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Psalm 2:1

ESV Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
NIV Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
NASB Why are the nations restless And the peoples plotting in vain?
CSB Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
NLT Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?
KJV Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
NKJV Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?

What does Psalm 2:1 mean?

This psalm starts with a rhetorical question. It's ridiculous to think that one can overpower, undermine, or escape the will of God. The psalmist is amazed that so many people, cultures, and even entire nations are united in evil intent. He indicates that their intention is "in vain." It is doomed to fail. The following verse explains why these efforts are doomed: they're plans to overthrow God and His Anointed One (Psalm 2:2). "Anointed" is from the Hebrew term mashiyach, from which English derives the word "Messiah." Greek translates this as Christos, from which English derives the title of "Christ."

Rage and anger are sinful mankind's typical response to God. That includes hatred aimed at those who choose to obey God, instead of following the world (1 Peter 4:3–4; John 15:18–19).

Whether an individual or a nation or several nations plot against God, the plot is bound to fail. God is far too wise and too powerful to fall to puny mankind. Pharaoh and the Egyptians learned this truth the hard way. They planned to enslave God's people, the Hebrews, indefinitely. Even after God persuaded Pharaoh by ten severe plagues to release the Hebrews from slavery, Pharaoh dispatched his cavalry to pursue the Hebrews. At the Red Sea, God told Moses, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD…The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent" (Exodus 14:13–14). Then the Lord dried up the Red Sea so His people could cross (Exodus 14:21–22). But the waters returned and engulfed the pursuing Egyptian cavalry (Exodus 14:26–28). Pharaoh's plot failed miserably when he opposed the Lord.
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