Thursday, December 13, 2012
Sermon on Psalm 72, for Advent 2 Midweek, "The Righteous King"
The Psalm is titled: “Of Solomon” and may have been used at the coronation, or crowning of King Solomon or other kings of Judah. Historically Solomon received the gold of Sheba, described in vs. 10 & 15, when the Queen of Sheba visited him. Also in other ways this Psalm is a prayer of blessing and description of his reign. Solomon’s name means “peace” and his reign was certainly one of peace. But he ultimately only foreshadows the greater rule of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the royal Son of God, the glory of whose greater reign eclipses Solomon’s lesser rule. So as we consider this Psalm, we’ll focus not on Solomon’s role as foreshadow, but on the purest fulfillment in Christ the King.
V. 1-4, Jesus is the Royal Son, the Only Begotten Son of God, who rules with God’s own justice and righteousness. These are repeatedly described as the hallmarks of His rule. It’s necessary that He drive oppression and wickedness away, and help the poor and needy. Our vision of what kingship means probably has more to do with catering to the rich and the powerful, than to being the helper to the poor and the oppressed. But in Christ’s kingdom, it’s the poor and the humble who will be exalted and find help from the King. The Holy Spirit “anointed [Jesus] to proclaim good news to the poor. He [was sent] to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19).
V. 5-7, Today many commentators in the media criticize the idea of “trickle-down economics.” But here, we have one real example of that happening—where the overflowing bounty and goodness of Jesus as the righteous King, would “trickle-down”—no, better, pour down like showers of rain upon the earth. And instead of “trickling down” from a few rich to the many poor, these blessings pour down from the One Righteous King Jesus to the many needy sinners. Prosperity and blessing for the righteous would follow His rule. Where wickedness had parched the land like a spiritual desert, now in the righteous reign of Jesus, the righteous would flourish and the land would be blessed with plenty. Forgiveness of sins overflows like a fountain to all who come to Jesus, the Living Water.
No earthly king, president, or emperor ever had a reign that matches the description of verse 8: “May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!” No earthly ruler will ever rule the entire earth. But Christ alone as King, is ruler of all the nations. In Psalm 2, the Father tells the Son, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” It goes on to describe His rule, and that the kings of the earth and all people would be wise to serve Him, and to take refuge in Him. Jesus, as King, will one day stand in judgment over all the earth. Christ’s reign already exists in every nation in every heart that believes and confesses Him as Lord. His reign continues to spread as the Word of His Gospel goes out to all the ends of the earth, to every nation and every tongue. One day, when He returns, every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. All kings will fall down before Him, all nations serve Him. No corner of creation will fail to submit to Him—and when He finally destroys the last enemy—death—then everything will be in subjection to Jesus, who in turn will place all things in subjection to the Father, so that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:20-28).
V. 9-15, For all who are poor and needy, for those who have no other helper and nowhere to turn, we rejoice to have such a Savior and friend as Jesus. For those who by their wickedness set themselves as enemies of God—those who oppress the poor or the righteous—they will lick the dust, just like the serpent in the garden. The oppressor will be crushed, just as God promised to crush the head of the serpent who deceived in the Garden of Eden. Kings from foreign lands would render this righteous and just King tribute and bring Him gifts at His birth. Wise men or Magi from the East would lay gold, frankincense, and myrrh as precious gifts before the child Jesus, born to be a King.
Jesus made His place with the lowly from His very birth, coming to humble shepherds and being born in a manger. His heart is always near to the weak and needy, and “precious is their blood in His sight.” Countless kings and tyrants the world over have shed the blood of common men like water; whether their enemies, slaves, or even their own foot soldiers. Many rulers lived with the brutal opinion that “life is cheap.” They traded the lives of thousands or even millions—or even one single innocent life—for greed or power. This is the very opposite of the just rule that Christ comes to bring. In His kingdom, even the lowliest person is of precious worth to Him. In His kingdom there are no “untouchables”, no outcasts, no lepers, no one whose life is cheap to Him. Rather, the lowliest are nearest to His heart—the child, the poor, the broken-hearted. He is the King we long for, the One whose name we bless continually. His Name to us is Love.
V. 16-20, His reign alone, unlike all other kings, is not bounded by the shortness of His earthly life—not a short generation after which we will look back on the “golden age” of bygone years. Rather, His reign is forever, as He lives forever before God. His resurrection from the dead seals His immortal reign on the throne of David forever. He is the One in whom all nations will be blessed, in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. He lives forever to pour down His blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation on all who put their trust in Him. Truly in Jesus Christ, all the promises and blessings of God coalesce and find their perfect fulfillment. This is the work of the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Jesus is at work spreading the glory of His name, and the greatness of His reign through all the earth. For this King and His Righteous reign, our hearts long this Advent season! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.