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).
Because God will make it so.