|If you had the opportunity to pray for a world leader at the onset of their reign, what would you pray for? Would you pray for wisdom? Guidance? Steadfastness? Integrity? That wouldn’t be a bad prayer.
It’s believed Psalm 72 is part of a royal inaugural ceremony. There were no presidents in the ancient world. So, the psalm, then, directs its eagerness to the rule of a king. And it may not have been a one-off prayer. Many assume the psalm found its place in a yearly ceremony to celebrate a king.
If Psalm 72 is that kind of prayer, let’s consider how it might inform our living.
It begins by acknowledging what God can give to the king. In this case, that is justice and righteousness. God’s own justice and righteousness. If we haven’t studied this before, what these two terms signify may surprise us.
Justice is ensuring that all people have what they need to survive. That is God’s desire for humanity. Emphasizing all people helps us not forget God’s concern for those in need. We have a tendency of forgetting. A society that does not care for its poorest is not led by God’s justice. Whatever guiding principle it does have isn’t God’s. Again, the psalmist prayed, “Give the king your justice, O God.” Our sense of justice can change. God’s does not. Caring for the poor is a priority in God’s rule.
If you’re not quite sure how accurate that is, reread verses 4 and 12-14.
God’s righteousness relates to God’s will. The righteousness God gives us is to help us seek God’s will and follow God’s ways. Isn’t that why our discipleship is so important? Remember the prayer of Jesus: not my will but your will be done (Luke 22:42). Righteousness isn’t a religious act or even merely following a set of religious rules. It’s about truly walking in the way of the Lord.
The rest of the psalm looks forward to the blessings that follow when the king rules as God intends. We can hope the king enjoys a long life. There is a sense that the world is in order when the king follows God’s design. Everyone benefits and even everyone outside the kingdom notices.
Now, you and I may not be kings, but we are royalty. We don’t rule as kings and queens. But we do exert influence on the days we live. How we choose to live has bearing on the world around us. Often, it does so in ways we don’t always recognize.
As such, how willing are we to embody God’s way of ruling? Are you comfortable with God’s sense of justice and righteousness? Someone once said, “The church is a hospital for sinners and not a museum for saints.” I affirm that. It stands to reason, then, that part of our healing is (re)discovering how God’s ways bring us peace.
As the church, we need to be learning how to shape our ministries through the lens of God’s justice and righteousness. If we aren’t, whose will are we following?
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