Psalm 72:4
He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.
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72:2-17 This is a prophecy of the kingdom of Christ; many passages in it cannot be applied to the reign of Solomon. There were righteousness and peace at first in the administration of his government; but, before the end of his reign, there were troubles and unrighteousness. The kingdom here spoken of is to last as long as the sun, but Solomon's was soon at an end. Even the Jewish expositors understood it of the kingdom of the Messiah. Observe many great and precious promises here made, which were to have full accomplishment only in the kingdom of Christ. As far as his kingdom is set up, discord and contentions cease, in families, churches, and nations. The law of Christ, written in the heart, disposes men to be honest and just, and to render to all their due; it likewise disposes men to live in love, and so produces abundance of peace. Holiness and love shall be lasting in Christ's kingdom. Through all the changes of the world, and all the changes of life, Christ's kingdom will support itself. And he shall, by the graces and comforts of his Spirit, come down like rain upon the mown grass; not on that cut down, but that which is left growing, that it may spring again. His gospel has been, or shall be, preached to all nations. Though he needs not the services of any, yet he must be served with the best. Those that have the wealth of this world, must serve Christ with it, do good with it. Prayer shall be made through him, or for his sake; whatever we ask of the Father, should be in his name. Praises shall be offered to him: we are under the highest obligations to him. Christ only shall be feared throughout all generations. To the end of time, and to eternity, his name shall be praised. All nations shall call HIM blessed.He shall judge the poor of the people - The afflicted; the down-trodden; the needy. He would vindicate their cause against their oppressors; his reign would be one of impartial justice, under which the rights of the poor as well as of the rich would be respected. See the notes at Isaiah 11:4.

He shall save the children of the needy - Those in humble life; those most likely to be oppressed by others; those who have no natural protectors.

And shall break in pieces the oppressor - Shall subdue, or destroy, those who live to oppress others. See the notes at Psalm 12:5.

4. That peace, including prosperity, as an eminent characteristic of Christ's reign (Isa 2:4; Isa 9:6; 11:9), will be illustrated in the security provided for the helpless and needy, and the punishment inflicted on oppressors, whose power to injure or mar the peace of others will be destroyed (compare Isa 65:25; Zec 9:10).

children of the needy—for the needy (compare sons of strangers, Ps 18:45 [Margin]).

Judge, i.e. vindicate them from their potent oppressors, as judging is used, Psalm 43:1, and oft elsewhere.

The children of the needy; whom the rich peradventure did seize upon for bondmen, upon some pretence or other. He shall judge the poor of the people,.... Of the people of God, whether among Jews or Gentiles; See Gill on Psalm 72:2;

he shall save the children of the needy; whose parents being needy, they are so too, in a spiritual sense, and in distressed circumstances. Such Christ saves from their sins; from the curses and condemnation of the law: from, wrath to come, and out of the hands of all their enemies;

and shall break in pieces the oppressor; the tyrant Satan, the god of this world; that has usurped a power over it; who works in the children of disobedience, and leads captive the people of God in their unregenerate state: the "calumniator", as some render the word; the accuser of the brethren: "the defrauder" (q), as others: who beguiled our first parents, and deceives mankind. Now it was foretold of Christ that he should break his head; and he was manifested in the flesh to destroy his works; and him himself; and he has broke him and all his schemes in pieces, and spoiled all his principalities and powers: The Syriac Version reads, "tyrants" or "oppressors", in the plural number; and it may include the Jews, who were the persecutors and oppressors of the first Christians; and Rome, Pagan and Papal; antichrist, and all the antichristian states, which have been, or will be, broken to pieces by Christ; who will rule them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces as a potter's vessel, Revelation 2:27.

(q) "calumniatorem", Pagninus, Tigurine version, Vatablus, Musculus; "fraudatorem", Muis, Cocceius.

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

(e) He shows why the sword is committed to Kings that is, to defend the innocent, and suppress the wicked.

4. An expansion of Psalm 72:2. The oppressed and defenceless are the special care of the true king, “whose glory is, redressing human wrong.” He does justice to ‘the afflicted of the people’; he is the preserver of ‘the children of the needy,’ words which are best understood literally, not merely of those born poor, or as a periphrasis, according to a common idiom, for ‘the needy,’ but of children, especially orphans, at once innocent and helpless, and therefore calling for special protection (see Isaiah 10:2; Micah 2:9, for the dangers to which they were exposed): while he crushes the merciless oppressor, treating him as he had treated his victims (Psalm 94:5; Proverbs 22:22-23; Isaiah 3:15; James 2:13).Verse 4. - He shall judge the poor of the people. Not exclusively, but especially. The unjust rulers and judges of Israel neglected this duty. They judge not the fatherless... and the right of the needy do they not judge" (Jeremiah 5:28; see also Isaiah 1:23; Zechariah 7:10). He shall save the children of the needy. He shall preserve them, i.e., from oppression and wrong. And shall break in pieces the oppressor. (On God's hatred of oppression and oppressors, see Exodus 3:9; Leviticus 25:14; Job 27:13; Psalm 12:5; Isaiah 16:14, etc.) The thought of this proclamation so thoroughly absorbs the poet that he even now enters upon the tone of it; and since to his faith the deliverance is already a thing of the past, the tender song with its uncomplaining prayer dies away into a loud song of praise, in which he pictures it all to himself. Without Psalm 71:19-21 being subordinate to עד־אגיד in Psalm 71:18, וצדקתך is coupled by close connection with בגורתך. Psalm 71:19 is an independent clause; and עד־מרום takes the place of the predicate: the righteousness of God exceeds all bounds, is infinite (Psalm 36:6., Psalm 57:11). The cry כמוך מי, as in Psalm 35:10; Psalm 69:9, Jeremiah 10:6, refers back to Exodus 15:11. According to the Chethb, the range of the poet's vision widens in Psalm 71:20 from the proofs of the strength and righteousness of God which he has experienced in his own case to those which he has experienced in common with others in the history of his own nation. The Ker (cf. on the other hand Psalm 60:5; Psalm 85:7; Deuteronomy 31:17) rests upon a failing to discern how the experiences of the writer are interwoven with those of the nation. תּשׁוּב in both instances supplies the corresponding adverbial notion to the principal verb, as in Psalm 85:7 (cf. Psalm 51:4). תּהום, prop. a rumbling, commonly used of a deep heaving of waters, here signifies an abyss. "The abysses of the earth" (lxx ἐκ τῶν ἀβύσσων τῆς γῆς, just as the old Syriac version renders the New Testament ἄβυσσος, e.g., in Luke 8:31, by Syr. tehūmā') are, like the gates of death (Psalm 9:14), a figure of extreme perils and dangers, in the midst of which one is as it were half hidden in the abyss of Hades. The past and future are clearly distinguished in the sequence of the tenses. When God shall again raise His people out of the depth of the present catastrophe, then will He also magnify the גּדלּה of the poet, i.e., in the dignity of his office, by most brilliantly vindicating him in the face of his foes, and will once more (תּסּוב, fut. Niph. like תּשׁוּב ekil .h above) comfort him. He on his part will also (cf. Job 40:14) be grateful for this national restoration and this personal vindication: he will praise God, will praise His truth, i.e., His fidelity to His promises. בּכלי נבל instead of בּנבל sounds more circumstantial than in the old poetry. The divine name "The Holy One of Israel" occurs here for the third time in the Psalter; the other passages are Psalm 78:41; Psalm 89:19, which are older in time, and older also than Isaiah, who uses it thirty times, and Habakkuk, who uses it once. Jeremiah has it twice (Jeremiah 50:29; Jeremiah 51:5), and that after the example of Isaiah. In Psalm 71:23, Psalm 71:24 the poet means to say that lips and tongue, song and speech, shall act in concert in the praise of God. תּרנּנּה with Dagesh also in the second Nun, after the form תּקוננּה, תּשׁכּנּה, side by side with which we also find the reading תּרנּנּה, and the reading תּרנּנה, which is in itself admissible, after the form תּאמנה, תּעגנה, but is here unattested.

(Note: Heidenheim reads תּרנּנּה with Segol, following the statement of Ibn-Bil'am in his טעמי המקרא and of Mose ha-Nakdan in his דרכי הנקוד, that Segol always precedes the ending נּה, with the exception only of הנּה and האזנּה. Baer, on the other hand, reads תונּנּה, following Aben-Ezra and Kimchi (Michlol 66b).)

The cohortative after כּי (lxx ὅταν) is intended to convey this meaning: when I feel myself impelled to harp unto Thee. In the perfects in the closing line that which is hoped for stands before his soul as though it had already taken place. כי is repeated with triumphant emphasis.

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