October 6, 2016
Title: A Psalm for Solomon
Theme: The King and the kingdom are coming
Psalm 72 (KJV)
Introduction to Psalm 72
This is called “A Psalm for Solomon.” The cynic claims that Solomon wrote it, but I disagree, and I will tell you why. The last verse says this: “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse are ended.” This is a psalm of David written for his son, Solomon. Though a few commentators call it “a psalm of Solomon,” the others, including the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate and the Syriac are on record supporting me, or so I like to think so. It will be shown in the exposition of these verses that they accurately describe the state of things under the Messiah, and that they cannot be literally applied to the reign of Solomon.
The Psalm starts out as a prayer for Solomon, but before long we realize that the writer is looking beyond Solomon to the glories of the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. No one who has studied the Bible can doubt that THE WRITERS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT “DID” LOOK FORWARD TO A REMARKABLE PERSON WHO WAS TO APPEAR IN THE FUTURE. Whether the reality of the inspiration of the prophets is admitted or denied, those men and women somehow had conceived “that notion,” and this idea is constantly revealed in their writings. They delight to dwell upon the prospect of His appearing; they dwell with pleasure on His characteristics; they turn to Him in times of national trouble, as well as times of personal hardship; they anticipate final deliverance from Him alone. They describe Him as clothed with regal magnificence; they exalt Him to the highest rank; they represent Him as most beautiful in character, and most mighty in power; they apply to Him the most exalted names; Priest; Prophet; Prince; King; Warrior; Angel; “God.” We are not surprised to find that the sacred writers returned to this idea again and again, regardless of the subject on which they may be writing. It is for those who deny the inspiration of the prophets (professors in great universities and liberal seminaries) to explain how this idea sprang up in their minds; they cannot deny the fact that it was there. There is, perhaps, no part of the Old Testament where this is more manifest than in the psalm before us. It bears all the marks of having been composed under the influence of such an idea.
This psalm concludes what we call the Exodus section of the Psalms. The Book of Exodus concludes with the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle, and this is a prophetic psalm in which the Messiah Himself comes and establishes His glorious kingdom on earth. Notice that He is the God of righteousness.
1 Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son.
“Give the king thy judgments, O God,” In the introduction to this psalm there was introduced the idea held by the majority of Bible commentators; namely, that the seventy-second psalm was written by David (1 Kings 1:39) for Solomon upon the occasion of his installation as King of Israel. But there is also the awareness that this psalm is a prophesy of the greatest single event in the history of the world; the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the paragraphs that follow, let’s shed some more light on these thoughts:
1) Supposing the psalm to have been composed by David in consideration of the inauguration of his son and successor. This is a prayer that God would bestow on him the qualifications which would tend to secure a just, and extended, and a peaceful reign.
2) Though it is to be admitted that the psalm was designed to refer ultimately to the Messiah, and to be descriptive of “His” reign, yet there is no impropriety in supposing that the psalmist believed the reign of Solomon would be, in some proper sense emblematic of that reign, and that it was his desire that the reign of the one “might,” as far as possible, resemble that of the other.
3) There is no improbability; therefore, in supposing that the mind of the psalmist might have been directed to both in the composition of the psalm, and that while he used the language of prayer for the one, his eye was mainly directed to the characteristics of the other.
The phrase “Thy judgments,” referring to “Solomon,” incorporates knowledge, authority, and the ability to execute “Thy judgments,” or thy laws. That is, he speaks of the king as if he was appointed to administer justice; to maintain the laws of God, and to exercise judicial power. It is one of the primary ideas in the character of a king that he is the fountain of justice; the maker of the laws; the dispenser of right to all his subjects. The officers of the law administer justice “under” him; the last appeal is to him.
It is evident from Psalm 72:20that this Psalm was written by David, and it is no less certain from the very title of it that it pertained to Solomon and that David, or at least the Holy Ghost, which dictated this Psalm, did look beyond Solomon and all the way to the Messiah, of whom Solomon was an illustrious and unquestionable type. Also, it seems as obvious from various verses of this Psalm that they do not belong to Solomon, or to any other king but the Messiah,
“And thy righteousness unto the king's son.”David’s prayer is for Godto give his “son” the same type of “righteousness” that he has; not only him, but his successor; that is, let the administration of justice by the government be carried on by each new king. Let it be seen that he represents “Thee;” and that His government may be regarded as “Thine own administration through him.” There is no unlikelihood in supposing that in this the psalmist may have intended all along to refer to the last and the greatest of his successors leading to the Messiah. Solomon was a type of Christ in his wisdom and riches, and in the peacefulness and extent of his kingdom.
Righteousness is the plank in the platform that no political candidate has ever lived up to—as far as I can tell. That is, unless he is a Christian (a rare bird, in my opinion), for all true believers receive the righteousness of Christ, the moment they are saved. The Lord Jesus will reign in righteousness some day. This psalm describes His glorious kingdom.
2 He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.
“He shall judge thy people with righteousness,” for He has the judgment and righteousness of God given him, and this will qualify Him to judge “Thy people”(the people of God); for they are thine more than his; and therefore he must not govern them according to his own will and pleasure, but according to the rules of thy word, and for thy service and glory. The people of God are made so, not by creation, but by special grace; grace is the only means by which his chosen and covenant people—the redeemed and purchased people of God—are made his willing people. These are people Christ judges, rules, and governs, protects and defends, in a righteous manner; pleads their cause, vindicates their right, and takes revenge on their enemies, as well as justifies them with his own righteousness.
“The Son of David”isa name by which the Messiah is known: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David . . .” (Matthew 1:1). The word “Righteousness,” as it is used here doesn’t mean the essential righteousness of God, for the Lord Christ has that by nature and in a supply equal with that of his divine Father, and it is not given or conveyed to Him, but has always been His through the fullness of the graces of the Spirit, and perfection of virtues, which he received without measure. And as Mediator, He is abundantly qualified to judge with righteousness, and to apply corrective measures with impartiality. And He cannot act as other judges do, who must depend entirely on the sight of the eyes, or hearing of the ears—“And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2). It must be understood of the everlasting righteousness, which Christ has produced, that it is called His Father's, because it was appointed in council and covenant with Him, approved of and accepted by Him, and imputed to His people. The job of working out this righteousness was not only given to Christ in covenant, but he was sent in the fullness of time to do it; and He had a power given Him, as Mediator, to justify many with it: “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).
“He shall”: Every one of the “He Wills” or “He shalls” in the rest of Psalm 72 will become fact when the Redeemer sets up His glorious reign.
“And thy poor with judgment.”The “poor,” who are always with us, are promised “judgment”; that is to say, “justice and fairness.” These are those who are literally poor, and are the Lord's poor, whom He has chosen, and makes rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom; and with whom Christ, when here on earth, was chiefly concerned, and still is. But He was not so concerned with the great men and rulers of the earth, or those who are poor in spirit and aware of their spiritual poverty and find themselves hungry and thirsty, and destitute of righteousness, and without money, or anything with which to obtain either.
“The afflicted ones,” are Christ’sin a special way, for He is their Judge and Patron (Psalms 68:5), and hast commanded all thy people, and especially kings and magistrates, to take good care of them, because they have few or no friends; are distressed in body or mind with respect to things worldly or spiritual; oppressed by sin, Satan, and the world. Christ is concerned for them, and administers justice to them in his own time and way (Isaiah 11:4).
3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.
“The mountains shall bring peace to the people,” The “people” are the people of God, as stated in the previous verse. Some, though, interpret this as meaning nations, and kings of the nations, instead of mountains and hills, as in Micah 6:1; that should make peace with Israel in the days of Solomon, and in the days of the King Messiah.
The idea in this verse is that the land would be full of peace and the fruits of peace. All parts of it would be covered with the evidences that it was a land of quietness and security, where people could pursue their callings in safety, and enjoy the fruit of their labors. On the mountains and on all the little hills in the land there would be abundant harvests, the result of peace (so strongly in contrast with the desolations of war), all showing the advantages of a peaceful reign. It is to be remembered that Judea is a country abounding in hills and mountains, and that a great part of its former fertility resulted from terracing the hills, and cultivating them as far as possible toward the summit. The idea here is that one who could look upon the land—who could take it all in at a glance, the whole country—would see those mountains and hills cultivated in the most careful manner, and everywhere bringing forth the products of peace—“You crown the year with your bounty and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing” (Psalm 65:11-13)
Corruption, bribery and oppression will have ceased. Trials will be conducted with strict impartiality and the poor will no longer be taken advantage of. The abundance of fruit the mountains and hills should produce would be such that there would be no contention among men about gathering it; but everyone would invite his neighbor to join in the harvesting of it, according to Zechariah 3:10.
There is yet another interpretation offered for this verse, and it is one that I do not support; the reasoning goes like this. Mountains are often used in Scripture to signify governmental authorities. So the thought here may be that the citizen of Christ’s kingdom can expect equity and justice from all the courts in the land—from the Supreme Court all the way
“and the little hills, by righteousness.” That is, “peace” by the dominance of righteousness, or under a reign of righteousness, that is, the righteousness of Christ. The little hills would furnish illustrations of the influence of a reign of peace. Everywhere there would be the effects of a reign of peace. The whole land would be cultivated, and there would be abundance everywhere, even in places that are usually barren, and therefore this was an evidence of extraordinary fruitfulness, and a special blessing of God. Peace always produces these blessings; war always spreads desolation. There is the additional benefit of peace with God, spiritual peace and joy, according to Romans 5:1: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
4 He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.
“He shall judge the poor of the people.” Down through the centuries the poor and needy, the afflicted, and the down-trodden of the people of God, whether among Jews or Gentiles, have been oppressed, underpaid, persecuted and even killed. During the Millennium, the King Himself will be their Advocate, He will vindicate their cause against their oppressors, He will emancipate them once and for all and punish those who took advantage of them; his reign would be one of impartial justice, under which the rights of the poor as well as of the rich would be respected. Here is a verse that expresses the same idea. “Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked” (Psalms 43:1).
“He shall save the children of the needy,” that is, those who are needy because their parents are too, those living a humble life, those most likely to be oppressed by others, and those who have no natural protection and are in distressing circumstances of a spiritual, physical or emotional nature.These are the kinds of people Christ saves from their sins, from the curses and condemnation of the law, from wrath to come, and out of the hands of all their enemies;
“And shall break in pieces the oppressor.” Who is this oppressor? He is the tyrant Satan, the god of this world that has seized power over it, who works in the children of disobedience, and leads captive the people of God in their unregenerate state; the “calumniator,” as some render the word; the accuser of the brethren; “the defrauder”, who beguiled our first parents, and now deceives mankind. Now it was foretold of Christ that He would break his head; and He came from heaven in the flesh to destroy his works, and Satan himself; and He has broke him and all his schemes in pieces, and reduced to rubble all his principalities and powers. But there were other oppressors: the Jews, who were the persecutors and oppressors of the first Christians; and Rome, both Pagan and Papal; antichrist, and all the antichristian nations, which have been, or will be, broken to pieces by Christ; who will rule them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces like one might break a potter's vessel (Revelation 2:27).
5 They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.
“They shall fear thee,” (fear the Lord Jesus Christ,the King Messiah, the Judge of the poor, and the destroyer of the oppressor) that is, “men” shall fear Thee, or Thou shalt be feared, for either the tyrants and oppressors themselves shall fear Him, as will those who have been aiding and assisting them; and Satan and his angels will fear him. There is another type of fear—“reverential fear” of the people of God, the poor of the people, and children of the needy, judged and saved by Christ—that shows Him love and respect, both internally and externally, in the exercise of grace, and in the performance of religious worship; in all the parts of it, which are both included in the fear of the Lord; of which there will be many instances, both among Jews and Gentiles, in the latter day—“Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days” (Hosea 3:5)—and this they shall do. The idea is that His reign would continue, or that he would be obeyed during all the time mentioned here. Some will obey Him because they fear what He might do to them, while others will show Him the love and respect due Him.
If this paragraph is concerning Solomon, it would be an exaggeration, but it can truly and literally be said of Christ.
“As long as the sun and moon endure.”That is, as long as there is a “sun and” a “moon” Christ will have a seed (remnant) to serve him; “(so) that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun” (Psalm 89:36). [Also see verse 72:17.] In other words, they would continue to the end of time; or to the end of the world. It does not denote “eternity,” for it is not assumed in the Bible that the sun and moon will continue forever; but the idea is that as long as the sun shall continue to shine upon the earth—as long as people shall dwell upon the earth—the kingdom would be perpetual. There would be no change of dynasty; no new empire would arise to replace and to supersede this one. This would be the dynasty under which the affairs of the world would be wound up; this is the kingdom which would be existing at the consummation of all things. The reign of the Messiah will be the “final” reign on the earth; under it the affairs of earth will come to a close.
“Throughout all generations.”His subjects will respect and fear Him “as long as the sun and Moon endure, throughout all generations.” It began in Solomon’s days, and continued, though not without interruption, in the time of his successors, the kings of Judah, and afterwards until Christ, in and by whom this prediction and promise was most fully accomplished.
6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.
“He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass.” The word interpreted as “mown grass” means “a shearing (mowing),” and is applied in Deuteronomy 18:4, and Job 31:20, to a fleece of wool. That is how it is understood here by the Septuagint, by the Latin Vulgate, by the Syriac, and by Luther; and, in accordance with this, it has been supposed by some that there is an allusion to the dew that descended on the fleece spread out by Gideon (Judges 6:37). The Chaldee Paraphrase renders it, “As the grass that has been eaten off by locusts;” where the idea would be that after locusts have passed over a field, devouring everything, when the rain descends the fields revive, and nature again puts on the appearance of life. “Mown grass” may refer to the Gospel and doctrine of Christ, being from heaven, like rain, and falling, by divine direction, sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; and having the effects of softening, quickening, and making fruitful. And it may be understood as a reference to His incarnation; when, like rain, He came down from heaven and took on a human nature; which was an instance of His condescending grace. And when His kingdom shall come in all its glory, it will be times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and His favor will be like the cloud that brings the latter rain, for it says in Acts 3:19: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” The common and I believe the true interpretation, however, refers the words to a “mowing,” that is, a “mown meadow,”—the image is very beautiful. The reign of the Messiah would resemble the gently descending shower, under which the grass which has been mown springs up again with freshness and beauty.
“As showers that water the earth.” The gist of this clause is similar to the first, showers in the form of drops of water falling on the earth; or, to be more precise, "as showers on the cut grass of the earth." But perhaps the word means “the splits and cracks in the earth caused by drought; and the sense is, that Christ's coming is like showers of rain upon the dry and parched ground, which eagerly accepts it. “That water” suggests the idea of water that is “gently” flowing.
7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
“In his days shall the righteous flourish” like the grass of the field (72:16) when the dews and rain of grace descends upon them; and like a branch, for it says in His Word: “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch” (Proverbs 11:28). They are the branches and Christ is the vine that nourishes the branches in order that they flourish and bring forth fruit like the palm tree (Psalm 92:12) which grows more when weighed down by its fruit. The Israelites were similar to the Palm tree in that respect, because the more they are afflicted, the more they grow in grace and experience, and become fruitful in every good word and work. And they flourished and grew into a great nation which is due to their being planted in good soil, in the house and courts of the Lord, where the Word is preached, and ordinances administered; to their being rooted and grounded in the love of God and grace of Christ; to their being watered continually with the dews of divine favor; enjoying the bright shining of the sun of righteousness, and the refreshing gales of the divine Spirit, like the south wind upon them, causing their spices to flow out.
The Lord Jesus will be the true Melchizedek—King of righteousness and King of peace. During His reign justice will flourish, and peace will abound, until the moon ceases to exist. Notice that righteousness precedes peace. “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever” (Isaiah 32:17). By His righteous work for us on the cross, He bequeathed peace to us. And by His righteous rule He will one day bring peace to our war-torn world.
“And abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth,” that is to say, “until there is no longer a moon to shine upon the earth and illuminate the night” (72:5). The writer cannot be alluding to Solomon when he says “there will be peace for as long as there is a moon,” that is, as long as time and the world shall last, since he didn’t live very long, and the peace of His kingdom was sadly disturbed, and in a manner totally lost, soon after his death, but was undoubtedly and eminently accomplished in Christ, who brought peace upon the earth, (Luke 2:14), and left it as his legacy to his disciples, (John 14:27).
That peace and prosperity, which were enjoyed under Solomon’s reign, was a shadow of what would it would be like in the times of Christ—universal peace. Spiritual peace was made with God by His blood, and all things were reconciled by Him, whether in heaven or in earth; Jew and Gentile were made both one, and reconciled in one body; and an abundance of spiritual peace is enjoyed by those that believe in Christ: they are kept in perfect peace, and filled with it; and in the latter day there will be abundance of peace among the saints. There will be no disputes nor discord among them; no envying one another; no animosities or contentions about religious matters; for they will then see eye to eye: and they will be at peace with the men of the world; there will be no more wars anywhere on the earth, or bloodshed, or persecution. And this shall endure till there is no moon, till there shall be no need of one; because the New Jerusalem will get its light directly from God and Christ.
8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.” I have heard this boast many times, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” British colonists were interspersed among the other nations of the world. But Christ’s kingdom will be universal. It will not be a matter of scattered Colonies. All nations will be included. His dominion will extend from one sea to another and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. The same is said of the Messiah in Zechariah 9:10 [“ . . .and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.”]; where He is clearly spoken of. His dominion over the Gentile world will take place through the preaching of the Gospel, and especially in the latter days, when the kingdoms of this world will be His, and He will be King over all the earth (see Revelation 17:14). But this cannot be said of Solomon, whose dominion reached only to the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt, (1 Kings 4:21). The meaning here is, that what was implied in these ancient promises would be carried out under the reign of the king referred to in the psalm.
“And from the river unto the ends of the earth.”There is general agreement that the “river” is the Euphrates. This was emphatically “the river” to the Hebrews—the great river—the greatest river known to them; and this river would be naturally understood as the one intended by the expression, “the river.” Besides, this was expressly designated in the original covenant as the boundary of the Promised Land (Genesis 15:18). The meaning here is, that, taking that river as one of the boundaries, or as a starting point, the dominion would extend from that to the utmost limits of the earth. It would have no other boundary but the limits of the world. The promise, therefore, is, that the dominion would be universal, and would encompass the earth; a kingdom of peace, and not of conquest. It would find its complete fulfillment only under the Messiah.
9 They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.
“They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him.” There are many places, even today, that are called wilderness, such as any wild and uncultivated region, like a forest or desert, uninhabited or inhabited only by wild animals; a tract of wasteland, solitary places. Here the reference may be to the deserts of Arabia.
Those who dwelt in the wilderness were rude and barbarous people, who lived without order and government; who are compared to the wild ass, to lions, leopards, and bears; and yet great numbers of these are tamed by the power of divine grace and made subjects of Christ. There is an instance of this in Acts 8:27, where a man from Ethiopia is converted after Philip witnesses to him of Christ. "Ethiopians" dwell in a dry land, parched and burnt by the sun; and so this is a prophecy of their conversion to Christ, as in Psalm 68:31: “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” Here, and in 74.14, “They that dwell in the wilderness” is evidently applied to people, such as shepherds—nomadic tribes—people who have no permanent home, but wander from place to place. The ungovernable nomads of the desert will bow before Him at last, a gesture of subjection to Him, reverence and worship of Him, to whom every knee shall bow (Isaiah 45:23).
The idea is that these wild, wandering, unsettled hordes would become subject to Him, or would bow down and acknowledge His authority. This can be fulfilled only under the Messiah.
“And his enemies shall lick the dust,” or rather, ‘and His enemies will go down to defeat.’ To lick the dust means to suffer dishonorable and shameful defeat. This is expressive of the most thorough submission and utter humiliation. It is language derived from what seems actually to occur in Oriental countries, where people prostrate themselves on their faces, and place their mouths on the ground, in token of reverence or submission. There is a verse in Isaiah which depicts this ancient custom: “Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23).
10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
“The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents.” Tarshish either signifies the sea, in which case the sense is, the kings of the sea, that is, of the islands of the sea, shall be subject to the kingdom of Christ; and, as a token of their subjection, bring presents to Him, as the Moabites and Syrians did to David, and as several nations and kings did to Solomon (2 Samuel 8:2); or it means a large country inhabited by the Celtae, and therefore is distinct from the islands; and then the sense is, that kings, both of the continent, and of the islands of the sea, shall do homage to the Messiah.
“The kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.” Gentile Kings will come to Jerusalem with Tribute and with presents for the King of kings. Here comes the ruler of Spain, there are the heads of state from the various island countries, and now you see the rulers of the sheikdoms of Southern Arabia. “Sheba and Seba”are two Arabian countries.
11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
Or worship him; not with a civil ceremony, but with religious worship; for this is the kind of worship that is due to Christ, since He is God and equal with the Father, and so, He should receive honor equal to the Father’s and we can cite many examples to support that: He is the Creator of all things, the Redeemer of His people, Head and Lord of the church, and adored by angels. Every part of worship is to be given Him; internal, which consists of the exercise of faith, hope, love, fear, and external, which consists of prayer to Him, praise of Him, preaching in His name, and the administration of ordinances; and this worship is to be performed in the same manner as the Father’s, in spirit and in truth, in righteousness and holiness, with reverence and godly fear. This is to be understood, either literally of the kings of the earth, and it will be accomplished in the latter day (Isaiah 49:23); or mystically of those who are made kings by Christ; who reign spiritually now, through the power of divine grace in their hearts; have the honor, riches, and attendance of kings, and a crown and kingdom prepared for them; and shall reign with Christ on earth, though under him, at whose feet they cast their crowns. All this shows the dignity attached to Christ's person and office; that He is the Prince of the kings of the earth, the firstborn of God, whom he has made higher than they, and King of kings, and Lord of lords. This passage is said to belong to the Messiah, both by ancient and modern Jews; and it certainly was never true of Solomon, or of any other.
“Yea, all kings shall fall down …,”that is to say, His reign will be universal. The kings and people mentioned in the previous verses are only samples of what will occur. “All” kings—“all” nations—will do what these are represented as doing. They will submit to the Messiah; they will own Him as their Lord.
“All nations shall serve him”; which will happen in the latter day; (Isaiah 2:2); the Jews say, that in the world to come, or the times of the Messiah, all the Gentiles shall be voluntary proselytes.
“For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth.” Such persons are not only in need, but are aware of it, and see their need of Christ and His righteousness, and salvation by Him, and cry out to Him for these same things, under a sense of their misery and danger. These are the ones He delivers out of all their troubles, and out of the hands of all their enemies, and supplies everything they need. The fame of His just and merciful government shall induce multitudes—the sufferer, the down-trodden, the oppressed—either to put themselves under Him, or to show Him great respect and reverence.
“For he shall deliver the poor when he crieth.” The King’s tremendous compassion for the needy is seen here. The poor, the downtrodden and the underdogs will have a Mighty Deliverer. All who have no protectors, all who are exposed to injustice and wrong from others, and the poor in spirit—who acknowledge their spiritual poverty, and ask him for the true riches; to these he gives gold tried in the fire; he gives them grace now, and glory henceforth. This is everywhere declared to be the characteristic of the reign of the Messiah.
“And him that hath no helper,” that is, him that is in an helpless condition; he can neither help himself, nor can any creature, angel or man, give him any help: but this, when laid on Christ can no longer be found in him, whereby he is delivered out of a miserable state into a very comfortable and happy one; and such humane, kind, and tender regard for the needy, poor, and helpless, in this great King Jesus, is what leads to a cheerful subjection to Him, and worship and reverence of Him; more of which is expressed in the following verses, as the reason of the great esteem he should be held in.
13 He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.
“He shall spare the poor and needy.” Christ will have pity on them, he will show mercy and kindness to them, and sympathize with them, for He is a merciful King, as well as High Priest, who is touched with a feeling of his people's infirmities, and who in His love and pity has redeemed them. Poverty will vanish and social injustice will be a thing of the past. The weak and the needy will have instant access to Him and will be certain of considerable attention and prompt action.
“And shall save the souls of the needy.”He will guard and defend them, and He will be their protector and friend. His government will show special respect to those who are commonly overlooked, and who are exposed to oppression and wrong. He will not limit Himself to “saving souls,” but will include the bodies of those saved by Him, which are also under His care, are bought with His blood, are preserved by Him, will be raised from the dead, and made like His glorious body; but souls are mentioned as being the most excellent part of man, and which having sinned, are liable to damnation and the second death; and are therefore the special objects of redemption and salvation; these are saved by Him from all their sins, and from the wrath to come; for this reason his name is called "Jesus", a Savior.
14 He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
“He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence.” He will rescue them from unjust and cruel treatment, and he will show the world how precious their lives are to Him. He will rescue their lives; that is, he will deliver them from the hands of men who practice deceit, or who are dishonest and unjust—and from the hands of those who oppress by means of deceit and violence; the two ways whereby the souls or lives of men are usually destroyed. This is stating in another form the idea that His reign would be one of equity, protecting the rights of the poor, and delivering the oppressed.
He shall redeem them from “deceit”; that is, from all the secret and exposed plans and efforts of their enemies; from deceitfulness of sin and its lusts, so that they shall not be hardened and destroyed by it; from the deceitfulness of the old serpent the devil, and all his cunning tricks and schemes; and from false teachers, who lie in wait to deceive, and who would, if possible, deceive the very elect, but shall not.
He shall redeem them from “violence”; that is, from the violent and tyrannical power of sin, so that it shall not have dominion over them; from the rage and fury of the men of the world, which is overcome by Him; and from Satan, the strong man, who is stronger than they, but will not be able to snatch them out of Christ's hands.
“And precious shall their blood be in his sight”; so that He either prevents the shedding of it, or, when shed, avenges it; and such persons are dear to him; and the sacrifice of their lives for His sake is the best gift that can be given, and it is an honor to suffer martyrdom for Him—“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants” (Psalm 116:15). Blood shed for His sake is so precious to Him that he will not permit it to be shed unjustly, but will come to their rescue when their life is in danger; or, once shed He will regard it as so valuable that he will not permit it to go unavenged. He will never be indifferent to their safety, or their reputation. He will not waste the lives of his subjects, casting them away merely to gratify his own revenge, or covetousness, or insatiable desire of enlarging His empire, as earthly kings commonly do, but, like a true Father of His people, will tenderly preserve them, and severely avenge their blood upon those who shall shed it.
“And he shall live” may refer either to the King—the Messiah—or to the poor and the oppressed man saved and redeemed by Christ. If the former, then it means that the life of the Messiah would be unending; that He would live at the right hand of God, where he ever lives to make intercession for his people, as well as lives in their hearts, and supplies them with all grace, and keeps alive his own work on their souls; that He would not be cut off as other sovereigns are; that there would be no change of regime; that as their King, he would always be the same—unchanging and unchanged—in all the generations of people, and in all the revolutions which occur on the earth. Other kings must lose both their lives and kingdoms; but this King, whom Solomon typified, shall live forever, and his kingdom shall have no end. This would be in harmony with the truth, and with what is said elsewhere of the Messiah; but, perhaps, the more correct interpretation is that it refers to the poor and the oppressed man; meaning that he would live to bring an offering to the Messiah, and to pray for the extension of His kingdom upon the earth. He, though dead in trespasses and sins, shall live spiritually, be quickened together with Christ, and by His Spirit, and live a life of faith and holiness; and though dead by law, yet, through the righteousness of Christ, shall have the justification of life, and live in the sight of God; and so he shall live comfortably by faith in Christ, being filled with joy and peace that comes from believing in him; and though he may lose his life for Christ's sake, he shall find it again, and live eternally with Him. “He shall live,” long and prosperously, as Solomon did, and eternally, as Christ did.
“And to him shall be given.”Literally, “He shall give to him;” that is, the man who has enjoyed His protection, and who has been saved by Him, will do this. As a token of his gratitude, and as an expression of his submission, he will bring to Him a costly offering, “the gold of Sheba.”
“Of the gold of Sheba.”One of the gifts referred to in 72:10 was said to come from Sheba (Compare Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 45:14.), as either a present, or tribute. The meaning is that those who are redeemed by Him—who owe so much to Him for protecting and saving them—will bring the most valuable things produced by the earth, or will consecrate to Him all that they are, and all that they possess (Compare Isaiah 60:5-7, Isaiah 60:13-17). This was done to Solomon (1 Kings 10:15), and to Christ—“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11)—and afterwards as need required. Although such expressions as “And to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba,” when used in connection with Christ and his kingdom, are commonly understood in a spiritual sense.
“Prayer also shall be made for him continually,”or He shall pray for him; that is, either Christ shall pray for the poor and needy man; He will not only save and redeem, but make intercession for him, as Christ does for all He redeems: He prays for them, that they may be enriched with all the blessings of grace; that the gold he gives them may not be lost or stolen; that their faith will not fail; that they may be kept safe from the evil of this world, and be with Him, where He is, to behold His glory: OR the poor and needy shall pray for Christ, for the prosperity of His Church, for the increase of His ability to attract the lost, and the coming of His kingdom: or "prayer shall be made by Him"; or "through him “continually"; as the Mediator between God and man, the way of access to God, through whom petitions are offered to Him, and become acceptable to him; but not for him personally, but for the success of His reign, and for the extension of His kingdom. Prayer made for “that” is made for “Him,” for he is identified with that.
“And daily shall he be praised”—every day; constantly. It will not be only at stated and infrequent intervals—at certain seasons, and on special occasions—but those who love Him will do it every day. It is not necessary to say that this is in agreement with the truth spoken by those who are the friends and followers of the Messiah—the Lord Jesus. Their lives are lives of praise and gratitude. From their dwellings daily praise ascends to Him; from their hearts praise is constant; praise uttered in the closet and with the family; praise emanating from the heart, whether on the farm, in the factory, on a trip, or in the busy malls. The time will come when all of this will be universal; when he who can take in at a glance the condition of the world, will see it to be a world of praise; when He who looks on all hearts at the same moment will see a world full of thankfulness.
16 There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
“There shall be an handful of corn(of grain) in the earth.” The “general” idea in this verse is clear for all to see. It is, that, in the time of the Messiah, there would be an ample supply of the fruits of the earth; or that His reign would be inclined to promote prosperity, diligence, and abundance. It would be as if fields of grain waved everywhere, even on the tops of mountains, or as if the hills were cultivated to the very summit, so that the whole land would be covered over with waving, joyful harvests. There is a difference of opinion, however, and consequently of interpretation, as to the meaning of the word rendered “handful.” This word occurs nowhere else in Scripture, and it is impossible, therefore, to determine its exact meaning. By some it is rendered “handful;” by others, “abundance.” The former interpretation was used by the older interpreters; the latter is the opinion of most modern expositors. It is also the interpretation in the Syriac. The Vulgate and the Septuagint render it “strength,” meaning something “firm” or “secure.”
According to the explanation which considers the word to mean “handful,” the idea is, that there would be a great contrast between the small beginnings of the Messiah‘s reign and its ultimate triumph. One way to think of it is like this: if a mere handful of grain were sown on the top of a mountain, on a place unlikely to produce anything, a place usually barren and unproductive; yet, this time it grows into an abundant harvest that would wave everywhere like the cedar trees of Lebanon. According to the other interpretation, the idea is simply that there would be “abundance” in the land. All the land would be cultivated, even to the tops of the hills, and the evidences of plenty would be seen everywhere. It is impossible to determine which of these is the correct idea; but both agree in that which is essential—that the reign of the Messiah would be one of peace and plenty. The former interpretation is the most poetic, and the most beautiful. It agrees, also, with other illustrations, such as in the parable of the grain of mustard-seed, and the parable of the leaven; and it agrees, also, with the fact that the beginning of the Gospel was small in comparison with what would be the ultimate result. This would seem to render that interpretation the most probable.
“In the earth”; that is, sown in the earth: this doesn’t denote Christ's being on the earth in the days of His flesh; but rather, His death and burial, His descending into the lower parts of the earth, where He stayed for a while as a type of Jonah; and which is represented by a corn of wheat falling into the earth and dying—“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seed” (John 12:24)—which indicates that Christ's death was not accidental, but designed, as is the sowing of corn in the earth; and that it was voluntary, and not forced, and was for just a little while: for as the corn dies, and lives again, and does not always lie under the clods; so Christ rose again because the cords of death could not hold Him.
“Upon the top of the mountains”; that is, in places “like” the tops of mountains, where the most barren ground is found; and therefore this was an evidence of extraordinary and phenomenal fertility. The mountains and hills were seldom cultivated all the way to the top, because it was very unlikely that anything would grow there; likewise, little was expected by the Jews to come from the crucifixion and death of Christ. Yet here the idea is that the state of things under the Messiah would be like a handful of grain sown in the place most unlikely to produce a harvest, or which no one thought of cultivating. No one needs to be told how well this would represent the cold and barren human heart in general; or the state of the Jewish world in respect to true religion, at the time when the Savior appeared.
“The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon.”“The fruit thereof”denotes that which would spring up from the mere handful of grain sown on barren ground.
“Shall shake like Lebanon;” that is, “shall shake like” the cedar trees of “Lebanon.” The harvest will wave as those tall and stately trees do. This is an image designed to show that the growth would be robust and abundant, far beyond what could have been anticipated from the small quantity of the seed sown, and the barrenness of the soil. The word rendered “shake” means more than is implied in our word “shake” or “wave.” It conveys the idea of a rushing sound, such as that which whistles among cedar or pine trees. Another idea is expressed here, and it may be the primary idea— it lies in the “noise” and “crashing” which is made by the wind violently shaking or jarring the heads of grain. Hence, it is used to denote the “rustling” motion of grain waving in the wind, and the sound of the wind whistling through trees when they are agitated by it.
Some Bible scholars disagree with the above interpretations, and they say that the true meaning is either a large number of souls converted, the fruit of Christ's death, and of the Gospel ministry; of whom there was a large harvest, both in Judea and in the Gentile world, in the early days of the Gospel, immediately after Christ's death and resurrection; and there will be an even greater harvest in the last days: or else the blessings of grace are meant, which come by the death and resurrection of Christ; as does righteousness, peace, pardon, and eternal life.
“And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.”Most interpreters suppose that the phrase “And they of the city” refers to Jerusalem, as the center of the Messiah‘s kingdom. It seems more probable, however, that it is not intended to refer to Jerusalem, or to any particular city, but to stand in contrast with the top of the mountain. Both cities and hills would flourish alike; there would be prosperity everywhere—in barren and unpopulated wastelands, and in places where people had come together for the purpose of living with others. The “figure” is changed (from “the top of the mountains” to “the city”), which is not uncommon, but the “idea” is retained.
The fertility of the land will be indescribable. Barns and silos will bulge with grain. Even places never previously cultivated, like the top of the mountains, will wave with fields of ripened grain. The indications of prosperity would be apparent everywhere.
“They of the city shall flourish” has been rendered as “They shall flourish out of the city” by the Targum and the Talmud. The cities will be as richly inhabited with people, as the fields are filled with grass. It will be a population explosion of epic proportions, yet there will be no scarcity of food. This proved to be literally true; for the Gospel, after Christ's death, was preached first in the city of Jerusalem, and the city was blessed for the many souls who were converted there, who were fruitful in grace and good works: it may very well be understood of all the citizens of Jerusalem; such as those Gentiles who are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, who being planted in the house of the Lord, flourish in the court of our God, and become very fruitful in every good word and work; and flourish like the grass of the earth for numbers, for quickness of growth, and for abundance and beauty; all of which is due to their being rooted in Christ, to His coming down upon them like rain, (see 72:6); to the dews of his grace, and to his arising upon them as the sun of righteousness.
17 His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.
“His name shall endure for ever;” that is to say, “He Shall be ‘forever;’” that is, “‘He’ shall endure forever.” In the Bible, a man’s name is sometimes used for the man himself. “His name” amounts to more than his label, title, and designation; more than what he is called. It amounts to more than the honor and renowned of his presumed wisdom, and justice, and goodness for which Solomon is well-known, but very vaguely; and imperfectly, for he stained the glory of his reign by his astonishing luxury and oppression, and apostasy from God, into which he fell in the latter part of his days. But if the Psalmist is not talking about Solomon, who is it? When we came to this verse the psalmist had been talking about Jesus and he is continuing to speak of Him. Jesus is the “name” that “shall endure forever”
“His name shall endure for ever,” as a King; for He is chiefly spoken of here in His kingly office, for the psalmist is not concerned very much with His fame, since the fame of an earthly king; even of a tyrant, may continue as long as the world does; but the meaning is that He Himself should continue in His office forever: His throne is forever and ever; of his government there will be no end; His kingdom is an everlasting one; He shall reign over the house of Jacob, and on the throne of David, forever and ever, He shall have no successor in his kingly office, any more than in His priestly office; which is an unchangeable one, or does not pass from one to another. His Gospel is His name—“But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15)—and that shall endure forever, or to the end of the world; until all His elect are gathered in, in spite of the violent persecutions of men, the cunning craft of false teachers, and the death of Gospel ministers and professors. As long as this is preached, Christ's name will endure, since he is the sum and substance of it; and not only is His name perpetuated in His Gospel, but also in His ordinances, those of baptism and the Lord's supper, which are administered in His name, and will be unto His second coming.
“His name shall be continued as long as the sun.” ‘“As long as the sun’ continues to shine” is an expression designed to express perpetuity (See 72:5); that is, “His name shall be continued” in His sons, in His spiritual offspring, for as long as the sun lasts. Just as the names of parents are continued in their children; so is the name of Christ; for he has children which the Lord has given Him; a seed that He shall see in all periods of time, to whom He stands in the relation of the everlasting Father; these bear His name, are called "Christians" after him. These are his seed and offspring and they shall endure forever; for though sometimes their number may be few; yet there are always some even in the worst of times; Christ has always had some (a remnant) to bear his name, and He always will have, and in the latter days they will be very numerous, even as the sand of the sea.
“And men shall be blessed in him.”It says in Genesis 22:18: “And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” He will be a source of blessing to them, in the pardon of sin; in happiness; in peace; in salvation.
Men, and not angels, sinful men; such as are by nature children of wrath, and cursed by the law of works, yet blessed in Christ; even all elect men, all that are chosen in Him, whether Jews or Gentiles; for He is the “seed of Abraham,” in whom “all the nations of the earth should be blessed,” (Genesis 22:18); as they are with all spiritual blessings; with redemption, peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life. They are in Him, and blessed in Him; He is their head and representative, and so, they are blessed in Him; He is the fountain, cause, author, and giver of all blessings; they all come from Him, through Him, and for His sake, through His blood, righteousness, and sacrifice. Or, “they shall be blessed in Him”; that is, his children and spiritual offspring, in whom his name is perpetuated. Or, “they shall bless themselves in him”; reckon themselves blessed in Him, and make their boast of Him, and glory in Him.
“All nations shall call him blessed,” and shall praise him; shall speak of him as the source of their greatest comforts, joys, and hopes. “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39). The time will come when all the nations of the earth will honor and praise him as a divine Person; not only the Son of the Blessed, but God over all, blessed for ever; and as man, being set at the right hand of God, crowned with glory and honor, and all creatures, angels and men, subject to Him; and as Mediator, acknowledging Him to be the fountain of all blessedness to them, and, upon that account, ascribing all blessing, honor, glory, and praise, unto Him.
18 Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.
Psalm 72 closes with an expression of praise to God (doxology).The glorious reign of the Lord Jesus is God’s achievement. It is He who brings about these wonderful conditions, as no one else could do. And so it is fitting that His glorious name be praised forever, and that His glory fills the whole earth (72:19).
“Blessed be the Lord God,” who has given to His people such a glorious and excellent King and Governor; and such wonderful blessings, which they can enjoy now and shall continue to enjoy under His government. The Messiah, who is truly God, Jehovah, Lord of all, and the Lord our righteousness; to whom such a doxology or ascription of glory and blessing properly belongs, since all good things are from Him, and by Him;
“The God of Israel”; the God who rules over Israel, that brought Israel out of Egypt, went before them in the wilderness; redeemed and saved them, and bore and carried them all the days of old; and in whom all the true Israel of God are justified, and shall be saved with an everlasting salvation. He is the God who is worshipped by the Hebrew people, and who is recognized as their God. They adore him as the true God; and he “is” their God, their Protector, and their Friend.
“Who only doeth wondrous things.” I think you could make a list of those wondrous things as easily as I can; but I will mention a few of them—the creation of all things out of nothing; the government of the world; and the redemption and salvation of His people, which is a very marvelous thing. But, can anything be more marvelous than God becoming a man, His suffering and dying in the place of men, and saving them from sin and ruin—these are wondrous things, which Christ has done alone, because all His disciples were hiding from the Romans.
19 And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.
“And blessed be his glorious name for ever.”Every name of Christ is glorious in itself, and precious to His people, as is His name Messiah, to which there is an allusion in the Song of Solomon 1:3; his name Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14); Jehovah our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6); Jesus our Savior; as well as what belongs to his royal dignity as King of kings, and Lord of lords; a name above every name that is named in this world, or that world to come; the name by which He is known—referring perhaps chiefly to His name “Yahweh.” Still the prayer would be, that all the names by which He is known, all by which He has revealed himself, might be regarded with veneration always and everywhere.
“And let the whole earth be filled with his glory”; that is, with the knowledge of Him; with the manifestations of His presence; with the influences of His religion. This prayer was especially appropriate at the close of a psalm designed to celebrate the glorious reign of the Messiah. Under that reign the earth will be, in fact, filled with the glory of God; the world will be a world of glory, as it will be, when His kingdom shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth; when the little stone cut out without hands shall become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth; when the Gospel shall be spread all over the world; and the earth be filled with the knowledge of Christ, by means of it, as the waters cover the sea; and when all nations shall come and worship before Him. Assuredly all who love God, and who love mankind, all who desire that God may be honored and that the world may be blessed and happy, will unite in this fervent prayer, and reecho the hearty “Amen and amen” of the psalmist. “And let the whole earth be filled with his glory”;may be either a prayer for or a prophecy of the spreading of the true religion in the Gentile world; which evidently relates to Christ and His kingdom.
“Amen, and amen,” as it is used here means, “so be it.” Let this occur. Let this time come. The expression is doubled to denote intensity of feeling. It is the declaration of a heart full of desire that this might be so, and of his faith, that it would be so.
Apparently God gave to David this great vision of the kingdom and the reign of Christ when the whole earth will be filled with His glory. This is what David had prayed for; so he says –
20 The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.
David says, “My prayers are all ended; I am through praying.” What David had prayed for will be realized. He had nothing more to pray for! This cannot mean that David’s prayers are ended as far as the Book of Psalm is concerned, for many more follow. It might mean that his prayers are ended as far as book II of the Psalms is concerned. Psalm 72 being the last in book II. But a more plausible explanation is that the predicted reign of the Lord Jesus Christ represents the ultimate fulfillment of his prayers. When the Messiah would take His place upon the throne and rule, David’s desires would be fully met.
This psalm is thought by some to be the last that was written by David, even though it was put in this place; and it is certain that the psalms are not always placed in the order in which they were written: this particular psalm is supposedly, made by him in his old age, when Solomon his son was appointed and set upon his throne by his order. This Psalm is called the last of David’s Psalms; (which are called prayers, because they consist largely of prayers).
The sense is, when all the things spoken of in this psalm, concerning the Messiah and his kingdom, should be accomplished, then the prayers of David, and so of every good man, his hearty wishes and desires, will then be answered, and have their full effect, and not till then.
 Calumniator: one who makes false and malicious statements about another; slanderer.
 Celtae:Perhaps from Proto-Celtic, hence also Ancient Greek Κελταί and Latin Gallus'a Gaul'. The Celts.