One of the Psalms that has been greatly appreciated in the history of the Church is Psalm 72. It is a wonderful description of a truly great king. It is a portrait which differs from how most kings have carried out their kingship including Solomon who seems to have wrote it.
Solomon had a great sense of what the LORD required of him. This can be seen in his prayers when he acceded to Israel’s throne (1Kings 3:6-9) and when he dedicated the newly-constructed Jerusalem Temple (1Kings 8:23-53). But the tragedy of his reign is that he ended up doing the opposite of his portrait of a great king in Psalm 72 and his prayers in 1King 3 & 8. In 1Kings 12:4 we read this assessment of Solomon’s reign by his subjects as they speak to his successor, his son Rehoboam: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us”. Solomon’s many foreign wives drew his heart away from covenant loyalty to the LORD. Corrupted worship always leads to a corrupted lifestyle.
This is very sad. Ten of the twelve tribes ended up breaking away from Rehoboam’s kingdom. This would not have happened if Solomon reigned like the king described in Psalm 72. In this great poem of prayer, Solomon asks the LORD to endow the king with His justice and righteousness so that he would rule the people with justice and would take good care of the poor.
He goes on to wisely say that the mountains would then bring prosperity to the people and that the king’s righteousness would cause the fruit of righteousness to flourish among the people. His reign would spread even to other peoples as God’s blessing would be bestowed upon him. In verse 8a we have the words: “He will rule from sea to sea” which have been used by Canada’s early fathers as a prayer for our own nation.
Good kings in Israel and in some of the other nations of the world have sought to incorporate some of the traits we read about in Psalm 72. This ideal portrait of the king, however, has been most fully realized in Israel’s Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. It is His reign which will endure through all generations (v. 5b). It is through Him and through the preaching of His Gospel which will bless all nations (v. 17b). It is Jesus who is gentle in heart and whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light (Mt. 11:28-30).
Solomon had a wonderful vision of what a great king looked like. But it was Jesus who actually carried out this great vision for the salvation of all who humble themselves and call upon the LORD. This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pastor John