Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Psalm 2: My name is John Johnson


In the early hours of Saturday 5th November 1605 a man claiming to be John Johnson left a cellar underneath the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, and was promptly arrested. Inside were found many barrels of gunpowder. So ended an 18 month conspiracy led by Robert Catesby and involving the arrested man – not called John Johnson but Guido Fawkes.

Catesby, Fawkes and co had sought to kill King James and replace him with his daughter Elizabeth. A political move to suit their own purposes. Who will be on the throne? They said; we will choose.

Three thousand year old song, Psalm 2 describes a similar kind of conspiracy on an altogether grander global political scale. In v1-3 the kings of the earth plot together.

1. Who is the conspiracy against? 
V2 The LORD and his Anointed 

 That is to say, the Father and his Christ. We do sin against one another but Psalms tell us that our real problem is with the LORD and his Christ – human beings conspire against God, to overthrow him and place themselves on his throne. When we harm one another we’re harming those made and loved by the LORD and his Anointed, defacing and damaging their image bearers.

 2. Why do they conspire? 
V3 “let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” 

I wonder if that’s how we see God’s word in our lives? Restriction? Hosea 11:4 speaks differently, God says “I led them with cords of kindness, with ties of love… I bent down to feed them.” Why does humanity conspire to overthrow the LORD and his Anointed – because we mistake his kindness for cruelty, his love for restriction.

Who will be king? We will, because God can't be trusted to act for our good... and so we act like co-conspirators with Fawkes... hiding in cellars, trying to cover our tracks with a quickly adopted false names. All because we doubt that the LORD and his Anointed aren't kind.

I know a little of my own heart and the anxiety I experience when I'm out of control. I want to pull the strings. My hands might not be strong enough but when I'm holding things at least it's 'in my hands'. Can we be honest about ourselves? Can I? And, is there any possibility that we've misread things? Might his restraints be for our good? Might his bonds be safe for us? When we look at Jesus in action can we really label him as cruel? When he says that to see him is to see his Father can we really say a cruel deity lurks behind a kind Jesus?

In the next part we'll see how the LORD answers the conspiracy, but for now: see the kindness of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Unanswered is the problem - we have conspired... what then for us in the hands of the true king?

Image - Creative Commons - Antony

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