Teach the king to judge with your righteousness,0 God;
share with him your own justice,
so that he will rule over your people with justice
and govern the oppressed with righteousness.
May the land enjoy prosperity;
may it experience righteousness. (verses 1-3)
Read Psalm 72:1-7, 18, 19
An old heading for this psalm states that it was written by Solomon. The psalm certainly shows good insight into the dangers of being king. Kings live in luxurious palaces and hobnob with the rich and powerful, and they seldom have much sympathy for those at the other end of the social scale: the poor and powerless.
So the psalm writer prays that God will teach the king about divine righteousness and justice, so that he will show fairness to all people in his governing and even side with the poor and needy against their wealthy oppressors. It’s a wise and necessary prayer, for history shows us that where greed for wealth and lust for power mark the ruling classes, sooner or later there will be violent revolution and much bloodshed, as in France in 1789 and Russia in 1917.
Those on the bottom rungs of society still need help from the top, and those at the top still need wisdom from the very top – from God. So the church prays regularly for national leaders and governments.
But human rulers, no matter how wise and benevolent, will always fail us. That’s why God sent us a very different king, a servant king, whose throne was a cross and who wore a crown of thorns – Jesus, our Lord.
I thank you, God, for the gift of good government, and I give you far greater thanks for sending Jesus to establish your gracious rule in human hearts. Amen.
By John Vitale, in “Refreshment for each day” (LCA, Openbook Publishers (2003)
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