Psalm 72

Psalm 72
Give the King Your Justice
Of Solomon.

(1)Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
(2)May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!
(3)Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!
(4)May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!

(5)May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
(6)May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
(7)In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

(8)May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
(9)May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!
(10)May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!
(11)May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!

(12)For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.
(13)He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
(14)From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.

(15)Long may he live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day!
(16)May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field!
(17)May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!

(18)Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
(19)Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!

(20)The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.

Psalm 72 closes Book Two of the Psalter (Psalms 42-72). Titled Glory and Universality of the Messiah’s Reign in the New King James Version, Psalm 72 is dedicated to Solomon. Some translations say, “Of Solomon” (ESV/NKJV), others say, “A Psalm for Solomon” (KJV) or just “For Solomon” (NET). The Message says “A Solomon Psalm” and the Holman Christian Standard just says “Solomonic.”

Some scholars believe that David wrote this psalm, or rather, he dictated the words as an old man. David may have proclaimed these words on his death bed as a blessing over his son, the soon to be king over Israel. David died around 970 BC passing rule over to Solomon. Solomon was around twenty years old when he became king and ruled for forty-ish years of peace and great prosperity for Israel.

Others say the “to” or “for” leaves too much unknown and we should just go with what we know with certainty: that God included this psalm in His Word with Solomon’s name attached to it.

With some diffidence we suggest that the spirit and the matter of the psalm are David’s, but that he was too near his end to pen the words, or cast them into form: Solomon, therefore, caught his dying father’s song, fashioned it into goodly verse, and, without robbing his father, made the psalm his own. It is, we conjecture, the Prayer of David, but the Psalm of Solomon.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892

This song is an appropriate conclusion for Book Two. We see the change in kingship over God’s people, but the words, whether David’s or Solomon’s, clearly speak of a Greater Son, Jesus Christ, and an unending reign over all of creation. Sometimes it’s hard to understand the Psalms; is it referring to an earthly king as a deity of sorts? Which isn’t unheard of, kings were known to think very highly of themselves. Or is it referring to the Messiah to come? But we must always refer back and hold fast to Jesus’s words as recorded in Luke’s Gospel when He appeared to His disciples after His resurrection:

Then he said, "When I with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled." 
Luke 24:44 NLT

Jesus is here, beyond all doubt, in the glory of his reign, both as he is now, and as he shall be revealed in the latter day glory.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king's son. Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly. May the mountains yield prosperity for all, and may the hills be fruitful. Help him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy, and to crush their oppressors.
Psalm 72:1-4 NLT

Solomon’s words begin by asking for a blessing from God, calling himself “king” and the “king’s son.” As we know from history, king’s often neglect the poor and needy amongst their people. Solomon at a young age and just beginning his reign, asked God to keep his eyes focused on caring for all of His people, especially the needy. We know, as Solomon and David knew, God’s heart is for the hurting and the broken-hearted. God’s eyes are on His children, especially the one’s cast out.

David’s life as father, king, and follower of the Lord must have influenced Solomon. Maybe, upon his deathbed, David reminded Solomon of God’s love and promises and faithfulness.

That night the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, "What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!" Solomon replied, "You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne. Now, O LORD my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn't know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?"
1 Kings 3:5-9 NLT

David’s life was turmoil, fighting, fleeing, and bloodshed. But through his kingship, God’s people settled into life and worship within Jerusalem, and the ark of the covenant moved into the tabernacle on Mount Zion. Solomon’s life was peace and justice. He ruled God’s people with a fair and loving hand, and God richly blessed him.

And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, each man under his vine and fig tree, from Dan as far as Beersheba, all the days of Solomon. 
1 Kings 4:25 NKJV

The reign of both kings, David and Solomon, are earthly examples of the reign of King Jesus. Jesus will destroy and He will bring peace.

May they fear you as long as the sun shines, as long as the moon remains in the sky. Yes, forever! May the king's rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass, like the showers that water the earth. May all the godly flourish during his reign. May there be abundant prosperity until the moon is no more. May he reign from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. Desert nomads will bow before him; his enemies will fall before him in the dust. The western kings of Tarshish and other distant lands will bring him tribute. The eastern kings of Sheba and Seba will bring him gifts. All kings will bow before him, and all nations will serve him.
Psalm 72:5-11 NLT

Commentators say that these verses are the answer to the petition of the Lord in the previous four: Give the new king justice and righteousness and the ability to defend the poor and needy…so that the people of Israel will know and love and fear the Lord forever and ever.

While these words speak vaguely of the peaceful and prosperous time of King Solomon, they clearly prophesied of a time to come when the rule of Jesus will be like a spring rain on freshly cut grass as long as the sun shines and the moon remains in the sky…

Solomon did not refresh the earth like a spring rain, neither did he rule to the ends of the earth. Also, the land may have been peaceful, but where did Solomon get the money to fund his lavish lifestyle and care for all those women in his life? While the land remained at peace, someone had to work to provide for and to maintain this lifestyle. Bible scholars point out that the extravagance of Solomon’s life, while filled with peace and prosperity, led to the division of the kingdom during his son Rehoboam’s reign. It wasn’t but a few years after Solomon’s death that the kingdom broke in two.

The prophet Zechariah repeats these verses but instead speaks of Jesus.

Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey--riding on a donkey's colt. I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.
Zechariah 9:9-10 NLT

Solomon began to lift his vision above a desire for his own reign to be blessed toward the anticipation of the reign of a Greater Son of David, Messiah the King. The King would have dominion far greater than Solomon.

David Guzik, pastor,
He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him.
Psalm 72:12-14 NLT

I’m not sure what life was like for the poor and needy during Solomon’s reign. The Bible says Israel was peaceful and prosperous, but there’s another verse of a man speaking to Rehoboam about his father that makes some question what life was like for the regular people of Israel.

"Your father was a hard master," they said. "Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects."
1 Kings 12:4 NLT

The lives of the poor and needy are often considered to be of little value. The Messiah, the Greater King, will regard their lives as precious. This is especially meaningful when we consider the cheap regard for life outside of and before the world influenced by Christianity.

David Guzik, pastor,

This will not be the case, nor was it ever the case, with Jesus.

He went to Nazareth where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
Luke 4:16-21 NIV

David prayed that Solomon would care for the poor and needy, and while the land of Israel was peaceful and prosperous during Solomon’s reign as king, it was built and maintained on the backs of the working class. Never will this be with our Lord Jesus, King over all the earth.

Long live the king! May the gold of Sheba be given to him. May the people always pray for him and bless him all day long. May there be abundant grain throughout the land, flourishing even on the hilltops. May the fruit tress flourish like the trees of Lebanon, and may the people thrive like grass in a field. May the king's name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun shines. May all nations be blessed through him and bring him praise.
Psalm 72:15-17 NLT

These verses clearly speak of the King of kings. Followers of Jesus will gladly lay their treasures at His feet; they will sing His praises all day every day. And when He returns, the land will be filled with goodness and His children will thrive and be blessed. His rule will cover the whole earth forever.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Solomon wrote things regarding Messiah the King that were perhaps beyond his own understanding. It’s possible he never knew how wonderful it would be to say of the King of kings who laid down His life as a sacrifice for sins that after three days in the tomb all would see and say, He Shall Live.

David Guzik, pastor,

How blessed are we to know of Jesus? We have in our hands the Word of God which tells us of the character and the life and love of Jesus. Solomon and David and the prophets of the Old Testament walked in faith of the promises to come. Peter walked with the man, Jesus. Paul walked with Jesus’s disciples. How blessed we all are.

His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed.
Psalm 72:17 NKJV

His name shall endure forever. David and Solomon are remembered in history, but it’s the Name of Jesus that will endure.

Praise the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things. Praise his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen!

This ends the prayers of David son of Jesse.
Psalm 72:18-20 NLT

The psalm ends in with a short doxology, a hymn of praise.

He is the Blessed God, and his name shall be blessed; his name is glorious, and that glory shall fill the whole earth. For so bright a consummation our heart yearns daily, and we cry, Amen, and Amen.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892

Solomon closes Book Two with a postscript, a signature of sorts. David is at the end of life and the end of his reign as king over Israel. He simply becomes “David, the son of Jesse.”

Father in heaven, thank you for this psalm that is clearly a song about Jesus. Thank you for the reminder of your kingdom to come. You are good and faithful. Thank you for loving us and walking beside us every day. We love you and we ask for strength today and for peace in our hearts and our homes. Help us today to share your love with those around us. Amen.


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