Psalm 72

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2007-08-26 10:43.

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According to the superscription, this psalm pertains to Solomon, and the concluding verse (20) refers to the prayers (“hymns,” LXX) of David, the son of Jesse, as having ended. This suggests that the composition may be attributed to David.


For God to give his judgment to the king would mean that the monarch would be guided by the divine standard of justice when rendering judicial decisions. The righteousness, justice, or impartiality of the Supreme Judge should also distinguish the judgments handed down by the king in the royal line (the son of the king).

All of the kings subjects should expect impartial and just treatment. The king should uphold the rights of the poor, lowly, or disadvantaged ones in his realm, judging with justice.

Mountains and hills are the prominent features of a land. For the mountains to bring peace to the people and the hills righteousness could signify that everyone in the entire realm would be secure. Nothing would seriously disrupt the peace or prosperity of the realm and the people would continue to enjoy life free from oppression.

To assure the well-being of his subjects, the king would need to make sure to uphold the rights of his most vulnerable subjects. This would require his coming to the defense of the poor when executing justice and delivering the “sons of the needy” from anyone who resorted to oppression or fraud. The king would need to crush the oppressor or defrauder.

The Masoretic Text may be understood to mean that the king’s subjects would fear or have a wholesome regard for God, not wanting to incur his displeasure. Such wholesome fear should not be of a temporary nature but should abide throughout the generations or as long as the sun and moon shine. Possibly the implied basis for this fear is the king’s loyal adherence to God’s law when rendering judgments. The Septuagint, however, represents the king as abiding. “And he shall continue as long as the sun and before the moon, from generation to generation.” (See the Notes section for additional comments on verse 5.)

The beneficent effect of the king’s rule is likened to rain descending on a mown field, to “showers that water the land.” As a consequence, the righteous would flourish, and the people would enjoy peace, living in security. Sooner would the moon pass away then for this desirable condition to end.

Based on Exodus 23:31, from “sea to sea” would mean from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea (the Sea of the Philistines) and from the Euphrates River “to the ends of the earth” or to the farthest limits of the land. (See the Notes section for additional comments on verse 8.)


In humble submission, nomadic peoples residing in the sparsely populated wilderness would come into the king’s presence and bow down before him. His enemies would “lick the dust.” With their mouths touching the ground, they would be prostrating themselves in his presence.

From far and wide, including islands, rulers from various nations would bring gifts in the form of tribute. Distant Tarshish is commonly linked to the Iberian Peninsula, and Sheba and Seba are regions of Arabia.

Before the king, all the other monarchs would bow down, and all the nations would submit to him. Despite his exalted standing, he would not overlook the disadvantaged ones.

In response to the cries of the needy, he would deliver them from oppression or unjust treatment. Though the poor or lowly may be without a helper, he would come to their aid and rescue them from the harm others might seek to inflict upon them. The weak and needy would be objects of his pity or compassion. He would save the “souls” or lives of the needy, delivering them from those who would deal oppressively and violently with them. According to the Septuagint, they would be rescued from “usury [financial oppression] and injustice.” Although others might regard the weak and needy as insignificant, he would view their blood (“their name” or their person, LXX) as precious and come to their aid and defense.

Regarding a monarch so determined to uphold justice, his subjects would rightly say, “Long live the king!” He would be deserving of tribute—“gold of Sheba [Arabia, LXX].” Rightly his subjects should pray for him continually, and invoke a blessing upon him throughout the day.

With peace and justice prevailing in the realm, agriculture would flourish. The land would produce abundant grain. Mountain tops would not usually be the location for rich harvests. An overflow of grain there would indicate extraordinary productivity, with barley and wheat growing on mountain slopes and clear to the top. As the king would be receiving a portion of the harvest, “his fruit” is to flourish like Lebanon, known for the majestic cedars growing on its slopes. Blessed with plentiful harvests, those engaged in agricultural operations would prosper. City dwellers, too, would thrive, blossoming like vegetation in the land.

For the king’s name to be for limitless time to come may mean that the dynasty is to continue to exist and prosper. The reference to the king’s name “increasing” could signify his having offspring so that the royal line would remain in existence or that his fame would increase. So illustrious would the name of the king be that people would bless themselves by him, and “all nations” would call him blessed as one enjoying divine favor. (Regarding the phrase about the “sun” and additional comments on verse 17, see the Notes section.)

YHWH God, the God of Israel, especially deserves to be blessed or spoken well of to the ultimate degree, for he alone does “wonderful things,” which could include his creative works and his saving acts.

For all time to come, God’s glorious name, or he as the bearer of the name associated with his awe-inspiring activity, should be blessed. His glory, magnificence, or splendor should fill the whole earth. “Amen and amen.” (“May it be; may it be,” LXX)


For verse 5, translations vary in following either the Masoretic Text or the Septuagint. “Let them fear You as long as the sun shines, while the moon lasts, generations on end.” (Tanakh) “May your people worship you as long as the sun shines, as long as the moon gives light, for ages to come.” (GNT, Second Edition) “May they respect you as long as the sun shines and as long as the moon glows.” (NCV) “He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations.” (NIV) “May he live as long as the sun endures, like the moon, through all generations.” (NAB) “May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.” (NRSV)

In the prophecy of Zechariah (9:9, 10), the coming Messiah is described as exercising the dominion referred to in Psalm 72:8. Therefore, in its fullest sense, Christ’s rule will reflect the absolute righteousness to which Psalm 72 refers.

In the Septuagint, the first part of verse 17 reads, “May his name be blessed forever [literally, into the ages]; before the sun, may his name abide.” The Greek word for “abide,” “endure,” or “continue” is diaméno and translates the Hebrew term nin, meaning “increase,” “propagate,” or “have descendants.” Translators commonly do not use such terms as “increase” in their renderings and variously translate the words about the sun as meaning either “before the sun” (the literal Hebrew reading being “to [the] face of the sun”) or “as long as the sun.” “May his name be blessed forever, and endure in the sight of the sun.” (NJB) “May his Name be age-abiding, in the presence of the sun, let his Name flourish.” (Rotherham) “May his name be eternal; while the sun lasts, may his name endure.” (Tanakh) “May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun.” (NIV)