“1 Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to a king’s son.
2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.
3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness.
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor.
5 May he live while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth.
7 In his days may righteousness flourish
and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
8 May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
9 May his foes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust.
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
11 May all kings fall down before him,
all nations give him service.
12 For he delivers the needy when they call,
the poor and those who have no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
and precious is their blood in his sight.”
In ancient Israel, the king served as the conduit through which God’s blessings flowed to the people. A faithful king would invoke God’s blessings upon the people. A disobedient king would invoke God’s wrath. A king could order his subjects to devote themselves to God and devotion to the law of Moses or demand they worship foreign gods. Faithfulness equaled blessing and security for the people. Disobedience equaled hardship and lack of security for the people. It was a simple life formula.
These verses from Psalm 72 reflect the peoples’ heartfelt prayers for their king to be just and righteous before God and in all his dealings with the people in his kingdom. They knew the cost of disobedience. They knew no amount of faith exercised on their part could undue or negate the consequences of a disobedient king.
That all changed with the birth of Jesus. Now, our faith as individuals does matter. Jesus said that our faith can move mountains. Now, we are held accountable for our own faithfulness or sinfulness.
The one thing that has never changed is that our actions still have consequences that reverberate far beyond ourselves. It is true that God does not hold the people in my orbit of life responsible for my bad decisions. Nor does God remove the consequences or suffering those people in my orbit must endure from the bad decisions I make. We are and always will be in this think called life together. Knowing how our actions may impact those we love should be a strong motivator to be on our best behavior.
Even when trying to do our best, we will make our share of consequential mistakes that will negatively impact others. There are no exceptions to that. It’s part of being human.
It is also why repentance, forgiveness, grace, mercy, kindness, and compassion are so vital to our faith. They are the means by which we are able to embrace our full humanity, warts and all. Jesus came to show us how to we become fully human when we choose to accept that we are the beloved, the redeemed, the forgiven, the just, and the righteousness of God and live our lives accordingly.
Today, Psalm 72 isn’t just a prayer for a king, but a prayer for us all.
Be a blessing to someone today!