Psalm 2: What Does God Control?


I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;
    today I have become your father.
Ask me,
    and I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron;
    you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
    be warned, you rulers of the earth.

(New International Version)

This is the second post, and so the second Psalm, in a series that I’m using to get myself back to the Bible.  I’m making no promises of getting through any more of them, except this one right here today. In my desire to get back to the Bible, I am taking just one small step at a time.

Psalm 2 is bold and full of fury and warning and omen. After election results I couldn’t quite believe, I had many thoughts about this psalm as I read through it, about nations conspiring and people plotting in vain … about how so many Christians said, “God is in control,” in place of worrying for our country or picking a side. I get that. I get that God is in control. I believe it, too, sort of. But I also believe in our work, in the very real things that happen on Earth, and the ways that people suffer. “God is in control” is no answer to suffering. 

Because the thing is, if God is in control, and always has been, and terrible things have still happened — millions upon millions have suffered in this world — then terrible things can still happen now, and millions more may suffer.

“I couldn’t trust God if I suspected God was behind our deepest griefs and injustices. This is where the sovereignty conversations get interesting, I know. But I don’t blame God for much anymore. I see God as the rescue from the injustices, not the cause of them. I see God as the redeemer of the pain, not the origin of it. I see sovereignty, not as hyper-control over the minute and painful details of the world, but as a faithful promise that all things will be restored, all things will be redeemed, all will be rescued. So as the people of God, the ones whose citizenship lies in the Kingdom of God, we are part of the resistance, the overcoming of them, the redemption and hope in the midst of them because they are the antithesis of the character of God. Why? Because THAT is God’s heart. That is God’s nature. Sovereignty is a promise – not a threat or a reason or an excuse. All will be held and that God is at work to bring redemption and reconciliation, and at the end of all things, we don’t escape from the goodness that pursues us, the life we are promised, the love that redeems.” (Sarah Bessey here).

I couldn’t trust God either if I believed he was controlling every thing that happened on this Earth. I can’t listen to the radio on my way to work and hear how babies ribs are sticking out because they are starving, and believe that God is in control of that very suffering. I can’t hear about the families living in fear as rebel armies use their houses as fortresses and their very bodies are shields, and believe that God is in control of those atrocities. I can’t bear to know that millions of us would vote for a leader who so vilely disrespected whole groups of people, and believe that God is in control of that hatred.

How do I reconcile a psalm such as this? A psalm that implies God is in control, and will give his people whatever they ask for, even promising to dash others to “pieces like pottery”? I’m not sure.

12 But if you make a run for God — you won’t regret it!

(The Message)

I just have to believe, like Sarah describes above, that God’s sovereignty is really about redemption and rescue. I have to believe when terrible things happen on Earth, that in the end He will restore. But that’s little comfort for the here and now, for those who will suffer in the waiting. Despite our beliefs about God’s control, there is work to be done, and the things that happen on Earth matter so deeply, to those who suffer them and to God. 

7 thoughts on “Psalm 2: What Does God Control?

  1. God being in control has always been a hard argument for me but I do understand the comfort it brings. it can allow you to let go of some of the control we hold so dearly to, and that often causes stress and anxiety. But we have to be careful in that we’re not saying “God is in control” to absolve us from wrongdoing, or wrong-not-doing.


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