 is calling us not to stop at knowing that there’s some hope in God inside us but to live lives with hope. Brothers and sisters in Christ, do we let our hope in God guide us, push us on, constraint us and compel us? What does our hope in God do to and for us?

We are not the first readers of Psalm 2. We know how this Psalm has played out. The Gospel of Mark, which we will be turning to starting from next week, shows us that in Jesus Christ all that was declared in Psalm 2 has finally become a reality. Psalm 2 appeared to be empty promises because the God appointed king who is also the son of God should display obedience, loyalty, integrity, justice and righteousness, but every one of the Judean kings had failed in one or some and even all these areas. But in the life of Jesus, as Mark will show us, all these virtues are evident and consistently there. Hence, when Jesus was baptised and came out of the water, Mark tells us that the same declaration made at the coronation of Judean kings is heard yet again, and this time it sounded directly from heaven , "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." (Mark 1:11)

We mentioned at the beginning of today’s sharing that the Davidic descendants that God establishes are at the same time the Son, the messiah and the king. Mark tells us that all of these have come true in Jesus, but there is at the same time a transformation taking place. The Judean kings referred to in Psalm 2 declared that they will rule the world, and by ruling they must have thought of doing so with politics shrewdness and military power. But that’s not the way in which Jesus the King rules. In him, the political and military idioms underwent a transformation into an evangelical mode. Jesus rules by preaching, teaching and healing, and by dying on the cross and overcoming the power of death. God in Psalm 2:8 invites the king to ask of Him, and promised that He will then make the nations the kings’ heritage, and the ends of the earth their possession. But because of the transformation seen in Jesus, we now have the New Testament version of the same declaration, “And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” (Matt 28:18-19) Jesus came on Christmas, and did exactly this: making disciples, he then passed the task to us to call the nation to be his followers, to experience his healing and salvation.

Friends, we shall embark another year of live journey in a mere five days from now. Would the meditation this morning be of help to us as we walk into new unknowns? In the midst of working on new challenges and opportunities, new learning and facing test and exams papers in our schools and varsities, will we be people who seek righteousness and be “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season”? Will we meet daily situations with our hope in God? Will we, as we are being called, to go and pass on this hope?

[1] Goldingay, J., Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms: Psalms (Volume 1: Psalms 1-41), Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006. 103-4.

Psalm 2 (Listen)

2:1   Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
  The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
  “Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”
  He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
  Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
  “As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”
  I will tell of the decree:
  The LORD 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.”
10   Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11   Serve the LORD with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12   Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
  Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

(ESV)