He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
Heavenly, divine laughter! Laughter at the vain raging of the heathen.
How these heathen rage! Their rage is great against the Lord and against His anointed. This rage was great while the anointed of the Lord was upon the earth. When the light of God shined in the darkness, the darkness raged against it. The anointed came preaching and teaching, and the heathen raged to silence His voice. In the greatness of their rage the leaders of these heathen, wicked King Herod and Pontius Pilate, conspired together to have Him crucified.
The heathen have continued to rage since God’s resurrection of His anointed one. They still rage against Him who now sits at the right hand of God. The same rage with which they burned against the Lord they now carry against the Lord’s anointed.
This heathen rage you must see in church history. You must behold it in the fires of persecution that consumed the people of God through so many generations. You must hear it with the names Nero and Diocletian. That rage you must hear in the stories of the Protestant Reformation, wherever kings and popes conspired to silence the word of salvation by God’s grace alone. That rage is for you to know in the present. Behold it in the idols of wood and stone still worshiped in heathen lands. This heathen rage you must hear in Islam, in its rhetoric and in its assault on western civilization. You must hear it in the terrorists’ explosions and in their gunfire.
In all this raging you hear a very loud noise. More and more it fills the airwaves, newspapers, and magazines. More and more the din increases in your ears.
But we hear another sound beside that din. We give ear to it. It is a lovely sound, a voice most precious to us. Far different is this sound from the raging of the heathen. It is the voice of our God.
We listen to that sound. It holds our rapt attention. As we listen it grows far greater in our ears. Before this voice, all the raging of the heathen must fade to nothing. It is the voice of our God, who sitteth in the heavens.
Listen to the sound of that voice! You hear the sound of laughter, mighty laughter.
How can there be laughter? Is not the raging of the heathen a most serious matter? Does not its greatness cause us to tremble, feeling helpless before its power?
That voice is a voice of laughter because of the place of the Lord our God. He that laughs them to scorn sitteth in the heavens. His is heavenly power, heavenly glory, and heavenly majesty. His throne is established forever in the heavens.
Before the throne of His almighty power, the raging of the heathen is nothing. Their imagination is a vain thing. For to God alone belongeth power. His power is unlike the power of these heathen. His power is heavenly. His power is the only power, eternal and infinite. Any power these heathen presume to possess must melt away into utter weakness before the power of God’s heavenly throne.
The raging of the heathen is folly. It is sheer vanity, pumped up to be something great. Their power they presume to be awe-inspiring. Awed by their own power, they suppose there is nothing they cannot do. By that power they will break their bonds asunder. By that might they will cast their cords from them. What great things they will accomplish, these heathen, in their rage!
All that pretense gives Him that sitteth in the heavens cause for laughter. What silliness is paraded before Him, the raging of these heathen! These are His creatures. The very air they breathe in their raging has come from Him. The very power by which they suppose to cast off their bonds is from Him.
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn. The Lord shall have them in derision. The Lord will deride them. He laughs at their vanity. He mocks their pretended power. Let them rage. Let them conspire. Let them gather all their forces. Let them invent their most sophisticated weaponry. Let them turn it all against the Lord and against His anointed. Their loudest roar is a faint whine before Him. Let them shout a little louder! Their greatest blast is as a pop of a firecracker. Let them come up with something greater for next time! Perhaps then it will have effect!
Then the Lord will speak. After His laughter, after His scorn, these heathen must feel the heat of His wrath. In His wrath He will speak. In His sore displeasure He will vex them.
That vexation will be a terrific blow upon the heathen. How they have raged! Yet all that rage is but the vanity of their imagination. Their imagination will come to nothing. They will surely be vexed. Before the wrath of God the raging of the heathen must fall silent. Before the sore displeasure of God the power of the nations is proved to be mere impotence.
Will these heathen learn? Will the nations willingly give up their rage? Will they admit the vanity of their imagination? Not at all. They will continue to be vexed. Though the mighty word of God sounds in their ears, and though they cannot turn it aside, that word never penetrates down to their heart. In their wicked hearts they still carry that rage. They will be vexed forever and ever.
What is the word that God will speak? What will He that sitteth in the heavens say to vex and trouble these heathen so?
That word, whatever it is, must be most beautiful and blessed to us. That word that shall so vex the heathen shall be our salvation. It must dissolve the rage that the nations carry out against the church of Jesus Christ. By that word we shall know the power of our God to redeem us.
God speaks the word, announcing the news. That news is about His Son. “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”
My king! God has His own King. That King He has made, a King far more powerful than all the kings among the heathen. That King He has established, a King far wealthier than all the princes of all the people.
God has His own King that He has made. He is a King by whom all things were made, and for whom all things were made. By this King all have their being and existence. Him they serve. Even in their rebellion they serve Him.
This King is the very Son of Him that sitteth in the heavens. He is the only-begotten Son. He will declare His decree to His King: “Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.” The only-begotten Son of God has been given the throne. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. This King is also the great Son of David. He has been given according to the promise of God. He is the Savior of His people. One of them, He is also their King through the precious blood that He shed on the tree of the cross. This King has come near to us in His deep humility. Having humbled Himself to the death of the cross, and having purchased our righteousness by that death, He has now been given that most glorious place. God has established His King!
His throne is secure. His reign is everlasting.
Let the heathen rage. Let the people imagine a vain thing. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn. The Lord shall have them in derision. For God has His King. His King He has set upon His holy hill of Zion.
This great, eternal King God has established in Zion, upon His holy hill.
That hill is God’s. He has established that hill to be His very own. God is the Creator of every mountain and every hill. Every place upon the earth is His. But the hill of Zion is His in a peculiar way. That hill is holy. The living, holy God has set that hill of Zion apart. He has separated it far from all other mountains and hills. Holy is that hill of God. It is the place He has chosen to make His dwelling place.
Part of the holiness of that hill is its purpose. Upon that hill God bestows His grace to His people. It is the city of God, the mountain of His holiness. It is the place where He lives among His people in covenant friendship. Here the holy God lives among His holy people. In them He shows the glory of His holiness. Living with Him on that holy hill, they worship His name and confess His truth.
By that worship and confession, the heathen know that hill of Zion. They know God’s presence there on His holy hill. They turn in their rage against that hill to assault it. They try to destroy it by sword and fire. They try to turn it from the truth by every temptation to apostasy. They attempt to level that hill by making it no different from the world.
But on that holy hill of Zion God has established the throne of His Son. He has spoken. It cannot be moved. It stands forever strong and sure, for God has established Zion. Upon Zion He has set the throne of His King. And God has given His King to His covenant people. He is their Savior and Redeemer. He is their Shepherd and Protector. With royal power He will defend and keep His own.
The almighty God sets His King upon the throne He has established in Zion, the hill of His choosing. That mighty act He declares to the heathen that rage. This deed He publishes to the people that imagine a vain thing. The heathen are vexed and the people troubled.
By that very same declaration are God’s people comforted. This glorious King God has given to be their own. By the blood of their King they have been redeemed. This King God has raised from the dead. The King now lives, to gather His own to Himself, by His Word and Spirit. He reigns in their hearts by grace. He rules over them in love.
Protected by our King, and loving His service, we rejoice to hear these words. The heathen appear great in our sight, causing us fear. But their rage must shudder and falter before the Lord’s vexing rebuke. Their vain imagination must shatter before His sore displeasure. In that rebuke is our salvation. In the very sore displeasure of our God is our redemption. The heathen shall be utterly destroyed before the coming of the King set by God upon His holy hill of Zion. By that destruction is our freedom: freedom from fear, freedom to worship and serve our blessed King upon His holy hill of Zion.