1 O God, your judgments give the King,
his son your righteousness;
with right he shall your people judge,
your poor with uprightness.
And then the mountains shall bring forth
to all the people peace;
the hills because of righteousness
their blessing shall increase.
2 The people’s poor ones he shall judge,
the needy’s children bless;
and he will break in pieces those
who would the poor oppress.
The just shall flourish in his days,
and prosper in his reign;
and while the moon endures he shall
abundant peace maintain.
3 His large and great dominion shall
from sea to sea extend;
it from the River shall reach forth
to earth’s remotest end.
Yea, kings shall all before him bow,
all nations shall obey;
he’ll save the needy when they cry,
the poor who have no stay.
4 Now blessed be the Lord our God,
the God of Israel,
for he alone does wondrous works
in glory that excel.
And blessed be his glorious name
to all eternity.
The whole earth let his glory fill;
amen, so let it be.
O God Your Judgments Give the King
Our final hymn this week comes from Psalm 72. Its inscription says, “Of Solomon.” It is a prayer for the king, and the last verse identifies it as a prayer of David the son of Jesse, so that the inscription means that Solomon is the subject of the Psalm, not the author. It may be that Solomon versified the prayer that David prayed for him, or it may be that David himself wrote the psalm. Either way, David should be regarded as the author, and Solomon the intermediate subject. But Solomon did not fulfill the prayer of David except partially; his rule did not lead to everlasting righteousness and justice. Zacharias’ prayer at the birth of his son John identifies the events of his lifetime as being the fulfilment of these and many similar prophecies; it is Christ the Son of David who is ultimately the king spoken of here, and the glory of His reign which is promised, from Old Testament eyes.
The first verse shows that it is only with the power of God that a king can accomplish these great things, and especially that the righteousness of God is worked in the king. The wickedness and incompetence of their kings was the continual plague of the nation of Israel, and their rare righteous king could do little to reverse the tide. But God had promised David that one of his seed would come and be endowed by God in a special way, and that His kingdom would reign forever. The Babylonian Captivity definitively proved that none of the line of David up to that point was that king, and none from the line of David ever sat on the throne in Jerusalem since then. But God sent His Son, to be born the Son of David after the flesh, and anointed Him with power and glory to fulfill the ancient promise.
This king will provide justice and righteousness for the people. No longer will the strong oppress the weak, and the rich exploit the poor, which is the normal course of the world. People will live in peaceful community with one another, no longer fearing invaders, robbers or evil oppressors. It will be a time of great material abundance, as even the tops of the mountains will be fertile and productive.
Verse 3 shows that this dominion of the king would extend from sea to sea, and all the nations of the earth will be subject to it. The glory of the Lord will be known throughout the world, and the kingdom of this king will rule over all, bringing peace and justice not just to Israel but to all the world.
The Psalm therefore presents to us a time on earth when all the nations are ruled in common by one king, that all oppression and injustice ends, that is characterized by tremendous material abundance, peace, security and knowledge. All of this comes as a result, we see in verse 4, of the wondrous work of God, who “alone does wondrous works” for His glorious and blessed name.
There has always been a great deal of debate about how this state will come about. I believe it makes the most sense to understand this as the eternal state seen somewhat dimly from Old Testament eyes, a time when all of God’s people from every nation live in fellowship and harmony together, praising God and enjoying His good creation without any oppression, fraud or violence, for all eternity. It happens when Christ comes again and destroys all the evildoers and oppressors and wasters, all those who have not bent the knee to Jesus’ kingship and accepted the forgiveness of their sins.
That debate will no doubt continue to rage until the actual state of affairs is fully achieved and all the questions are answered. Until then, however, we clearly can take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is certainly bringing about this state of affairs even now according to His secret plan. We also can have wisdom to know that since God has endowed Jesus Christ with this power and righteousness, we should certainly expect no other ruler or great man to bring us security, prosperity and justice, except by God’s grace only very partially, as Solomon did. Christ is the hope of this sad world, and there is no other. So blessed be the glorious name of God, and of His Son, Jesus the Messiah, for the day will infallibly come when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.