This psalm is a prayer for the king and his descendants, the Davidic kings. Some of the things prayed for were accomplished by some of the kings, but some are only accomplished by the Messiah.
Prayer for Justice
The title of the Psalm is “Of Solomon”. Normally, in Psalms, that would mean Solomon wrote it. We assume the psalms that say “of David” were written by him. However, it may be that the psalm was written by David for Solomon, asking God to bless Solomon specifically, and the following kings generally. The last verse of the psalm says it ends the psalms of David, which also seems to indicate that the psalm was written by David.
The first prayer is that God will give the king God’s justice and righteousness. If so, the king can judge the people of Israel with righteousness and treat the poor with justice. (2)
Justice, or justness, is an attribute of God. It is not so much about judging, as in a court, but with how people are treated. God is just because he cares about all people, and especially those who are powerless. The orphan, the widow, and the foreigner are often mentioned. Deuteronomy 10:18 says God executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner giving him food and clothing.
While we may favor the rich and successful or the beautiful, God cares equally for those who are none of these things.
The old covenant law reflected God’s character, requiring his people to act justly. God said, in the next verse in the passage we just looked at, that the Israelites were to love the sojourner, for they were sojourners in Egypt. The Egyptians did not treat the Israelites justly and God intervened to deliver them. He then expected that they act justly toward those who were as powerless in Israel and the Israelites had been in Egypt.
Israel’s king ruled as God’s representative and, therefore, had to be just and righteous. When the king was just and righteous, he led the people to act justly. When the nation acted justly, God blessed them. So, in verse 3, David prayed that prosperity would come to Israel because of their righteousness, living according to God’s law.
Jesus, the last and eternal king, mirrored the Father’s concern for the weak and powerless. When John’s disciples asked him if he was the Messiah, Jesus said to tell John “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them. (Luke 7:22-23) All those types of people have no way to help themselves. The Jewish culture regarded them mostly as inferior and sinful and to be avoided. But Jesus, the Messiah and King, care about them, and his care of them was a sign that he was indeed the Messiah.
David prayed that his kingly descendants would fear God forever, as long as the moon and sun endured. (5) They would obey God and prosper in peace to the benefit of the people.
Prayer for the King’s Dominion
David’s prayer was that the king’s dominion would not only extend in time, but also in territory. The king would have dominion from sea to sea. When God promised the land of Canaan to the Israelites, he promised them their borders would stretch from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, the Mediterranean Sea.
It also could be that David is actually praying for the king’s territory to cover the entire earth when he says from sea to sea. None of the Israelite kings experienced this expansion of territory. Eventually, King Jesus will do so. That is why the Great Commission is to take the gospel all over the world, to all nations. It is to spread Christ’s kingdom over all the earth.
Philippians 2:10-11 also tells us that on the Last Day every knee in heaven and earth and under the earth will bow to Jesus and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Jesus will fulfill David’s prayer that the Davidic descendants will have total dominion, will cause the desert tribes to bow down to him, and will receive tribute from powerful nations All kings will fall down before him and all nations will serve him. (11)
This is symbolized for us in the gospels when the Magi come from far away lands to see Jesus. They fall down and worshipped him, recognizing him as God. They give expensive gifts, recognizing the new born Jesus as king. (Mathew 2:11) They represent the kings from far away coming tp pay tribute to the Davidic King, in partial fulfillment of Psalm 72:10.
Then, it all comes to an amazing climax in Revelation 21:26, when the kings of the earth bring the glory and honor of the nations into the New Jerusalem and walk in the light of the glory of God.
Isaac Watts capture the thought of this psalm with his hymn “Jesus Shall Reign”. Here are the words:
Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
does its successive journeys run,
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.
2 To him shall endless prayer be made,
and praises throng to crown his head.
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
with every morning sacrifice.
3 People and realms of every tongue
dwell on his love with sweetest song,
and infant voices shall proclaim
their early blessings on his name.
4 Blessings abound where'er he reigns:
the prisoners leap to lose their chains,
the weary find eternal rest,
and all who suffer want are blest.
5 Let every creature rise and bring
the highest honors to our King,
angels descend with songs again,
and earth repeat the loud amen.
In verses 12-14, we again see that all of this comes because of the justice of the king, delivering the needy, the poor, and those without a helper, the powerless. He redeems those who are oppressed and subject to violence.
Prayer for Longevity and Prosperity
In these verses, David again prays that the king have a long life and great wealth. He prays that the king’s people will pray for him continually and invoke blessings for him. The king will lead the people in justice and righteousness and the people will respond with prayer and blessing.
David then echoes the promised blessings of the covenant, that grain would grow in abundance and the people would grow in number. In Leviticus 26, the blessing promised for obedience to the law included the land yielding it increase, or the abundance of grain. It also included the fruitfulness of the people to be multiplied in number. David is praying that the king would lead the people into obedience to the covenant, which is righteousness, so that they would experience the blessings promised by God. If so, his name would endure, or be known for ever, and the nations he ruled would call him blessed.
As new covenant believers, we know that our king, Jesus Christ, is just and righteous. By following and obeying him, we receive many blessings. Most of our blessings in this life are spiritual rather than physical. But, when God makes all things new, Jesus will reign over the perfect new creation, the new heavens and earth, and we will reign with him over all of it. There will be peace, sinlessness, love, fellowship, and the lack of any need.
Doxology: Praise of God’s Kingship
The psalmist closed his prayer with praise for God, blessing him because he had done wondrous things. He prayed that the whole earth would be filled with his glory. The people then say “amen and amen”, meaning that they confess these words are true. With them, we say “amend, come Lord Jesus”.
And that ends the psalms of David.