The Great King
What qualities and possessions define a great leader?
What defines a great leader? The qualities of justice and wisdom? Expanding power and wealth? An impeccable reputation? These qualities defined the ideal king for the psalmist; he summed them up in the person of Solomon.
1 God, give the king your justice;
your righteousness to the royal son.
2 He will judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.
3 The mountains shall bring prosperity to the people.
The hills bring the fruit of righteousness.
4 He will judge the poor of the people.
He will save the children of the needy,
and will break the oppressor in pieces.
World English Bible
The reference to Solomon in this psalm defined its themes. The psalmist prayed to God as if the present (or future) monarch had the power and riches of David's son, along with the corresponding blessings of YHWH. In fact, the author implicitly linked the two in the concept of justice. If the king acted with wisdom (Solomon's chief virtue), he would spread justice even to the poor and outcast. In response to this justice, God would bless the land with abundance (72:1-4).
5 They shall fear you while the sun endures;
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
6 He will come down like rain on the mown grass,
as showers that water the earth.
7 In his days, the righteous shall flourish,
and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more.
8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
from the River to the ends of the earth.
9 Those who dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him.
His enemies shall lick the dust.
10 The kings of Tarshish and of the islands will bring tribute.
The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
11 Yes, all kings shall fall down before him.
All nations shall serve him.
12 For he will deliver the needy when he cries;
the poor, who has no helper.
13 He will have pity on the poor and needy.
He will save the souls of the needy.
14 He will redeem their soul from oppression and violence.
Their blood will be precious in his sight.
15 They shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba.
Men shall pray for him continually.
They shall bless him all day long.
16 Abundance of grain shall be throughout the land.
Its fruit sways like Lebanon.
Let it flourish, thriving like the grass of the field.
17 His name endures forever.
His name continues as long as the sun.
Men shall be blessed by him.
All nations will call him blessed.
The invocations by the author and the blessings of God would not stop there. The author prayed that the just king would live long (72:5-7), extend his kingdom (72:8), and force tribute from foreign dignitaries (72:9-11, 15), all because of his just rule (72:12-14). The final verses repeat and extend the invocations; the author prayed for a bountiful harvest and the king's prosperity (72:16), an increase in the king's reputation (72:17).
18 Praise be to YHWH God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever!
Let the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and amen.
20 This ends the prayers by David, the son of Jesse.
The section of psalms ended in a doxology (72:18-20).
The prayer for the great king was spiritualized by the early Christian community. They saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this psalm in heavenly terms. His rule was cosmic in dimension and unending. His reign combined justice and the blessings of God the Father. He was THE defender of the poor and the oppressed. For Christians, Jesus was the promised King, the son of David who would fulfill what God had promised in Solomon.
As we read the psalm, let us use its words as a prayer of praise to the One God sent us as King and Savior.
Read Psalm 72 as a hymn of praise. What insights do you gain from the psalm about Jesus?