In The Desire of the Nations, Oliver O’Donovan argues that, after the resurrection and ascension, all the rulers of the earth are under the judgment of the gospel: either they will submit themselves to Christ’s kingship or they will wage war against it. There is no via media.
What he argues is basically an expansion upon and amplification of the movement of the second Psalm.
Beginning in v. 7, we find this prophecy:
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
The Psalmist follows with an exhortation:
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 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.
O’Donovan is right that the fullness of the resurrection brings greater urgency to the question, “Who do you say that I am?” But the second Psalm contains the imperative already: “Be wise; be warned; serve; kiss.” In other words, given that the Messiah will come into his inheritance, what should be done? What should be done in particular by those who style themselves as powerful in this world? They should repent and submit themselves to Christ. Note the strength of both bolded adverbs above in relation to what comes before it: “You shall break them with a rod of iron…now therefore.”1 “For that reason (viz., the coming judgment of the Son as King of Kings and Lord of Lords), make haste to submit yourselves to him right now.” This exhortation is given not just to the rulers of Israel, but to rulers as such. It is addressed to “kings” and “rulers [or judges] of the earth” in general. They are to acknowledge and submit themselves to the righteous rule of the Son.
On the first adverb, Calvin comments:
By the adverb now, he signifies the necessity of their speedy repentance, since they will not always be favored with the like opportunity. Meanwhile, he tacitly gives them to understand, that it was for their advantage that he warned them, as there was yet room for repentance provided they made haste. When he enjoins them to be wise, he indirectly condemns their false confidence in their own wisdom as if he had said, The beginning of true wisdom is when a man lays aside his pride, and submits himself to the authority of Christ. Accordingly, however good an opinion the princes of the world may have of their own shrewdness, we may be sure they are arrant fools till they become humble scholars at the feet of Christ. Moreover, he declares the manner in which they were to be wise, by commanding them to serve the Lord with fear. By trusting to their elevated station, they flatter themselves that they are loosed from the laws which bind the rest of mankind; and the pride of this so greatly blinds them as to make them think it beneath them to submit even to God. The Psalmist therefore, tells them, that until they have learned to fear him, they are destitute of all right understanding.
In other words, as Paul says in 2 Cor. 6: “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” “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.”
(See also a previous post here.)