Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 72

Verses 1-20

Title.—A Psalm for (RV 'of') Solomon.

The title in AV suggests that David is the writer, and Solomon the subject, of this Ps., but, as RV shows, the authorship is really ascribed to Solomon. The Ps., however, appears rather to be the prayer of a subject for the king. Some actual ruler—Solomon, Hezekiah, or another—is no doubt in view, but, as in Psalms 45, the royal figure is so idealised that the Ps. becomes truly Messianic, and applicable only to the perfect divine King, though it is nowhere expressly quoted in this sense in the NT. The justice and beneficence of the king's reign, the world-wide extent of his dominion, the prosperity of his country, and the perpetuity of his fame, are successively described. Psalms 72:18-19 are the closing doxology of Book 2 of the Psalter, and Psalms 72:20 is an instructive editorial note.

1. Judgments.. righteousness] the qualities of a great and upright ruler: see Psalms 72:2. The king's son] a parallel expression for the king.

2. Thy poor] the class who suffered most from unjust and oppressive rulers.

3. By righteousness] RV 'in righteousness.' Under a righteous government peace will be the fruit that grows on all the wooded slopes of the land: see Isaiah 32:17.

5. They shall fear thee] not the king, but God. LXX reads instead, 'He shall endure as long as the sun, and while the moon doth shine.'

6. Upon the mown grass] to start the new growth. LXX and V ulg. render, 'upon a fleece': cp. PBV 'into a fleece of wool.'

7. The metaphor of Psalms 72:6 is continued. 'Righteousness' (LXX) and peace are the vegetation which springs up after the fertilising showers.

8-11. These vv. should be read as a prayer rather than as a prediction. 'May he have dominion.. M ay they bow,' etc.

8. From sea to sea] from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. The river] RV 'the River,' the Euphrates in the E. The ends of the earth] the extreme W: see Exodus 23:31. 1 Kings 4:21.

9. They that dwell in the wilderness] the wandering desert tribes. Lick the dust] the attitude of abject submission.

10. Tarshish] probably Tartessus in Spain: see on Psalms 48:7. The isles] the coast-lands of the Mediterranean. Sheba] Saba in S. Arabia. Seba] an unknown locality, elsewhere connected with Ethiopia (Isaiah 43:8; Isaiah 45:14).

12. The poor also, etc.] RV 'and the poor that hath no helper.'

14. Precious shall their blood be] Human life will be protected, and not held cheap, as it is where tyranny flourishes.

15. He shall live] better, 'May he live, and may men give him.. may they pray,' etc. For him] PBV renders, 'prayer shall be made ever unto him': an indefensible translation, which has arisen from an exclusive reference of the Ps. to Christ.

16, 17. These vv. also are best read as a prayer. 'May there be.. may his name endure,'etc.

16. An handful] RV 'abundance.'

In the earth] better, 'in the land.' Shake like Lebanon] wave or rustle like the cedars of Lebanon. They of the city, etc.] better, 'may men spring forth out of the city like grass of the earth.'

17. Be blessed] RM 'bless themselves': see Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4 (RM), and cp. Isaiah 65:16.

20. See Intro, to Book 2.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 72". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.