Advent Devotional Day 10: Psalm 72
Crown Him the Lord of Heav’n
May He have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! May desert tribes bow before Him, and his enemies lick the dust! May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and bring gifts! May all kings fall down before Him, all nations serve Him! (Psalm 72.8-11)
Psalm 72 is a song that is often debated in relation to whether it is Messianic (pointing to the Messiah) or not. This is clearly a Psalm that David himself wrote as a prayer for the reign of his son Solomon. That is its immediate context. Like so many other prophetic passages though, we see that passages about Davidic Kings and people in the line of promise often reach forward into the future past their immediate target and pull in the realities of who the Messiah will be. This shouldn’t surprise us because “all Scripture is breathed out by God.” (2 Tim. 3.16) Since God is the One telling this story, He can and does set up figures (Like David and Solomon) who serve as types of the greater One who is coming. When we have passages dealing with the types, often times the future realities of the antitype get pulled in and wrapped up in the same texts as a foreshadowing of His great work. That is precisely what is happening in this song that David wrote about his son Solomon.
David is praying for a peaceful and prosperous reign for his son, but the reign of his son never had the possibility of being everything that this Psalm anticipates. Solomon ruled over the largest kingdom the nation of Israel had ever seen. (1 Kings 4) Famous rulers from other nations came to him and marveled at his kingdom. (1 Kings 10) However, the universality, power, and infinite blessing of the kingdom pictured in Psalm 72 reaches far beyond the boundaries of Solomon’s Israel. Indeed, this kingdom reaches to the “ends of the earth.” The surrounding nations marveled at Solomon’s greatness, but the power with which the king in Psalm 72 subdues and brings His enemies into submission could never be said of Solomon. This prayer is anticipatory. This prayer longs for a greater Solomon.
Jesus came to have “dominion from sea to sea.” He is the one who conquers from “the river to the ends of the earth.” His enemies “lick the dust.” If we have the plot-line from Genesis still fresh in our minds, what is part of God’s curse on the serpent? “On your belly you shall go, and the dust you shall eat, all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3.14) So in this Psalm we see the story advance even further! This Solomon-like King is the One who brings total victory over God’s enemies with Satan at their helm. He does so universally, completely, and eternally. This is the Seed-promise, that great Gospel promise, being worked out through the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, and Solomon. If you were to study the rest of this Psalm you would see that this reign of the Messiah is one of universal peace, prosperity, fruitfulness, and abundant blessing for all nations. This Psalm is a picture of all nations bowing before the Messiah as He stands at their helm in total victory and glory. The Messiah fills the “whole earth with His glory.” (Psalm 72.19)
What did the Child in the manger come to do? He came to rule. Who did the Child in the manger come for? He came for the nations. He bought them and has the right to rule over them, and one day that universal reign of the Lord Jesus Christ will be brought to full and final fruition as He appears in glory. There is a reason that Satan tempted the Lord Jesus in the wilderness by showing Him the kingdoms of the world, saying: “All these I will give to you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4.9) Why was this one of the temptations of the Lord? Why the kingdoms of the earth? Because they are precisely what He came for. However, there was a cross in between. He was born of a virgin to purchase the nations with His blood and bring them into His New Creation. He rose from the grave and ascended on high as the King of kings and Lord of lords. His universal reign that He possesses now will one day be made manifest publicly. In that day, the virgin-born Son of David and Son of God will bring to pass what is written in Psalm 72.