Psalm 72 – Shame on the Lectionary

Psalm 72 is the responsorial for today and the lectionary successfully obliterates the imagery of verses 6 and 7.  Here’s how the lectionary reading looks online.

Psalm 72 in the Lectionary

Responsorial Psalm
72:1-2, 3-4, 7-8
R.  (see 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
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.
R.        Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
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.
R.        Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
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.
R.        Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

You’ll notice from the numbering that verses 5 and 6 are omitted between verses 4 and 7.  But, this absolutely ruins beautiful imagery between verses 6 and 7.  Notice that justice shall “flower” in the days of the king.  But, why is it flowering?

Psalm 72:6

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. (Psa 72:6 NRSV)

“Justice” … or “the righteous” … or “abundance” dependent on your translation is flowers/flourishes if the king is like a refreshing shower that waters the earth.  How can he be like a refreshing shower?  Maybe we go back to verses 1 and 4 … when he has received the gift of right judgment from the Lord (vs. 1) … when he defends the oppressed, delivers the poor and crushes the oppressor.

I usually love having a lectionary to read from, but I think today it obliterates some of the connections and beauty in the imagery.


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