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Psalm 72 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Psalm 72

Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King

Of Solomon.

Give the king your justice, O God,
    and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
    and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
    and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,
    and crush the oppressor.

May he live[a] while the sun endures,
    and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
    like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
    and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

May he have dominion from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May his foes[b] bow down before him,
    and his enemies lick the dust.
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
    render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
    bring gifts.
11 May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations give him service.

12 For he delivers the needy when they call,
    the poor and those who have no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
    and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
    and precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live!
    May gold of Sheba be given to him.
May prayer be made for him continually,
    and blessings invoked for him all day long.
16 May there be abundance of grain in the land;
    may it wave on the tops of the mountains;
    may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
    like the grass of the field.
17 May his name endure forever,
    his fame continue as long as the sun.
May all nations be blessed in him;[c]
    may they pronounce him happy.

18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous things.
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;
    may his glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen.

20 The prayers of David son of Jesse are ended.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 72:5 Gk: Heb may they fear you
  2. Psalm 72:9 Cn: Heb those who live in the wilderness
  3. Psalm 72:17 Or bless themselves by him
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Psalm 72 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Psalm 72[a]

For[b] Solomon.

72 O God, grant the king the ability to make just decisions.[c]
Grant the king’s son[d] the ability to make fair decisions.[e]
Then he will judge[f] your people fairly,
and your oppressed ones[g] equitably.
The mountains will bring news of peace to the people,
and the hills will announce justice.[h]
He will defend[i] the oppressed among the people;
he will deliver[j] the children[k] of the poor
and crush the oppressor.
People will fear[l] you[m] as long as the sun and moon remain in the sky,
for generation after generation.[n]
He[o] will descend like rain on the mown grass,[p]
like showers that drench[q] the earth.[r]
During his days the godly will flourish;[s]
peace will prevail as long as the moon remains in the sky.[t]
May he rule[u] from sea to sea,[v]
and from the Euphrates River[w] to the ends of the earth.
Before him the coastlands[x] will bow down,
and his enemies will lick the dust.[y]
10 The kings of Tarshish[z] and the coastlands will offer gifts;
the kings of Sheba[aa] and Seba[ab] will bring tribute.
11 All kings will bow down to him;
all nations will serve him.
12 For he will rescue the needy[ac] when they cry out for help,
and the oppressed[ad] who have no defender.
13 He will take pity[ae] on the poor and needy;
the lives of the needy he will save.
14 From harm and violence he will defend them;[af]
he will value their lives.[ag]
15 May he live![ah] May they offer him gold from Sheba.[ai]
May they continually pray for him.
May they pronounce blessings on him all day long.[aj]
16 May there be[ak] an abundance[al] of grain in the earth;
on the tops[am] of the mountains may it[an] sway.[ao]
May its[ap] fruit trees[aq] flourish[ar] like the forests of Lebanon.[as]
May its crops[at] be as abundant[au] as the grass of the earth.[av]
17 May his fame endure.[aw]
May his dynasty last as long as the sun remains in the sky.[ax]
May they use his name when they formulate their blessings.[ay]
May all nations consider him to be favored by God.[az]
18 The Lord God, the God of Israel, deserves praise.[ba]
He alone accomplishes amazing things.[bb]
19 His glorious name deserves praise[bc] forevermore.
May his majestic splendor[bd] fill the whole earth.
We agree! We agree![be]
20 This collection of the prayers of David son of Jesse ends here.[bf]

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 72:1 sn Psalm 72. This royal psalm contains a prayer for the Davidic king (note the imperatival form in v. 1 and the jussive forms in vv. 16-17). It is not entirely clear if vv. 2-15 express a prayer or anticipate a future reign. The translation assumes a blend of petition and vision: (I) opening prayer (v. 1), followed by anticipated results if prayer is answered (vv. 2-7); (II) prayer (v. 8), followed by anticipated results if prayer is answered (vv. 9-14); (III) closing prayer (vv. 15-17). Whether a prayer, vision, or combination of the two, the psalm depicts the king’s universal rule of peace and prosperity. As such it is indirectly messianic, for the ideal it expresses will only be fully realized during the Messiah’s earthly reign. Verses 18-19 are a conclusion for Book 2 of the Psalter (Pss 42-72; cf. Ps 41:13, which contains a similar conclusion for Book 1), while v. 20 appears to be a remnant of an earlier collection of psalms or an earlier edition of the Psalter.
  2. Psalm 72:1 tn The preposition could be understood as indicating authorship (“Of Solomon”), but since the psalm is a prayer for a king, it may be that the superscription reflects a tradition that understood this as a prayer for Solomon.
  3. Psalm 72:1 tn Heb “O God, your judgments to [the] king give.”
  4. Psalm 72:1 sn Grant the king…Grant the king’s son. It is not entirely clear whether v. 1 envisions one individual or two. The phrase “the king’s son” in the second line may simply refer to “the king” of the first line, drawing attention to the fact that he has inherited his dynastic rule. Another option is that v. 1 envisions a co-regency between father and son (a common phenomenon in ancient Israel) or simply expresses a hope for a dynasty that champions justice.
  5. Psalm 72:1 tn Heb “and your justice to [the] son of [the] king.”
  6. Psalm 72:2 tn The prefixed verbal form appears to be an imperfect, not a jussive.
  7. Psalm 72:2 sn These people are called God’s oppressed ones because he is their defender (see Pss 9:12, 18; 10:12; 12:5).
  8. Psalm 72:3 tn Heb “[the] mountains will bear peace to the people, and [the] hills with justice.” The personified mountains and hills probably represent messengers who will sweep over the land announcing the king’s just decrees and policies. See Isa 52:7 and C. A. Briggs and E. G. Briggs, Psalms (ICC), 2:133.
  9. Psalm 72:4 tn Heb “judge [for].”
  10. Psalm 72:4 tn The prefixed verbal form appears to be an imperfect, not a jussive.
  11. Psalm 72:4 tn Heb “sons.”
  12. Psalm 72:5 tn In this context “fear” probably means “to demonstrate respect for the Lord’s power and authority by worshiping him and obeying his commandments.” See Ps 33:8. Some interpreters, with the support of the LXX, prefer to read וְיַאֲרִיךְ (veyaʾarikh, “and he [the king in this case] will prolong [days]”), that is, “will live a long time” (cf. NIV, NRSV).
  13. Psalm 72:5 tn God is the addressee (see vv. 1-2).
  14. Psalm 72:5 tn Heb “with [the] sun, and before [the] moon [for] a generation, generations.” The rare expression דּוֹר דּוֹרִים (dor dorim, “generation, generations”) occurs only here, in Ps 102:24, and in Isa 51:8.
  15. Psalm 72:6 tn That is, the king (see vv. 2, 4).
  16. Psalm 72:6 tn The rare term גֵּז (gez) refers to a sheep’s fleece in Deut 18:4 and Job 31:20, but to “mown” grass or crops here and in Amos 7:1.
  17. Psalm 72:6 tc The form in the Hebrew text appears to be an otherwise unattested noun. Many prefer to emend the form to a verb from the root זָרַף (zaraf). BHS suggests a Hiphil imperfect, third masculine plural יַזְרִיפוּ (yazrifu), while HALOT 283 s.v. *זרף prefers a Pilpel perfect, third masculine plural זִרְזְפוּ (zirzefu). The translation assumes the latter.
  18. Psalm 72:6 sn The imagery of this verse compares the blessings produced by the king’s reign to fructifying rains that cause the crops to grow.
  19. Psalm 72:7 tn Heb “sprout up,” like crops. This verse continues the metaphor of rain utilized in v. 6.
  20. Psalm 72:7 tn Heb “and [there will be an] abundance of peace until there is no more moon.”
  21. Psalm 72:8 tn The prefixed verbal form is a (shortened) jussive form, indicating this is a prayer of blessing.
  22. Psalm 72:8 sn From sea to sea. This may mean from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Dead Sea in the east. See Amos 8:12. The language of this and the following line also appears in Zech 9:10.
  23. Psalm 72:8 tn Heb “the river,” a reference to the Euphrates.
  24. Psalm 72:9 tn Or “islands.” The term here refers metonymically to those people who dwell in these regions.
  25. Psalm 72:9 sn As they bow down before him, it will appear that his enemies are licking the dust.
  26. Psalm 72:10 sn Tarshish was a distant western port, the precise location of which is uncertain.
  27. Psalm 72:10 sn Sheba was located in Arabia.
  28. Psalm 72:10 sn Seba was located in Africa.
  29. Psalm 72:12 tn The singular is representative. The typical needy individual here represents the entire group.
  30. Psalm 72:12 tn The singular is representative. The typical oppressed individual here represents the entire group.
  31. Psalm 72:13 tn The prefixed verb form is best understood as a defectively written imperfect (see Deut 7:16).
  32. Psalm 72:14 tn Or “redeem their lives.” The verb “redeem” casts the Lord in the role of a leader who protects members of his extended family in times of need and crisis (see Pss 19:14; 69:18).
  33. Psalm 72:14 tn Heb “their blood will be precious in his eyes.”
  34. Psalm 72:15 tn The prefixed verbal form is jussive, not imperfect. Because the form has the prefixed vav (ו), some subordinate it to what precedes as a purpose/result clause. In this case the representative poor individual might be the subject of this and the following verb, “so that he may live and give to him gold of Sheba.” But the idea of the poor offering gold is incongruous. It is better to take the jussive as a prayer with the king as subject of the verb. (Perhaps the initial vav is dittographic; note the vav at the end of the last form in v. 14.) The statement is probably an abbreviated version of the formula יְחִי הַמֶּלֶךְ (yekhi hammelekh, “may the king live”; see 1 Sam 10:24; 2 Sam 16:16; 1 Kgs 1:25, 34, 39; 2 Kgs 11:12).
  35. Psalm 72:15 tn Heb “and he will give to him some gold of Sheba.” The prefixed verbal form is understood as a jussive with a grammatically indefinite subject (“and may one give”). Of course, the king’s subjects, mentioned in the preceding context, are the tribute bearers in view here.
  36. Psalm 72:15 tn As in the preceding line, the prefixed verbal forms are understood as jussives with a grammatically indefinite subject (“and may one pray…and may one bless”). Of course, the king’s subjects, mentioned in the preceding context, are in view here.
  37. Psalm 72:16 tn The prefixed verbal form is jussive, not imperfect. The translation assumes the subject is impersonal (rather than the king).
  38. Psalm 72:16 tn The Hebrew noun פִסַּה (pissah; which appears here in the construct form) occurs only here in the OT. Perhaps the noun is related to the verbal root פָּשָׂה (pasah, “to spread,” see BDB 832 s.v.; the root appears as פָּסָה [pasah] in postbiblical Hebrew), which is used in postbiblical Hebrew of the rising sun’s rays spreading over the horizon and a tree’s branches spreading out (see Jastrow 1194 s.v. פסי, פָּסָה, פָּשָׂה). In Ps 72:16 a “spreading of grain” would refer to grain fields extending out over the land. C. A. Briggs and E. G. Briggs (Psalms [ICC], 2:139) emend the form to סְפִיחַ (sefiakh, “second growth”).
  39. Psalm 72:16 tn Heb “top” (singular).
  40. Psalm 72:16 tn That is, the grain.
  41. Psalm 72:16 tn According to the traditional accentuation of the MT, this verb belongs with what follows. See the translator’s note at the end of the verse for a discussion of the poetic parallelism and interpretation of the verse.
  42. Psalm 72:16 tn The antecedent of the third masculine singular pronominal suffix is unclear. It is unlikely that the antecedent is אֶרֶץ (ʾerets, “earth”) because this noun is normally grammatically feminine. Perhaps רֹאשׁ (roʾsh, “top [of the mountains]”) is the antecedent. Another option is to understand the pronoun as referring to the king, who would then be viewed as an instrument of divine agricultural blessing (see v. 6).
  43. Psalm 72:16 tn Heb “fruit.”
  44. Psalm 72:16 tc According to the traditional accentuation of the MT, this verb belongs with what follows. See the note on the word “earth” at the end of the verse for a discussion of the poetic parallelism and interpretation of the verse. The present translation takes it with the preceding words, “like Lebanon its fruit” and emends the verb form from וְיָצִיצוּ (veyatsitsu; Qal imperfect third masculine plural with prefixed vav, [ו]) to יָצִיץ (yatsits; Qal imperfect third masculine singular). The initial vav is eliminated as dittographic (note the vav on the ending of the preceding form פִּרְיוֹ, piryo, “its/his fruit”) and the vav at the end of the form is placed on the following emended form (see the note on the word “crops”), yielding וַעֲמִיר (vaʿamir, “and [its] crops”).
  45. Psalm 72:16 tn Heb “like Lebanon.”
  46. Psalm 72:16 tc The MT has “from the city.” The translation assumes an emendation to עֲמִיר (ʿamir, “crops”).
  47. Psalm 72:16 tn The translation assumes that the verb צוּץ (tsuts, “flourish”) goes with the preceding line. The words “be as abundant” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
  48. Psalm 72:16 tc The traditional accentuation and vocalization of the MT differ from the text assumed by the present translation. The MT reads as follows: “May there be an abundance of grain in the earth, / and on the tops of the mountains! / May its [or “his”?] fruit [trees?] rustle like [the trees of] Lebanon! / May they flourish from the city, like the grass of the earth!” If one follows the MT, then it would appear that the “fruit” of the third line is a metaphorical reference to the king’s people, who flow out from the cities to populate the land (see line 4). Elsewhere in the OT people are sometimes compared to grass that sprouts up from the land (see v. 7, as well as Isa 27:6; Pss 92:7; 103:15). The translation understands a different poetic structural arrangement and, assuming the emendations mentioned in earlier notes, interprets each line of the verse to be a prayer for agricultural abundance.
  49. Psalm 72:17 tn Heb “may his name [be] permanent.” The prefixed verbal form is jussive, not imperfect.
  50. Psalm 72:17 tn Heb “before the sun may his name increase.” The Kethib (consonantal text) assumes יָנִין (yanin; a Hiphil of the verbal root נִין, nin) or יְנַיֵן (yenayen; a Piel form), while the Qere (marginal reading) assumes יִנּוֹן (yinnon; a Niphal form). The verb נִין occurs only here, though a derived noun, meaning “offspring,” appears elsewhere (see Isa 14:22). The verb appears to mean “propagate, increase” (BDB 630 s.v. נוּן, נִין) or “produce shoots, get descendants” (HALOT 696 s.v. נין). In this context this appears to be a prayer for a lasting dynasty that will keep the king’s name and memory alive.
  51. Psalm 72:17 tn Heb “may they bless one another by him,” that is, use the king’s name in their blessing formulae because he is a prime example of one blessed by God (for examples of such blessing formulae, see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11). There is some debate on whether the Hitpael form of בָּרַךְ (barakh, “bless”) is reflexive-reciprocal (as assumed in the present translation) or passive. The Hitpael of בָּרַךְ occurs in five other passages, including the hotly debated Gen 22:18 and 26:4. In these two texts one could understand the verb form as passive and translate, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed through your offspring,” or one could take the Hitpael as reflexive or reciprocal and translate, “all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings [i.e., on themselves or one another] by your offspring.” In the first instance Abraham’s (or Isaac’s) offspring are viewed as a channel of divine blessing. In the second instance they are viewed as a prime example of blessing that will appear as part of the nations’ blessing formulae, but not necessarily as a channel of blessing to the nations. In Deut 29:18 one reads: “When one hears the words of this covenant [or “oath”] and invokes a blessing on himself (Hitpael of בָּרַךְ) in his heart, saying: ‘I will have peace, even though I walk with a rebellious heart.’” In this case the Hitpael is clearly reflexive, as the phrases “in his heart” and “I will have peace” indicate. The Hitpael of בָּרַךְ appears twice in Isaiah 65:16: “The one who invokes a blessing on himself (see Deut 9:18) in the land will invoke that blessing by the God of truth; and the one who makes an oath in the land will make that oath by the God of truth.” A passive nuance does not fit here. The parallel line, which mentions making an oath, suggests that the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ refers here to invoking a blessing. Both pronouncements of blessing and oaths will appeal to God as the one who rewards and judges, respectively. Jer 4:2 states: “If you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ with truth, integrity, and honesty, then the nations will pronounce blessings by him and boast in him.” A passive nuance might work (“the nations will be blessed”), but the context refers to verbal pronouncements (swearing an oath, boasting), suggesting that the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ refers here to invoking a blessing. The logic of the verse seems to be as follows: If Israel conducts its affairs with integrity, the nation will be favored by the Lord, which will in turn attract the surrounding nations to Israel’s God. To summarize, while the evidence might leave the door open for a passive interpretation, there is no clear cut passive use. Usage favors a reflexive or reciprocal understanding of the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ. In Ps 72:17 the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ is followed by the prepositional phrase בוֹ (vo, “by him”). The verb could theoretically be taken as passive, “may all the nations be blessed through him” (cf. NIV, NRSV), because the preceding context describes the positive effects of this king’s rule on the inhabitants of the earth. But the parallel line, which employs the Piel of אָשַׁר (ʾashar) in a factitive/declarative sense, “regard as happy, fortunate,” suggests a reflexive or reciprocal nuance for the Hitpael of בָּרַךְ here. If the nations regard the ideal king as a prime example of one who is fortunate or blessed, it is understandable that they would use his name in their pronouncements of blessing.
  52. Psalm 72:17 tn Heb “all the nations, may they regard him as happy.” The Piel is used here in a delocutive sense (“regard as”).
  53. Psalm 72:18 tn Heb “[be] blessed.” See Pss 18:46; 28:6; 31:21; 41:13.
  54. Psalm 72:18 tn Heb “[the] one who does amazing things by himself.”
  55. Psalm 72:19 tn Heb “[be] blessed.”
  56. Psalm 72:19 tn Or “glory.”
  57. Psalm 72:19 tn Heb “surely and surely” (אָמֵן וְאָמֵן [ʾamen veʾamen], i.e., “Amen and amen”). This is probably a congregational response of agreement to the immediately preceding statement about the propriety of praising God.
  58. Psalm 72:20 tn Heb “the prayers of David, son of Jesse, are concluded.” As noted earlier, v. 20 appears to be a remnant of an earlier collection of psalms or an earlier edition of the Psalter. In the present arrangement of the Book of Psalms, not all psalms prior to this are attributed to David (see Pss 1-2, 10, 33, 42-50, 66-67, 71-72) and several psalms attributed to David appear after this (see Pss 86, 101, 103, 108-110, 122, 124, 131, 138-145).
New English Translation (NET)

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