This is a prophecy of the prosperity and perpetuity of the kingdom of Christ under the shadow of the reign of Solomon. It comes in, 1. As a plea to enforce the prayer: “Lord, give him thy judgments and thy righteousness, and then he shall judge thy people with righteousness, and so shall answer the end of his elevation, Ps. 72:2. Give him thy grace, and then thy people, committed to his charge, will have the benefit of it.” Because God loved Israel, he made him king over them to do judgment and justice, 2 Chron. 9:8. We may in faith wrestle with God for that grace which we have reason to think will be of common advantage to his church. 2. As an answer of peace to the prayer. As by the prayer of faith we return answers to God’s promises of mercy, so by the promises of mercy God returns answers to our prayers of faith. That this prophecy must refer to the kingdom of the Messiah is plain, because there are many passages in it which cannot be applied to the reign of Solomon. There was indeed a great deal of righteousness and peace, at first, in the administration of his government; but, before the end of his reign, there were both trouble and unrighteousness. The kingdom here spoken of is to last as long as the sun, but Solomon’s was soon extinct. Therefore even the Jewish expositors understand it of the kingdom of the Messiah.
Let us observe the many great and precious promises here made, which were to have their full accomplishment only in the kingdom of Christ; and yet some of them were in part fulfilled in Solomon’s reign.
I. That it should be a righteous government (Ps. 72:2): He shall judge thy people with righteousness. Compare Isa. 11:4. All the laws of Christ’s kingdom are consonant to the eternal rules of equity; the chancery it erects to relieve against the rigours of the broken law is indeed a court of equity; and against the sentence of his last judgment there will lie no exception. The peace of his kingdom shall be supported by righteousness (Ps. 72:3); for then only is the peace like a river, when the righteousness is as the waves of the sea. The world will be judged in righteousness, Acts 17:31.
II. That it should be a peaceable government: The mountains shall bring peace, and the little hills (Ps. 72:3); that is (says Dr. Hammond), both the superior and the inferior courts of judicature in Solomon’s kingdom. There shall be abundance of peace, Ps. 72:7. Solomon’s name signifies peaceable, and such was his reign; for in it Israel enjoyed the victories of the foregoing reign and preserved the tranquillity and repose of that reign. But peace is, in a special manner, the glory of Christ’s kingdom; for, as far as it prevails, it reconciles men to God, to themselves, and to one another, and slays all enmities; for he is our peace.
III. That the poor and needy should be, in a particular manner, taken under the protection of this government: He shall judge thy poor, Ps. 72:2. Those are God’s poor that are impoverished by keeping a good conscience, and those shall be provided for with a distinguishing care, shall be judged for with judgment, with a particular cognizance taken of their case and a particular vengeance taken for their wrongs. The poor of the people, and the children of the needy, he will be sure so to judge as to save, Ps. 72:4. This is insisted upon again (Ps. 72:12, 13), intimating that Christ will be sure to carry his cause on behalf of his injured poor. He will deliver the needy that lie at the mercy of their oppressors, the poor also, both because they have no helper and it is for his honour to help them and because they cry unto him and he has promised, in answer to their prayers, to help them; they by prayer commit themselves unto him, Ps. 10:14. He will spare the needy that throw themselves on his mercy, and will not be rigorous and severe with them; he will save their souls, and that is all they desire. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Christ is the poor man’s King.
IV. That proud oppressors shall be reckoned with: He shall break them in pieces (Ps. 72:4), shall take away their power to hurt, and punish them for all the mischief they have done. This is the office of a good king, Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos—To spare the vanquished and debase the proud. The devil is the great oppressor, whom Christ will break in pieces and of whose kingdom he will be the destruction. With the breath of his mouth shall he slay that wicked one (Isa. 11:4), and shall deliver the souls of his people from deceit and violence, Ps. 72:14. He shall save from the power of Satan, both as an old serpent working by deceit to ensnare them and as a roaring lion working by violence to terrify and devour them. So precious shall their blood be unto him that not a drop of it shall be shed, by the deceit or violence of Satan or his instruments, without being reckoned for. Christ is a King, who, though he calls his subjects sometimes to resist unto blood for him, yet is not prodigal of their blood, nor will ever have it parted with but upon a valuable consideration to his glory and theirs, and the filling up of the measure of their enemies’ iniquity.
V. That religion shall flourish under Christ’s government (Ps. 72:5): They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure. Solomon indeed built the temple, and the fear and worship of God were well kept up, for some time, under his government, but it did not last long; this therefore must point at Christ’s kingdom, all the subjects of which are brought to and kept in the fear of God; for the Christian religion has a direct tendency to, and a powerful influence upon, the support and advancement of natural religion. Faith in Christ will set up, and keep up, the fear of God; and therefore this is the everlasting gospel that is preached, Fear God, and give honour to him, Rev. 14:7. And, as Christ’s government promotes devotion towards God, so it promotes both justice and charity among men (Ps. 72:7): In his days shall the righteous flourish; righteousness shall be practised, and those that practise righteousness shall be preferred. Righteousness shall abound and be in reputation, shall command and be in power. The law of Christ, written in the heart, disposes men to be honest and just, and to render to all their due; it likewise disposes men to live in love, and so it produces abundance of peace and beats swords into ploughshares. Both holiness and love shall be perpetual in Christ’s kingdom, and shall never go to decay, for the subjects of it shall fear God as long as the sun and moon endure; Christianity, in the profession of it, having got footing in the world, shall keep its ground till the end of time, and having, in the power of it, got footing in the heart, it will continue there till, by death, the sun, and the moon, and the stars (that is, the bodily senses) are darkened. Through all the changes of the world, and all the changes of life, Christ’s kingdom will support itself; and, if the fear of God continue as long as the sun and moon, abundance of peace will. The peace of the church, the peace of the soul, shall run parallel with its purity and piety, and last as long as these last.
VI. That Christ’s government shall be very comfortable to all his faithful loving subjects (Ps. 72:6): He shall, by the graces and comforts of his Spirit, come down like rain upon the mown grass; not on that which is cut down, but that which is left growing, that it may spring again, though it was beheaded. The gospel of Christ distils as the rain, which softens the ground that was hard, moistens that which was dry, and so makes it green and fruitful, Isa. 55:10. Let our hearts drink in the rain, Heb. 6:7.
VII. That Christ’s kingdom shall be extended very far, and greatly enlarged; considering,
1. The extent of his territories (Ps. 72:8): He shall have dominion from sea to sea (from the South Sea to the North, or from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean) and from the river Euphrates, or Nile, to the ends of the earth. Solomon’s dominion was very large (1 Kgs. 4:21), according to the promise, Gen. 15:18. But no sea, no river, is named, that it might, by these proverbial expressions, intimate the universal monarchy of the Lord Jesus. His gospel has been, or shall be, preached to all nations (Matt. 24:14), and the kingdoms of the world shall become his kingdoms (Rev. 11:15) when the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in. His territories shall be extended to those countries, (1.) That were strangers to him: Those that dwell in the wilderness, out of all high roads, that seldom hear news, shall hear the glad tidings of the Redeemer and redemption by him, shall bow before him, shall believe in him, accept of him, worship him, and take his yoke upon them. Before the Lord Jesus we must all either bow or break; if we break, we are ruined—if we bow, we are certainly made for ever. (2.) That were enemies to him, and had fought against him: They shall lick the dust; they shall be brought down and laid in the dust, shall bite the ground for vexation, and be so hunger-bitten that they shall be glad of dust, the serpent’s meat (Gen. 3:15), for of his seed they are; and over whom shall not he rule, when his enemies themselves are thus humbled and brought low?
2. The dignity of his tributaries. He shall not only reign over those that dwell in the wilderness, the peasants and cottagers, but over those that dwell in the palaces (Ps. 72:10): The kings of Tarshish, and of the isles, that lie most remote from Israel and are the isles of the Gentiles (Gen. 10:5), shall bring presents to him as their sovereign Lord, by and under whom they hold their crowns and all their crown lands. They shall court his favour, and make an interest in him, that they may hear his wisdom. This was literally fulfilled in Solomon (for all the kings of the earth sought the wisdom of Solomon, and brought every man his present, 2 Chron. 9:23, 24), and in Christ too, when the wise men of the east, who probably were men of the first rank in their own country, came to worship him and brought him presents, Matt. 2:11. They shall present themselves to him; that is the best present we can bring to Christ, and without that no other present is acceptable, Rom. 12:1. They shall offer gifts, spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, offer them to Christ as their God, on Christ as their altar, which sanctifies every gift. Their conversion to God is called the offering up, or sacrificing, of the Gentiles, Rom. 15:16. Yea, all kings shall, sooner or later, fall down before him, either to do their duty to him or to receive their doom from him, Ps. 72:11. They shall fall before him, either as his willing subjects or as his conquered captives, as suppliants for his mercy or expectants of his judgment. And, when the kings submit, the people come in of course: All nations shall serve him; all shall be invited into his service; some of all nations shall come into it, and in every nation incense shall be offered to him and a pure offering, Mal. 1:11; Rev. 7:9.
VIII. That he shall be honoured and beloved by all his subjects (Ps. 72:15): He shall live; his subjects shall desire his life (O king! live for ever) and with good reason; for he has said, Because I live, you shall live also; and of him it is witnessed that he liveth, ever liveth, making intercession, Heb. 7:8, 25. He shall live, and live prosperously; and, 1. Presents shall be made to him. Though he shall be able to live without them, for he needs neither the gifts nor the services of any, yet to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba—gold, the best of metals, gold of Sheba, which probably was the finest gold; for he that is best must be served with the best. Those that have abundance of the wealth of this world, that have gold at command, must give it to Christ, must serve him with it, do good with it. Honour the Lord with thy substance. 2. Prayers shall be made for him, and that continually. The people prayed for Solomon, and that helped to make him and his reign so great a blessing to them. It is the duty of subjects to make prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, for kings and all in authority, not in compliment to them, as is too often done, but in concern for the public welfare. But how is this applied to Christ? He needs not our prayers, nor can have any benefit by them. But the Old-Testament saints prayed for his coming, prayed continually for it; for they called him, He that should come. And now that he has come we must pray for the success of his gospel and the advancement of his kingdom, which he calls praying for him (Hosanna to the Son of David, prosperity to his reign), and we must pray for his second coming. It may be read, Prayer shall be made through him, or for his sake; whatsoever we ask of the Father shall be in his name and in dependence upon his intercession. 3. Praises shall be made of him, and high encomiums given of his wisdom, justice, and goodness: Daily shall he be praised. By praying daily in his name we give him honour. Subjects ought to speak well of the government that is a blessing to them; and much more ought all Christians to praise Jesus Christ, daily to praise him; for they owe their all to him, and to him they lie under the highest obligations.
IX. That under his government there shall be a wonderful increase both of meat and mouths, both of the fruits of the earth in the country and of the people inhabiting the cities, Ps. 72:16. 1. The country shall grow rich. Sow but a handful of corn on the top of the mountains, whence one would expect but little, and yet the fruit of it shall shake like Lebanon; it shall come up like a wood, so thick, and tall, and strong, like the cedars of Lebanon. Even upon the tops of the mountains the earth shall bring forth by handfuls; that is an expression of great plenty (Gen. 41:47), as the grass upon the house top is said to be that wherewith the mower fills not his hand. This is applicable to the wonderful productions of the seed of the gospel in the days of the Messiah. A handful of that seed, sown in the mountainous and barren soil of the Gentile world, produced a wonderful harvest gathered in to Christ, fruit that shook like Lebanon. The fields were white to the harvest, John 4:35; Matt. 9:37. The grain of mustard-seed grew up to a great tree. 2. The towns shall grow populous: Those of the city shall flourish like grass, for number, for verdure. The gospel church, the city of God among men, shall have all the marks of prosperity, many shall be added to it, and those that are shall be happy in it.
X. That his government shall be perpetual, both to his honour and to the happiness of his subjects. The Lord Jesus shall reign for ever, and of him only this must be understood, and not at all of Solomon. It is Christ only that shall be feared throughout all generations (Ps. 72:5) and as long as the sun and moon endure, Ps. 72:7. 1. The honour of the princes is immortal and shall never be sullied (Ps. 72:17): His name shall endure for ever, in spite of all the malicious attempts and endeavours of the powers of darkness to eclipse the lustre of it and to cut off the line of it; it shall be preserved; it shall be perpetuated; it shall be propagated. As the names of earthly princes are continued in their posterity, so Christ’s in himself. Filiabitur nomen ejus—His name shall descend to posterity. All nations, while the world stands, shall call him blessed, shall bless God for him, continually speak well of him, and think themselves happy in him. To the end of time, and to eternity, his name shall be celebrated, shall be made use of; every tongue shall confess it and every knee shall bow before it. 2. The happiness of the people if universal too; it is complete and everlasting: Men shall be blessed, truly and for ever blessed, in him. This plainly refers to the promise made unto the fathers that in the Messiah all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Gen. 12:3.