Theme: God the Father’s Response
In this week’s studies we are reminded of the sinful folly and the tragic results that await all those who live in rebellion against God, and of the need to bow before the Lord Jesus Christ in grateful submission.
Scripture: Psalm 2:1-12
In the second section of the psalm, verses 4-6, the speaker is God the Father, though the narrator sets up his words just as in the opening section he set up the arrogant words of the rebelling monarchs. What is God’s reaction to the haughty words of these pygmy human rulers? God does not tremble. He does not hide behind some vast celestial rampart, counting the enemy and calculating whether or not he has sufficient force to counter this new challenge to his kingdom. He does not even rise from where he is sitting. He “laughs” at these great imbeciles.
This is the only place in the Bible where God is said to laugh, and it is not a pleasant laugh. It is a laugh of scorn or derision, as the next verse shows (v. 4). That is what human attempts to throw off the rule of the Sovereign God deserve. It is understandable that sinners should want to reject God’s rule. That is what sin is: a repudiation of God’s rule and standards in favor of one’s own will. But although understandable, the folly of this attempt surpasses belief. How can mere human beings expect to get rid of God? After laughing at such foolishness, God speaks to rebuke and terrify these rulers. He tells of the appointment of his Son to be king in Zion, and foretells his triumph.
Spurgeon pointed out that in the late third and early fourth centuries, the Roman Emperor Diocletian (245-313 A.D.), a great foe of Christianity, struck a medal which bore the inscription: “The name of Christianity being extinguished.” Diocletian extended the frontier of the empire westward into Spain, where he erected two monuments proclaiming:
Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti
for having extended the Roman Empire in the east and the west and for having extinguished the name of Christians who brought the Republic to ruin
Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ for having extended the worship of the gods.
But Diocletian had not abolished Christianity. On the contrary, at the time Christianity was growing stronger than ever. It was appointed ultimately to triumph even over the throne of the Caesars.
Spurgeon quotes an earlier preacher, William S. Plumber, as writing: “Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces and others in high office, who distinguished themselves by their zeal and bitterness in persecuting the early Christians, one became speedily deranged after some atrocious cruelty, one was slain by his own son, one became blind, the eyes of one started out of his head, one was drowned, one was strangled, one died in a miserable captivity, one fell dead in a manner that will not bear recital, one died of so loathsome a disease that several of his physicians were put to death because they could not abide the stench that filled his room, two committed suicide, a third attempted it but had to call for help to finish the work, five were assassinated by their own people or servants, five others died the most miserable and excruciating deaths, several of them having an untold complication of diseases, and eight were killed in battle, or after being taken prisoners.
“Among these was Julian the Apostate. In the days of his prosperity he is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven, defying the Son of God whom he commonly called the Galilean. But when he was wounded in battle, he saw that all was over with him, and he gathered up his clotted blood and threw it into the air, exclaiming, ‘Thou has conquered, O thou Galilean.’”1
So has it been throughout history and will be to the end.
What does it mean for God to laugh at human rebellion?
Why do sinners rebel against God? What do they hope to achieve? List a few Scripture references that reveal the result of their rejection and disobedience.
Application: Who do you know who in their own way look like these rulers of Psalm 2 who rebel against the Lord? What will you do in the next week to show them the folly of their sin and point them to reconciliation with God through the gospel of his Son?
1C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. la, Psalms 1-26, p. 16. The quotation from Plummer is dated 1867.