“Thou Has Conquered, O Thou Galilean”

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury,
saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
(Psalm 2:1-6 ESV)

From the Garden of Eden to the present day, mankind’s quest for autonomy continues.  Nations and leaders do their best to break free from the Sovereign rule of God.  They defiantly cry out in vain, “We do not want this man to reign over us.” (Luke 19:14). But the Lord has set His King in Zion, and every knee will bow in submission to this Sovereign King without exception:

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).

When you look around and see the current state of affairs, do not be dismayed. Presidents, kings, and rulers have always tried their best to rid the world of Jesus Christ.  But He is not going anywhere!

Dr. James Montgomery Boice explains:

“In the second section of the psalm, verses 4–6, the speaker is God the Father, though the narrator sets up his words, just as in the opening section he set up the arrogant words of the rebelling monarchs.

What is God’s reaction to the haughty words of these pygmy human rulers? God does not tremble. He does not hide behind a vast celestial rampart, counting the enemy and calculating whether or not he has sufficient force to counter this new challenge to his kingdom. He does not even rise from where he is sitting. He simply “laughs” at these great imbeciles.

This is the only place in the Bible where God is said to laugh, and it is not a pleasant laugh. It is a laugh of derision, as the next verb shows: “the Lord scoffs at them” (v. 4). This is what human attempts to throw off the rule of the sovereign God deserve. It is understandable that sinners should want to reject God’s rule. That is what sin is: a repudiation of God’s rule in favor of one’s own will. But although it is understandable, the folly of this attempt surpasses belief. How can mere human beings expect to get rid of God?

After laughing at such foolishness, God speaks to rebuke and to terrify these rulers. He tells of the appointment of his Son to be King in Zion and foretells his triumph.

Spurgeon pointed out that in the late third and early fourth centuries the emperor Diocletian (a.d. 245–313), a great foe of Christianity, struck a medal which bore the inscription: “The name of Christianity being extinguished.” Diocletian extended the frontier of the empire westward into Spain, where he erected two monuments proclaiming:

Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having extended the Roman Empire in the east and the west and for having extinguished the name of Christians who brought the Republic to ruin.

Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ for having extended the worship of the gods.

But Diocletian had not abolished Christianity. On the contrary, at the time Christianity was growing stronger than ever, and eventually it triumphed over Caesar’s throne.

Spurgeon quotes an earlier preacher, William S. Plumer:

Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces and others in high office, who distinguished themselves by their zeal and bitterness in persecuting the early Christians, one became speedily deranged after some atrocious cruelty, one was slain by his own son, one became blind, the eyes of one started out of his head, one was drowned, one was strangled, one died in a miserable captivity, one fell dead in a manner that will not bear recital, one died of so loathsome a disease that several of his physicians were put to death because they could not abide the stench that filled his room, two committed suicide, a third attempted it but had to call for help to finish the work, five were assassinated by their own people or servants, five others died the most miserable and excruciating deaths, several of them having an untold complication of diseases, and eight were killed in battle, or after being taken prisoners.

Among these was Julian the Apostate. In the days of his prosperity he is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven, defying the Son of God whom he commonly called the Galilean. But when he was wounded in battle, he saw that all was over with him, and he gathered up his clotted blood and threw it into the air, exclaiming:

“Thou has conquered, O thou Galilean.

So has it been throughout history. So will it be to the end.”

Psalms, Volume 1: (Psalms 1–41): An Expositional Commentary – James Montgomery Boice 


  1. Thank you Steve, I love your website. But I especially love the way you love our lord. Most everything you write about I save and send to friends from Other churches. .If you wrote a book send me the link and I’ll buy it.

    Sent from my iPad In Christ forever Jacky b



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