Psalms 72

PSALM LXXII

David prays to God for Solomon, 1;

prescribes Solomon's work, 2;

the effects of his administration, 3-7;

the extent of his dominion, 8-11;

his mercy and kindness to the poor, and the perpetuity of his

praise, 12-17.

God is blessed for his power and goodness; and the psalmist

prays that the whole earth may be filled with his glory, 18-20.

NOTES ON PSALM LXXII

The title lishelomoh, we translate, A Psalm for

Solomon. The Chaldee says, "By the hand of Solomon, spoken

prophetically." The Syriac, "A Psalm of David, when he had

constituted Solomon king." All the other Versions attribute it to

Solomon himself. But in the conclusion of the Psalm it appears

to be attributed to David. "The prayers of David the son of Jesse

are ended." It is most probably a Psalm of David, composed in his

last days, when he had set this beloved son on the throne of the

kingdom. "Then," says Calmet, "transported with joy and gratitude,

he addressed this Psalm to God, in which he prays him to pour out

his blessings on the young king, and upon the people. He then,

wrapped up in a Divine enthusiasm, ascends to a higher subject;

and sings the glory of the Messiah, and the magnificence of his

reign. Hence it is that we may see in this Psalm a great number of

expressions which cannot relate to Solomon, unless in a

hyperbolical and figurative sense; but, applied to Christ, they

are literally and rigorously exact."

Verse 1. Give the king thy judgments] Let Solomon receive thy

law, as the civil and ecclesiastical code by which he is to govern

the kingdom.

And thy righteousness unto the king's son.] Righteousness may

signify equity. Let him not only rule according to the strict

letter of thy law, that being the base on which all his decisions

shall be founded; but let him rule also according to equity, that

rigorous justice may never become oppressive. Solomon is called

here the king, because now set upon the Jewish throne; and he is

called the king's son, to signify his right to that throne on

which he now sat.

Verse 2. He shall judge thy people with righteousness] With

justice and mercy mixed, or according to equity.

And thy poor with judgment.] Every one according to the law

which thou hast appointed; but with especial tenderness to the

poor and afflicted.

Verse 3. The mountains shall bring peace] Perhaps mountains and

hills are here taken in their figurative sense, to signify

princes and petty governors; and it is a prediction that all

governors of provinces and magistrates should administer equal

justice in their several departments and jurisdictions; so that

universal peace should be preserved, and the people be every where

prosperous; for shalom signifies both peace and prosperity,

for without the former the latter never existed.

But what is the meaning of "the little hills by righteousness?"

Why, it has no meaning: and it has none, because it is a false

division of the verse. The word bitsedakah, in

righteousness, at the end of verse 3, should begin verse 4, and

then the sense will be plain. Ver. 3: "The mountains and the hills

shall bring prosperity to the people." Ver. 4: "In righteousness

he shall judge the poor of the people: he shall save the children

of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor."

The effects, mentioned in the fourth verse, show that King

Solomon should act according to the law of his God; and that all

officers, magistrates, and governors, should minister equal rights

through every part of the land. The Septuagint has the true

division: αναλαβετωταορηειρηνηντωλαωσουκαιοιβουνοιεν

δικαιοσυνηκρινειτουςπτωχουςτουλαουκτλ "The mountains

shall bring peace to thy people, and the hills: In righteousness

shall he judge the poor of thy people," &c.

Verse 5. They shall fear thee] There is no sense in which this

can be spoken of Solomon, nor indeed of any other man: it belongs

to Jesus Christ, and to him alone. He is the Prince of peace, who

shall be feared and reverenced "through all generations, and as

long as the sun and moon endure."

Verse 6. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass] The

word gez, which we translate mown grass, more properly means

pastured grass or pastured land; for the dew of the night is

intended to restore the grass which has been eaten in the course

of the day. This very idea the Chaldee has seized, and renders the

place thus: "He shall descend gently, like rain upon the grass

which has been eaten by the locust." But there seems to be a

reference to the thick night dews which in summer fall on the

pasturages, and become the means of restoring the grass consumed

in the day-time by the cattle. This is finely expressed by the

most accomplished of all poets and agriculturists:-

Et quantum longis carpent armenta diebus,

Exigua tantum gelidus ros nocte reponet.

VIRG. Geor. ii., ver. 201.

"For what the day devours, the nightly dew

Shall to the morn by pearly drops renew."

DRYDEN.

Or to leave poetry, which always says too much or too little,

the plain prose is:-

"And as much as the flocks crop in the long days,

So much shall the cold dew restore in one short night."

As showers that water the earth.] The influence of the doctrine

and Spirit of Christ on the soul of man shall be as grateful, as

refreshing, and as fructifying, as the nightly dews on the

cropped fields, and the vernal showers on the cultivated lands.

Without his influence all tillage is vain; without him there can

neither be seed nor fruit.

Verse 7. In his days shall the righteous flourish] There was

nothing but peace and prosperity all the days of Solomon: for, "In

his days Judah and Israel dwelt safely; every man under his vine

and under his fig-tree, from Dan even to Beersheba;" 1Ki 4:25.

So long as the moon endureth] ad beli yareach,

"Till there be no more moon."

Verse 8. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea] The best

comment on this, as it refers to Solomon, may be found in

1Ki 4:21, 24: "And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms, from the

river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of

Egypt; for he had dominion over all on this side the river, from

Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river;

and he had peace on all sides round about him."

Solomon, it appears, reigned over all the provinces from the

river Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, even to the

frontiers of Egypt. The Euphrates was on the east of Solomon's

dominions; the Philistines were westward, on the Mediterranean

sea; and Egypt was on the south. Solomon had therefore, as

tributaries, the kingdoms of Syria, Damascus, Moab, and Ammon,

which lay between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean. Thus he

appears to have possessed all the land which God covenanted with

Abraham to give to his posterity.

Unto the ends of the earth.] Or land, must mean the tract of

country along the Mediterranean sea, which was the boundary of the

land on that side: but, as the words may refer to Christ, every

thing may be taken in its utmost latitude and extent.

Verse 9. They that dwell in the wilderness] The tsiyim,

termed Ethiopians by the Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic, and

Arabic. The Syriac terms them the islands. But it is likely that

those who dwell by the sea-coasts, and support themselves by

navigation and fishing, are here intended.

His enemies shall lick the dust.] Shall be so completely

subdued, that they shall be reduced to the most abject state of

vassalage, till they shall become proselytes to the Jewish faith.

Verse 10. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shalt bring

presents] Though Solomon did not reign over Cilicia, of which

Tarsus was the capital, yet he might receive gifts, not in the

sense of tribute; for minchah, the word here used,

signifies a gratitude or friendly offering.

The kings of Sheba and Seba] Both countries of Arabia. From the

former came the queen of Sheba, to hear the wisdom of Solomon. And

she brought exceeding great presents or gifts, but not in the way

of tribute, for Solomon had no jurisdiction in her country. And

certainly many sovereigns, to obtain his friendship, sent him

various presents of the choicest produce of their respective

countries; and no doubt he did with them as with the queen of

Sheba, gave them gifts in return. Hence the word eshcar is

used, which signifies "a compensative present, made on account of

benefits received."

Verse 11. All kings shall fall down before] They shall reverence

him on account of his great wisdom, riches, &c.

All nations shalt serve him.] All the surrounding nations. This

and the preceding verses are fully explained by 1Ki 10:23-25:

"King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and

for wisdom. And all the earth sought unto Solomon to hear his

wisdom. And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver,

and vessels of gold, and garments and armour, and spices, horses

and mules, a rate year by year." If we take these expressions to

mean literally all the habitable globe, then they cannot be

applied to Solomon; but if we take them as they are most evidently

used by the sacred writer, then they are literally true. When all

the earth shall be brought to receive the Gospel of Christ, then

they may be applied to him.

Verse 12. He shall deliver the needy when he crieth] The poor

and the rich shall, in the administration of justice, be equally

respected; and the strong shall not be permitted to oppress the

weak.

Verse 14. From deceit and violence] Because they are poor and

uneducated, they are liable to be deceived; and because they are

helpless, they are liable to oppression; but his equal justice

shall duly consider these cases; and no man shall suffer because

he is deceived, though the letter of the law may be against him.

And precious shall their blood be] If the blood or life of such

a person shall have been spilt by the hand of violence, he shall

seek it out, and visit it on the murderer, though he were the

chief in the land. He shall not be screened, though he were of the

blood royal, if he have wilfully taken away the life of a man.

Verse 15. To him shall be given of the gold of Sheba] The

Arabians shall pay him tribute.

Prayer also shall be made for him continually] In all conquered

countries two things marked the subjection of the people: 1. Their

money was stamped with the name of the conqueror. 2. They were

obliged to pray for him in their acts of public worship.

Daily shall he be praised.] He shall not act by the conquered

like conquerors in general: he shall treat them with benignity;

and shall give them the same laws and privileges as his natural

subjects, and therefore "he shall be daily praised." All shall

speak well of him.

Verse 16. There shall be a handful of corn] The earth shall be

exceedingly fruitful. Even a handful of corn sown on the top of a

mountain shall grow up strong and vigorous; and it shall be, in

reference to crops in other times, as the cedars of Lebanon are

to common trees or shrubs: and as the earth will bring forth in

handfuls, so the people shall be multiplied who are to consume

this great produce.

And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.]

There have been many puzzling criticisms concerning this verse.

What I have given I believe to be the sense.

Verse 17. His name shall endure for ever] Hitherto this has been

literally fulfilled. Solomon is celebrated in the east and in the

west, in the north and in the south; his writings still remain,

and are received, both by Jews and by Gentiles, as a revelation

from God; and it is not likely that the name of the author shall

ever perish out of the records of the world.

All nations shall call him blessed.] Because of the

extraordinary manner in which he was favoured by the Most High. I

well know that all these things are thought to belong properly to

Jesus Christ; and, in reference to him, they are all true, and ten

thousand times more than these. But I believe they are all

properly applicable to Solomon: and it is the business of the

commentator to find out the literal sense, and historical fact,

and not seek for allegories and mysteries where there is no

certain evidence of their presence. Where the sacred writers of

the New Testament quote passages from the Old, and apply them to

our Lord, we not only may but should follow them. And I am ready

to grant there may be many other passages equally applicable to

him with those they have quoted, which are not thus applied.

Indeed, HE is the sum and substance of the whole Scripture. HE

spoke by his Spirit in the prophets; and himself was the subject

of their declarations. See our Lord's saying, Lu 24:44.

Verse 18. Blessed be the Lord God] David foresaw all Solomon's

grandeur; his justice, equity, and the happiness of the

subjects under his government; and his soul has, in consequence,

sensations of pleasure and gratitude to God, which even his own

wondrous pen cannot describe. But it is worthy of remark, that God

did not reveal to him the apostasy of this beloved son. He did not

foresee that this once holy, happy, wise, and prosperous man would

be the means of debasing the Divine worship, and establishing the

grossest idolatry in Israel. God hid this from his eyes, that his

heart might not be grieved, and that he might die in peace.

Besides, there was still much contingency in the business. God

would not predict a thing as absolutely certain, which was still

poised between a possibility of being and not being; the scale of

which he had left, as he does all contingencies, to the free-will

of his creature to turn.

Who only doeth wondrous things.] God alone works miracles:

wherever there is a miracle, there is God. No creature can invert

or suspend the course and laws of nature; this is properly

the work of God. Jesus Christ, most incontrovertibly, wrought such

miracles; therefore, most demonstrably, Jesus Christ is GOD.

Verse 19. Let the whole earth be filled with his glory] Let the

Gospel-the light, the Spirit, and power of Christ, fill the world.

Amen] So let it be.

And Amen.] So it shall be. Hallelujah!

Verse 20. The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.] This

was most probably the last Psalm he ever wrote. There may be

several in the after part of this book which were written by him;

but they were probably composed in a former period of his life,

for this was the end of the poetic prayers of David the son of

Jesse. Those that were found afterwards have got out of their

proper connexion.

ANALYSIS OF THE SEVENTY-SECOND PSALM

David being near his death, makes his prayer for his son

Solomon, that he may be a just, peaceable, and great king, and his

subjects happy under his government. But this is but the shell of

the Psalm: the kernel is Christ and his kingdom, under whom

righteousness, peace, and felicity shall flourish, and unto whom

all nations shall do homage for ever and ever.

The parts of this Psalm are the following, viz.:-

I. The petition, Ps 72:1.

II. The general declaration of the qualities of this kingdom,

Ps 72:2-4.

III. The particular unfolding of these in their effects,

Ps 72:4-18.

IV. The doxology, Ps 72:18-20.

I. David, being taught by experience how hard a matter it is to

govern a kingdom well, prays God to assist his son Solomon, to

whom, being near death, he was to leave his crown and sceptre.

1. "Give the king thy judgments, O God;" the true knowledge of

thy law.

2. "And thy righteousness unto the king's son;" that he may not

decline to the right or left hand, but administer by justice,

judge for God.

II. For then this will follow:-

1. Justice will flourish in his kingdom: "He shall judge thy

people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment."

2. And peace also, and prosperity: "The mountains," that is, the

chief magistrates; "and the little hills,"-the lesser officers,

shall bring peace to the people: but "by righteousness," for

justice upholds the world.

III. And now he proceeds to unfold himself upon the two former

generals: first, justice; then, peace.

Of justice he assigns two effects:-

1. The defence of good men: "He shall judge the poor of the

people; he shall save the children of the needy."

2. The punishment of the wicked: "He shall break in pieces the

oppressor."

The consequences of peace are,-

1. Fear, and reverence, and the service of God: "They shall fear

thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all

generations."

2. Plenty and abundance: "He shall come down like rain upon the

mown grass; as showers that water the earth."

3. Prosperity of good men: "In his days shall the righteous

flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth."

Now he shows the greatness and amplitude of this kingdom, which

will not be so true of Solomon as of Christ and his kingdom.

1. His kingdom will be very large: "He shall have dominion from

sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth."

2. His subjects shall be many. Some willingly, others against

their will, shall obey him: "They that dwell in the wilderness

shall bow before him. His enemies shall lick the dust,"-crouch at

his feet.

3. Homage shall be done to him by Asiatic, European, and Arabian

princes. 1. "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring

presents, the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts." 2. "Yea,

all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve

him."

He sets down many excellent qualities of this king:

1. He should be ready to do good; a gracious lord to the meanest

subject: "For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor

also. and him that hath no helper."

2. He should be far from loading his subjects with exactions:

"He shall spare the poor and shall save the souls of the needy."

3. Far from all tyranny: "He shall redeem their soul from deceit

and violence."

4. Far from shedding innocent blood: "And precious shall their

blood be in his sight."

And as he shall be kind and loving to his subjects, so shall his

subjects show great love and affection to him.

1. They shall pray for his life: "He shall live."

2. And they shall offer him presents: "And to him shall be given

of the gold of Arabia."

3. They shall pray for him: "Prayer also shall be made for him

continually."

4. They shall speak well of him: "Daily shall he be praised."

And that which would induce them to it might be, that besides

the equity and justice, love and kindness he showed to all, they

find that under him they enjoy great plenty and abundance of all

things.

1. For the earth brought forth corn, and the mountains afforded

them an ample harvest: "There shall be a handful of corn in the

earth, upon the top (the highest part) of the mountains; the fruit

thereof shall shake (stand so thick that the ears shall brush one

against another) as the trees in Lebanon."

2. The kingdom shall abound in people: "They of the city shall

flourish like grass of the earth," which is thick and green. In a

word, the king shall be dear to his people; and they shall love

his name when living, and honour him when dead, and continue it to

all posterities.

1. "His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued

as long as the sun."

2. "Men shall be blessed in him." God shall bless thee, as he

did Solomon.

3. "All nations shall call him blessed." Acknowledge his

happiness, and wish a blessing to themselves after Solomon's

example.

IV. In the close of the Psalm, as usual, he gives thanks for

taking into consideration the happiness that was to accrue to his

people under such a king, even when he was laid in the grave. He

breaks forth,

I. "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth

wondrous things;" for indeed such a king is a wonder, and it is

the grace of God must make him such.

2. And again: "Blessed be his glorious name for ever."

3. And that not in Judea alone, but in all the world: "And let

the whole world be filled with his glory. Amen, amen."

"The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." Of which

some, indeed most, judge this was the last prayer David made. See

the notes at the end of the Psalm. See Clarke on Ps 72:20.

With the seventy-second Psalm the SECOND BOOK of

the Psalter ends, according to the division of the Jewish

Masoretes. The THIRD BOOK commences with a series, chiefly

composed by other inspired writers.

THE following poetical version of some of the principal passages

of the foregoing Psalm was made and kindly given me by my much

respected friend, James Montgomery, Esq., of Sheffield. I need not

tell the intelligent reader that he has seized the spirit, and

exhibited some of the principal beauties, of the Hebrew bard;

though, to use his own words in his letter to me, his "hand

trembled to touch the harp of Zion." I take the liberty here to

register a wish, which I have strongly expressed to himself, that

he would favour the Church of God with a metrical version of the

whole book.

Hail to the Lord's Anointed,

Great David's greater Son!

Hail! In the time appointed,

His reign on earth begun!

He comes to break oppression,

To let the captive free,

To take away transgression,

And reign in equity.

He comes with succour speedy

To those who suffer wrong;

To help the poor and needy,

And bid the weak be strong;

To give them songs for sighing,

Their darkness turn to light,

Whose souls, in misery dying,

Were precious in his sight.

By such shall he be feared

While sun and moon endure,

Beloved, adored, revered,

For he shall judge the poor,

Through changing generations,

With justice, mercy, truth,

While stars maintain their stations,

And moons renew their youth.

He shall come down like showers

Upon the fruitful earth,

And joy, and hope, like flowers,

Spring in his path to birth:

Before him, on the mountains,

Shall Peace, the herald, go,

And righteousness, in fountains,

From hill to valley flow.

Arabia's desert-ranger

To him shall bow the knee;

The AEthiopian stranger

His glory come to see:

With offerings of devotion,

Ships from the isles shall meet

To pour the wealth of ocean

In tribute at his feet.

Kings shall fall down before him,

And gold and incense bring;

All nations shall adore him,

His praise all people sing:

For he shall have dominion

O'er river, sea, and shore,

Far as the eagle's pinion,

Or dove's light wing, can soar.

For him shall prayer unceasing,

And daily vows, ascend;

His kingdom still increasing,-

A kingdom without end;

The mountain-dews shall nourish

A need in weakness sown,

Whose fruit shall spread and flourish

And shake like Lebanon.

O'er every foe victorious,

He on his throne shall rest,

From age to age more glorious,-

All-blessing, and all-blest:

The tide of time shall never

His covenant remove;

His name shall stand for ever,

His name what is it?-LOVE.

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