"For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Romans 13:1)
Several months back I was asked to look into Psalm 2 due to the assumption that this chapter might some how conflict with my antinomianist, humanistic and somewhat Arminianist world view- especially when it comes to the governing of nations. (For the record, I do not see myself as any of these labels, and if you do not know what they mean, don't bother looking them up; just take my word.) So let us not ruin this beautiful passage with man-made theological hog-wash.
I began this post by quoting Paul on the institutions of authority. God has been, still is, and will always be in complete control. Futhermore, God establishes all authority - good and evil, near and far, secular and eccleasiastical. To Elijah, the LORD says, "You shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place." (1 Kings 19:15-16) Through Elijah, God chose the king of His people's enemy, the king of His people, and the prophet of His People.
So the psalmist asks: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?" For if God established the authorities, should they not rejoice and be thankful that they were chosen? Instead, they rage and plot. The answer to why is found in God's response to the Prince of Tyre: "Because your heart is proud, and you have said, 'I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,' yet you are but a man, and no god, though you make your heart like the heart of a god." (Ezekiel 28:2) But like father, like son; for the king of Tyre who was "in Eden, the garden of God, ... anointed guardian cherub," and placed by God "on the holy mountain of God," was proud in his heart (Eze. 28), and his son, the prince, has followed the path of his father, the king. Reminds me of Jesus' comments in John 8:44.
"The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed." This gathering together cannot be shown better than the union of Herod and Pilate, who "became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other." (Luke 23:12) The early believers later recalled how two authorities could "gather together against [God's] holy servant Jesus, whom [God] anointed." (Acts 4:27) But not only Herod and Pilate were brought together against God's Messiah (i.e., Christ or Anointed One), but also "the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel."
These governing authorities in their pride cry out, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us." In other words, they long to rebel from the one who placed them in authority to begin with. God is the master; "he removes kings and sets up kings." (Dan. 2:21) All authorities are his servants. In ignorance they wish to be unbounded from him, in pride they wish to plot against him.