When God tells Solomon, Psalm 72's author, that he will grant him any desire, Solomon makes a stunning reply: “Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong” (1 Kings 3:9).

And yet during his reign, Solomon developed a desire for riches that eclipsed his hunger for God. While he spent seven long years building a magnificent temple to the Lord (1 Kg 6:38), he spent nearly twice as long building his own palace (7:1). His ruthless use of slave labor helped him amass untold wealth (9:15). The pure weight of gold and splendor Solomon brought to himself made him the richest king on earth (10:23).

Unsurprisingly, this didn’t end well for the king. He let his lust for power and domination lead him away from God (11:3, 10). In the end, God humbled his kingdom (11:39), and spared but a remnant, upholding his promise to David (11:34).

Reading Psalm 72 with eyes of Advent, we immediately recognize the king that Solomon describes. We can immediately see what king would judge God’s people in righteousness, His afflicted ones with justice (Psalm 72:1). The king that saves the children and needy and crushes the oppressor (v. 4), that rescues the weak from oppression and violence (v. 14), is not Solomon himself. Indeed, it is no earthly king. For not even the king endowed with wisdom directly by God can overcome the hunger for ultimate splendor.

No, the King we desire, that we need, was born among the lowly in a nowhere town. For want of a crib, he was placed in a feeding trough. This king would rule not with an iron fist, but a bleeding hand, the king all nations would call blessed (Ps 72:17, Lk 1:48).

Let us pray.

God, grant us hearts to seek the splendor of your kingdom rather than our own.


Nick Cox

Psalm 72