Posts

I. Begotten Son, Anointed King

As we enter into Advent and Christmas, the most singingest time of the year, we’re going to look at the Bible’s own Advent and Christmas songs so that they can shape our hearts in preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ. If we aren’t paying attention, we easily end up singing songs that miss the point of Christmas altogether. Looking at the Biblical nativity songs, we need to ask ourselves: what are these songs about? What are the problems they lament? What solution do they hope for? If these songs came true, what would be different about the world?

As we pay attention to the words of these songs, there will be a number of surprises for us, but the central thing that will happen is that we will become dissatisfied with the sappy and sentimental Christmas jingles that usually fill our ears and sometimes our hymnbooks. Christmas is not about presents and family and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but about a rod of iron smashing rebellious pots to pieces. Christmas is about political upheaval, a cosmic coup in favor of God’s anointed ruler. Advent and Christmas are not about “overcoming the Scrooge in all of us.” Christmas is about a king and a kingdom.

Nowhere do we see that theme sung more clearly than in Psalm 2, one of the most famously Messianic psalms, and one of the most referenced OT passages in the NT. Psalm 2 has four sections: Verses 1-3 show us the problem: the kings of the earth are opposed to God and His rule, and they are plotting rebellion. Verses 4-6 contain God’s reaction – He is not threatened, He is sarcastically amused, because He has already answered the “Who runs the world” question. Verses 7-9 contain God’s response: He turns to His Son and announces His decree that the Son will rule over the ends of the earth with a rod of iron. Verses 10-12 are God’s rebuke: the rebels are called to submit to the rule of the Lord’s Anointed King or face destruction. The Psalm ends with a note of grace as God promises blessing to all those who take refuge in His chosen ruler.

The heart of the Psalm is found in the center, in verses 6-7, where God promises kingly authority to His newly begotten Son, which gets quoted or referenced in Acts 13, in Hebrews 1, and all over the place in the Gospels. Maybe the most important reference comes when Gabriel tells Mary that the baby in her womb will be called the Son of the Most High and given the throne of David. Gabriel’s announcement is that Psalm 2 comes true in the womb of Mary, as God brings the Lord’s anointed into the world through her. The reason why Psalm 2 is an Advent and Christmas song is that Christmas was the day on which God’s king was brought into the world and given the authority to put an end to all rebellion.

And so for us, as we sing Advent and Christmas songs, we need to ask what they are about. We need to sing Advent songs about the evil of kings who reject God’s rule, laments about suffering under such kings. We need to sing Christmas songs about God’s mocking laughter against such feeble rebellions. We need to sing songs that tell of God’s decree, songs that celebrate kingship and sonship. We need songs that sound more like a rod of iron breaking a kingdom in half than songs that sound like silent nights and snowflakes. We need Advent and Christmas songs that sound a warning: Get on your knees, you proud rebellious rulers! Kiss the Son, lest you perish in the way.

And finally, we need songs that sound the joyful note of blessing. It’s not just news that Jesus has been made King of kings and Lord of lords. It is good news, because this King blesses all those who take refuge in Him. This king brings peace on earth and justice to the oppressed by dashing all rebellious rulers in pieces so that the kingdom of God may come here on earth as it is in heaven. This is Advent. This is Christmas. And this is why Psalm 2 is a nativity song.

Posted on Wednesday, December 02, 2015 by CJ Bowen