A Royal Son

Scripture Reading

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment. 

The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.

Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
(Psalm 72:1-2,3-4, 7-8,17)


Scripture Study

72:1. “Justice” or “righteousness” is an attribute connected with the saving power of God (cf. Ps 9:4, 7; 19:9; etc.). Use is made of expressions “king” and “royal son”, which mean the same thing, to underline the principle of dynastic legitimacy.
72:2–4. The king shares in God’s saving power, which comes from on high (v. 3; cf. Is 45:8; 55:12), when he cries out in defense of the poor (vv. 3–4).
72:5–8. A reign as good as the one described here should last forever; it falls like rain to make the earth fruitful. Its fruits are righteousness (v. 7; cf. Hos 6:3). Instead of “may he live” (v. 5), which is how the Septuagint translates it, the Hebrew text says “may they fear thee”; the Greek text has made the correction to improve the sense. The desires expressed about the extent of the kingdom are in line with the boundaries mentioned in the promises (cf. Zech 9:10; Sir 44:22)—from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth (cf. Gen 15:18).
72:15–17. These acclamations serve to round off the prayer for the king, desiring that he should continue to be prayed for (v. 15), that the country should have good things in plenty during his reign (v. 16) and that he himself would be praised the world over (v. 17; cf. Gen 12:3).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Psalm 72 is a prayer for the anointed king asking that God bring about his rule on earth through the reign of the king. It looks and hopes for a new era created by God through the person of the king. But Christians have always known that they can pray this psalm in its fullness only for the heir of David who was Jesus of Nazareth.

Through him the God of the universe has already bestowed righteousness, peace, and victory upon those who find in him the nearness of the reign of God. For them, the prayer is a form of petition for the consummation of the kingdom of God. The conclusion of the psalm turns its attention to the One who alone does marvelous things. It reminds the reader that it is the God of Israel who alone will be forever praised and whose glory will fill the whole earth.

– James L. Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 



[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 246–248.