One way to understand Christmas is to look at the Biblical collection of Psalms. If we look at the Psalms it makes a lot of sense why Herod was not happy when the wise men told him that a king had been born in Israel.
Psalm 1 and 2 together are commonly considered the “entry” into the Psalter. If so, then perhaps Psalm 2 presents us with a problem and then spells out the solution in later Psalms.
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.”
I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalm 2 ESV)
The choice is stark. They must “perish in the way” if they refuse to “take refuge in him” and “kiss the Son.”
So, what do the kings decide to do? Later psalms address this question. Psalm 72 is about Solomon but also about Christ, the Son, and his Church:
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!
(Psalm 72:8-11 ESV)
All the day my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread
and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger;
for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations.
You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold her stones dear
and have pity on her dust.
Nations will fear the name of the LORD,
and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
(Psalm 102:8-15 ESV)
All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
(Psalm 138:4-5 ESV)
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
(Psalm 148:7-11 ESV)
Kings are called upon to praise the Lord. We are promised that they will all give thanks to God. This cannot possibly be a promise “reserved for the next life” since, if the kings don’t learn to acknowledge and give thanks to Jesus now, they will never be in a place to do so in the next life.
No, in this world, they will give thanks. “Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth.
There are many who refuse to bow to the true King who was born on Christmas. Those people will all disappear from history. The only ones who will inherit the future will be the ones who praise the true God.
The Herods of the world get judged and replaced.