Monday, June 16. Psalms 71 – 73

Psalm 72 ends with the words: “This concludes the prayers of David, son of Jesse.”

Except, that it doesn’t. This is one of those obvious examples that the Psalms were not written as a unified book, but are an edited compilation of poetry. The heading tells us this was to be a prayer for the new king, Solomon.

We are told in the New Testament that we should pray for those in authority. But what, specifically, should we pray for them? This psalm provides an example and in doing so, provides all those who serve in government direction as to their real work before God.

Notice the emphasis on justice and benevolence, defending the afflicted and caring for the children of the needy, paying special attention to those who have no one to help them (vs. 12) because, as the psalmist says, the lives of these needy, weak, lonely, oppressed people are precious to him (I love the language: “precious is their blood in his sight”).

What is the function of government?

Our society seems to think that it is to preserve and manipulate a market system so that the strong, the intelligent, the industrious can work their magic and attain the American dream: becoming rich. But the psalmist never mentions these things. Rather, the work of government is the care and protection of those least able to care for themselves.

Those who involve themselves in this work are the politicians who will “endure as long as the sun” and will be, to their constituents like rain showering the earth. In other words, they are public servants who are a blessing. The government that gives attention to these things will be the envy of the world (vs. 8).

Why?

Because God will make it so.

Wednesday, May 30. Psalms 72, 127

    There are two Psalms attributed to Solomon (72, 127), though he is obviously known more for his wisdom books.

    Psalm 72 begins as a request for the king of Israel, that God would give him a mind to know and do what is right.  God’s answer to that prayer will be seen in two ways: First, the actions of the king in behalf of the afflicted, the needy, the weak, little children.  All of these, the most vulnerable of society, will be protected by the king from those who would mistreat them.  He doesn’t just act in their behalf, he feels for them.  I love this phrase: “precious is their blood in his sight.”

    Because the king rules in this way, the way of God, the king is honored by other nations, and prosperity comes to his kingdom.  The prosperity is a blessing from God, who is praised at the end of the prayer.  Because the nation of the righteous king prospers, blessing overflows to surrounding nations as well.  His becomes a model for them to follow.

    To seek the guidance of God.  To stand for what is right and good.  To protect and help the weak.  This are, first and foremost, the goals of good government.  A nation that seeks to remove God from the equation is a nation doomed to failure, and mountains of military might, freedom, and capitalism will not change that fact.  This truth will always be lost on the world, but it must not be lost on us.  As we have opportunity to select public officials, God’s people should choose those who have embraced this ideal.  The blessing of God for us all hangs in the balance.