Psalms 72 Commentary

Psalm 72 Israel’s ideal king

Solomon, the writer of this psalm, knew that God’s desire was for the dynasty of David to be established permanently (2 Sam 7:8-16). He knew also that only as the king himself feared God and ruled by God’s wisdom would Israel enjoy the peace and strength that God intended for it (1 Kings 3:6-9).

These points are emphasized in the present psalm, which is a prayer designed to be used by the people when praying for their king. But Solomon and the Davidic kings after him fell far short of the ideals that he sets out here. The one Davidic king who fulfils all that the prayer asks for is the Messiah, Jesus.

The king who rules in submission to God will be righteous in his character and just in his actions, defending the oppressed and crushing those who oppress them (1-4). He will be as beneficial to his people as rain is to the earth, and thereby ensure that his kingdom enjoys prosperity, righteousness, peace and long life (5-7). His kingdom will expand by taking into it other countries, and will be enriched by the tribute and resources that these countries provide (8-11). The reason for this expansion is not selfish ambition or ruthless aggression, but the moral quality of the king himself. He helps the poor and the needy, rescues the downtrodden, and considers each person’s life a thing of great worth (12-14).

Riches will come to this king and people will offer prayers for him. His country will flourish agriculturally, his fame will spread and his dynasty will last for ever (15-17). The psalmist urges people everywhere to praise God who alone can do all this (18-19). An editorial note marks the conclusion of this group of psalms (20).

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