“Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.” ~Psalm 72:1 (NSRV).
When we pray for our pastor and pastoral leadership team at our churches, we utter the very same appellative plea as the psalmist does here. If we’re remotely interested in the cohesion and connectedness of our churches and our nations then we call aloud to God, wanting those charged with the responsibility of running the show to be blessed with the wherewithal to succeed for the people they lead.
The structure of this psalm is loosely based around a series of “may they” wishes; from verses 2-17 the character of kingship is thus set forth. These are the attributes of the blessed kingdom’s charge.
Attributes of the Just King (or Good/Great Leader)
Any good to great leader is foremost a righteous judge (verse 2). They have a temperate spirit about them, as they winnow the competitive proud from humble servants that accede to kingdom cohesiveness.
Great leaders defend the needs of the poor, needy and defenceless (Verse 4).
Through faith, they are of abided provision — the material wealth that will sustain the kingdom or organisation that they run. Added to faith is wisdom to discern the needs and to decide appropriately.
Righteousness and peace are linked in verse 7, much as they are elsewhere in the Bible (for good instance, see Isaiah 32:17).
The dominion of peace accords itself to righteousness; justice is the underpinning gauge. A people group, church or organisation somehow implicitly know when they’re being duped; there’s a justice-sense that’s wrangled untidily within the spirit of these.
Because this ‘just king’ or good leader has earned the trust of the people they lead, much respect is returned to them. They may even feel they don’t deserve such adulation. But such is the blessing warranted of this situation. Both king and subjects, or leader and followers, give to each other at accord with more than expected. Blessings of community are had.
Because the people have been saved by this king or leader — most times individually — they’ve learned the character of salvation in the manner of actual life. People naturally love working for someone like this.
Worshipping the God of the King
The final few verses of this psalm revert to higher ground; it’s one thing to make appeals on behalf of the king, it’s entirely another to lift up the True King of all: God.
This psalm ends the second book of Psalms; many of ‘David’s prayers’ are now ended (verse 20).
This psalm teaches us appropriateness of divine/authority structure; support for and allegiance to the sovereign or head-of-state and the legal systems they reign over, but not before worship of God.
Let’s give thanks for just leadership, and even more due to the Sovereign God providing such means for safe community.
The key point of this Psalm-of-Solomon — in detailing kingly attributes — is its ability to look beyond frail human kingship to the Divine, eternally sure, kingship of the Messiah, Jesus.
Our leaders deserve our respect, but our worshipful devotion should be saved for God.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.