The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life

A worldview from the second Psalm
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It was so when the Communists took over China in 1949. Brother Yun of the underground church relates that in his home area of Nanyang, believers were crucified on the walls of their churches for refusing to deny Christ; others were chained to horses or vehicles and dragged to their deaths; a pastor was hoisted by a rope and makeshift crane and then dropped to the ground when he would not renounce Christ—the first time didn't kill him, so they did it once more to finish him off. Such episodes clutter history's calendar and our current century is already awash in such brutality. It is, sadly, par for the course. Hatred for the Messiah spills over on Messiah's people.

Yet the psalmist implies that this rebellious world, this persecuting world, is nevertheless an insane world. That is the implication behind his fourfold, astonished 'Why?' in verses 1-2. That 'why' is the first word in the psalm and only occurs once, but it is intended to 'carry over' to the following clauses (hence my translation). He can hardly believe it! What suicidal nincompoops to be possessed of such livid rage toward the God who rules.

So what are we to make of this? Well, if you are going to get a 'world view,' you must start here. If you are going to get a right view of God's kingdom, you must first get an accurate view of the world. Whether its rage always shows up at full fury, this world nevertheless hates God, detests his Messiah, and despises Messiah's people. 'If the world hates you,' Jesus has told us, 'know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you' (John 15:18-19, RSV). Let the realism of the Bible's view infect your mind; be sure you understand what you can expect.

The throne that consoles

Secondly, you can see here the throne that consoles (vv. 4-6). Right off you see the divine reaction to world-wide human rebellion: 'The One who sits in the heavens laughs! The Lord mocks at them!' (v. 4). You get the picture? God is not fazed! The mighty politicians, the dictators in their military fatigues, the terrorists with their bomb loads strapped to their backs—God is unimpressed. If you have imbibed a western sentimental view of God as the great soupy softie in the sky, then you will not understand this picture of verse 4. In fact, it will likely 'offend' you. But the psalm implies that nations may strut out their nuclear bombs—it only convulses the Almighty in laughter! To think that a few swaggering sovereigns could destroy God's kingdom with such trifles! After you hear the kings in verse 3, you need to see this picture of the laughing God in verse 4, in order to get re-focused on the truth.

Sinclair Ferguson (in his book Deserted by God?) mentions how the onset of anger may cause some symptoms of depression to disappear. He tells of a 19th century London physician, a certain Dr. Williams, who was sought out by patients suffering from mild depression. He sometimes referred them to a premier consultant living in Scotland. Patients making the several days' journey by coach arrived only to soon discover that no such doctor existed. They spent their return journey scheming how they would vent their spleen on Dr. Williams. They were furious—but no longer depressed! Something else held their attention.

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