He is the God who Provides. He’s also the God who Saves. He is yet still the God who Delivers. But He’s also the God who Laughs.
This laughter of God is either immensely comforting, or incredibly frustrating, and which one depends on your standing in relation to Him. Psalm 2 gives us the picture of the laughing God, and also the picture of these two responses. The psalm begins like this:
Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the LORD and His Anointed One: “Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them (Psalm 2:1-4).
The issue at hand in this psalm is one of authority. The kings of the earth, those of great power and prestige, look at the sovereign rule of God and determine that they are better charters of their destinies than God Himself. From their perspective, His rule and law is oppressive; it’s something to be shaken off if true freedom is to be pursued and gained. So they rebel. They conspire. They fight…
And the Lord laughs.
He chuckles at the feeble attempts in relation to His great power. He smirks at those who think they have any true authority or power. He grins at the arrogance and naivite of these potentates. And he laughs at their misshapen perspective, for what they think are chains of bondage are really the constraints of love. And what they think are the shackles of oppression are really the vanguards of grace. Like a Father who smiles knowingly at the 5-year-old who packs a bag of pennies and stuffed animals to run away from home, so does the Lord look on those who would pursue their idea of freedom.
This sets up the exclusive nature of this psalm, for there are two distinct people represented here. The first group are these rulers and those who follow Him. It’s those who are rebels both by their nature and their choices; those that are at war with Him either knowingly or unknowingly. And all of us have been at that camp at one point or another in our lives. We all have been beating on the chest of the One so big He doesn’t feel the fists.
But the thing that’s penetrating to me about this psalm today is not this group; it’s the other one.
See, sometimes we think the opposite of this group – the opposite of the rebels – are the allies. If these people are the ones standing against God and His kingdom, then the other group of people must be those aligned with Him… right?
Yes and no, I think. The reason why it’s yes and no is because this psalm doesn’t present those who are aligned with God and His Son to be allies. It’s not a picture of two opposing armies, one commanded by the mighty general of God. Instead, those who are aligned with Jesus are those who are taking refuge in Him:
So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Pay homage to the Son or He will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion, for His anger may ignite at any moment. All those who take refuge in Him are happy (Psalm 2:10-12).
It’s that last part that’s getting to me: All those who take refuge in Him are happy. That doesn’t sound like someone who is aligned with God; it sounds like someone who is hiding behind God. This is the true “other side.”
Sometimes we might think that God is fortunate to have us – our talents, our gifts, our smarts, our stuff – on His side. In fact, He’s pretty lucky that we’re not on the other side in this battle. How fortunate for Him! But if that’s the case, then the same arrogance that marks the rulers of the earth is present in us as well; it’s only a little bit more camouflaged.
In this psalm at least, if you’re not standing against God, then you are hiding behind Him. You are taking refuge in Him.
The Lord of Hosts, the One who laughs, doesn’t need me this morning. And if I stand against Him, I am swimming more upstream than I can possibly imagine. But if I am with Him, then I am hiding behind Him.
Blessed are us who do that. Blessed are those who are hiding in Him.