Psalm 72:1
A Psalm for Solomon. Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son.
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(1, 2) The order of the words should be noticed—“judgments,” “righteousness,” “righteousness,” “judgment”—as offering a good instance of introverted parallelism. With regard to the meaning of the words we are placed on practical ground; they refer to the faculty of judging in affairs of government, of coming to a great and fair decision. In fact, whether Solomon be the intended subject of the poem or not, the prayer made in his dream at Gibeon (1Kings 3:9) is the best comment on these verses. (Comp. Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 32:1.)

(1) The king . . . the king’s son.—The article is wanting in the Hebrew.

Psalm 72:1. Give the king — Namely, Solomon, who was now anointed king, although his father was yet living, 1 Kings 1:39; thy judgments — Either, 1st, Thy statutes and precepts, often called God’s judgments; as thou hast already given them to him in thy book, so give them to him in another and better way, by writing them upon his heart, or by giving him a perfect knowledge of them, and a hearty love to them, that he may obey and walk according to them. Or, 2d, Give him a thorough acquaintance with thy manner of governing and judging, that he may follow thy example in ruling thy people, as thou rulest them, namely, in righteousness, as it follows. He says judgments, in the plural number, because, though the office of ruling and judging was but one, yet there were divers parts and branches of it; in all which he prays that Solomon might be directed to do as God would have him do in such cases.

72:1 This psalm belongs to Solomon in part, but to Christ more fully and clearly. Solomon was both the king and the king's son, and his pious father desired that the wisdom of God might be in him, that his reign might be a remembrance of the kingdom of the Messiah. It is the prayer of a father for his child; a dying blessing. The best we can ask of God for our children is, that God would give them wisdom and grace to know and to do their duty.Give the king - Supposing the psalm to have been composed by David in view 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, a protracted, and a peaceful reign. 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 the reign of the one "might," as far as possible, resemble that of the other. 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.

Thy judgments - Knowledge; authority; ability to execute thy judgments, or thy laws. That is, he speaks of the king as 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.

And thy righteousness - That is, Clothe him, in the administration of justice, with a righteousness like thine own. Let it be seen that he represents "thee;" that his government may be regarded as thine own administration through him.

Unto the king's son - Not only to him, but to his successor; that is, let the administration of justice in the government be perpetuated. There is no improbability in supposing that in this the psalmist may have designed also to refer to the last and the greatest of his successors in the line - the Messiah.


Ps 72:1-19. For, or literally, "of Solomon." The closing verse rather relates to the second book of Psalms, of which this is the last, and was perhaps added by some collector, to intimate that the collection, to which, as chief author, David's name was appended, was closed. In this view, these may consistently be the productions of others included, as of Asaph, sons of Korah, and Solomon; and a few of David's may be placed in the latter series. The fact that here the usual mode of denoting authorship is used, is strongly conclusive that Solomon was the author, especially as no stronger objection appears than what has been now set aside. The Psalm, in highly wrought figurative style, describes the reign of a king as "righteous, universal, beneficent, and perpetual." By the older Jewish and most modern Christian interpreters, it has been referred to Christ, whose reign, present and prospective, alone corresponds with its statements. As the imagery of the second Psalm was drawn from the martial character of David's reign, that of this is from the peaceful and prosperous state of Solomon's.

1. Give the king, &c.—a prayer which is equivalent to a prediction.

judgments—the acts, and (figuratively) the principles of a right government (Joh 5:22; 9:39).

righteousness—qualifications for conducting such a government.

king's son—same person as a king—a very proper title for Christ, as such in both natures.

1 Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son.

2 He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.

3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

4 He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

5 They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.

6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.

7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

Psalm 72:1

"Give the king thy judgments, O God." The right to reign was transmitted by descent from David to Solomon, but not by that means alone: Israel was a theocracy, and the kings were but the viceroys of the greater King; hence the prayer that the new king might be enthroned by divine right, and then endowed with divine wisdom. Our glorious King in Zion hath all judgment committed unto him. He rules in the name of God over all lands. He is king "Dei Gratia" as well as by right of inheritance. "And thy righteousness unto the king's son." Solomon was both king and king's son; so also is our Lord. He has power and authority in himself, and also royal dignity given him of his Father. He is the righteous king; in a word, he is "the Lord our righteousness." We are waiting till he shall be manifested among men as the ever-righteous Judge. May the Lord hasten in his own time the long-looked-for day. Now wars and fighting are even in Israel itself, but soon the dispensation will change, and David, the type of Jesus warring with our enemies, shall be displaced by Solomon the prince of peace.

Psalm 72:2

"He shall judge thy people with righteousness." Clothed with divine authority, he shall use it on the behalf of the favoured nation, for whom he shall show himself strong, that they be not misjudged, slandered, or in any way treated maliciously. His sentence shall put their accusers to silence, and award the saints their true position as the accepted of the Lord. What a consolation to feel that none can suffer wrong in Christ's kingdom: he sits upon the great white throne, unspotted by a single deed of injustice, or even mistake of judgment: reputations are safe enough with him. "And thy poor with judgment." True wisdom is manifest in all the decisions of Zion's King. We do not always understand his doings, but they are always right. Partiality has been too often shown to rich and great men, but the King of the last and best of monarchies deals out even-handed justice, to the delight of the poor and despised. Here we have the poor mentioned side by side with the king. The sovereignty of God is a delightful theme to the poor in spirit; they love to see the Lord exalted, and have no quarrel with him for exercising the prerogatives of his crown. It is the fictitious wealth which labours to conceal real poverty, which makes men cavil at the reigning Lord, but a deep sense of spiritual need prepares the heart loyally to worship the Redeemer King. On the other hand, the King has a special delight in the humbled hearts of his contrite ones, and exercises all his power and wisdom on their behalf, even as Joseph in Egypt ruled for the welfare of his brethren.

Psalm 72:3

"The mountains shall bring peace to the people." Thence, aforetime, rushed the robber bands which infested the country; but now the forts there erected are the guardians of the land, and the watchmen publish far and near the tidings that no foe is to be seen. Where Jesus is there is peace, lasting, deep, eternal. Even those things which were once our dread, lose all terror when Jesus is owned as monarch of the heart: death itself, that dark mountain, loses all its gloom. Trials and afflictions, when the Lord is with us, bring us an increase rather than a diminution of peace. "And the little hills, by righteousness." Seeing that the rule of the monarch was just, every little hill seemed clothed with peace. Injustice has made Palestine a desert; if the Turk and Bedouin were gone, the land would smile again; for even ill the most literal sense, justice is the fertilizer of lands, and men are diligent to plough and raise harvests when they have the prospect of eating the fruit of their labours. In a spiritual sense, peace is given to the heart by the righteousness of Christ; and all the powers and passions of the soul are filled with a holy calm, when the way of salvation, by a divine righteousness, is revealed. Then do we go forth with joy, and are led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills break forth before us into singing.

Psalm 72:4

continued...THE ARGUMENT

That this Psalm was made by David is evident from Psalm 72:20, and that it was made with respect to Solomon is no less certain from the very title of it: and that David, or at least the Holy Ghost, which dictated this Psalm, did took beyond Solomon, and unto the Messiah, of whom Solomon was an illustrious and unquestionable type, seems as manifest from divers passages of this Psalm, which do not agree to Solomon, nor to any other king but the Messiah, and from the confession of the Jewish doctors themselves, who so understand it. It must therefore be acknowledged, that, as many others are, this Psalm is also a mixed Psalm, belonging to Solomon in part, and obscurely and imperfectly, but unto Christ more clearly and fully; divers expressions being designedly so ordered, that the reader might be led by them to the contemplation of Christ and of his kingdom upon this occasion; which was the more necessary, for the support and comfort of God’s true Israel, because the Spirit of God foresaw Solomon’s dreadful apostacy, and the great miscarriages and calamities of his successors, and of the kingdom under their hands, and therefore was pleased to fortify their hearts with that glorious condition which they should certainly enjoy under the Messiah, who should certainly come.

David, praying for Solomon, showeth the blessed and glorious state of his kingdom (as typifying Christ’s) in its duration, Psalm 72:1-7, largeness, Psalm 72:8-11, and graciousness, Psalm 72:12-17; and concludeth all with a hearty thanksgiving, Psalm 72:18-20.

The king; Solomon, who was now anointed king, his father yet living, 1 Kings 1:39. And this Psalm may seem to be made for that great and solemn occasion.

Thy judgments, i.e. either,

1. Thy statutes and precepts, which are oft called God’s judgments; which as thou hast given already in thy book, so give them to him a second and a better way, by writing them upon his heart, or by giving him a solid knowledge of them, and a hearty love and obedience to them. Or rather,

2. Thy manner of government or administration, which is oft called judgment, as Psalm 94:15 Isaiah 28:6, &c.; that he may follow thy example in governing thy people, as thou governest them, to wit, in

righteousness, as it follows. He saith judgments, in the plural number, because though the office of judging and ruling was but one, yet there were divers parts, and branches, and acts-of it; as to acquit the innocent, to condemn the guilty, &c.; in all which he begs that Solomon may be directed to do as God doth, or would have him to do in such cases.

Thy righteousness; that grace of righteousness which is a part of thine image, and is absolutely necessary for good government.

Give the King thy judgments, O God,.... A prayer of David, or of the church he represents, to God the Father concerning Christ; for he is "the King" meant; which is the sense of the old Jewish synagogue: the Targum is,

"give the constitutions of thy judgments to the King Messiah;''

and so their Midrash (m) interprets it. He is "the King", by way of eminence, as in Psalm 45:1; not only the King of the world in right of creation and preservation, in conjunction; with his Father, having an equal right with him; but of saints, of the church and people of God, by the designation and constitution of his Father; hence he was promised and prophesied of as a King, Jeremiah 23:5, Zechariah 9:9; and he came into the world as such, though his kingdom did not appear very manifest in his state of humiliation; yet at his ascension it did, when he was made and declared Lord and Christ; and it is for the manifestation of his kingdom, and the glory of it, the psalmist here prays. For by "judgments" are meant not the statutes and laws of God, given him to be shown, explained unto, and enforced on others, which rather belongs to his prophetic office, or as the rule of his government; nor the judgments of God to be inflicted upon wicked men, which is only one part of his kingly office; but of all power in heaven and in earth, which was given him by his Father upon his resurrection, and about the time of his ascension, Matthew 28:18; and is the same with "all judgment" committed by him to his Son, John 5:22; and which explains the clause here, and is the reason why it is expressed in the plural number here; which takes in the whole of the power and authority, the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom, delivered to Christ; and which chiefly lies in the government of the church, which is on his shoulders, and is committed into his hand; exercised in enacting laws, and delivering out ordinances, to be observed by the saints, and in the protection and defence of them; and also includes his judgment of the world at the last day, to which he is ordained and appointed by his Father, and will be managed and conducted by him;

and thy righteousness unto the King's Son; who is the same with the King, as Jarchi well observes; for only one single person is afterwards spoken of, and designs the Messiah; who, as a divine Person, is the Son of the King of kings, the only begotten of the Father, the true and proper Son of God; and, as man, the Son of David the king. And so the Targum,

"and thy righteousness to the Son of David the king;''

a known name of the Messiah, Matthew 1:1. And by "righteousness" is meant, not the essential righteousness of God; this Christ has by nature equally with his divine Father, and is not given or communicated to him; but the fulness of the graces of the Spirit, and perfection of virtues, which he received without measure; whereby, as Mediator, he is abundantly qualified to judge with righteousness, and reprove with equity; and not as other judges do, after the sight of the eyes, or hearing of the ears; see Isaiah 11:2. Unless it can be understood of the everlasting righteousness, which Christ has wrought out, called his Father's, because appointed in council and covenant, approved of and accepted by him, and imputed to his people. To work out this righteousness was not only given to Christ in covenant, but he was sent in the fulness of time to do it; and had a power given him, as Mediator, to justify many with it, Isaiah 53:11; and which may be here prayed for. Jerom, by the "King's Son", understands such as are regenerated, and taken into the adoption of children; and to such the righteousness of God is given. This is a truth, but not the sense of the text.

(m) In Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 112. 2.

Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son.
1. God is the source of all judgement (Deuteronomy 1:17); the king is His representative for administering it. May God therefore grant him such a knowledge of the divine laws and ordinances by which he is to govern Israel, and endow him with such a divine spirit of justice, as may make him a worthy ruler. Just judgement is the constant characteristic of the ideal king (Isaiah 11:3 ff; Isaiah 16:5; Isaiah 28:6; Isaiah 32:1). The words of this verse and the next are the echo of God’s offer to Solomon, “Ask what I shall give thee;” and of Solomon’s answer, “Give thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people;” and a prayer for the effectual realisation of the promise, “Lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart.” (1 Kings 3:5 ff.).

the king … the king’s son] Not, to the king and his heir, for the Psalm speaks of but one ruler; but, to a king who is a king’s son, the legitimate successor to the throne.

1–7. A prayer that God will confer upon the king the gifts which he needs for the right exercise of his office. Then righteousness will bear the fruit of peace; redress and repression of wrong will promote the fear of God; under his beneficent rule the righteous will flourish.

Verse 1. - Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son. God had established in Israel, in the person of David, hereditary monarchy (2 Samuel 7:12-16), such as was usual in the East, and suited to Oriental notions. In speaking of himself, not only as "the king," but also as "the king's son," Solomon makes appeal to the sentiment of respect for hereditary royalty. Compare the inscription of Mesha, "My father was king over Moab thirty years, and I became king after my father" (line 1). In praying God to give him "his judgments," he is desiring a "spirit of judgment" which will enable him to deliver decisions as righteous as God's. Psalm 72:1The name of God, occurring only once, is Elohim; and this is sufficient to stamp the Psalm as an Elohimic Psalm. מלך (cf. Psalm 21:2) and בּן־מלך are only used without the article according to a poetical usage of the language. The petition itself, and even the position of the words, show that the king's son is present, and that he is king; God is implored to bestow upon him His משׁפּטים, i.e., the rights or legal powers belonging to Him, the God of Israel, and צדקה, i.e., the official gift in order that he may exercise those rights in accordance with divine righteousness. After the supplicatory teen the futures which now follow, without the Waw apodoseos, are manifestly optatives. Mountains and hills describe synecdochically the whole land of which they are the high points visible afar off. נשׂא is used in the sense of נשׂא פּרי Ezekiel 17:8 : may שׁלום be the fruit which ripens upon every mountain and hill; universal prosperity satisfied and contented within itself. The predicate for Psalm 72:3 is to be taken from Psalm 72:3, just as, on the other hand, בּצדקה, "in or by righteousness," the fruit of which is indeed peace (Isaiah 32:17), belongs also to Psalm 72:3; so that consequently both members supplement one another. The wish of the poet is this: By righteousness, may there in due season be such peaceful fruit adorning all the heights of the land. Psalm 72:3, however, always makes one feel as though a verb were wanting, like תּפרחנה suggested by Bttcher. In Psalm 72:4 the wishes are continued in plain unfigurative language. הושׁיע in the signification to save, to obtain salvation for, has, as is frequently the case, a dative of the object. בּני־אביון are those who are born to poverty, just like בּן־מלך, one who is born a king. Those who are born to poverty are more or less regarded, by an unrighteous government, as having no rights.
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