Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 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.
I was shopping a few weeks ago, which meant the Christmas music was playing in the background. Normally this is insipid instrumentalized versions of familiar holiday songs, mostly secular stuff with an occasional genuine Christmas carol to spice things up. This time, however, it was an actual person singing. It was “What Child is This” by William Dix. I stopped in the aisle when they got to the end of the first verse, waiting, hoping, they would go on to verse two. Alas, that was a bridge to far for commercial Christmas. Soon it was back to Rudolf turning his nasal problems to his own advantage and Frosty the Snowman.
It is often the second or third verses of Christmas carols which get to the meat of things. The second verse of Dix’s famous carol gives us nails and spears piercing him through and the cross being borne for me and you. “O Come, All Ye Faithful” gets down to some serious Christology in the second verse as well. The first one is a rather general appeal to go to Bethlehem for a little sightseeing. O Little Town of Bethlehem waits until verse three to get into the forgiveness of sins.
This psalm on the other hand starts off with a bang and then goes right into overdrive. God laughs as the fools of the earth and then commissions his Son to get down to some serious business, breaking with an iron rod, smashing his enemies like pottery. I don’t think we will hear this one being sung while we wander the aisles of Target anytime soon.
But Christians cannot forget this truth about Jesus. He has not come to pat sinners on the head and commend them for trying hard. He has come to wrestle with your sin and death and win a victory. He takes no prisoners and accepts no surrender. He smashes Satan’s kingdom with his iron rod and shatters them like so many pots. “Kiss the Son,” exhorts the psalmist, “lest he be angry.” Jesus is not only the cuddly little baby portrayed on Christmas cards. He is the very Lord of heaven and earth.