Missions in the Psalms
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
As a young married couple, my wife June and I led a group of teens and young adults from our local church to the 1976 Urbana Student Missions Conference. The conference’s theme was Declare His Glory Among the Nations (Psalms 96:3). One of the many excellent speakers taught clearly and compellingly that the Bible never presents God as a petty regional or tribal deity but as the King of the universe and the Lord over all the earth and its peoples.
God is Sovereign
The Psalms are filled with references to the universal rule of God. God is consistently revealed as sovereign over everything and everyone He has created and is, therefore, worthy of worship by all peoples. Here are just a few examples.
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
God’s universal rule provides the rock-solid foundation for the church’s mission to reach all peoples with the message of Jesus before His return. Nowhere is this more clearly revealed than in the 2nd Psalm. Psalm 2 is attributed to King David, with its first two verses cited in Acts 4:25-26.
You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.”
Lord is Yahweh
The original context for this psalm was a coronation hymn for Israel’s Davidic kings. The Lord is Yahweh Himself and his “anointed one” (v.26) is the new king from the line of David. God gave the Anointed (literally Messiah) authority over the nations surrounding Israel. The raging, plotting, rebellious peoples are given a choice: receive salvation (refuge, v.12) or judgment (broken, dashed, v.9) from the Lord’s Anointed. Therefore, the beauty of the 2nd Psalm is in how it combines the original context with its future Messianic and universal application. In Acts 13, Luke cites Psalm 2 as referring to Jesus.
“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.
David wrote in the second Psalm: “‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’” Acts 13:32-33
Hebrews (1:5; 5:5) cites Psalm 2:7 twice, referring to Jesus, the Son of God, the Christ.
Jesus is the Christ
In Messianic fulfillment, Jesus is revealed to be the Anointed One. The nations in v.8 are now all the people groups in the world, even to the ends of the earth. Jesus’ inheritance is the nations, and the ends of the earth belong to Him through the authority given to God the Son by God the Father. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The Great Commission
Our mandate to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, to every people group, is derived from Christ’s authority. The 2nd Psalm reveals the foundation of that authority as Yahweh, the King of the Universe, Who has conferred it to His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In that authority, Jesus has sent His Church to bring in His inheritance, the salvation of the nations. The heritage of Christ is for either salvation or judgment. Jesus is the heir of all peoples, their true home or final judge.