Why do the heathen rage,
And the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder,
And cast away their cords from us.
Why? The psalmist here, in an incredulous tone, asks why. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The psalmist (David) thinks the notion is foolhardy. It is amazing that they would even consider doing such a thing. Yet they go on raging and seeking after this vain and empty thing.
Indeed David is very right in asking why they do such a thing. They are taking counsel and setting themselves against Jehovah, the never changing God, the great I AM. The God who created the heaven and the earth. The God who created and drew a people unto Himself: the covenant God. The God who will never turn away from His covenant people, because He promised to deliver them and He never changes.
How did they seek to rage against Jehovah? Well, they sought to throw off the bands and yoke of David’s rule. David, in his conquest of the land of Canaan, gained numerous tributaries and these tributaries rebelled against the idea of David being lord over them. However, in actual fact they were not rebelling primarily against David. They were rebelling against Jehovah Himself. That is why David states in verse 2, and his anointed. David was the Lord’s anointed and in being the Lord’s anointed he was very much a picture of Christ.
David’s conquest of all the heathen lands and tribes is a picture of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ battling against the enemies of His bride, the church. Their rejection of His sovereign rule is a rejection of Christ. It is a rejection of the one true God. In seeking to throw off the bands of Christ’s rule, they say “yes!” to their own wicked, autonomous, and corrupt reign. They also say a resounding “no!” to the righteous and just rule of Jesus Christ.
What will you do with the Lord’s anointed? Will you foolishly rage against the one who created you? Will you seek to do your own will? Live in your sin? Or will you bow your knee to His reign? Recognizing that He is sovereign and that He is a just and a merciful God; that He is our only hope for salvation? He is our only hope from the power of the devil, the wicked world, and our own corrupt and sinful flesh. He has provided us with salvation through the death and suffering of His only begotten Son on the cross. For He is the one “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Romans 4:25 Therefore, let us, by the grace of our Lord and Saviour alone, seek forgiveness for our rebellious and sinful natures. Let us rather seek to conform ourselves more and more to His sovereign and righteous reign; ever seeking to do such out of supreme thankfulness to Him for the salvation He has graciously provided.