Psalm 72

A Psalm of Solomon.

1 Give the king Your judgments, O God,
And Your righteousness to the king’s Son.

2 He will judge Your people with righteousness,
And Your poor with justice.

3 The mountains will bring peace to the people,
And the little hills, by righteousness.

4 He will bring justice to the poor of the people;
He will save the children of the needy,
And will break in pieces the oppressor.

They shall fear You
As long as the sun and moon endure,
Throughout all generations.

6 He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing,
Like showers that water the earth.

7 In His days the righteous shall flourish,
And abundance of peace,
Until the moon is no more.

He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.

9 Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him,
And His enemies will lick the dust.

10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles
Will bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba
Will 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 also, and him who has no helper.

13 He will spare the poor and needy,
And will save the souls of the needy.

14 He will redeem their life from oppression and violence;
And precious shall be their blood in His sight.

15 And He shall live;
And the gold of Sheba will be given to Him;
Prayer also will be made for Him continually,
And daily He shall be praised.

16 There will be an abundance of grain in the earth,
On the top of the mountains;
Its fruit shall wave like Lebanon;
And those of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.

17 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.

18 Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things!

19 And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen.

20 The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

The kingly rule which is the theme of the poem is certainly described idealistically, a common feature of royal psalms, and the basis of their Messianic interpretation. … The heart of this psalm’s delineation of ideal kingship is that in the role of the King was focused the fundamental requirement: a justice which brings new life to the unfortunate and destroys oppression. Prophetically, the psalm looks through and beyond the individual king for whom it was first sung, reminding him of his high calling and attains a vision of Christ, seeing that in him the helpless find the powerful redeemer, and by His fulfillment of royal righteousness He will bring healing to all Creation, till none shall hurt or destroy in all God’s holy kingdom (Isaiah 11:1-9). — Guthrie, page 495.

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This is one of two psalms (the other being Psalm 127) attributed in their headings to Solomon. It was most likely composed by him at the beginning of his ascension to the throne—specifically, perhaps, in connection with the prayer that he offered to God when the latter appeared to him in a dream (1 Kings 3:6-9), to which this psalm evinces several phraseological-conceptual parallels. — Wechsler, pages 182-183.

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Solomon begins his prayer (v.1) by asking for that which is most foundational to his ability to lead—foundational even to the wisdom for which he later became so famous (1 Kings 10:4)—to wit: righteousness; and not just any righteousness, but God’s righteousness—that righteousness that is defined by and sourced in Him alone, and which He graciously “reckons” to those whom He chooses. — Wechsler, page 183.

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Solomon asks God that, on the basis of the gift of His righteousness, he be enabled to judge His people with righteousness and His afflicted ones with justice (v.2). … Solomon asks for the wisdom to do this not just by judging  and vindicating the afflicted (v.4)—i.e., when their cases are brought before him (see 1 Kings 3:16 ff.)—but also by saving the lives of the needy and rescuing them from  oppression and violence (v.14)—i.e., by proactively stopping and speaking out against injustice. — Wechsler, page 183-184.

mountains (v.3) — symbolizing kingdoms

rain (v.6) — as rain gives life to vegetation and makes it flourish, so the Messiah gives life to men and makes them flourish (v.7)

the River (v.8) — the Euphrates (Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 11:24)

Tarshish (v.10) — in the far west, by the Straits of Gibraltar

Sheba and Seba (v.10) — nations in South Arabia noted for their wealth

Verses 8-11 mean that the Messiah will rule the entire world.

Saved Israel will be the handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains (v.16). Her fruit will be seen over all the earth during the Kingdom Age. — Phillips, page 173.

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Solomon concludes by affirming that it is the God of Israel alone who works wonders—referring to His miracles of deliverance and provision for His people. It is He alone, in other words, who is the true King of Israel (cf. 1 Samuel 8:7), and on whose throne Solomon only sits as a custodian (see 1 Chronicles 29:23). Hence Solomon asks that, throughout the course of his reign, the whole earth be filled with God’s glory—and not Solomon’s own. — Wechsler, page 184.

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Verse 20, though enumerated as the last verse of Psalm 72, in fact represents the subscription to Books One and Two (Psalms 1-72). Even though several of the psalms in these two Books were written by others, they are all collectively identified as the prayers of David, since he is the one who wrote the vast majority of them and was also quite likely the one responsible for their compilation and ordering. — Wechsler, page 184-185.

Williams’ take:

This Psalm sings of the king that is to reign in righteousness (Isaiah 32:1). Its title declares it to relate to Solomon, i.e., to Him of whom Solomon is a type as Prince of Peace.

Christ’s millennial reign, and the universal happiness which it will secure, is the subject matter of the Psalm. The speaker is the Holy Spirit; the Person spoken to, God; and the Person spoken of, Christ. The Holy Spirit in verse 1 asks God to commit the execution of His judgments and the administration of His justice unto the true Solomon; and confidently states that the result will be the punishment of evil-doers (v.4), the happiness of His people (vs. 2-4), and their perpetual loyalty to God’s service (v.5). — Williams, page 355.

Phillips agrees with Williams, and so do I.

This Psalm gives a vision of Messiah’s kingdom as revealed in the Old Testament … 2 Samuel 23:1-4 is very appropriate to quote at this point:

Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; Thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel: “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.’

David did not realize how far along in his dynasty the investiture of this Son might be. Perhaps he thought the great promises might be fulfilled in Solomon. The time for their fulfillment was left for other prophets to reveal. David did not know that the investiture of this Son would take place in heaven, after which He would return to the earth to exercise His reign. That was left for Daniel to reveal.

“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14). — Phillips, pages 168-169.

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