“Psalm 72: The Blessings of King Jesus!” (Part 1 of 2)
March 11, 2018
by Pastor Jerry Ingalls
I read a story this week that happened in our country back in the 1980’s: Charles Colson was at a National Association of Evangelicals convention some years ago when Ronald Reagan was the president and came to speak. He had spoken to them and they were all very impressed and cheered wildly. Chuck Colson, famous for Watergate in the 1970s, having worked as President Nixon’s special counsel, after doing some prison time he founded Prison Fellowship International. Many of you may know of his legacy when you listen to Moody Bible Institute’s radio station that airs “BreakPoint” (a program on Christian Worldview that comes out of the Colson Center). Chuck looked at all those Christian leaders and said, “The kingdom of God does not arrive on Air Force One.” Indeed it does not. God’s kingdom arrives with God’s King, and God’s King is Jesus. We wait for His kingdom, not an earthly kingdom. And we pray that it might come (Matt. 6:10), knowing that it alone is truly righteous and that it alone will never pass away (Boice, 2005, 605-606).
Like Psalms 2 & 45, today’s psalm, Psalm 72, is a royal psalm. The historical context of Psalm 72 is a prayer of blessing and prosperity over the king and his kingdom. It is set at the time of King Solomon and much of this psalm finds connection to the historical context of Solomon’s reign and the hope of Israel that Solomon’s reign would fulfill the promises of God to his father David (2 Samuel 7), as well as to the nation’s patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 12). But like we learned last week, ‘Something greater than Solomon’ is to be found in the Psalms. Are you ready to dive under the surface and find Jesus in Psalm 72?
We will be looking at Psalm 72 in five sections (3 this week and 2 next week) because that is the most natural way to break it down. We won’t have time to look at everything in this psalm over the next two Sundays, but you are quickly going to see a theme weaved all the way through and that concludes the psalm: God blesses the citizens of King Jesus’s Kingdom! Psalm 72 portrays the ideal king and what it would be like to be a part of the king’s kingdom. If we are not to find Jesus in Psalm 72, then like the wedding day flattery of Psalm 45, this psalm could be reduced to nothing more than the bureaucratic extravagance of an Israeli government desiring to see their nation as greater than every other nation. If that is the testimony of Scripture, then we have no need for Jesus or His triumphant rescue from the world, and we too can be nationalistic and ethnocentric (= focused on me and my own) in our current context 3,000 years later. But we do need Jesus to rescue us from what comes natural to us—selfish and self-centered living (sin)! The ideal King redeems us from such thinking and invites us to His kingdom.
The first section (vv. 1-4) describe the character of the king’s kingdom: King Jesus’s Kingdom is righteous:
1 Give the king Your judgments, O God,
And Your righteousness to the king’s son.
Stop for a second and listen to John 5:22 talk about Jesus, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.”
2 May he judge Your people with righteousness
And Your afflicted with justice.
3 Let the mountains bring peace to the people,
And the hills, in righteousness.
4 May he vindicate the afflicted of the people,
Save the children of the needy
And crush the oppressor.
Jesus’ kingly reign brings peace to the people because all that He does is righteous. That means that all of Jesus’ actions and judgments are right and true. Jesus rules according to the unchanging standard of a holy God. This psalm far exceeds any earthly ruler in character, because it can be said of no man (including David or Solomon of Israel’s history or any ruler of any nation throughout history) that he accomplished such a peaceful kingdom. Every effort in history to do so has failed miserably. It is Christ’s kingdom that brings peace to the people and vindication to the afflicted. It is in Christ’s kingdom that the needy are saved and the oppressor is crushed. [Could this be a garden reference to Genesis 3:15?] Christ’s righteousness is the very character of His rule over people’s lives today and over the Kingdom of God that will one day reign over all the nations.
The second section (vv. 5-7) teaches us the duration of the King’s kingdom: King Jesus’s Kingdom is eternal.
5 Let them fear You while the sun endures,
And as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
6 May he come down like rain upon the mown grass,
Like showers that water the earth.
7 In his days may the righteous flourish,
And abundance of peace till the moon is no more.
Now listen to this from Revelation 22:5: “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” Both these passages prophetically speak of the eternal reign of King Jesus.
All earthly rulers will come to an end of themselves. So will any of us who try to rule our own kingdoms upon this earth, including the kingdom of our own lives. We will fall in stature, or fail in leadership, or die. Regardless of our human sentiments that cause us to cry out, “O king, live forever!” whether speaking of ourselves or a political leader, the reality is that no human ruler ever will have a rule such as King Jesus.
This psalm points to an ideal king—a type that foreshadows—who is fully realized and is everlasting in King Jesus. His Kingdom is proclaimed by John in Revelation 11:15, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”
The third section (vv. 8-11) now points to the scope or boundaries of the King’s kingdom: King Jesus’s Kingdom is universal (in the ancient creeds, it is the word “catholic” which means universal).
8 May he also rule from sea to sea
And from the River [referencing the Euphrates] to the ends of the earth.
9 Let the nomads of the desert bow before him,
And his enemies lick the dust.
10 Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
11 And let all kings bow down before him,
All nations serve him.
These verses obviously far exceed the boundaries of King David or King Solomon’s territory, even at the times of their greatest power. In its original context, it could be read from an ethnocentric or nationalistic point of view, such as America’s nineteenth-century ‘Manifest Destiny’ mindset, that seeks to subjugate all other nations to their own perceived superiority. Although that was most likely the original author’s intent, there is a larger story being weaved here through the Psalms and the Bible. A story of a God that transcends all ethnic groups and national loyalties. A story of a kingdom that is inclusive of all ethnic groups and nation states. A Kingdom where ‘me and my own’ (nationalistic/ethnocentric/tribal) thinking is considered unrighteous and forever out of place under the rightful ruler of King Jesus. His reign is eternal and universal, inclusive to all through the exclusive means of the One who is both righteous and sovereign.
Listen to this beautiful image of King Jesus’ Kingdom and our future participation in it as citizens of Heaven: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9-10).
Paul calls people in this kingdom, “Citizens of Heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Those who come under the reign of King Jesus are eternally blessed to be called citizens of Heaven and are no longer subjects of the temporary kingdoms of Satan on the earth; kingdoms that are ruled by men and women who are not righteous in all that they do, but who each must one day bow the knee to the only true and righteous King.
I conclude with this command to all citizens of King Jesus’s Kingdom found in Philippians 2:5-11, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
You have been blessed to be a blessing to all nations. As one chosen and called as a Citizen of Heaven live in such a way that people know you represent Heaven on earth and not one of the kingdoms of earth. I think we all have had enough with the Church of Jesus Christ being divided over the politics of temporary kingdoms and the passing fads of transient cultures.
Let us unite with the One who is King over all and put Heaven on display for all to see. It starts with you and it starts with me; it starts with us.