Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.
Psalm 72 is a coronation Psalm, likely read/sung/prayed at Solomon’s inauguration and at coronations of subsequent kings. It is a prayer that asks God to endow the newly anointed political leader with justice (mishpat) and righteousness (zedekah), Hebrew terms that describe God’s desired state of affairs (mishpat) and being in full harmony with God’s will (zedekah). As James Howell, pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC, observes: “the king is measured, not by hordes of chariots or the gold in the treasury, but by whether the cause of the poor was defended, whether the needy were delivered.” 1
The people pray for a ruler who will enact policies that will result in abundance for everyone–not just the few, and who will put into place protections for those who are vulnerable to abuse by those with power. THIS is a ruler who shows (s)he possesses God’s justice and God’s righteousness. Having this kind of political leader would indeed be like “refreshing showers that water the earth.” Psalm 72:6
Questions For Reflection
In our opinion, who (besides Jesus) has come closest to embodying this kind of political leader? What actions and/or policies did that person enact that match God’s justice and righteousness?
As citizens of a democracy that get to select our leaders, do you think we should use Psalm 72 to evaluate them as candidates? Why or why not?