************ Sermon on Hebrews, Psalm 2, Psalm 110 ************


By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman


This sermon was preached on September 20, 2015


Psalm 2, Psalm 110, Acts 4:23-31, Hebrews 1:3,5,13
Hebrew Series
"The Triumphant King"

Introduction
Last time we looked at Hebrews I mentioned the many Old Testament and apocryphal passages quoted by the New Testament. In the book of Hebrews it is especially the psalms that are quoted again and again. There is a reason for this. In the early church each congregation did not have a full copy of the Old Testament Scriptures. However, the people did know the psalms because they were memorized and sung in worship. By quoting from the psalms, the author is appealing to what his audience knows.

Two psalms quoted often by Hebrews are Psalms 2 & 110. As I said last time, many commentators believe the book of Hebrews is a sermon based upon these two psalms. Therefore, it only makes sense that we look at these psalms before we go any further into the book.

I Psalm 2 - READ PSALM 2
A We start with Psalm 2. It is quoted eighteen times by the New Testament and three times by Hebrews (Heb 1:2,5; 5:5). Psalm 2 is what is known as a royal psalm. It is one of the psalms celebrating the coronation of a new king in Israel. As we listen to this psalm, we can hear 4 different voices.

The first voice that we hear is of princes and kings who rebel against the new king:
(Ps 2:3) "Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters."
In ancient times the crowning of a new king was always seen by vassal and subject nations as an opportunity to agitate and fight for freedom. It was hoped that a new, inexperienced, and often young king would not react swiftly and firmly enough to stop the fires of rebellion.

The second voice that we hear is God, Who laughs and scoffs, rebukes and terrifies:
(Ps 2:6) "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
God has appointed the new king. He has been chosen by God and is supported by God's mighty power. As verse 2 indicates, the rebellious princes and kings gather together against the Lord and "against his Anointed One" (Ps 2:2). In the original language, "Anointed One" is actually the translation of the Hebrew word "Messiah." Every legitimate king in the line of David was a "Messiah," an "Anointed One." So, to rebel against the new king is to rebel against God's Messiah and therefore against God Himself. In other words, the rebels were attempting the impossible. As verse 1 puts it, they were conspiring and plotting in "vain" (Ps 2:1). How can they possibly hope to succeed with the Lord Himself, the almighty God, against them? How can they stand "against the Lord and against his Messiah" (Ps 2:2).

The third voice that we hear is that of the king. He remembers the words God spoke in ordaining him as king:
(Ps 2:7-9) I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. (8) Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. (9) You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."
The king stands in a special relationship to God: he is Son. And the king remembers God's promise to His Son of a kingdom that fills all the earth.

The fourth and last voice we hear is that of the psalmist. He takes note of all that has been said, of all that he has heard. He realizes that the wise man or woman should learn a lesson from this. He realizes that there is a warning here for all people. He realizes that there is a message here for all kings and all rulers:
(Ps 2:11-12) Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. (12) Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

B Nothing in the Psalm indicates who wrote the Psalm or why. However, under the inspiration of the Spirit, Acts 4:25 indicates that Psalm 2 was written by David. So, to understand this psalm we need to spend some time looking at the circumstances of David's life.

As you know, David was anointed to be king in the place of Saul who was rejected by the Lord as king over Israel (1 Sam 16:1,13). Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had left Saul (1 Sam 18:12). Scripture tells us Saul became David's enemy the rest of his days (1 Sam 18:29) and wanted him dead (1 Sam 19:1-2). Saul pursued David like a hunter pursues a wild animal. And, after the death of Saul, there was war between the houses of David and Saul (2 Sam 2:8-5:5). Don't we see in these events what the psalm describes?
(Ps 2:2) The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him (cf 2 Sam 5:17ff). After fighting them, David also fought the Jebusites, the Moabites, the Arameans, and the king of Zobah.
(Ps 2:2) The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.

David's son Absalom led a rebellion against king David (cf 2 Sam 13 ff). Some of David's closest advisors and friends participated in the rebellion. A troublemaker named Sheba rebelled against David (cf 2 Sam 20). Then David's son Adonijah put himself forward to be king (cf 1 Kings 1).
(Ps 2:2) The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.

Finally, take note of what happened after the death of Solomon. The nation of Israel became divided. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to the house of David while the other ten tribes followed Jeroboam (cf 1 Kings 12). Again we hear the message of the psalmist:
(Ps 2:2) The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One.

As we read in Psalm 2, the kings of the earth take their stand against the Lord and His Anointed One; time and time again the rule of God's Anointed One is contested and rejected. Yet, never once does David's rule extend to the ends of the earth -- as is mentioned by the psalmist. And, never once do the nations serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.

We see a gap between promise and reality. Obviously, something more is needed. Something better is needed. Someone better is needed.

II Psalm 110 - READ PSALM 110
A That brings us to Psalm 110. Like Psalm 2, Psalm 110 is also a royal psalm. This psalm is quoted twenty-five times by the New Testament and twelve times by Hebrews. It too celebrates the coronation of a new king on David's throne.

Psalm 110 offers many promises to David’s son. The king gets the place of power, for he sits at the Lord’s "right hand" (Ps 110:1). He is promised victory -- God Himself makes the king’s enemies his footstool, a symbol for total submission. That is why various biblical figures placed their feet on the necks of defeated foes (Josh 10:1–28; 1 Kings 5:1–3). The king of Psalm 110 is Lord.

B But the king is also priest. He is a "priest forever in the order of Melchizedek" (Ps 110:4). Melchizedek was a righteous king who sat on the throne of Jerusalem in the days of Abraham. He was a just and holy ruler who also served as priest of God Most High (Gen 14:18). Inspired by the Spirit, David understood the kings of Israel to be like this ancient king.

C According to Psalm 110, then, the king is lord and priest. We customarily see the throne and priesthood as separate, and, indeed, they each had different tasks. That is why it was so wrong for King Saul to offer the burnt offerings that only Samuel should have offered before going into battle against the Philistines (1 Sam 13). Yet David, without condemnation, occasionally performed tasks that were otherwise assigned to the priests alone (1 Sam 21:1–6; 2 Sam 6:12–15).

Again, there is a gap between promise and reality. Because never once is there a king in Israel who defeats all his enemies. Never once is there a king who is priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Obviously, something more is needed. Something better is needed. Someone better is needed.

III Acts 4 - READ ACTS 4:23-31
A This morning we looked at the devotion of the early church to prayer. Our Scripture reading included Acts 4. I ask you to turn there with me as we read that passage again. READ ACTS 4:23-31 ...

After Peter and John had been threatened by the Sanhedrin, they went back to the church and reported what happened to them. Then they all joined together in prayer and committed themselves anew to the Lord.

In this prayer, they quoted from Psalm 2, which refers to the conspiracy and rebellion of kings and nations against God. "The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One" (Acts 4:26).

Peter and the disciples applied Psalm 2 to their own situation. The conspiracy, they said, was against God’s anointed servant, Jesus. Those who conspired were the nations and the peoples, in this case "the Gentiles and the people of Israel" (Acts 4:27). The leaders who conspired were Herod and Pontius Pilate (Acts 4:27), who had been adversaries until they came to agree on putting Jesus to death (Luke 23:12). In all of this we need to see the hand and activity of Satan; he is the one, above all others, who hates God and His Anointed Servant the Messiah; he is the one, above all others, who contests the rule of King Jesus; he is the one, above all others, who incites people and rulers to plot and rebel.

Satan did not stop conspiring against God and His Anointed after the work of Herod and Pilate. He is continually at work to this day. There are two mistakes that people often make about Satan: first, they err by ascribing too much power to him; second, they err by ascribing too little power to the father of lies. Do not take Satan too lightly, congregation. At the same time, have confidence in God’s ultimate sovereignty and victory.

B Remember what Psalm 2 says is God’s response to the conspiracies of men and Satan? "The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them" (Ps 2:4). In the psalm, God laughs because He is in total control. In Acts 4, God laughs even more because of the irony of the situation. The conspirators who killed Jesus were doing exactly what God wanted them to do, what He had predestined them to do: "They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen" (Acts 4:28). In light of the Gospel, we know that the death of Jesus was God’s victory over His enemies, because in Jesus’ death and resurrection the power of sin and Satan was destroyed.

C In Psalm 2:5–6, David said that God rebukes the conspirators in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath, proclaiming that He has installed His King on Zion, His holy hill. He is King over them all. This thought is picked up in Acts 4:29–31. The disciples prayed for great boldness in the face of persecution. They asked God to make visible, through miracles and signs, the fact that Jesus has ascended and become King of Kings. In response, God filled them with the Spirit and caused the building to shake.

IV Hebrews - READ HEBREWS 1:3,5,13
A I ended our discussion of both psalms by saying there is a gap between promise and reality. Because never once does David's rule extend to the ends of the earth. Never once do the nations serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Never once is there a king in Israel who is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

According to Hebrews, it is Jesus Who bridges the gap. Remember what is said about Jesus in Hebrews 1:3? We are told Jesus "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." Telling us what? Telling us He is Lord. He is King. Of all the universe. He is the One Who reigns. And, we are told Jesus "provided purification for sins." Telling us what? Telling us He is a priest forever Whose offering brings forgiveness.

B This message is emphasized by the quotes we just read from Hebrews 1. In verse 5, Hebrews applies the words of Psalm 2:7 to Jesus: "You are my Son; today I have become your Father" (Heb 1:5). And, in verse 13, Hebrews applies the words of Psalm 110:1 to Jesus: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet" (Heb 1:13).

According to Hebrews, then, when we look at Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 we are to see Jesus. It is Jesus Who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is Jesus Who is priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. It is Jesus Who reigns. Jesus is the fulfilment of both Psalms 2 & 110. Jesus is the Davidic king who is Lord and priest. That's the message of Hebrews.

C Do you remember why Hebrews was written? It was written to encourage a Hebrew audience to stay true to the Christian faith. Because of persecution some of the Hebrew Christians were tempted to return to the Old Testament sacrificial system. Hebrews tells them not to do that because Christ is better than anything in the Jewish faith.

Let's go back to my Jewish friend in the hospital. I told you this morning that I pray the psalms with her. She knows the psalms and loves the psalms. In the light of the New Testament we know that the psalms are all about Jesus. Do you know what I am gently saying to her? I am telling her the message of Hebrews. I am telling her Jesus is better. Jesus is better than anything in her Jewish faith. Jesus is better than God's mighty angels -- as we learned the last time we looked at Hebrews. Jesus is better than David and Solomon and all the kings who followed them. Jesus is better than Melchizedek. Jesus is better because He reigns. Jesus is better because He is perfect. Jesus is better because He is eternal. Jesus is better because His atoning sacrifice is once-for-all and never needs to be repeated. Remember, these are the four words we have to keep in mind as we study Hebrews -- the words better, perfect, eternal, and once-for-all.

Conclusion
Jesus is better! So what?! What difference does this make? Let me remind you of the fourth and last voice we hear in Psalm 2. It is the voice of the psalmist. He tells us the lesson we should learn:
(Ps 2:11-12) Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. (12) Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

In my office I sometimes tell couples they have to kiss and make up. That is the advice of the psalmist to you and me and my Jewish friend and everyone else. Kiss and make up. Kiss and make up with Jesus. Kiss and make up with Jesus by repenting of your sin and believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Kiss and make up, says the psalmist, before it is too late. One of the saddest things I have to deal with is a death following a quarrel. A husband and wife have an argument. A parent and child have a fight. Two brothers have a heated exchange. One of them dies later that day because of an accident or a heart attack. Oh the regrets because they didn't kiss and make up. Oh the regrets because their last words were harsh words, angry words. Oh the regrets.

When it comes to Jesus, says the psalmist, kiss and make up before it is too late. Kiss and make up before He returns in judgment. Kiss and make up before He returns in glory with His mighty angels. Kiss and make up because none of us know the day or the hour -- either of our death or His return.

Our God Reigns. Jesus reigns. That is the message of Hebrews as it looks at the psalms. So, kiss and make up.
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