Psalm 72:1 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 bring gifts. 11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.
This psalm is attributed to King Solomon who was King David’s son. I’m struck by how different is the tone of this psalm has compared to a typical Davidic psalm. David often cried out to God from a place of perceived desperation, even oppression from enemies. He was also effusive in praise of God. David was known as a man “after God’s own heart” which comes through in his psalms – very much a Myers-Briggs “feeler” if you’re familiar with those distinctions. Some might even say he was a bit of a drama queen.
Solomon is different, much more oriented to thinking. First he asks for wisdom to lead well, defending the vulnerable and intending to “crush the oppressor” (v.4). Then he asks that God give him “dominion from sea to sea”. It’s not a request for power simply for power’s sake, but so that God could rule through Solomon. V.11 explains,
“May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service”.
Again, Solomon saw his own kingdom as a reflection of God’s kingdom on earth. To submit to Solomon was to submit to God.
Jesus’ thoughts on the issue were very, very different from both David and Solomon as we read in the gospel of Matthew chapter 20:
“26… whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
What does it look like to lead as a servant according to Jesus’ words in this time and place? I’m asking myself this morning. Lord open our minds to understand your will for us all. Amen.