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Sunday, April 11, 2021

“He Will Rule” Psalm 72 [Matt's Messages]

“He Will Rule”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
April 11, 2021 :: Psalm 72

This might take a little bit of effort, but imagine for a moment that you are soon going to be crowned the next king of Israel. 

Imagine that you are living 3,000 years ago in ancient Israel, and your daddy had been the king of Israel, and you are either soon going to be crowned or have recently been crowned, and you are now coming into the fullness of your reign. 

And you have an opportunity to write a prayer song about your reign. A prayer for you to pray, a song for you to sing and for others to pray and sing along with you.

What do you put in that prayer?

What do you include in that song?

It was apparently a situation something like that which was the occasion for the composition of Psalm 72.

The superscription says that Psalm 72 is “Of Solomon.” Just like many of these psalms have been “Of David.” There are only actually 2 Psalms in the Psalter listed as “Of Solomon.” This one and Psalm 127.

And this one is all about the reign of the king.

It’s a prayer for and about the king–the royal son–and his rule.

I’ve titled this message, “He Will Rule,” drawing from the first three words of verse 8 in the 1984 New International Version.

Because it’s all about the rule and reign of this king.

Now, which king is in view in Psalm 72?

That’s a very important question.

What king is this song about?

Well, just like the last four psalms that we have studied together the last four Sundays, I think that the answer is complicated. It’s at least twofold.

There’s the original king that this song is about (I think Solomon himself here), but the language of Psalm 72 is so exalted, so extravagant, so boundary-busting, that I think it must also be prophetic about a Great King to come.

Not just great David’s great son King Solomon.
But great David’s greatest son King Jesus.

And I think you’ll see and feel that yourself as we read it together.

This is a royal psalm that seems also really be a Messianic psalm.

Many of the phrases that describe the king can actually be translated either as a request, “May He be this...” or as a declaration, a vision, a prophecy, “He will be this...”

Like that phrase in verse 8. It could be translated, “May He rule.”

I think the ambiguity may be intentional so that we hear both Solomon praying for these things for himself and also prophesying that they will be some day in the future be fully realized in Jesus.

So, back to the question. You are about to be crowned king, and you’re writing a prayer song about your reign.

What do you put in that song?



The LORD appeared to Solomon at Gibeon and said to him, “Ask whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.”

Do you remember what young Solomon asked for then?
A discerning heart. He said, “[G]ive your servant a discerning heart [wisdom!] to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9).

And the Lord loved that answer and gave that wisdom and much more blessing to him.

Well, that’s what Solomon starts Psalm 72 with. Let’s look at it. Verses 1 through 4.

“Psalm 72. Of Solomon. Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.”

I have three points to summarize the rule of the king in Psalm 72. 

#1. HIS REIGN WILL BE RIGHTEOUS.

He will rule in righteousness.

Do you see how Solomon repeats that idea over and over again in the first 4 verses?

“Righteousness, righteousness, righteousness.”

He wants righteousness, rightness, justice to be the hallmark of his reign.

That’s the number one thing he asks for.

“Endow the king with your justice, O God [divine justice! The ability to make the right ruling, the right decision, to know right from wrong in any given situation, Endow the king with your justice, O God], the royal son with your righteousness. [And then perhaps more prophetically.] He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.”

What does that look like? When the king is reigning in righteousness, then prosperity is the result. 

Verse 3. “The mountains will bring prosperity [literally “shalom” “peace” “wholeness”] to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. [It will be everywhere. And that justice will be evidenced by how the most vulnerable are treated.]

That’s the exact right thing to pray for as you begin your reign as king.

Pray that you would bring justice like that. That you love justice like that. That you would have a heart of righteousness, and that you would bring righteousness to bear in every situation under your rule.

Now, we don’t have a monarchy in this country, but these are good things for us to pray for in our democracy, as well, I think. We can pray that our government (which is by the people) would be for the people, especially the most vulnerable people among us. And we can pray that we would be wise to elect those whose policies would most have that effect.

Because these verses open up for us the heart of God. It’s a heart for justice. Notice what Solomon calls the afflicted in verse 2? They are “your afflicted ones.” Those who are suffering under injustice are described as belonging in some way to the Lord Himself.

So that how we treat the last and the least and the oppressed matters deeply to God. And, therefore, it should matter to the king. V.4

“He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.”

I think that in first instance this is Solomon’s prayer request for himself and his rule.

But how did Solomon do at this after all?

Was he thumbs up or thumbs down in the end?

Well, Solomon was a pretty mixed bag. He got some things right early on, and I think he may have actually came back strong at the end of his life.

But, in many ways, he failed at this very thing. In 1 Kings 12, his former subjects said that he had placed a heavy yoke on them. At least some of them actually said that he had oppressed them instead of crushing their oppressors.

So I think this psalm is also prophetic about the Messiah and His unswerving commitment to righteousness. 

I think Psalm 72 predicts that the Messiah will set everything right as it should be. Poverty will be eliminated. Peace will rule. And everything still wrong will be made right. When He will rule in righteousness.

Do you long for that? I know I do. Every day I read the news I long for it even more. There is so little justice, so much injustice. And, I admit, I don’t always know what justice actually is in many situations. 

But Jesus does, and Jesus will, and He will bring divine righteousness to His kingdom.

#2. HIS REIGN WILL BE BOUNDLESS.

It will not just be righteous, but it will be boundless. 

In verse 5, Solomon goes really big. He swings for the fences. Verse 5.

“He will [or “may he”] endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations.”

Now, if he’s praying for himself, that’s a little over the top. Perhaps it’s just poetry to say, “always,” or perhaps he means himself and the rest of David’s dynasty, all of David’s sons “through all generations” are in the “he” there.

Maybe. But you can’t help but think about the Messiah, can you?

About a king that literally endures as long as the sun and moon...AND EVEN LONGER! Boundless in time. An endless enduring reign. 

And boundless in blessing. Verse 6.

“He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth.”

Solomon wants to be like that, but we know that Jesus is and will be.

He is so refreshing and life-giving.

I love that Jesus is like a Spring rain! Fallen on mown field. What’s the significance of that? Well, it’s refreshing, but it’s also fruitful, right? The first planting has already grown up and been cut. And now the rain is coming to nourish the second planting. And then third and the fourth and fifth to infinity. Verse 7.

“In his days the righteous will flourish; prosperity will abound till the moon is no more.”

Boundless prosperity! Can you imagine?

That’s what the kingdom will be like.

Now, all of that was in jeopardy when Jesus died on the Cross, wasn’t it?

It sure didn’t look like boundless prosperity. 

It sure didn’t look like perfect righteousness was going to win.

That’s why the resurrection that we celebrated last Sunday is so important for today.

Because King Jesus is still risen indeed today, we know that His Kingdom will come and be forevermore.

Forevermore, boundless in time. And boundless in space. Verse 8.

“He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

Now that could be in Solomonic terms from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Galilee,  but feels bigger than that, doesn’t it?

And from the River (the Euphrates) to the ends of the earth.

That’s saying the whole world, isn’t it? The whole known world.

Solomon is not emphasizing limits here but extension. Everywhere you look, this king will rule or “may he rule.” Verse 9

“The desert tribes will bow before him and his enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts.”

Solomon is like pointing to every point on the compass.

Anybody know where Tarshish was? It was probably Spain. That’s where Jonah wanted to go, right? That was a far West as anybody had heard of.

And how about South? Sheba and Seba are in the South.

Seba is probably present day Ethiopia.

Sheba is probably present day Yemen.

And the River was to the East and North.

All over the compass, Solomon expected to reign.

He would defeat his enemies, and even attract other kingdoms to follow him.

That’s what happened with the Queen of _______ in 1 Kings 10?


Far away places.

And if that was true of King Solomon for a limited time, how much more will it be true of King Jesus for an unlimited time? Verse 11.

“All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”


And then my mind goes to Revelation 21 where it says that all of the kings and nations of the earth of will come to the New Jerusalem to worship the Lamb and bring in their glory and honor to King Jesus.

All of these things have been promised to King David in some form, and Solomon is just praying that they will be fulfilled.

And we know that they will be fulfilled!

Boundless in time.
Boundless in flourishing.
Boundless in territory.
Boundless in mercy and justice.

In verse 12, Solomon goes back to the theme of justice, and he says that this kind of justice is what will really attract the nations.

It won’t just be the king’s raw power, but how he uses that power to exercise compassion and justice for the vulnerable. Verse 12.

“All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him. For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.”

That is the heart of a true king.

If you are in any position of leadership and authority, pray that this would be true of you in your leadership.

Pray that you would use what power you have for those who are powerless.

Verse 15. “Long may he live! May gold from Sheba be given him. May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long.”

Here Solomon asks for long life and for his people’s prayers. He prays for prayer.

And he prays for blessing.

#3. HIS REIGN WILL BE BLESSED.

His reign will be righteous.
His reign will be boundless.
And His reign be blessed.

Verse 16, “Let grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon; let it thrive like the grass of the field.”

In verse 15, he prayed for gold from Sheba. And the Queen of Sheba brought him some!

In verse 16, he prays for crops. He wants thriving crops throughout the land–even on the tops of the hills. That would be miraculous in Israel.

Fruit growing like trees grow in Lebanon.

Fruit like grass!

That’s a picture of blessing, isn’t it?

This is pointing beyond Solomon, beyond Israel, to Jesus and His Kingdom in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

A completely renovated world. 

Where everything is not only righteous but prosperous.

Not only just but blessed.

All because of Who the King is. Verse 17.

“May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.”

Solomon prayed for boundless blessing on his reign, and well he might as long as that blessing came as the fruit of righteousness.

But this prayer is too big for Solomon’s britches. His shoes were not big enough to fill up verse 17!

Verse 17 alludes to the promises made to Abraham, doesn’t it? The Abrahamic Covenant. “All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.”

Well, Solomon in his splendor was foretaste of the fulfillment of that blessing but only a foretaste.

Thankfully, “One greater than Solomon has come.”


“One greater than Solomon has come.”

A thousand years after King Solomon wrote Psalm 72, King Jesus came and began  to really fulfill it.

And now 2000 years after that we are waiting for Jesus to sing this song to its fullest and be blessed forevermore!

One greater than Solomon has risen from the dead is coming again soon!

So, how do we apply Psalm 72 to our lives today?

Three quick bullet points of application:

#1. Expect His Reign.

“He will rule!” Solomon prayed for it, and he was also prophesying it.

And we should fully expect it to be fulfilled in the return of Christ.

His reign WILL BE righteous.
His reign WILL BE boundless.
His reign WILL BE blessed forevermore.

We can put all of our faith in that biblical hope.

Sometimes (often!), it doesn’t seem likely. It doesn’t seem like the kingdom is on the way.

But we know it is!

He will rule. Expect with it with all of you heart.

#2. Expand His Reign.

That starts with submitting to it yourself and then sharing it with others.

If you have never bowed the knee to King Jesus and received Him as your own Lord, don’t wait another second. You’ve just read where history is headed. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of this King.

“His enemies will lick the dust.”

But His subjects will be rescued from their oppressors even from their own oppressive sin.

And tell other people about Him!

This is Who King Jesus is! Invite others from here to every point on the compass to put their faith in Him.

Expand His Reign.

#3. Extol His Reign.

Praise God that the King has come, the King has come back from the dead, and the King is coming again to bring a kingdom that will never end.

That’s where the Psalm 72 goes at the very end. This part actually may be added as the ending not just for Psalm 72 but for the whole second part of the Psalter because verse 20 has the note, “This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.”

Regardless, it is the right place to go next. And that is praise because of His reign. Verse 18.

“Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.”

***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021 / Spring 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22

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