Psalm 2:1 – Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
I should like to call your attention this evening to the message of the second Psalm. One of the two readings at the beginning of the service. The second Psalm which begins with these words: “Why do the heathen rage? And the people imagine a vain thing.”
Now I can well believe that there are many in this congregation at this moment, who are wondering to themselves as to what this old Psalm, which was probably written nearly three thousand years ago, has to do with us living in 1979. The vast majority of the people of this country, as we are aware, certainly would take that view. They no longer attend places of worship, because they feel that it is utterly pointless to do so! That in our modern world with its teeming problems – its increasing crisis and it’s dim and dismal outlooks – they feel that this old book has obviously got nothing to say to us – and cannot possibly be of any help or of aid to us. Well now, I want to deal with that position and I want to not only justify our gathering together in a building just such as this on a Wednesday evening, but I want to show you that not only is the message of this book, which we call The Bible, relevant to the modern man and to the modern problem – but I want to go further and I want to show that nothing else is relevant – that THIS is the only book which throws any light upon our problems and our predicament – and the only book that holds out any hope for any one of us in this modern world.
Now this Psalm is a very remarkable one – as I say, it was written very nearly three thousand years ago by David the king of Israel. He was writing primarily for his own age and his own generation – and he was concerned about the situation and about the whole condition of mankind in his time. And he describes it and he deals with it. But not only was he doing that – because he was a man of God, he was doing something further – he was describing ….. The Whole State and Condition of the Human Race! Ever since that early point in its long story, when it turned its back upon God and began to experience its terrifying problems. This Psalm not only describes what conditions were like in the time of David – it is an equally valid and good description of what times have been like on many a previous occasion – and what they were like on many a subsequent occasion.
I asked our friend to read that section out of the fourth chapter of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, because you will have noticed that there this Psalm was quoted. That passage was dealing with the early Christian church. She had only just come into being, but she was being persecuted.
Two of the leaders – the Apostles Peter and John, had been arrested – they had been arraigned before a court – they had been condemned – and they had been threatened that ‘if they persisted in preaching about this Jesus of Nazareth and His message that they would be put to death.’ Then they were let loose and they went back to their own company – the members of the church – and reported what had happened to them. We are told that the moment that the church heard that they lifted up their voice to God with one accord and they began to pray. They hadn’t been praying for long before they began quoting this second Psalm – and what they said was this……… “What David said – What was said through the voice of Thy servant David – is equally true today – “The heathen are raging, the people are imagining a vain thing – The kings of the earth are setting themselves and the rulers take counsel together.” They said…………….”It is against You and against Your Christ that they are doing the same thing now.”
David was not only describing what was happening in his day, he was giving a valid and an accurate description of what was happening when the Lord Jesus Christ was in this world. The conditions in the first century and indeed this is a description, I say, of the state of mankind in many another age – and I want to show you that it is a particularly accurate description of the state of affairs obtaining in this country – and in the world at large at this present time. Now that is the remarkable thing about this book which is called The Bible. It is not only God’s book, it’s a book of history – it’s a book which gives us the story of the human race – explains why it is as it is – and as I say, holds out the only hope of an adequate and a real solution.