The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life

A worldview from the second Psalm
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That is the effect verse 4 should have on the faith-full psalm reader. You hear the scary bravado of verse 3, but then you re-focus with the view of the laughing King in verse 4.

And there is also divine action in contrast to human decision (vv. 5-6). You may see it best by hearing! Place the words of the rulers of this age in verse 3 side-by-side with the Yahweh's words in verse 6: 'But I [the pronoun is emphatic] have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill.' They say, 'Let us …' and Yahweh says, 'But I ….' When he mentions 'my king' he is referring to the one called 'his anointed' in verse 2. (For the record, I do not think that he refers here to any conceivable king of David's line; I think this psalm has its eyes on the final, culminating king of that line, the Messiah par excellence). So he mocks their puny rebellion (v. 4) and he has already installed the King who will rule the world (vv. 5-6).

And yet there's a bit of a 'kicker' here, for there is a certain divine 'weakness' in the face of this united human power. Yahweh has installed his king 'on Zion, my holy hill.' Of course, he is speaking of his choice of his covenant king, David, and David's line of kings that culminates in the Messiah himself. But look where he begins! The first reference in the Bible to Zion is in 2 Samuel 5:7, the stronghold of Zion that David took from the Jebusites. This 'Zion' was a puny 11 acres of real estate on the southeastern ridge of Jerusalem. Yahweh plants his kingdom there—and it will become a great mountain and fill the whole earth (Dan. 2:35). But he begins his visible kingdom in this world on a tiny, banana-shaped hill in a provincial backwater called Judah. God plants his kingdom in weakness, but because God plants it, it will prove undefeatable. It's a fascinating combination: weakness and invincibility.

And when God's servants are at their best they are aware of it. Australian missionary Dick McLellan has given us a case in point in his fascinating book, Warriors of Ethiopia. He tells of 42 evangelists from the Wolaitta tribe in southwestern Ethiopia who wanted to take the gospel to other tribes in the Gofa region. These men moved their families to Gofa, rented land, built houses, planted crops, had their new neighbors in, gossiped the gospel to them. Some of them received the Savior. Prayer houses were built where they met for fellowship and worship. But too many changes took place: converts no longer went to witchdoctors, no longer paid the priest's tax to the Orthodox priests, no longer slipped bribes to government officials for needs or favors. So … a police lieutenant arrested the evangelist Atero, chained his wrists together and clamped his ankles together in heavy iron rings so he could only hop but not walk. He paraded Atero in front of the market-day crowd and let it be known that this was what would happen to any who followed the 'new religion.' He ordered Atero, Go back to Wolaitta … and take your Jesus thing with you! We don't want your Jesus here!' Then McLellan says that Atero hopped forward and said: 'O Sir, listen. Please listen. I can go but the gospel will stay. By the power of God I planted Jesus in Gofa. He is planted in the hearts and souls of the Gofa people. I can go but Jesus will stay.' As if Atero says to one of the 'rulers of this age', 'There are some things you can change but some that you can't—some are irreversible, even for those with power.' I planted Jesus in Gofa. I can go but Jesus will stay! And God's kingdom may look pretty flimsy, planted in little Zion. But God has planted his kingdom there and that will stay—and no one can do anything about it.

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