The kings of the earth take a stand,
and the rulers take counsel together
against Yahweh and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let’s break their restraints apart
and cast their cords from us.”
Scripture passages like this always fascinate me…and sometimes they’re not the simplest to reconcile or face when overlaid with the life before us.
From a thousand-foot view, it can be so easy to scoff at these kings and rulers who were foolish enough to think they could stand in counsel against God and His Anointed (the Anointed One, by the way, refers to both the ruler or king anointed by God at the time as well as the Anointed One, the coming Messiah, who we now know is Jesus). What folly must’ve lived in these peoples’ hearts to think that with their pitiful, puny human might, they could actually stand against Yahweh and His Anointed!
But wait. Read the actual thoughts of their hearts: Let’s break their restraints apart and cast their cords from us.
How often do we hear sentiments like this nowadays? I’ve spent enough time on college campuses and across social media to become very familiar with the scoffing remarks about being “God-free” and “unbound by the archaic rules of some 2000-year-old book.” The contempt for God’s laws and restrictions—the perception of these things as restraints that bind and cords that snare rather than as guideposts for a better, more prosperous life—are sadly not new to this day, as we can see. Nor are they reserved for the unbelieving. When we delve into our own hearts and minds and open Scripture, how far do we have to go before we find ourselves snagged on a “thorny” passage? How many pages, chapters, verses into our daily Bible reading before we read something and find ourselves subtly saying, “I don’t really agree with that,” or “Yeah, but…”
Do we, too, deal with a softer sort of contempt for God’s decrees? Have we made unwitting strongholds in our heads and hearts where arrogant kings and know-it-all-rulers take refuge, grumbling about how to remove these restraints and cast off these cords so we can live in and view our world the way we really want to?
It’s so easy, friends. It’s so easy to pivot from meditating and focusing on God’s teachings to carrying a subtle resentment toward the ones that compromise our own strongly-held beliefs or our comfortable ways of life. But when we circle back around, we find that those who defy God’s boundary-lines in the interest of forging their own will still come into submission—someday. Only that time will be when His Anointed One reigns and the boundaries are enforced with a rod of iron, strict and yes, even painful!
Let’s not wait for the iron rod to turn our hearts back to the right path. Let’s bring ourselves before God’s throne and invite Him to uproot our resentments and tear down the strongholds in our hearts. Let’s not be angry rulers seeing God’s commands as cords to be broken, but for the guidance and protection they are; and let’s return to being planted by that life-giving stream where we will prosper, rooted not in our own “knowledge” of how things should be, but in God’s truth about how things truly are.