Futile rage ∙
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? – Psalms 2:1
1 Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
2 The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his anointed one.
3 “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”
4 But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury.
6 For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.”
Rage is a form of violent, uncontrollable anger. It influences our reasoning and judgment. Rage is angry resentment or prejudice against a person or group. Frequently, our rage is unfair and unjustified.
Road rage is angry, aggressive conduct while driving. The term originated in 1987. The expression was coined to describe a rash of shootings on freeways and interstates in Los Angeles.
Rage behaviors include rude and offensive gestures, verbal insults, threatening driving, or physical threats. The underlying goal is at best, to simply relieve the driver’s frustration. At worst, road ragers seek to intimidate or harm others. Frequently, it involves leaving a vehicle to assault or even shoot another driver. Road rage is increasing. More than 1500 road rage incidents are reported each year. Over 12,000 preventable injuries have occurred. Appallingly, more than 37% of road rage incidents involve at least one firearm. During a 7-year study period, over 200 murders were attributed to road rage.
Too often, the Father is the object of rage and rebellion. Rage is often thoughtless and blind. Sadly, it lurks in the heart of every fallen person. If you search, you will probably find it silently lurking within.
Who is ultimately in charge of planet Earth and the created universe? Where does the buck stop? The Scriptures unequivocally answer this question. The Father is the architect and creator of all. He has control and sovereignty over His creation.
Psalm 2 recounts the senseless rejection of the Father’s rule and authority. His chosen and anointed King, the Lord Jesus Christ, is also targeted. The Psalm reveals an astonishing, yet consistent pattern found throughout the Scripture. The Father sits serenely and confidently upon His throne. He rules peacefully and quietly. He is sovereign over all things. He has made choices, and His choices stand firm. On the other hand, people tend to be obtuse, stubborn, self-absorbed, willful, rebellious, and defiant.
The first word of the Psalm sets the tone, “Why.” The psalmist is not seeking information or clarification by asking “Why.” Rather, it is more of an exclamation of puzzlement, even astonishment. In modern English, we might say, “How can people be so stupid?” Why do they tumultuously rage, give themselves over to senseless anger, and “waste their time with futile plans”?
People dupe themselves into thinking they can successfully rebel against the sovereign, omnipotent Lord of lords and King of Kings. They delude themselves thinking that their vain struggle and defiance can somehow alter or even overthrow His absolute authority.
They foolishly imagine themselves as combatants in a struggle for dominance. On one side, are the kings and the officials of the earth. Their opponents are the Father Himself and His Anointed One, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. What an impossible contest. Somehow, I picture angry mice screaming and plotting against an alpha, male elephant. Yet such a meager word picture is not an adequate representation of the absurd incongruity of it all.
If the outcome could be determined by numbers alone, the kings would win. Down through the ages, their combined armies number in the billions. The kings and their soldiers square off against only two opponents, the Father and the Son. But it is no contest. The Father is greater than all.
It is worth noting that their entire rebellion is in words only. They only raise their voices against the Father, never their weapons.
The absurdity of it all is reminiscent of the fairy tale about the big bad Wolf and the three little pigs. Similar to the Wolf, they are full of hot air. They huff and puff, but absolutely nothing changes. The Father’s plans and choices are set in granite. They stand firm and no created force can budge them.
REFLECT & PRAY
It is almost inconceivable that anyone would be so foolish as to launch a war with the Father that they cannot win. Yet, indeed they do.
Father it is so easy to judge and condemn others. I must confess that rage lives within my wicked heart as well. Thank You for forgiving my rebellion. Enable me to understand and forgive others as well.
1 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.”
The Hebrew word translated rage, angry, in an uproar is ragash. It signifies being in a state of great anger, to behave violently, to behave irrationally. “The verb ragash designates any noisy or riotous assembly that practically seethes in its antagonism” (Leupold). The nations gather in tumultuous anger and it escalates from there.
They “devise futility” (Leupold). They make plans, they plot, they scheme, they ruminate, they strategize. The Hebrew word translated vain is riq. It has the sense of empty, useless, pointless, or worthless.
The bottom line is that neither rage nor pathetic, ineffectual scheming can change anything.
The French common language version (FRCL) translates the Hebrew with a question and a statement: “The nations are in an uproar – but why? The people plot, but it is useless!” (UBS).
It is easy to imagine the psalmist writing these words and shaking his head in disbelief (Johnston). They cannot possibly win, so why try? Rage and murmured, shouted schemes and plots are rooted in the hearts of each fallen person. Our hearts are naturally bent against the Father, the living God.
How does the Father react to such feeble rebellion and raging anger? He laughs.
Psalm 2:4 But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.
Just imagine in your mind’s eye for a moment, the Father, regally sitting in heaven. He is shaking His head, laughing. I can hear Him saying, “Really! You cannot be serious!” There is more, He scoffs at them, He ridicules them, He mocks them.
Each of us, although children of the King, possess the same fallen nature. We also are given to pity parties and angry rancor. But the Father is not angry with us, because He knows we are but dust (Psalms 103:13-14). How does the Father respond to His children? Perhaps the Father would ask the same question, “Why?” And then somewhat incredulously ponder, “How can My children be so stupid?” He exclaims, “They just do not get it, but someday they will.”
In the twinkling of an eye the Father moves from astonishment to a longing sadness, then overflowing forgiveness, and longing for our restoration.