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That this Psalm was made by David is evident from Psalms 72:20, and that it was made with respect to Solomon is no less certain from the very title of it: and that David, or at least the Holy Ghost, which dictated this Psalm, did took beyond Solomon, and unto the Messiah, of whom Solomon was an illustrious and unquestionable type, seems as manifest from divers passages of this Psalm, which do not agree to Solomon, nor to any other king but the Messiah, and from the confession of the Jewish doctors themselves, who so understand it. It must therefore be acknowledged, that, as many others are, this Psalm is also a mixed Psalm, belonging to Solomon in part, and obscurely and imperfectly, but unto Christ more clearly and fully; divers expressions being designedly so ordered, that the reader might be led by them to the contemplation of Christ and of his kingdom upon this occasion; which was the more necessary, for the support and comfort of God’s true Israel, because the Spirit of God foresaw Solomon’s dreadful apostacy, and the great miscarriages and calamities of his successors, and of the kingdom under their hands, and therefore was pleased to fortify their hearts with that glorious condition which they should certainly enjoy under the Messiah, who should certainly come.
David, praying for Solomon, showeth the blessed and glorious state of his kingdom (as typifying Christ’s) in its duration, Psalms 72:1-7, largeness, Psalms 72:8-11, and graciousness, Psalms 72:12-17; and concludeth all with a hearty thanksgiving, Psalms 72:18-20.
The king; Solomon, who was now anointed king, his father yet living, 1 Kings 1:39. And this Psalm may seem to be made for that great and solemn occasion.
Thy judgments, i.e. either,
1. Thy statutes and precepts, which are oft called God’s judgments; which as thou hast given already in thy book, so give them to him a second and a better way, by writing them upon his heart, or by giving him a solid knowledge of them, and a hearty love and obedience to them. Or rather,
2. Thy manner of government or administration, which is oft called judgment, as Psalms 94:15 Isaiah 28:6, &c.; that he may follow thy example in governing thy people, as thou governest them, to wit, in
righteousness, as it follows. He saith judgments, in the plural number, because though the office of judging and ruling was but one, yet there were divers parts, and branches, and acts-of it; as to acquit the innocent, to condemn the guilty, &c.; in all which he begs that Solomon may be directed to do as God doth, or would have him to do in such cases.
Thy righteousness; that grace of righteousness which is a part of thine image, and is absolutely necessary for good government.
He shall judge, to wit, if thou givest him what I have desired. And by this prediction he doth tacitly admonish him of, and oblige him to, the performance of his duty herein. Or, Let him judge; the future being put for the imperative, as hath been oft observed. So it is a prayer.
Thy people; for they are thine more than his; and therefore he must not govern them according to his own will and pleasure, but according to the rules of thy word, and for thy service and glory.
Thy poor; or, thy afflicted or oppressed ones, for such are thine in a special manner; thou art their Judge and Patron, Psalms 68:5, and hast commanded all thy people, and especially kings and magistrates, to take a singular care of them, because they have few or no friends.
He mentioneth the
hills, as bringing forth this blessed fruit; either because such places are usually barren, and therefore this was an evidence of extraordinary fruitfulness, and a special blessing of God; or because they are dangerous to passengers, in regard of the robbers and wild beasts, which commonly abide there; whereby it is implied that other places should do so too, and that it should be common and universal.
Peace; all manner of prosperity and felicity, which the Hebrews frequently express by that word.
Judge, i.e. vindicate them from their potent oppressors, as judging is used, Psalms 43:1, and oft elsewhere.
The children of the needy; whom the rich peradventure did seize upon for bondmen, upon some pretence or other.
Fear; or, reverence, or worship, as this word is used, Isaiah 29:13, compared with Matthew 15:9, and elsewhere. Thee; either,
1. Thee, O king, to whom he suddenly turneth his speech. And so this is hyperbolically true of Solomon, but truly and literally of Christ. Or rather,
2. Thee, O God, of whom he had spoken before, and that in the second person, Psalms 72:1,2, as it is here; whereas he never speaks of the king in the whole Psalm in the second person, but constantly in the third. And so the sense is, This shall be another blessed fruit of this righteous government, that together with peace true religion shall be established, and that
throughout all generations, as it here follows; which was begun in Solomon’s days, and continued, though not without interruption, in the time of his successors, the kings of Judah, and afterwards until Christ, in and by whom this prediction and promise was most fully accomplished.
As long as the sun and moon endure, Heb. with the sun and before the moon, i.e. whilst they continue in the heavens. Others expound it thus, both day and night, as the twelve tribes are said to serve God, Acts 26:7. But the former interpretation seems more probable, by comparing this verse with Psalms 72:17.
Come down, to wit, by the influences of his government upon his people under him. But this phrase doth much better agree to Christ, who was yet to come, and who did come down from heaven, and brought or sent down from heaven his doctrine, which is oft compared to rain, and the sweet and powerful influences of his Spirit.
Rain upon the mown grass; which it both refresheth and improveth, or causeth to grow and flourish, and therefore was very acceptable, especially in Canaan, where rain was more scarce and more necessary than in many other places, because of the scorching heat, and the natural dryness of the soil, and the want of rivers to overflow or water the land.
Shall the righteous flourish; as the wicked shall be discountenanced and punished, so good men shall be encouraged, and advanced, and multiplied.
So long as the moon endureth, i.e. as long as time and the world shall last; which neither was nor could be true of Solomon, who lived not long, and the peace of whose kingdom was sadly disturbed, and in a manner wholly lost, presently after his death, but was undoubtedly and eminently accomplished in Christ, who brought peace upon earth, Luke 2:14, and left it as his legacy to his disciples, John 14:27.
From sea to sea; either,
1. From the Dead Sea or the Lake of Sodom, or from the Red Sea, to the Midland Sea; for so far did Solomon’s dominion extend: but so did David’s also; and therefore in that respect Solomon hath not that pre-eminence which this promise plainly seems to give him above his predecessors. Or,
2. More generally from one sea to another, or in all the parts of the habitable world. So it was truly and fully accomplished in Christ, and in him only.
The river, to wit, Euphrates, which was the eastern border of the kingdom of Canaan allotted by God, Exodus 23:31 Numbers 34:3, but enjoyed only by David and Solomon, and afterwards by Christ; of whose kingdom this may be here mentioned, as one of the borders; partly because the kingdom of Christ is here described under the type and shadow of Solomon’s kingdom, whose bound this was; and partly because though Christ’s kingdom did for a time extend itself beyond Euphrates, yet the chief part, and almost the whole body of it, both did and doth lie on this side of it; and things do generally receive their denomination from the greatest part.
The ends of the earth; either,
1. Of the land of Canaan. Or,
2. Of the world.
In the wilderness; in solitary places; even rude and barbarous people, who lived without order and government among themselves; of which sort great numbers submitted to Christ, and received the gospel.
Shall lick the dust, i.e. shall prostrate themselves to the ground, in token of reverence and subjection, as the custom of the Eastern people was. See Isaiah 49:23 Micah 7:17.
Of Tarshish and of the isles; or, of the sea (as Tarshish is understood, 1 Kings 22:48 Psalms 48:7) and (or, that is; for that conjunction is oft used exegetically) of the isles, i.e. of remote countries, to which they used to go from Canaan by sea; all which are frequently called isles in Scripture, as hath been noted before. The kings that rule by sea (where Solomon had no great power) or by land.
Sheba and Seba; two Arabian countries; unless the one be Arabia, and the other Ethiopia beyond Egypt.
Which cannot be said of Solomon with any truth or colour, but was unquestionably verified in Christ; of whom therefore this must be understood. For what is said 1 Kings 4:21, that Solomon reigned over all kingdoms, is there limited to them that reigned from the river unto Egypt; whereas the expressions here are unlimited and universal.
The fame of his just and merciful government shall induce multitudes either to put themselves under him, or to show great respect and reverence to him.
The souls, properly so called; this being Christ’s proper work to save souls; or, the lives, which oppressors shall endeavour to take away.
Deceit and violence; the two ways whereby the souls or lives of men are usually destroyed.
Precious shall their blood be in his sight; he will not be prodigal of the lives of his subjects, casting them away merely to gratify his own revenge, or covetousness, or insatiable desire of enlarging his empire, as earthly kings commonly do, but, like a true father of his people, will tenderly preserve them, and severely avenge their blood upon those who shall shed it.
He shall live, to wit, long and prosperously, as Solomon did; yea, eternally, as Christ did. Other kings must lose both their lives and kingdoms; but this King, whom Solomon typified, shall live for ever, and his kingdom shall have no end.
Of the gold of Sheba; as a present, or tribute. This was done to Solomon, 1 Kings 10:15, and to Christ, Matthew 2:11, and afterwards as need required. Although such expressions as these, being used of Christ and his kingdom, are commonly understood in a spiritual sense.
Prayer shall be made for him; his subjects shall be obliged and excited by his righteous and happy government to pray heartily and frequently for him; either,
1. For Solomon. Or,
2. For Christ; not so much for his person, which needed not their prayers, as for the protection and propagation of his kingdom, and gospel, and interest in the world.
An handful of corn; which intimates the small beginnings of this kingdom; and therefore doth not agree to Solomon, whose kingdom was in a manner as large at the beginning of his reign ms at the end; but it exactly agrees to Christ and his kingdom, Matthew 13:31,32.
In the earth; sown in the earth.
Upon the top of the mountains; in the most barren grounds; and therefore this was an evidence of extraordinary and prodigious fertility.
Shake like Lebanon; it shall yield such abundance of corn, that the ears, being thick, and high, and full of corn, shall, when they are shaken with the wind, make a noise not unlike that which the tops of the trees of Lebanon sometimes make upon the like occasion; which expressions, as well as many others of the like nature in the prophets, being applied to Christ, are to be understood in a spiritual sense, of the great and happy success of the preaching of the gospel.
They of the city; the citizens of Jerusalem, which are here synecdochically put for the subjects of this kingdom.
Shall flourish like grass of the earth; shall both increase in number, that there may be mouths to receive the meat provided, and enjoy great prosperity and happiness.
His name; the honour and renown of his eminent wisdom, and justice, and goodness; which agrees but very obscurely; and imperfectly to Solomon, who stained the glory of his reign by his prodigious luxury and oppression, and apostacy from God, into which he fell in the latter part of his days.
Shall be continued; or, shall be propagated or transmitted to his children; which suits much better to Christ, from whom we are called Christians, than to Solomon.
As long as the sun, Heb. before the sun; either,
1. Publicly, and in the face of the sun. Or,
2. Perpetually; as a constant and inseparable companion of the sun; as long as the sun itself shall continue. See Poole "Psalms 72:5".
Be blessed in him; either,
1. As a pattern of blessedness. When any man shall wish well to a king, he shall say, The Lord make thee like Solomon. See Poole "Genesis 22:18". Or rather,
2. As the cause of it, by and through his merits and mediation.
Who hath given to his people such a glorious and excellent king and governor, and such wonderful blessings as they do and shall enjoy under his government.
Heb. the whole earth shall be filled with his glory. For this may be either a prayer for or a prophecy of the spreading of the true religion in the Gentile world; which evidently relates to Christ and his kingdom.
This Psalm is called the last of David’s Psalms; (which are called prayers, because they consist very much of prayers;) either,
1. The last of that part or book of the Psalms, which reached from the beginning of the Psalms hitherto, whereof the far greatest number were composed by David, and all of them digested into this order; the rest of which follow, being collected by some other holy man or men of God after David’s death, and composed part by David, and part by other prophets. Or rather,
2. The last Psalm which David composed; for this was done but a little before his death, of which see the first note on this Psalm.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 72". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/