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31 December 2014

Mormon Bible Study: Psalm 2 (part 1)

Psalm 2: The Impotence of Those that Fight Against the Lord

Ever since I started studying the Psalms, everything I read seems to be reinforcing the idea that the scriptures bring hope. It's a great feeling, hope. I read the news, and I see the suffering in the world, and sometimes I feel so small. There is so much pain. And I can only do so much, so very little, to ease the pain in my own small circle. But the scriptures bring hope. Hope for healing, for rest, for relief.  Hold fast to His Word, and He will give you hope. It's a beautiful thing.

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? ...  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
-Psalm 2:1,9-11

That phrase in the middle, "but we have no promise of grace to sustain us in borrowed trouble," it kind of threw me for a loop. "Don't borrow trouble," is a thing that my mom used to tell me when I was a kid, and I would get bogged down in what-if and worrying over things that hadn't happened yet and that I had no control over. She also sometimes told me, "Don't borrow a wrench," which was about the same thing. As  I pondered, I realized that when I have been locked into my own fears and "borrowed trouble", to the extent that I focus on that fear, I loose the ability to feel the whisperings of the Spirit - I cut myself off from the comfort that would otherwise give me the hope to break out of that cycle. But, every time, as soon as I start focusing on the Lord, the fear takes a backseat or even falls away completely. In essence, when I take my eyes off the Lord to focus on the fear and hurt, I don't let the grace He offers into my heart to heal the hurts. (Grace is about much more than healing sin.)

It was interesting, as I browsed through the Scripture Citation Index, how many of the early Brethren used this chapter to comfort and calm the Saints during the difficult times surrounding Johnston's Army's arrival in Utah. That, like now, was a difficult time, filled with troubles and worries. They said a lot of things like this:

The Lord will never fail us, either!

I have saved a number of graphics about Psalms on my Pinterest board for scripture study. Turns out, several of them come from just one article which one of the girls in the Bible Study group found, and there's some interesting stuff on there. The thing that really caught my eye was one just over halfway down, that counts the times that the various Psalms are quoted in the New Testament, and it turns out that the Psalm 2 is one of the most popular, being quoted seven different times in the Bible. So, off I went to find out where it is quoted. Happily, there are lists of what Psalms are referenced, and where. 

The first one listed is Acts 4:25-26 (bolded portions are the part from the 2nd Psalm).

And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 

For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,  By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

Men of God then and now use this chapter in some very similar ways: they use it to underline the impotence of those who are trying to fight against the Lord and His plans. A mosquito has a better chance of stopping a stampeding elephant. Even when things look dark, we have every reason to hope in Christ!

Let the wicked world pass on and the inhabitants of the earth rail, and let the wicked imagine a vain thing...

All that, and it's just the first place that the Psalm was quoted. I am really looking forward to digging into the other ways that this Psalm has been used in the Bible.

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