Verse 20. "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended. " - This was most probably the last Psalm he ever wrote. There may be several in the after part of this book which were written by him; but they were probably composed in a former period of his life, for this was the end of the poetic prayers of David the son of Jesse. Those that were found afterwards have got out of their proper connection.
ANALYSIS OF THE SEVENTY-SECOND PSALM
David being near his death, makes his prayer for his son Solomon, that he may be a just, peaceable, and great king, and his subjects happy under his government. But this is but the shell of the Psalm: the kernel is Christ and his kingdom, under whom righteousness, peace, and felicity shall flourish, and unto whom all nations shall do homage for ever and ever.
The parts of this Psalm are the following, wiz.: - I. The petition, ver. 1.
II. The general declaration of the qualities of this kingdom, ver. 2-4.
III. The particular unfolding of these in their effects, ver. 4-18.
IV. The doxology, ver. 18-20.
I. David, being taught by experience how hard a matter it is to govern a kingdom well, prays God to assist his son Solomon, to whom, being near death, he was to leave his crown and scepter.
1. "Give the king thy judgments, O God;" the true knowledge of thy law.
2. "And thy righteousness unto the king's son;" that he may not decline to the right or left hand, but administer by justice, judge for God.
II. For then this will follow: - 1. Justice will flourish in his kingdom: "He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment." 2. And peace also, and prosperity: "The mountains," that is, the chief magistrates; "and the little hills," - the lesser officers, shall bring peace to the people: but "by righteousness," for justice upholds the world.
III. And now he proceeds to unfold himself upon the two former generals: first, justice; then, peace.
Of justice he assigns two effects: - 1. The defense of good men: "He shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy." 2. The punishment of the wicked: "He shall break in pieces the oppressor." The consequences of peace are: - 1. Fear, and reverence, and the service of God: "They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations." 2. Plenty and abundance: "He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth." 3. Prosperity of good men: "In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth." Now he shows the greatness and amplitude of this kingdom, which will not be so true of Solomon as of Christ and his kingdom.
1. His kingdom will be very large: "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." 2. His subjects shall be many. Some willingly, others against their will, shall obey him: "They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him. His enemies shall lick the dust," - crouch at his feet.
3. Homage shall be done to him by Asiatic, European, and Arabian princes. 1. "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents, the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts." 2. "Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him." He sets down many excellent qualities of this king:
1. He should be ready to do good; a gracious lord to the meanest subject: "For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also. and him that hath no helper." 2. He should be far from loading his subjects with exactions: "He shall spare the poor and shall save the souls of the needy." 3. Far from all tyranny: "He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence." 4. Far from shedding innocent blood: "And precious shall their blood be in his sight." And as he shall be kind and loving to his subjects, so shall his subjects show great love and affection to him.
1. They shall pray for his life: "He shall live." 2. And they shall offer him presents: "And to him shall be given of the gold of Arabia." 3. They shall pray for him: "Prayer also shall be made for him continually." 4. They shall speak well of him: "Daily shall he be praised." And that which would induce them to it might be, that besides the equity and justice, love and kindness he showed to all, they find that under him they enjoy great plenty and abundance of all things.
1. For the earth brought forth corn, and the mountains afforded them an ample harvest: "There shall be a handful of corn in the earth, upon the top (the highest part) of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake (stand so thick that the ears shall brush one against another) as the trees in Lebanon." 2. The kingdom shall abound in people: "They of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth," which is thick and green. In a word, the king shall be dear to his people; and they shall love his name when living, and honour him when dead, and continue it to all posterities.
1. "His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun." 2. "Men shall be blessed in him." God shall bless thee, as he did Solomon.
3. "All nations shall call him blessed." Acknowledge his happiness, and wish a blessing to themselves after Solomon's example.
IV. In the close of the Psalm, as visual, he gives thanks for taking into consideration the happiness that was to accrue to his people under such a king, even when he was laid in the grave. He breaks forth, I. "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things;" for indeed such a king is a wonder, and it is the grace of God must make him such.
2. And again: "Blessed be his glorious name for ever." 3. And that not in Judea alone, but in all the world: "And let the whole world be filled with his glory. Amen, amen."The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended." Of which some, indeed most, judge this was the last prayer David made. See the notes at the end of the Psalm With the seventy-second Psalm the SECOND BOOK of the Psalter ends, according to the division of the Jewish Masoretes. The THIRD BOOK commences with a series, chiefly composed by other inspired writers.
THE following poetical version of some of the principal passages of the foregoing Psalm was made and kindly given me by my much respected friend, James Montgomery, Esq., of Sheffield. I need not tell the intelligent reader that he has seized the spirit, and exhibited some of the principal beauties, of the Hebrew bard; though, to use his own words in his letter to me, his "hand trembled to touch the harp of Zion." I take the liberty here to register a wish, which I have strongly expressed to himself, that he would favour the Church of God with a metrical version of the whole book.
Hail to the Lord's Anointed, Great David's greater Son! Hail! In the time appointed, His reign on earth begun! He comes to break oppression, To let the captive free, To take away transgression, And reign In equity.
He comes with succour speedy To those who suffer wrong; To help the poor and needy, And bid the weak be strong; To give them songs for sighing, Their darkness turn to light, Whose souls, in misery dying, Were precious in his sight.
By such shall he be feared While sun and moon endure, Beloved, adored, revered, For he shall judge the poor, Through changing generations, With justice, mercy, truth, While stars maintain their stations, And moons renew their youth.
He shall come down like showers Upon the fruitful earth, And joy, and hope, like flowers, Spring in his path to birth: Before him, on the mountains, Shall Peace, the herald, go, And righteousness, in fountains, From hill to valley flow.
Arabia's desert-ranger To him shall bow the knee; The Ethiopian stranger His glory come to see: With offerings of devotion, Ships from the isles shall meet To pour the wealth of ocean In tribute at his feet.
Kings shall fall down before him, And gold and incense bring; All nations shall adore him, His praise all people sing: For he shall have dominion O'er river, sea, and shore, Far as the eagle's pinion, Or dove's light wing, can soar.
For him shall prayer unceasing, And daily vows, ascend; His kingdom still increasing,_ A kingdom without end; The mountain-dews shall nourish A need in weakness sown, Whose fruit shall spread and flourish And shake like Lebanon.
O'er every foe victorious, He on his throne shall rest, From age to age more glorious,_ All-blessing, and all-blest: The tide of time shall never His covenant remove; His name shall stand for ever, His name what is it?-LOVE.