Psalm 72 – The King Worthy of Homage

I wrote yesterday about how the lectionary obliterated a bit of beautiful imagery.  It doesn’t do a great job with today’s response either, which is the middle-latter portion of Psalm 72.  The focus of this part of the Psalm is upon the king who is worthy of homage and dominion in verses 8-11.

Psalm 72:8-11

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
9 May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust.
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.
11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service (NRSV).

But, what is it that makes this king worthy of homage?  Why should “kings fall down before him” and “all nations give him service”?  Unfortunately, verse 11 is left out of today’s reading ruining a bit of the connection between 8-11 and 12-14.    At any rate, the answer to these two questions is found in verses 12-14.

Psalm 72:12-14

12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

The king is marked off as worthy of homage by his treatment of the poor, the needy, and the weak.  Now, I realize, of course, that I do not live in a kingdom and there is a pretty vast time span between my own time and that of the Bible.  And, I realize that verses 8-11 sound a bit imperialistic.  But, the underlying idea that the worth of a political leader is measured by his treatment of the poor is one, in my opinion, that is worthy of remembering.


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