Why do nations plot?
Why do people scheme?
Why do kings and presidents
Connive amongst themselves
Against God’s chosen one,
Saying, “Let’s break them,
And do whatever we please”?
God laughs at them.
God scorns them.
Then, enraged, God speaks,
And God will terrify them,
“I will coronate my king.
I will designate the capitol.”
I announce God’s executive order.
God told me, “You are my child,
Today, you are my child.
The nations are yours for the asking,
The whole world is yours.
Break them with an iron bar!
Smash them like so many old jars!”
So, kings and presidents,
You’ve been warned. Take heed!
Your commission is to serve God’s purpose.
The magnitude of that task should make you tremble,
For if you fail, you will suddenly be thrown down,
And God’s wrath will consume you.
You who take refuge in God, rise up!
Most of us are not kings or presidents. We might be tempted to think that this is not about us. If it weren’t for the last line. For an explanation of the rendition (traditionally, something like, “Happy are those who take refuge in God”), see this explanation.
The point is not just to sit and wait for God to take down those in power who abuse their people. The point is to incite an uprising. The “wrath of God” isn’t a lightning bolt out of the blue. The wrath of God is expressed by the people of God, who refuse to remain enslaved, who rise up. The responsibility of kings and presidents is not to perpetuate their power. It’s to administer justice. This is a theme that is confirmed over and over throughout the Torah and the prophets. Rising up in protest against the abuse of rulers, foreign and domestic, religious and secular, is the whole aim of Jesus’ movement.
To take refuge in God is to rise up, wherever and whenever those who’ve been entrusted with justice betray that trust.