72: 1 Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son.
“The king” and “the king’s son” probably apply to the same person; by calling the king “the king’s son,” the psalmist emphasizes his right to rule. Note that this psalm begins with a plea to God to help the king.
2 He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.
Note the references to “thy people” and “thy poor.” These are not the king’s people; they are God’s people. The king’s leadership is simply a stewardship over God’s children. Note also that the poor are of special concern. Finally, note that “judge” means “render judgment for.” In other words, not judge in the sense of “determine if they are guilty or innocent” but judge in the sense of “judge in their favor.”
3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.
It is “by righteousness” on the part of the king that peace is brought to the land.
4 He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.
Again, “judge” is “render judgment in favor of.” The point is that the king is to be sure that the needs of the poor/weak are met. This is described as one of his key responsibilities. It isn’t enough to help the poor, but those who oppress them can’t be ignored but must be put down. The idea–the radical idea–is that the way that a king can (and should) make a name for himself is by caring for the poor and taking care of their oppressors.
5 They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.
6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.
The king is the “he.” The idea is that, as he judges in righteousness, he will make the land bountiful.
7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
V7, with its echo of v5, implies that the king’s actions of protecting the weak will have an impact far beyond his own day.
8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
It is fairly amazing that expansion of the king’s kingdom is not by military conquests but rather by caring for the weak.
9 They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.
10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
12 For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.
The “for” has the force of “because,” meaning that the submission of other nations described in v8-11 happens because the king delivers the poor and the needy. Wow! Normally we think of foreign nations being taken over by force (does that sound like God’s plan to you?), but it is easy to imagine foreign nations being wooed by a stable, prosperous society. (I’ve heard it said that the best judge of the health of a nation is how many people try to sneak out or sneak in.) The idea is that if the king takes care of the weak, the country will be prosperous, and other nations will want to submit to the king. What a radical idea!
13 He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.
“Souls” should probably be translated as lives, since it is the king that we are talking about here.
14 He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
Second phrase: What is (should be) important to a king? What is precious/valuable in his sight? The term itself is an economic one and thus expects an economic answer. The answer in this psalm is: the poor. I think this is a way of saying that the king sees them as God sees them–in other words, he values the lives of the poor and the weak. In thinking about this: reasonable people might disagree about the most effective way to help children stuck in inner city schools, for example, but I think this psalm makes clear that to be an effective leader and to have a prosperous nation, you are obligated to help them. Not caring about the weak is not an option for a righteous ruler.
15 And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised.
16 There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
17 His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.
18 Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.
19 And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.