The Enduring Name of the King
“May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!” (v. 17).- Psalm 72:12–20
As we saw in our study of Psalm 72:1–11, the fact that the people were to pray for the king of Israel demonstrates, by implication, how much we need to intercede for all our rulers. If the ancient king of Israel, who had unique advantages as the representative of God’s chosen nation, needed prayer, how much more do secular leaders need the prayers of the Lord’s people to exercise their vocations in a way that will benefit their subjects? Yet as Psalm 72 was originally written for and about the Davidic king, we cannot miss the specific concerns that this psalm has for the monarchy of Israel.
We note in today’s passage that Solomon has confidence that the prayers offered for the king in vv. 1–11 will be answered. Having prayed for God to give the king His justice and that the king would defend the cause of the helpless, Solomon in vv. 12–14 speaks as if these requests have been fulfilled or are sure to be fulfilled. In light of the failures of David, Solomon, and the best of their descendants, we must view these verses prophetically. That is, they reveal truths that find their consummate expression in the Messiah. The king of whom Solomon speaks is the perfect king revealed in Isaiah 9:1–7, the one whose throne is established and upheld “with justice and with righteousness.” The name of this king will endure forever (Ps. 72:17a). Under the greater light of the new covenant, we understand that this king can be none other than Jesus Christ, for the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ—and He shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15). John Calvin comments, “It properly applies to the kingdom of Christ; and although that kingdom often totters upon the earth when assailed with the furious hatred of the whole world, and battered by the most formidable engines of Satan, it is yet wonderfully upheld and sustained by God, that it may not altogether fail.”
Importantly, today’s passage also reveals that God’s promises to Abraham find their fulfillment in the Messiah. The Lord promised Abraham that He would bless all the families of the earth through him (Gen. 12:1–3), and Psalm 72:17b calls for all the nations of the world to bless the Messiah and to find blessing in the King of kings and Lord of lords. This is possible only because God Himself will be with the Messiah and through this chosen instrument will show His glory to the world (vv. 18–19). In fact, Christ Himself is the glory of God, and in the incarnate Son of God we have knowledge of the divine glory (2 Cor. 4:4).
God in His providence raises up governments to protect the welfare of their citizens and to maintain peace and justice. However, we know that even the best rulers do not fulfill this task perfectly and that the Lord allows many to come to power who have no interest in justice. This, of course, is finally for the good of His people and for His glory (Rom. 8:28), but the failures of earthly leaders point us to the only king who will never fail—Jesus Christ. May we look to His reign above all else.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 15:20–28
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