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Wednesday, October 4th, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 72

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2989. B.C. 1015.

That David was the author of this Psalm, says Bishop Patrick, appears from the conclusion of it. From whence we may also gather, that it was made by him toward the conclusion of his life: when, by his command, Nathan the prophet, and Zadok the priest, took Solomon and set him upon his throne, (1 Kings 1:39 , &c.,) that David might have the satisfaction to see all the great men of his kingdom do homage to Solomon, and acknowledge him for their succeeding sovereign before he died. Upon this, it is probable, the spirit of the holy man was so transported with an extraordinary joy, that he endited this hymn, wherein he first recommends Solomon to the divine benediction, and then instructs him how to make his people happy, by describing the qualities of a good king, and the prosperous state of the kingdom under his government. This he began to behold before he died, (1 Chronicles 29:25 ,) and he hoped others would behold it when he was gone, to the example and admiration of all following generations. Divers passages of this Psalm, however, do not agree to Solomon, nor to any other king but the Messiah, as is confessed by the Jewish doctors themselves, who so understand it. It must therefore be acknowledged, that this, like many others, is a mixed Psalm, belonging to Solomon imperfectly, but to Christ clearly and fully: divers expressions being designedly so ordered, that the reader might be led by them to the contemplation of Christ and his kingdom on this occasion. Which was the more necessary for the support of God’s true Israel, because the Spirit of God foresaw Solomon’s dreadful apostacy, and the great misconduct and calamities of his successors, and the miserable state of the kingdom under their hands, and therefore was pleased to fortify their hearts with views of that glorious condition which they should enjoy under the Messiah, who should certainly come. After a short prayer for his successor, he foretels the glory of his reign, 1-17. And concludes with prayer to the God of Israel, 18-20.

Verse 1

Psalms 72:1. Give the king Namely, Solomon, who was now anointed king, although his father was yet living, 1 Kings 1:39; thy judgments Either, 1st, Thy statutes and precepts, often called God’s judgments; as thou hast already given them to him in thy book, so give them to him in another and better way, by writing them upon his heart, or by giving him a perfect knowledge of them, and a hearty love to them, that he may obey and walk according to them. Or, 2d, Give him a thorough acquaintance with thy manner of governing and judging, that he may follow thy example in ruling thy people, as thou rulest them, namely, in righteousness, as it follows. He says judgments, in the plural number, because, though the office of ruling and judging was but one, yet there were divers parts and branches of it; in all which he prays that Solomon might be directed to do as God would have him do in such cases.

Verse 2

Psalms 72:2. He shall judge thy people with righteousness Namely, if thou givest him what I have desired. And by this prediction he tacitly admonishes him of, and obliges him to, the performance of his duty. Or the words may be rendered, Let him judge, the future being put for the imperative, as is often the case; and so it is a prayer. And thy poor Or, thy afflicted, or oppressed ones; for such are thine in a special manner; thou art their judge and patron, Psalms 68:5, and hast commanded all thy people, and especially kings and magistrates, to take a singular care of them, because they have few or no friends.

Verses 3-4

Psalms 72:3-4. The mountains, &c. Which are so dangerous to passengers, on account of robbers or wild beasts, which commonly abide there; shall bring forth peace Shall be travelled over, or inhabited, with perfect security and safety. Or peace is here put for that prosperity, ease, and plenty, which is the fruit of peace; when the mountains and hills are cultivated and tilled, and so are capable of producing abundance of grain, though naturally full of stones and barren. He shall judge the poor of the people That is, vindicate them from their potent oppressors, as judging often means. He shall save the children of the needy Whom the rich had, or would have seized upon, for bond-men, upon some pretence or other.

Verse 5

Psalms 72:5. They shall fear thee, &c. Most commentators consider the psalmist as suddenly turning his speech to Solomon here, and signifying that his wisdom and righteous administration of his government should redound to his everlasting honour, so that all posterity should continually esteem and revere him as the wisest and best of princes. They acknowledge, however, that in this he was a type of Christ, and that the words ultimately, and in their most sublime sense, are to be explained of him. But as fear or reverence is frequently put for strict and proper divine worship, (as Isaiah 29:13, compared with Matthew 15:9, and frequently elsewhere,) which certainly was not due to Solomon, and could not be paid to him without idolatry; and as the psalmist never elsewhere, in any part of the Psalm, speaks of Solomon in the second person, but always in the third; many others consider him as addressing God in these words, to whom he had spoken before in the second person, Psalms 72:1-2, as it is here. Thus Mr. Samuel Clark: “They shall worship and serve thee, O God, so that, with peace, true religion shall flourish.” “The sense is,” says Poole, “This shall be another blessed fruit of his righteous government, that, together with peace, true religion shall be established, and that throughout all generations, as it here follows. Which was begun in Solomon’s days, and continued, though not without much interruption, in the time of his successors, the kings of Judah, and afterward, until the coming of Christ, in and by whom this prediction and promise was,” in part, and shall, in the end, be “most fully accomplished.” And Henry interprets the words to the same purpose. As long as the sun and moon endure Hebrew, With the sun, and before the moon, that is, while they continue in the heavens; or, as others expound it, Both day and night, as the twelve tribes are said to serve God, Acts 26:7.

Verse 6

Psalms 72:6. He shall come down, &c. To wit, by the influences of his government upon his people, the administration of which shall be so gentle and easy, that it shall refresh and revive the hearts of his subjects, and render them a flourishing people. But this phrase much better agrees to Christ, who was yet to come, and who did come down from heaven, and brought or sent down from thence his refreshing and fertilizing doctrine, often compared to rain, and the sweet and powerful influences of his Spirit. Like rain upon the mown grass Which it both refreshes and causes to grow and flourish, and therefore was very acceptable, especially in Canaan. where rain was more scarce, and more necessary than in many other places, because of the scorching heat, and the natural dryness of the soil, and the want of rivers to overflow or water the land.

Verse 7

Psalms 72:7. In his days shall the righteous flourish As the wicked shall be discountenanced and punished, so good men shall be encouraged, advanced, and multiplied. And abundance of peace as long as the moon endureth That is, as long as time and the world shall last. Which neither was nor could be the case under the reign of Solomon, which was not of very long duration, and the peace of whose kingdom was sadly disturbed, and almost wholly lost after his death; but which was, and more especially hereafter will be, undoubtedly and eminently accomplished in Christ, who came to bring peace on earth, Luke 2:14, and left it as a legacy to his disciples, John 14:27.

Verse 8

Psalms 72:8 . He shall have dominion from sea to sea Either, 1st, From the Sinus Arabicus, or Red sea, to the Mediterranean sea, for so far Solomon’s dominion extended; but so did David’s also; and, therefore, in that respect Solomon has not that pre-eminence, which this promise plainly seems to give him, above his predecessors. Or, rather, 2d, More generally from one sea to another, or in all parts of the habitable world. In which sense it is truly and fully accomplished in Christ, and in him only. And from the river Namely, Euphrates: which was the eastern border of the kingdom of Canaan, allotted by God, (Exodus 23:31; Numbers 34:3,) but possessed only by David and Solomon; unto the ends of the earth To the border of Egypt, or the tract of country along the Mediterranean sea, the end of the land of Canaan. But if understood of the kingdom of Christ, the expression means literally to the remotest parts of the earth, or throughout the whole world. Thus, Psalms 2:8, I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Verse 9

Psalms 72:9. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him That is, that inhabit solitary places. The Hebrew word, ציים , tziim, here used,

(from ציה , tziah siccitas, dryness, or a dry place,) is applied to barren grounds or deserts, parched up for want of springs and rains, and it here signifies the inhabitants of such countries, and particularly the people and kings of Arabia Deserta. These were tributary to Solomon, 1 Kings 10:15, and great numbers of them submitted to Christ, and received his gospel. And his enemies shall lick the dust Shall prostrate themselves to the ground in token of reverence and subjection to him, as was the custom of the eastern people.

Verses 10-11

Psalms 72:10-11. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles That is, of remote countries, to which they used to go from Canaan by sea, all which are frequently called isles in Scripture. The kings that ruled by sea or by land. The kings of Sheba and Seba Two countries of Arabia; unless the one be a part of Arabia and the other of Ethiopia, beyond Egypt. Yea, all nations shall serve him This cannot be affirmed, with any shadow of truth, of Solomon, but was, or will be, unquestionably verified in Christ, who is, and will show himself to be, King of kings, and Lord of lords, and will be universally acknowledged, obeyed, and worshipped by all the kings and nations of the earth.

Verses 12-14

Psalms 72:12-14 . For he shall deliver the needy, &c. The fame of his just and merciful government shall induce multitudes either to put themselves under his rule and protection, or to show great respect and reverence for him. He shall spare the poor and needy He shall take pity on them, and add no heavier burden unto that of their lamentable poverty. And shall save the souls That is, the lives, of the needy. He shall not be prodigal of their lives, but as tenderly careful to spare and preserve them as those of his greatest subjects. If applied to Christ it means, that he shall save their souls, properly so called, namely, from the guilt and power of sin, into the favour and image of God, and a state of communion with him here, and the everlasting enjoyment of him hereafter, it being Christ’s proper work to save men’s souls. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence The two ways whereby the lives and souls of men are usually destroyed. And precious shall their blood be in his sight He shall set so high a value upon their lives, and love them so dearly, as never to expose them to imminent danger, much less to cast them away, merely to gratify his own revenge, covetousness, or insatiable desire of enlarging his empire, as earthly kings commonly do; but, like a true father of his people, will tenderly preserve them, and severely avenge their blood upon those that shall shed it.

Verse 15

Psalms 72:15. And he shall live Solomon’s life and reign shall be long and prosperous: and He whom Solomon typified shall live for ever, and his kingdom shall have no end. And to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba, &c. The longer he shall live and reign, the richer presents shall be brought unto him, as there shall be to Christ from the eastern countries, Matthew 2:11; although such expressions as these, used of Christ and his kingdom, are commonly to be understood in a spiritual sense. Prayer also shall be made for him His subjects shall be obliged and excited by his righteous and happy government to pray heartily and frequently for him. Hebrew, יתפלל בעדו תמיד , jithpallel bagnado tamid, intercession shall be made on his account incessantly: 1st, On account of Solomon, that his life might be preserved, and the prosperity of his reign continued and established. And, 2d, For Christ; not indeed personally considered, in which sense he did not need the intercessions or prayers of his subjects, but for the protection of his truth, cause, and people, and for the increase and consummation of his kingdom. And daily shall he be praised The highest praises and commendations of Solomon’s just and gracious government shall continually fill men’s months; and daily shall Christ be “praised by his people for the riches of his grace, for all the comforts of his Spirit, and for all the hopes of glory, which they possess through him.”

Verse 16

Psalms 72:16. There shall be a handful of corn Which intimates the small beginnings of this kingdom, and therefore does not agree to that of Solomon, which was, in a manner, as large at the beginning of his reign as at the end of it; but it exactly agrees to Christ and his kingdom, Matthew 13:31-33. In the earth That is, sown in the earth. The seed is the word of God. That on good ground are they, who, in an honest and good heart, a heart made honest and good by grace, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience, Luke 8:11, &c.; bring forth first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear, Mark 4:26-28. Such, reader, is the progress of this handful of seed cast into the ground; though upon the top of the mountains That is, in the most barren soil. It produces a number of converts, all born again of incorruptible seed by the word, 1 Peter 1:23; and in each convert the fruit of genuine repentance, of living faith, and of true holiness. The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon It shall yield such an abundant increase, that the ears, being thick and high, and full of corn, shall, when they are shaken by the wind, make a noise not unlike that which the tops of the trees of Lebanon sometimes make, upon the like occasion. Which expressions, as well as many others of the like nature, in the prophets, being applied to Christ and his kingdom, are to be understood in a spiritual sense, of the great and happy success of the preaching of the gospel. And they of the city That is, the citizens of Jerusalem, which are here put for the subjects of this kingdom. Shall flourish like the grass of the earth Shall both increase in number and in grace, being fruitful in every good word and work.

Verse 17

Psalms 72:17. His name shall endure for ever Namely, the honour and renown of his eminent wisdom, and justice, and goodness. This agrees but very obscurely and imperfectly to Solomon, who stained the glory of his reign by his prodigious luxury, and oppression, and apostacy from God, into which he fell in the latter part of his days. His name shall be continued Hebrew, ינון , jinnon, shall be propagated, or transmitted, to his children; as long as the sun Hebrew, לפני שׁמשׁ , liphnee shemesh, before the sun; meaning, either, 1st, Publicly, and in the face of the sun: or, 2d, Perpetually; as a constant and inseparable companion of the sun; as long as the sun itself shall continue. Men shall be blessed in him In him, as it was promised to Abraham, shall all the true children of Abraham be blessed with the blessings of grace and glory, and that by and through his merits and Spirit. Hebrew, יתברכו , jithbarechu, shall bless themselves. All nations shall call him blessed They shall bless God for him, shall continually extol and magnify him, and think themselves happy in him. To the end of time and to eternity, his name shall be celebrated; every tongue shall confess it, and every knee shall bow before it. And the happiness shall also be universal, complete, and everlasting; men shall be blessed in him truly and for ever.

Verses 18-19

Psalms 72:18-19. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel If the psalmist, in the name of the Jewish Church, had reason to bless God in this manner, for such a glorious and excellent king and governor as Solomon, and such great blessings as they did and should enjoy under his government, how much more reason has the Christian Church to bless him for that divine king, of whom Solomon was but a type, and for the infinitely greater and more lasting blessings of his righteous and beneficent reign. Surely such an illustrious prophecy of the Messiah and his kingdom as is contained in the foregoing verses, may well be concluded with thanksgivings and praises. For we cannot but own that for all the great things which he has done for the world, for the church, for the children of men, for his own children, in the kingdom of providence, in the kingdom of grace; for all the power and trust lodged in the hands of the Redeemer, God is worthy to be praised; and we ought to stir up ourselves and all that is within us to praise him after the best manner, and to desire that all others may do it. Who only doth wondrous things In creation and providence, and especially in this work of redemption, which excelleth them all. Men’s works are little, common, trifling things, and things which, without him, they could not do. But God doth all by his own power, and they are wondrous things which he doth, and such as will be the eternal admiration of saints and angels. And blessed be his glorious name For it is only in his name that we can contribute any thing to his glory and blessedness, and that is exalted above all blessing and praise. Let it be blessed for ever, for it deserves to be blessed for ever, and we hope to be for ever blessing it, and that with angels, and archangels, and all the company of heaven. And let the whole earth be filled with his glory As it will be, when the kings of Tarshish and the isles shall bring presents to him, when to him every knee shall bow, and all shall know him, from the least to the greatest. It is lamentable to think how empty the earth is of the glory of God, how little honour and service he has from a world which he made and upholds, and to which he is such a bountiful benefactor. And, therefore, all that wish well to the honour of God and the welfare of mankind, cannot but desire that the earth may be filled with discoveries of his glory, suitably returned in thankful acknowledgments of it. Let every heart then, and every mouth, and every assembly, be filled with the high praises of God. We see how earnest David was in this prayer, and how much his heart was in it, by observing, 1st, How he shuts it up with a double seal, Amen, and amen: and, 2d, How he even shuts up his life with this prayer; for this, it appears Psalms 72:20, was the last Psalm that ever he composed, though not placed last in this collection: he penned it when he lay, on his death-bed, and with this he breathes his last. Let God be glorified; let the kingdom of the Messiah be set up and established in the world and I have enough, I desire no more. With this let our prayers, like the prayers of David the son of Jesse, be ended: and with our last breath let us say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 72". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-72.html. 1857.
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