I've always kind of liked this psalm because it's quoted so much by people who haven't really thought through what it is saying. It's a sobering and in many ways terrifying description of God and His annointed one (Israel's king imo, with possible later references to Christ, the annointed one par excellence).
The psalm is more or less a warning to the subdued nations that they better not try to rebel and free themselves from Israel's rule because the Lord would smite them if they did. When you think of Israel's king as 'The Son of God" (to which he was sometimes referred), this gives new meaning to the verse that the NIV renders, "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way." In other words, "Submit to us, or you're going to get it."
This is not the way that most Americans like to think about God and His people. But, that is the way that God is portrayed in the Old Testament. We have to keep in mind that in the Ancient Near East, each nation had it's own deity and that deity's power was demonstrated by the power of the nation that worshipped the deity. So, in a sense, Yahweh exercised his rule through the rule of Israel. Yahweh demonstrated His power when his annointed one "ruled them with an iron scepter" and "dashed them to pieces like pottery." Yikes.
It's sad how often I "plot in vain" against the Lord. All too frequently I try to throw off the fetters of His rule. Perhaps I wouldn't be so rebellious if God still struck people down for rebellion (but then again, that didn't stop people in antiquity). There is something to be said for a healthy "fear of God," one that goes beyond the "reverence" that we usually say this phrase means. (Sometimes it feels like we say fear=reverence just so that we don't have to fear or revere God.)
"Father, I know that you are good. You have shown your grace to me time and again. And yet, sometimes I wonder if You are shooting Yourself in the foot by doing so. Sometimes I wish I had more of a fear of You. That isn't to say that I don't recognize Your power or Your right to rule, neither is it to say that You delight in terrorizing Your people. It is just to say that as The One Who Is, I should have a better appreciation for Your being and for my relative insignificance.
Father, how do I develop a healthy fear of You? I certainly don't want to be a legalist. I don't want to lose sight of Your love or Your grace. I just don't want to develop a heart that takes advantage of Your grace. As Paul reminds us, that way leads to death. I pray that You would mold me. I pray that You would do what it takes to make me into a man of wisdom--one who knows You and Your ways. I confess that I haven't been proactive enough in this endeavor. You are life. You are peace. You are joy. Amen."
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