In the New American Standard translation of the Bible, directly under Psalm 72, there is the statement, “The Reign of the Righteous King. A Psalm of Solomon”. Although the subtitles are not considered inspired, several commentators maintain that Solomon was the writer, and that it was written in the early part of his reign. Still others believe the author was David writing to Solomon.
Regardless of the author, the words and the tone of the psalm points to an enthusiasm for the Lord. There is the feeling of real commitment to the Lord and His will. The main themes are justice, help, and righteousness, and all of these things were found in the early days of Solomon’s reign as king of Israel.
The account of the beginning of Solomon as king is familiar to any student of the Bible. The Lord told him that He would give him anything that he wished. Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom to rule wisely. Because of his unselfish request, the Lord bestowed upon Solomon glory and riches.
Oh, how wonderful must have been the early days of that reign! A godly king, prosperous lands, secure borders, and a just government made Israel a true jewel in the ancient world. After the temple had been built in all of it’s great beauty, the Jewish people probably thought that all would be well with them forever.
However, the situation began to slowly change. As Solomon took for himself more and more wives, and as they turned his head toward idolatry, the enthusiasm began to wane, and the bright light of godly attitudes and conduct began to darken. Finally, at the end of Solomon’s rule, the people were burdened by harsh taxes, the land was again infected with pagan worship, and the people had turned from the Lord. With Solomon’s death, the kingdom would be divided and the world would never see such a kingdom again.
How tragic, and yet, how true of the ways of mankind. Invariably, every good thing and beautiful thing is corrupted by sin. Many individual lives are given to the Lord with joy and thanksgiving, but the distractions of the world are not cast off, the seed of the spirit is sown in shallow soil, or soil is choked by weeds and the pull of the world slowly begins to corrupt that commitment to the Lord. What was a promising beginning gradually fades away.
Although the psalm described the aspirations of the young reign of Solomon, the words also point to another king and another reign – that of Jesus Christ. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the psalmist was looking beyond the reign of his day to the future when the promises would not turn to dust, and the kingdom would last forever. The only way anything can remain pure is to protect it from the corruption of sin. In Jesus Christ, sin is defeated and those that are added to the kingdom can have the real hope of everlasting life with God,
There is an important lesson as people look for answers and a place of refuge. Today, many apparent religious leaders say, “Follow me and I will tell you what to do and keep you safe. If you join me, you will have no more worries”. Political leaders promise to “take care” of those less fortunate. But people that fall for the words of men will be disappointed, because worldly leaders cannot give such assurance.
Only one person has PROVEN that He deserves the worship and trust of mankind – Jesus Christ the Son of God. Only Jesus voluntarily died on the cross for the sins of the world. Only Jesus arose from the grave and ascended into heaven to show that sin and death have been conquered. Only Jesus has opened the door to the hope of eternal life,
Solomon, with all of his wisdom, failed. Today, any who try to put themselves in a position of authority will also fail. Only in Jesus Christ can people truly trust in what is promised. Only Jesus Christ has been given all authority. The psalmist pointed to the future – today Christians see the fulfillment of that promise. <Jim Shelburn>