“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”Psalm 2:6
This is clearly one of the ‘Messianic Psalms’ which foreshadow the Coming of the promised Descendant of King David, who would be the True King and Saviour, to whom all his predecessors could only ever be very imperfect and inadequate pointers. And when God eventually installed his true Anointed King in Zion he did it in such an unexpected, unique way that we can be fully confident we are dealing with raw, authentic history.
The Biblical account of Jesus cannot have been contrived in the mind of man; nor could it be just an accident of history. Jesus’ ‘coronation ceremony’, establishing him as God’s true King, focussed on a cruel cross and an empty tomb – who would have thought up such a ‘story-line’? And here, in Psalm 2, it was announced as a completed fact, 1,000 years before it happened!
It would involve pain and rejection and mocking and scourging – even being forsaken by God himself – and this also would be foretold in the finest detail a millennium, in advance in Psalm 22! The actual ‘anointing oil’ for this King would be applied by a poor woman of whom we know very little (cf Mark 14:3-9), and the attendants at the ‘coronation’ would be convicted criminals who were crucified beside him! This cannot be fiction; it is God’s Eternal Plan, ‘drawn up’ at Creation (cf Revelation 13:8). It is HIS story alone – powerful, terrifying, majestic, simple, awesome, beautiful … and motivated by pure love.
“O the love that drew Salvation’s Plan, O the grace that brought it down to Man, O the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary. Mercy there was great and grace was free, pardon there was multiplied to me, there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.” (William Newell). In these difficult days, when the future of our world’s health and economy, from a purely human perspective, looks anything but hopeful, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23), and, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).
Help, LORD, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men.Psalm 12:1
It is easy in these days for us to identify with King David here, as Elijah did when he fled from Jezebel and moaned in prayer to the LORD: “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:10).
With the continuing saturation of every part of our culture with a world-view that has no place for the God of the Bible, the God of Creation who came among us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue us from the self-destructive effects of sin, we are tempted to think, ‘the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men’, and ‘I am the only one left’.
But let us remember how David finished Psalm 12: “‘Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,’ says the LORD. ‘I will protect them from those who malign them.’ And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.” (verses 5-6).
And let us reflect on how the LORD reminded Elijah that, in spite of appearances, he (Elijah) was not alone (1 Kings 19:18). More than all this, we have God’s promise that he has ‘installed his King on Zion’ (Psalm 2:6), and that this ‘King’ is now ‘seated at God’s right hand’ in power (Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 8:1); and this King has promised, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18). Let us hear Jesus say to us afresh: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32), and let us take heart from Paul’s words: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
And because the LORD had closed [Hannah’s] womb, her rival [Peninnah] kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.1 Samuel 1:6-7
Every time I read this opening chapter of 1 Samuel my heart goes out to poor Hannah. The only thing that keeps me from being totally distressed is that I know the story has a happy ending!
And it is a good and important life-lesson for me, and one that, sadly, I am slow to learn. For this faithful wife of Elkanah to be childless was bad enough, but to have the the ‘rival’ wife, herself the mother of Elkanah’s many sons and daughters (4), taunting her barrenness 24/7 for 365 days, year after year, must have been unbearable.
Why didn’t her loving, compassionate, just and all-powerful God see her pain and act quickly to do something about it? (cf Luke 11:9-13; 18:7-8). I don’t have the answer to that question, but I do know that the Sovereign LORD sustained Hannah in her distress, and did work out his eternal good purposes through her.
So the lesson I must learn is to be PATIENT. I know that, by God’s amazing grace, my life-story also has a happy ending (John 3:16; 5:24), and therefore I can trust my loving, compassionate, just and all-powerful God with ALL the details of the journey towards that ending. And I know that he will sustain me through every hardship and difficulty I might meet along the way – even the inexplicable, ‘year after year’ difficulties. “Here in the madd’ning maze of things, when tossed by storm and flood, to one fixed ground my spirit clings: I know that God is good. … I know not what the future has, of marvel or surprise; assured alone that life and death his mercy underlies. … I know not where his islands lift their fronded palms in air, I only know I cannot drift beyond God’s love and care.” (J.G.Whittier).