Psalm 72


This Psalm for Solomon finds its historic setting around the time of transition in the monarchy. The Psalm also anticipates a “greater than Solomon” – David’s son and Lord, ruling in the millennium. Scriptural support for Solomon as a type of Christ is clear.

The language of the Davidic Covenant concerning the love between God and Solomon (2Sa 7:14) is applied to the Lord Jesus in the Hebrews epistle – “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son” (Heb 1:5).[1]

Solomon built the first temple; the Lord will build the millennial temple – “the man whose name is The BRANCH … shall build the temple of the LORD” (Zec 6:12).

Solomon ruled over a unified Israel. The Lord will reinstate that unity and rule over Israel in a literal promised land. The two sticks in Ezekiel symbolise this – “I will take the stick of Joseph … and … Judah, and make them one stick … I will make them one nation in the land … and one king shall be king to them all” (Eze 37:19-22).

David was the warrior-king who defeated his foes; Solomon ruled in unparalleled tranquillity. This two-part type prefigures the Lord Jesus at His second advent, crushing His foes and becoming the Prince of Peace.

Historic and Prophetic Interpretation

The Psalm is divided as follows:

Moral glory: Righteousness (vv1-4), Compassion (vv12-14)

Royal glory: Dominion (vv5-11), Praise (vv15-20)

Righteousness (vv1-4)

Righteousness is the foundation of society. In the civil and personal realm, David desires that Solomon reflect the character of God – “Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son” (v1). Solomon grasped this when he prayed for an understanding heart in order to judge the people (1Ki 3:9). Righteousness starts within before it bears fruit. Solomon’s first judgments involved executing Adonijah, Joab and Shimei – he broke in pieces the oppressor (v4).

The effect of justice is peace (v3). The mountains and hills bringing peace (v3) are a synecdoche for the whole land rolling with shalom.

The Lord Jesus will also follow this pattern of righteousness and peace at His second coming. He is the righteous branch that will sprout from David’s broken line (Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5). In omniscient infallibility He will administer His kingdom with justice. The criteria for judgement will not be His feelings (Isa 11:3) nor the status of His subjects (Lev 19:15), but “with righteousness shall he judge” (Isa 11:4). “The work of righteousness shall be peace … for ever” (Isa 32:17). People will not learn war anymore (Isa 2:4), and carnivores will become herbivores (Isa 11:7). Global peace can only be achieved when Christ rules from Zion (Isa 2:3).

Dominion (vv5-11)

After Solomon judged between the harlots, “all Israel … feared the king” (1Ki 3:28). Justice swiftly enacted results in healthy fear – “They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations” (v5). The “fear thee” refers to God primarily. He is addressed in first-person terms in the Psalm (v1). This mediatorial ruler of God’s kingdom leads people to fear God. The fear of the Lord tends to vacillate across generations. It will not be so in the millennium. The new covenant ratified with Israel will lead them to fear God forever (Jer 32:39). We need to remember that the fear of the Lord leads to life (Pro 19:23).

Rain was a sign of blessing in Israel (Deu 11:13-14), and the presence of the king is likened to refreshing showers – “He shall come down like rain” (v6). When the wicked rule, the people mourn (Pro 29:2), but the favour of the king is like a cloud of latter rain (Pro 16:15). The presence of the Triune God is often likened to refreshing water (Isa 32:15; Hos 14:5); He is the restorer of souls. We can enjoy the blessing of God through His Word – “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew” (Deu 32:2).

After rain, the righteous flourish (v7) – this is a harvest of morality. In the kingdom, the righteous will no longer be a rare variety, but will “shine as the sun” (Mat 13:43). A further botanic metaphor is Israel being planted in the land when the Messiah comes – “the remnant … of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (Isa 37:31). All Israel will be saved – this is a miracle of grace.

Solomon partially fulfilled the geographic blessings of the Abrahamic covenant (1Ki 4:21-24), but the global language of “He shall have dominion … from sea to sea” (v8) awaits a future day. Zechariah concurs, saying the King who came on a donkey will come again to conquer and rule “from the river … to the ends of the earth” (Zec 9:9-10). These two advents are mentioned in the same breath by Zechariah, proving the prophetic gap of the Church Age. We should always mind the prophetic gap in our studies.

Although the kings of the earth sought for Solomon as he reigned in the Middle East (2Ch 9:22-26), it could never be said that “all kings [fell] down before him: all nations [served] him” (v11). Only the Lord Jesus will be king over all the earth (Zec 14:9). He must reign (1Co 15:25). The Gentiles will enjoy His beneficent rule as they trust in His name (Isa 11:10). The desire of all nations will be to come and worship the King (Hag 2:7), and any nation that refuses to serve the Lord will perish (Isa 60:12).

Mercy (vv12-14)

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But the Lord Jesus has the moral right to rule – “For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth” (v12). In this King we see the perfect balance of justice and mercy – “in mercy shall the throne be established” (Isa 16:5). He is known for His pity as He has “compassion on the poor” (v13 JND).

His compassion is not mere sentimentality, for “he shall redeem [gā’al] their soul from … violence, and precious shall their blood be in his sight” (v14). This kinsman (gā’al) avenger revenges the blood of his people (Num 35:19). The Lord Jesus is an avenger of blood that will come in power to crush His enemies. The battle at the end of the tribulation will be a bloodbath as He tramples them under His feet and their blood stains His garments (Isa 63:1-5). He says, “The day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed [gā’al] is come” (Isa 63:4). He is the majestic warrior-king who will be glorified in judgement.

Praise (vv15-20)

The cry from His devoted subjects will be, “So may he live” (v15 NASB). Genuine adoration will exist between subject and sovereign as He is prayed for and praised every day (v15).

World hunger will cease during the millennium – “There shall be abundance of corn in the earth” (v16 JND). When the planet is redeemed from the curse, the wilderness will blossom as the rose (Isa 35:1) and enjoy perpetual harvests (Amo 9:13), and remote mountains will experience a vintage (Joe 3:18). The millennium will usher in Edenic conditions across the globe.

There will also be rejuvenation in human life: “they of the city shall flourish like the grass” (v16). Long life will be a hallmark of the millennium, as a 100-year-old is viewed as a child (Isa 65:20). Quality of life will span the globe as each one sits under his own vine, unafraid (Mic 4:4); children will play freely in city streets, and the aged will not inhabit care-homes but the tranquil plazas of Jerusalem (Zec 8:4).

Solomon’s majestic reign came to an end and his crown was tarnished by sin. But not the Lord Jesus – “His name shall endure for ever” (v17). The certainty of this Psalm is sublime as it is liberally stamped with the emphatic  “shall.” This is reality. History is heading to the time when Jesus Christ is crowned King of kings. He is worthy of worship – “Blessed be the Lord God” (v18).

Practical Application

Prophecy is not dry theory. How we view the future determines how we walk presently. We become what we look at. Our service on earth determines how we reign with Christ in the future. If we are faithful now, we will be entrusted with much when He comes. If we serve now with a double-heart, we will suffer loss. We cannot serve two masters.

We also learn that it is only Christ in divine omnipotence that can fix the planet. It is His job to solve the social, political and judicial problems of the world, not ours. It is presumptuous to think that man can reverse the effects of the curse. Instead of becoming distracted with the macro problems of earth, we should focus our efforts on the micro problems within our control. God demands our absolute devotion. He wants our hearts. We will be held accountable for loving Him and walking in holiness, not the macro complexities of earth.

The millennium should incentivise our evangelism. It is not our job to fix world poverty. The primary problems of the world are spiritual, not physical; we have the only cure – “Go, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.