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22 January 2015

Psalm 2: Evil Can Only Go So Far

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

I am following the 2nd Psalm through the Bible, to see what it can teach me. The first lesson was one of hope in Christ, and underscored the absolute futility of fighting against Him.The second citation on my list uses verse seven. Really, only a part of the verse:

Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

Paul uses this as a part of a powerful testimony of Christ. He had come to Antioch, and was invited to teach. It's all recorded in Acts 13:16-43.  He begins by sketching the history of Israel from the Exodus to David, and then from David to Christ. This is bold stuff; the Jews at this time largely had rejected Christ. Paul shows how David knew of Christ, and had understood His mercy. Paul tells his audience:

38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Acts 13:38-39

It's an interesting passage. Paul is on one of his missionary journeys, and is preaching in Antioch. Antioch is known for being a place where lots of Gentiles were converted, but in this particular instance, Paul is speaking primarily to Jews. He reminds them of their history, and then connects that history to Christ. There's lots of interest, among both Jews and Gentiles, but there's trouble too: the leaders of the Jews are jealous that so many, "almost the whole city together," want to hear about Christ. It is ironic, then, that not only do the Jews reject the message, but they conspire to have Paul and Barnabas expelled from the city, forcefully reminding me of the first and second verses in the 2nd Psalm:

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed...
-Psalm 2:1-2

In spite of the machinations of these people, the city becomes a center of Christian activities, and even a place where persecuted Christians flee. Truly, the Lord is the "king upon my holy hill(Ps. 2:6)". Evil's bounds are set. As I study this chapter, I see that over and over. Evil can only go so far as the Lord permits. Charles Penrose, who was later called to the apostleship, said it this way:

The kingdoms of this world are great and powerful. They have their armies and navies. They are organized after the fashion of man to plunder and lay waste. But all the nations of the earth are in the hands of the Great Eternal. ... They will go ahead and carry out their designs as far as the Lord pleases to allow them and no further. “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?” He that spoke to the wind and the waves can speak to the blast of human passion and the breakers of human wrath, bid them go no further, and say, when He pleases; “Peace, be still.” -Charles W. Penrose, JD 25:338a

Somewhere about this point in my study, I ended up with the following scripture chain, centered on verse 4, which was a difficult verse for me. "Derision" is not a word that I would have associated with the Lord. As I studied, I came to the conclusion that it's all about power imbalance. Those who fight against the Lord set themselves up in opposition to God, Himself. They are so over-matched. A flea would stand a better chance of thwarting an elephant.

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Psalm 2:4

So here is the scripture chain that I found as I looked through talks given by the various brethren that  have been archived on the LDS Citation Index. I can't take any particular credit for knowing these; these are verses referenced in the same talks that referenced verse four, which I found as I looked at the talks trying to understand the verse:

Jer. 31:12(10-14)

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