David, the "Politically" and "Theologically" Incorrect King of Israel
We’ve heard much in recent days of what it means to be “politically correct”. To be “politically correct” means you avoid language or behavior or beliefs that might in any way offend someone who disagrees with you. I’m not a fan of political correctness. But I’m even less a fan of “theological correctness.” Continue reading . . .
We’ve heard much in recent days of what it means to be “politically correct”. To be “politically correct” means you avoid language or behavior or beliefs that might in any way offend someone who disagrees with you. I’m not a fan of political correctness. But I’m even less a fan of “theological correctness.” The advocates of theological correctness insist that if there are statements in the Bible that might offend people or make them feel excluded or judged as wrong, you must delete them from your vocabulary; you must re-define them; you must work hard to eliminate anything that might hurt the feelings of others; you must be willing to compromise.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m neither politically correct nor theologically correct. My aim is always to be truthful, whether it be in the realm of politics or theology. If offending people now, in this life, serves to deliver them from eternal punishment in the future, so be it.
I say all this because “theological correctness” would never permit me to say to you what David says in Psalm 2:10-12. According to today’s way of thinking, vv. 10-12 are theologically “incorrect.” These are offensive words. These are words that step on toes. They boldly declare that the options for all of us today and in every age are two and only two: Kiss the Son in love and reverence, or encounter him in wrath and judgment.
“Now therefore, O Kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 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” (Psalm 2:10-12).
Let’s look closely at each exhortation.
First, we must “serve the Lord with fear” (v. 11a). Some find this strange, insofar as Psalm 100:2 says, “Serve the Lord with gladness.” So which is it? Surely a person can’t do both. Of course they can!
There is a reason to “fear” God because his holiness and transcendent greatness and wrath are real. He is infinite and we are finite. He is omnipotent and we are weak. He is everywhere present and we are localized. And yet there is also a reason to be “glad” because this same God whom we reverence, before whom we tremble, has taken steps to deliver us from what we deserve and to give us what we could never earn. That is why we read, next . . .
Second, “rejoice with trembling” (v. 11b). Some of you wrongly think that “fear” will rob you of joy. But it doesn’t. The reason is that godly fear drives us to Jesus Christ in whom there is safety and forgiveness and security. Even in our joy we tremble, because the One who lovingly holds us in his arms is Almighty God, a consuming fire. “Fear without joy is torment,” said Charles Spurgeon; “joy without holy fear, would be presumption” (14).
This strange intermingling of both fear and joy in the human heart is similar to what you would feel if you were caught in the eye of a hurricane. Power and destruction swirling all around you, as you dwell safely and serenely in the very heart of God.
Third, “kiss the Son” (v. 12a). In the ancient world it was customary to kiss either the hem of the king’s garment or his hand as a sign of submission and devotion and allegiance. Such is how people in David’s time would show their affection and loyalty.
But in its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the consummate King and Son of God, to “kiss” the Son is to adore him, to love him, to trust him, to enjoy and treasure him above all else.
And what happens if a person refuses? What happens when a man or woman gives to creation the love and devotion that belongs only to the Creator? His anger and wrath are kindled. Don’t downplay this. Don’t write it off as exaggeration. When the affection and adoration due unto his Son are given to another, God’s anger is aroused.
If we love anyone or anything more than we love the Son, we perish. “He will be our highest treasure, or he will be our enemy” (John Piper).
Now listen carefully. “The only safe place from the wrath of God is in God. Everywhere outside of his care is dangerous. He is the only hiding place from his own wrath” (Piper). This is the politically and theologically incorrect truth of the Bible: it is only those who by faith take refuge in God’s love who find rescue from God’s wrath.
As David said to the kings and nations of his day: “be wise, be warned” (v. 10a), I say to all of us today: “be wise, be warned.” There is only one hope for salvation and deliverance from the wrath that is to come, and it is by seeking refuge in him who endured that wrath against sinners like you and me.