Theme: True Prosperity
In this week’s lessons we see how this psalm ultimately points to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Psalm 72:1-20
Each of the preceding stanzas has contributed to the ideal blessing that this kingdom will experience. Because of its righteous character, prosperity will flow from the mountains and the afflicted will be rescued (stanza one). Because of its endless duration, the righteous will flourish and wealth will increase (stanza two). Because of its universal expanse, peace will prevail and treasure will flow to this realm’s sovereign (stanza three). Because of its compassionate nature, all who are needy or afflicted or in danger will be helped (stanza four).
All that has been preliminary, however. For now stanza five is given over wholly to the blessing that will come from Christ’s rule. This blessing will be both: 1) material and 2) spiritual.
The material prosperity described in this stanza (vv. 15-17) has to do with gold pouring in from Sheba and grain and fruit thriving even on the tops of the hills, that is, the least productive parts of the land. Gold, grain and fruit were ancient measures of prosperity. So this is a way of saying that under the reign of Jesus there will be prosperity of every conceivable kind. This does not mean that Christians in every place will all become rich necessarily. Riches are not always a blessing. But it does mean that wherever Jesus is honored and served, and wherever righteousness is pursued, there prosperous times will almost inevitably follow. Families will become stable. Parents will care for, educate and promote the well-being of their children. Unproductive members of society will be reclaimed and assisted in becoming productive. Virtue will permeate the workplace, and wealth will be created through industry and hard work. Christianity has contributed such material blessings to numerous nations, while nations that have persecuted the followers of Christ and repressed Christianity have languished for it.
As for spiritual blessing, the second half of verse 17 certainly refers to the promise of spiritual blessing God gave Abraham when he called him out of Ur of the Chaldees, saying, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3). It was not through Abraham that this blessing came to human beings, however. It was through Jesus, Abraham’s great descendant, which is why Paul could write to the Galatians, “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal. 3:8, 9).
This is real prosperity, of course. Not to be rich in this world’s goods, though Christianity tends to advance people in the direction of material prosperity, but to be rich in those spiritual blessings that are ours because of Christ. The Bible says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
Which brings us to the doxology that ends not only Psalm 72, but also the second book of the Psalter. It corresponds to the parallel but shorter endings to books one and four (Ps. 41:13; 106:48), and to the even shorter endings to books three and five (Ps. 89:52; 150:6): “Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.”
The doxology is a reminder, as G. Campbell Morgan says, that the kingdom described in Psalm 72 is “the Kingdom for which the world still waits.”1 We are to pray for this world’s kingdoms (1 Tim. 2:1, 2), but we are not to suppose that any earthly ruler will actualize the theocratic kingdom, since it was not achieved even by wise King Solomon or by godly King David. As Charles Colson reminded delegates to a National Association of Evangelicals convention some years ago, after Ronald Reagan had spoken to them and they were all very impressed and cheering wildly, “The kingdom of God does not arrive on Air Force One.” Indeed it does not. God’s kingdom arrives with God’s King, and God’s King is Jesus. We wait for his kingdom, not an earthly kingdom. And we pray that it might come (Matt. 6:10), knowing that it alone is truly righteous and that it alone will never pass away.
1G. Campbell Morgan, Notes on the Psalms (Westwood, NJ: Revell, 1947), p. 129.
What kinds of blessings will come from Christ’s rule?
Explain the blessings described in stanza five of Psalm 72.
What are the true measures of prosperity?
Why is it significant that blessings come from Jesus and not Abraham?
What kind of prosperity should Christians seek?
Reflection: One way to interpret the blessings of this passage is in terms of family stability and social concern. How have you seen these in your own life, compared to others around you who are not Christians?
Prayer: 1 Timothy 2:1-2 urges us to pray for everyone, “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Make a list of leaders and pray for one each day in the weeks ahead.