Psalm 72 is a blessing for the king. It’s also a job description for the king. Psalm 72 asks God to give the king the qualities the king is supposed to have. We don’t have kings anymore, but we do have political leaders. If what God wants in a king then is also what God wants in a political leader now, then Psalm 72 is a timeless standard for all leaders and it’s a good guide for us as we choose our leaders.
Psalm 72 prays for the oversight of the godly leader to be one of justice, righteousness, and concern for the poor. The Psalm begins by praying: O God, grant the king, our leader, the one who is in authority your justice and your righteousness. In other words, God, enable our leaders to do what they’re supposed to do.
Give our political leadership your justice (your commitment to do what is right) and your righteousness (your inherent goodness). Help us, the people who are led by your godly leader, to flourish and prosper (v. 3, 16). And help those who are struggling receive the additional care they need to flourish.
Psalm 72 asks God to give us leadership that: brings justice to the poor (v. 2); defends the poor (v.4a); delivers the needy (v. 4b); and opposes those who afflict the needy (v. 4b). Verses 12-14 say that the godly leader cares for the most vulnerable and protects them from those who would prey upon them.
Psalm 72 asks heaven’s blessings – and our prayers – for God’s good leader to have health, honor, happiness, prosperity, and peace (v. 15-17). Psalm 72 asks God to prosper us, too, so that we flourish. So that we are protected from foreign adversaries and predatory neighbors.
Psalm 72 says that a good leader is like rain (v. 6) that causes us, the people, to flourish and blossom like grain in the field (v. 16). Psalm 72 ends with praise for God from whom all blessings flow (v. 18-19). May God be blessed; may our leaders be blessed; may we be blessed. This is a good vision. It shows us what we can expect when our leaders lead us by following God and by honoring God’s ways.
Now, no human leader has ever fully lived up to this vision. No society, no political party, and no nation has either. The history of the kings in the Bible is mostly a story of their failure to honor God’s will and way. Nonetheless, this good vision set forth in Psalm 72 should still be the goal for our nation – and every nation. And every leader – from county commissioners on up.
Currently, there’s a lot of cynicism, division, and despair – and rightly so. 2020 has been brutal. There’s social unrest, economic trouble, and a worldwide pandemic. But God is still at work. God’s vision still holds true. God is still raising up good men and women to lead us. They are all imperfect; they have differing views of how to promote the common good; but they have all offered to serve – and for that, they all deserve our thanks and our prayers.
As you exercise your right to vote, you fulfill your civic duty to care for our community, state, and nation. And you also fulfill your heavenly duty to care for God’s world by securing good leadership for it and us.
Keep Psalm 72’s good vision before you as choose who is worthy to lead. May God bless all in positions of authority according to the words and wisdom of this psalm. May God guide us as we vote and may God bless America.