Every political season (including our current one) is filled with promises and premonitions about the future. Our preferred candidate is lionized, and their opponent demonized. Dire warnings of future calamity are ensured if this particular candidate is elected. It’s easy to be swept up in the hype. The frenzy of political campaigns creates a particular zeal that is somewhat terrifying: some people will do just about anything—and hurt anyone—to ensure victory for their candidate. Unfortunately, this zeal is sometimes misplaced, and Christians can find themselves as a part of a movement that is quite unbiblical. Politics aren’t inherently bad, but they can reshape our commitments from God to government.
This warning should be heeded due to the friction that often occurs between human authorities and God. The Psalmist wrote of this in Psalm 2:
“Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.” (1-3)
The nations have joined in an effort of rebellion against God’s sovereign rule. They rejected his anointed king in an effort to create their own kingdom and their own lifestyle. Of course, this is futile, for who dares fight against the king of cosmos?
“He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.” (4-6)
Their pitiable attempts to overthrow the king is laughable. God will establish his ruler despite the efforts of the people. The type of king they desire (Saul) isn’t the one God desires (David). What should they do then in response?
“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.” (v. 12)
God’s king is his son, and if the nations have any chance of escaping his wrath, they must kiss his hand in a sign of obeisance. It is only then that they can rejoice, but with trembling (v. 11).
Of course, this psalm is the par excellence of Messianic psalms. The early church recognized that it was prophetic and ultimately fulfilled within the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 4:25-29). The nations had done their best to reject the true king, but God vindicated him through the resurrection. He ascended and is now reigning at the right hand of God. Nothing could stop the enthronement of Jesus of Nazareth. As we see him in his glory, we are overwhelmed with a joy tempered by awe-inspired trembling: the right king reigns.
We would do well to remember this as we enter our current political cycle. Politics matter to a degree, but not in the ultimate sense. History is in the hands of the one who makes it. His son will reign for all eternity regardless of what candidate usurps power in the current moment.
Jesus is a king—the king—and the king is going to reign.