Psalms 72:1-20 : Kingship and Fatherhood
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 2:00 AM

From Deuteronomy 17:

14 “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, take possession of it, live in it, and say, ‘We want to appoint a king over us like all the nations around us,’ 15 you are to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. Appoint a king from your brothers. You are not to set a foreigner over you, or one who is not of your people. 16 However, he must not acquire many horses for himself or send the people back to Egypt to acquire many horses, for the LORD has told you, ‘You are never to go back that way again. ‘ 17 He must not acquire many wives for himself so that his heart won’t go astray. He must not acquire very large amounts of silver and gold for himself. 18 When he is seated on his royal throne, he is to write a copy of this instruction for himself on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to remain with him, and he is to read from it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to observe all the words of this instruction, and to do these statutes. 20 Then his heart will not be exalted above his countrymen, he will not turn from this command to the right or the left, and he and his sons will continue ruling many years over Israel.

I did not know this was in Deuteronomy. From 1 Samuel 8, when it came to pass:

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

In Deuteronomy God fortells of the longing of a king. God’s kind of king. A king who purposefully reigns under and with God’s authority. In 1 Samuel, the people ask for a king, but what Samuel tells them they’ll get is not at all what God told them they should hope for in a king. Why the difference? Both passages talking about the desire for a king coming from the people because they want to be like other nations. It’s almost like the king described in Deuteronomy would be more of a loving, rulling judge than the warrior king described in 1 Samuel. Maybe this is the difference. I particularly noticed the last words in the Samuel Passage: we want a king to lead us and go out before us and fight our battles. They wanted a king to do their work for them. Even though Samuel told them that they’d be the people thrown to the front of the battlefield, that their women would basically be made slaves, and that their land, money, and possessions would be taxed and taken over. They wanted someone to do their work for them, and God originally wanted a King to rule over them in His authority… to represent Him.

As I think about this more, it starts to click. A leader is not simply a leader because he tells people what to do. He is a leader because he has authority; because he speaks on behalf of someone or something bigger than himself. This is how Jesus led. Not in his own power but that of his Father. Not in his own strength but in the power of the One who sent him. He is the kind of King predicted in Deuteronomy… he is THE king predicted in Deuteronomy.

I loved the Psalm for today as well, which is described as “a prayer for the king” in the HSB. It’s also described as relating to Solomon, so when I first read this, I thought maybe this was one of his wise sayings… an example – a picture – of the kind of King talked about in Deuteronomy.

1 God, give Your justice to the king

and Your righteousness to the king’s son. (B)

2 He will judge Your people with righteousness

and Your afflicted ones with justice. (C)

3 May the mountains bring prosperity [a] to the people,

and the hills, righteousness. (D)

4 May he vindicate the afflicted among the people,

help the poor,

and crush the oppressor. (E)

Here the prayer is for God’s justice to be given to the king… for His righteousness. For him to defend, not attack. To help, not oppress. As I read this, I thought… what a godly leader this would be! What a prayer this would be if we prayed this for our leaders, and if our leaders prayed this for themselves. And then I got to the last phrase in this psalm, and it HIT me.

The prayers of David son of Jesse are concluded.

This is not Solomon praying for himself. This is not the people praying for the king. This is a FATHER passing the mantle to his son. This is a blessing bestowed from father to son, from king to prince. These are David’s “final words.” As I read this I wonder how often the leaders we have – nation, state, organization, church, home – receive this kind of blessing and prayer from their fathers. No wonder so many of our leaders have lost their way; they didn’t know it in the first place or have it set / told / set upon them by those who preceded them!

What to do here? “Being Fathered” is a huge concept in my life, something I long to learn about and share, and honestly… to experience. I no longer look go my earthly dad for this, but still recognize that I need it – from “fill-the-gap” fathers here on earth, but ultimately, from my Heavenly Father. It’s so important, and here it is, put into words as David passes the mantle to his son in Psalms. As God declares what His King will be like in Deuteronomy.

Fathers, love your children. Raise them up your entire life to be your sons, but even more, to be God’s sons. Teach them the word. Bind it on your heart so that you can show them how to bind it onto theirs. Model it. Share it. Do it with them. And when the time comes for your last words, for your “final prayer,” may it be a blessing to those that follow you, a life well lived as a model for what a man chasing after God can do through him.