Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:1–3).
I am a rebel by nature. I grew up in the rebellious part of a country founded on rebellion. I was born with “Don’t tread on me” tattooed on my soul. I have an inherent distrust of authority. But my rebel roots go deeper than southern clay. The seeds were sown in the a garden’s soil; where man joined the insurrection of a creeping thing against their Maker. Insurgency is in my blood, passed down from father to son from the first man until the last. I have a hard time grasping how bonds and cords can be good things. When Jesus offers a yoke it cuts against my grain (Matthew 11:28-30). I don’t want to be ruled, shackled, bound, or otherwise restricted. Therein lies my deepest dilemma. I am a creature. I was made. I am by my very nature dependent, limited, relative. In the absence of my true Master, the one for whom I was made, I will sell myself to something.
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16)?
The Lord laughs at the “kings” of the earth, not because he is cruel or capricious, but at the sheer absurdity of the prospect of their independence. They can no more declare their independence from Him than from food and water. It is not the tyranny of bread which enslaves us to it, nor the despotism of drink which will kill us without it. It is our nature to need. The second we rejected God as King we sawed off the limb on which we sat. If my child desires to slap me in the face, she may, but she’ll have to sit on my lap to do so. She could no more slap me without my own help (after all she needed my help even to come into being) than I can reject God without the very cry of, “FREEDOM” being created with His air pushed up by lungs He made through vocal cords of His own design. God is King. It is fundamental to a reality in which I am contingent. I am a fish seeking to overthrow the tyranny of the sea.
What will quiet my rebel soul?
I need a King to declare my independence from my own tyrannical freedom. Jesus Christ is a King like no other. He is no tyrant. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. He is lowly and gentle. He gives strength to the weak. He is perfectly just. He has demonstrated his commitment to me by dying the victim of my revolution. The cross is the answer to the question, “What would I do if I could get my hands on God?” I would kill Him. I would seek to dispossess Him of what is rightfully His, life itself, which contains my life (Genesis 2:7), as if I could have life without Life (John 14:6). Paradoxically, it is death, undone by the power of an indestructible life which is the key to freedom from my own determination to die (Hebrews 7:6).
In the absence of their Creator, creatures will not go unruled. Subjugation is unavoidable. Jesus’ yoke is the only easy yoke. A slave to a salary will always seem to himself a pauper. The dollar’s yoke is hard, and he will have his pound of flesh. A slave to pleasure will soon find that what once was sweet now turns to ash in the mouth. Her burden is heavy, and she will leave you feverish and alone. A slave to power will grow anemic and frail. Strength itself cannot steady feeble knees. What about righteousness? Surely, that is a worthy monarch. Try to earn life by the law, and every failure receives the lash, every success only serves to isolate you from your need.
Our only hope is to “kiss the Son” (Psalm 2:12). Submit to the yoke of the Lord’s King. He is the only independent being in the universe. But He put Himself under the lash of his own vassals. The eternally unbound Word of God was nailed in place. He is the only King who frees those whom He rules, at the cost of His life. Jesus tread the rebel snake under foot, taking its venom into himself. May He tread that rebellion out of my soul. To the extent that you are bound by the cords of love (Hosea 11:4) to The King is the extent to which the tyranny of your pursuit of freedom will be broken. Offer yourself to him, since He offered Himself for you (Psalm 110:3).