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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 72

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-20

Book 2

The second and third Books of the Psalter (Psalms 42-72, 73-89) are but the two parts of a whole, the largest section of which (Psalms 42-83) is called the Elohistic Psalter, because the name Elohim (God) is used almost exclusively instead of the name Jehovah (the Lord), which is predominant in the rest of the Psalms. It is evident from the contents of these two books that the Elohistic compiler gathered them from at least three earlier collections, for Psalms 42-49 are Psalms of the Korahites (43 is part of 42), as are also Psalms 84-89 (except 86); Psalms 50, 73-83 are Psalms of Asaph; while Psalms 51-72, 86, are Psalms of David. Psalms 72 originally ended a collection of Psalms attributed to David; and it is a plausible conjecture that Psalms 42-50 once stood after Psalms 72, the Davidic Psalms being thus together and the subscription (Psalms 72:20) appropriate.

Taking Book 2 by itself, we may notice that in the Davidic collection Psalms 66, 67 did not originally belong to it, while Psalms 72 is called ’a psalm of Solomon.’ The great majority of these Pss. have the rendering in AY ’To the chief musician’; indicating (see Intro.) that they had been included in the collection of the Chief Musician as well as in that of the Elohistic collector, both of these editors working on previously existing collections. Psalms 53 is an Elohistic form of Psalms 14, and Psalms 70 of Psalms 40:13-17 while Psalms 57:7-11 and Psalms 60:5-12 are combined in Psalms 108. Several of the Davidic Psalms in this book are referred by their titles to incidents in David’s life; these are of varying degrees of probability, and are discussed in their places.

It is difficult to classify the Pss. according to their subjects or references, but a rough division may be attempted. Thus, (a) Psalms 42, 43, 51, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 64, 69, 70, 71 are prayers for personal help and deliverance; (b) Psalms 44, 46, 47, 48, 62 are thanksgivings, and breathe the spirit of confidence and triumph; (c) Psalms 45 is a marriage ode; (d) Psalms 49 is a didactic piece akin to the book of Proverbs; (e) Psalms 65 is a thanksgiving in time of harvest. References to the Temple as the centre of worship are found in Psalms 42, 43, 48, 50, 65. The following are quoted in the NT.: 44, 45, 48, 50, 55, 82, 67, 68, and 69. The writers of the Pss. in this Book evince the same perfect trust in God and confidence in His power to relieve them from their troubles, as are exhibited in the first Book.

Several of the Pss., such as the 51st, have an unmistakable personal tone; and there are not wanting indications of a highly spiritual view of religious worship and ritual. The desire of the true Israelite is not only for the Temple (Psalms 42:4), but ’for God, for the living God.’ Burnt offerings are of small account in the sight of Him to whom belongs ’the world and the fulness thereof’ (Psalms 50:7-14). ’The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit’ (Psalms 51:17).

In this Book the 45th and 72nd Pss. are usually classed as Messianic. They both describe the character of the ideal king, ruling in righteousness, watching over the poor and punishing the oppressor, having dominion over subject nations ’from sea to sea,’ and being blessed by all nations, because they have been blessed by him. Probably they were written in connexion with definite historical events—in the one case the marriage of a king, in the other a king’s accession to the throne; still they unite themselves with that Messianic hope which gradually took shape among the Jews, and came to fill a large place in their religious thought.

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.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 72". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/psalms-72.html. 1909.
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