Tuesday, February 18, 2014

High Hopes for the King: Psalm 72

Jesus is our ultimate King. He is the ruler who will reign eternally. To many of us, this is not a new concept. Christ’s role as a King has been preached to us. But what does that really look like? A true believer doesn't gaze at world leaders alone for protection. Though they try to deliver us, their solution is not God's solution. Psalm 72 has a lot to say about why our hope should rest in King Jesus alone. The language of this Psalm can’t fully apply to any earthly leader; its language is fit only for God.

1 Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
2 May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.

Verses 1-2 offer insight into Jesus’ role as our ultimate King. Justice and righteous judgment are the qualities emphasized. These traits are fully embodied in Jesus Christ, and earthly leaders should strive for them as well, by God’s grace. Rulers can have righteous qualities but they all also have weaknesses. Pray fervently and petition God to give our rulers the justice and righteousness of Christ.
2 May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.

4 May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.

12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.

The next kingly trait emphasized in Psalm 72 is care for the poor, found in verses 2, 4, and 12-14. The king’s subjects are needy. A just king defends them and conquers their oppressors. Jesus is the only King who exhibits perfect love and compassion for the poor in spirit. Truly, their blood is precious in His sight. Knowing and serving Him is the highest good for all people, whether poor or wealthy by the world’s standards.
6 May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
7 In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.

16 May grain abound throughout the land;
on the tops of the hills may it sway.
May the crops flourish like Lebanon
and thrive like the grass of the field.

Peace and prosperity are the next benefits brought about by the reign of King Jesus. These attributes are mentioned in verses 6-7 and 16. Jesus brings flourishing life and an abundance of peace. The Hebrew word used for peace here is “Shalom”, and it carries a picture of the wholeness and safety necessary for vital life. The result of righteousness is peace for eternity. 

May he endure as long as the sun,
    as long as the moon, through all generations.

In his days may the righteous flourish
    and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.
8 May he rule from sea to sea
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
9 May the desert tribes bow before him
    and his enemies lick the dust.
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores
    bring tribute to him.
May the kings of Sheba and Seba
    present him gifts.
11 May all kings bow down to him
    and all nations serve him.

17 May his name endure forever;
    may it continue as long as the sun.
Then all nations will be blessed through him,
    and they will call him blessed.

King Jesus also gloriously offers what no earthly ruler can: an eternal and universal reign. This is spoken of in the Psalm in verses 5, 7-11, and 17. The reign and benefits of Christ will continue forever. God’s promises look forward to a broad and universal kingdom, through all generations. It includes all nations, even rulers of other lands (think of the magi worshipping Jesus). Luke 1:32-33 predicts Christ’s enduring reign: The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.

We see many of the aforementioned benefits of Christ’s reign now. However, we do not see perfect justice and equity (Hebrews 2:8 tells us this). Christ has won the victory but He hasn’t fully and finally established perfect righteousness in the world. God’s promises are sure though His timing is yet unknown.

Earthly rulers, while they can have a portion of these traits, will not satisfy our souls. They cannot be our salvation, and they cannot bring about perfect peace and an eternal reign. My grandfather says, "World leaders try to be surrogate parents, but we have only one Father."  Many governments, including the United States, feel they are invincible and that power lies with them to bring about “world peace.” No president, king, or military leader will ultimately deliver us. 'We the people' are incapable of fulfilling the United States Constitution: “form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility… and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” The only leader who can and will establish perfect peace and justice is Christ Jesus. 

As God’s people, we must learn to live with imperfection. We can’t expect too much of this world before Christ has fully redeemed it. We also must not place too much hope in our government, or even the church. The God of Psalm 72 must be our only hope as we expectantly wait for the full peace and rule of Christ. We can pray and sing this Psalm in eager expectation of the King who will make all things right: Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory (vv. 19).

May he be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth.

Note: This post was taken from my notes on a sermon I heard from Pastor H.P. McCracken at the Orlando RP Church.   

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your insights on Psalm 72 and the Lord's promise that in Him all blessings abound!