April is poetry month. I’m celebrating by reflecting on a Psalm a day, and perhaps posting a poem of my own. Join me?
1Why do the nations rage[a]
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[b] 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 relate to this song second hand: through music others have written and the quoting of verse 7 in the gospels, when Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized and the voice from heaven said, “You are my son; today I have begotten you.” Was that not only true but a reference, an allusion, back to this whole Psalm?
The songs I remember when I read this Psalm are from verse 1, Rich Mullens’s While the Nations Rage and from verse 9, an aria in Handel’s Messiah. (You can click on the underlined words for a link to a YouTube recording and see if you like these songs too.)
Reading the Psalm again today, I realized that it addresses kings and other rulers who set themselves against God. It warns them to be wise to true power, and serve the Lord. What I realized was that it’s not addressing me for the most part, and that’s relieving. But it does help me to see the conflict between those who deny God and work against him, and God himself who is able to break the most powerful of leaders yet calls that leader to repentance, to right relationship with the true and good ruler of the world.
“Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” It does address me after all, in this last line. It ends with blessing just as Psalm 1 started with blessing. So what is the word in this Psalm to me, a common person who can look at the conflict between the powerful ones and wonder what’s to become of me? “Take refuge in him.” How do you take refuge in God? What comes to my mind is the times in an airplane where we hit turbulence and I know I have no control whatever, but I pray. It’s not so much the words I say as the crying out to the Most High God who hears me that restores my peace.
All Thanks and Praise to God!