Throughout book 2 of the Psalms, the psalmists have gone through several trials and tribulations, bringing them through phases of despair; of persecution; of drought; of the pits; meanwhile still praising His Holy Name, still recognising that only He is the author of our salvation, only He is worthy, and He will crush the enemy.
This book ends with David, however, praising someone other than the Father in heaven. The sub-title for this chapter says “A Psalm of Solomon”. The assumption is that this is a prophecy regarding David’s immediate son. However, there are hallmarks of David’s prophecy which seem to be looking beyond Solomon.
David starts with asking God to give the ‘king’ your judgments. Could a king actually render God’s judgments, when (see v. 18) He alone works wonders and is ‘blessed’? Yet, throughout this chapter, Solomon repeats:
- May he (the king) judge Your people with righteousness (v2)
- May he judge Your afflicted with justice (v2)
- May he vindicated the afflicted of the people (v4)
- May he save the children of the needy and crush the oppressor (v4)
- May he come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth (v6)
- May the righteous flourish in his days (v7)
- May he also rule from sea to sea, and from River to the ends of the earth (v8)
- Let all kings bow down before him and all nations serve him (v11)
- He will deliver the needy when he cries for help (v12)
- He will have compassion on the poor and needy and the lives of the needy He will save (v13)
- He will rescue their life from oppression and violence
- So may he live, and may the gold of Sheba be given to him (vv10, 15)
One can see the progression – from one of want to one of declaration. Solomon wants this king to be the God-Man on earth; nay, he declares that this king will be the God-Man on earth.
Thus the chapter ends with the implication of when this God-Man is on earth. That his name will endure forever, such that men can bless themselves by him, and all nations call him blessed (v17). The word ‘bless’ and ‘blessed’ respectively used in vv 15 and 17 are different. The former in Hebrew is barak, meaning to bless, kneel, salute or greet. It has been used when blessing God (see Gen 9:26), but also in blessing men (see Numbers 24:9), a word used intensively when God blesses people. The latter in Hebrew is ashar/asher, i.e. a verb primarily used causatively, to call one blessed, figuratively meaning to follow a straight path in understanding.
Vv.18-19 interchange immediately to God being the Blessed One, and let His glorious name endure forever. It is no mistake that Solomon immediately transfers from praising the king whose name shall last forever, and by whose name men would be blessed and that all nations would call him blessed, to God Himself. Solomon here clearly recognises that this prophetic king is God Himself. Solomon however does not appear to be describing the throne of David figuratively; he seems to envisage a real, human person, who will bear the attributes of God and that God, through him, would achieve a global salvation, justice and transformation like no other.
Spurgeon says this about the chapter:
We may apply it to Christ; not that he who intercedes for us needs us to intercede for him; but, 1. It is a prayer of the Old Testament church for sending the Messiah, as the church’s King, King on the holy hill of Zion, of whom the King of kings had said, Thou art my Son, Psa 2:6, Psa 2:7. “Hasten his coming to whom all judgment is committed;” and we must thus hasten the second coming of Christ, when he shall judge the world in righteousness.2. It is an expression of the satisfaction which all true believers take in the authority which the Lord Jesus has received from the Father: “Let him have all power both in heaven and earth, and be the Lord our righteousness; let him be the great trustee of divine grace for all that are his; give it to him, that he may give it to us.”
This is a prophecy of the prosperity and perpetuity of the kingdom of Christ under the shadow of the reign of Solomon. It comes in, 1. As a plea to enforce the prayer: “Lord, give him thy judgments and thy righteousness, and then he shall judge thy people with righteousness, and so shall answer the end of his elevation, Psa 72:2. Give him thy grace, and then thy people, committed to his charge, will have the benefit of it.” Because God loved Israel, he made him king over them to do judgment and justice, 2Ch 9:8. We may in faith wrestle with God for that grace which we have reason to think will be of common advantage to his church. 2. As an answer of peace to the prayer. As by the prayer of faith we return answers to God’s promises of mercy, so by the promises of mercy God returns answers to our prayers of faith. That this prophecy must refer to the kingdom of the Messiah is plain, because there are many passages in it which cannot be applied to the reign of Solomon. There was indeed a great deal of righteousness and peace, at first, in the administration of his government; but, before the end of his reign, there were both trouble and unrighteousness. The kingdom here spoken of is to last as long as the sun, but Solomon’s was soon extinct. Therefore even the Jewish expositors understand it of the kingdom of the Messiah.
The Lord Jesus shall reign for ever, and of him only this must be understood, and not at all of Solomon. It is Christ only that shall be feared throughout all generations (Psa 72:5) and as long as the sun and moon endure,Psa 72:7. 1. The honour of the princes is immortal and shall never be sullied (Psa 72:17): His name shall endure for ever, in spite of all the malicious attempts and endeavours of the powers of darkness to eclipse the lustre of it and to cut off the line of it; it shall be preserved; it shall be perpetuated; it shall be propagated. As the names of earthly princes are continued in their posterity, so Christ’s in himself. Filiabitur nomen ejus – His name shall descend to posterity. All nations, while the world stands, shall call him blessed, shall bless God for him, continually speak well of him, and think themselves happy in him. To the end of time, and to eternity, his name shall be celebrated, shall be made use of; every tongue shall confess it and every knee shall bow before it. 2. The happiness of the people if universal too; it is complete and everlasting: Men shall be blessed, truly and for ever blessed, in him. This plainly refers to the promise made unto the fathers that in the Messiah all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Gen 12:3.
We shall see how earnest David is in this prayer, and how much his heart is in it, if we observe, 1. How he shuts up the prayer with a double seal: “Amen and amen; again and again I say, I say it and let all others say the same, so be it. Amen to my prayer; Amen to the prayers of all the saints to this purport – Hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come.” 2. How he ever shuts up his life with this prayer, Psa 72:20. This was the last psalm that ever he penned, though not placed last in this collection; he penned it when he lay on his death-bed, and with this he breathes his last: “Let God be glorified, let the kingdom of the Messiah be set up, and kept up, in the world, and I have enough, I desire no more. With this let the prayers of David the son of Jesse be ended. Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.””
Indeed – Amen. If we breathe our last and the words we leave to this world before new creation is an ounce of David’s last chapter, then God indeed shall have the last word.