The kings (and queens) of the earth

Natasha reads a psalm about monarchs and nations, and reflects on the life and death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The day before the death of the Queen, I happened to be reading a psalm about monarchs and nations.

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord … The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.”

Psalm 2 addresses the powerful of the earth, urging them to be wise, to be humble. They are not so powerful as they think. It occurs to me, though, that the kings (or queens) of the day would have been very unlikely to ever read these words; that they were written more for the comfort of the people of ancient Israel, buffeted by the schemes and ambitions of neighbouring peoples, to reassure them that their God was far more powerful than any earthly sovereign.

Yet in the millennia since – the psalm is perhaps 3000 years old – these words have in fact been read by many kings and queens (and other kinds of rulers). And even heeded by some; none more, perhaps, than by Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, and dedicated servant of the Lord named in Psalm 2.

“Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.”

Be wise; be humble. It’s a strange life, that of kings and queens – even now, when their powers are usually so curtailed. It could so easily be warping, corrupting, over only a few years yet alone 70. That Elizabeth inhabited her role with such grace owes much, I’m persuaded, to her faith in a God whom she knew to be far more powerful, and far more gracious, than herself.