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John Gill’s Commentary of the Whole Bible: Psalm 72

Psalms 72:1


[A Psalm] for Solomon. The title of this psalm is by some rendered, “a psalm of Solomon” {h}; as a psalm dwdl, “for David”, is often rendered “a psalm of David”; and so make Solomon to be the writer of it: to which the Targum inclines, which paraphrases it,

“by the hand of Solomon, said in prophecy.”

But, though Solomon had a gift of divine poetry, as appears by the Song of Songs, composed by him; and the Thousand and Five, he was the author of; and perhaps wrote the hundred twenty seventh Psalm: yet by the first and last verses of this psalm it may be concluded it was not written by him, but by David; and very likely at the close of his days, when he ordered Solomon to be anointed king, and expressed his satisfaction in it; his prayers and wishes then being ended with regard to that affair; see 1Ki 1:34. And so the title in the Syriac version is,

“a psalm of David, when he made Solomon king:”

the same Kimchi observes; it was written for him, and on his account: and it might be sent to him, and delivered into his hands, to be laid up and kept by him, and be referred to for his use at proper times. For it may be rendered, as in the Arabic version, “to Solomon”; which adds, the son of David: or else it may denote the subject of the psalm, and be read, “concerning Solomon” {i}; the Messiah, the antitypical Solomon; who is often called by this name in the Song of Songs; see So 3:7; Solomon being a type of him in his wisdom and riches, and in the peaceableness and extent of his kingdom; to which reference is had in this psalm. But a greater than Solomon is here; that the Messiah is the subject of it is manifest from the largeness of his kingdom, it reaching to the ends of the earth; which was not true of Solomon, Ps 72:8; and from the duration of it, it being as long as the sun and moon endure, Ps 72:5; and from the abundance of peace and prosperity in it, which equally last, Ps 72:3; and from the subjection of kings and nations to him, even all of them, Ps 72:9; and from the happiness of his subjects; they having protection, deliverance, and salvation by him, and all spiritual blessings in him; which shows him to be the promised seed, in whom all nations should be blessed, Ps 72:2, and from the honour, praise, glory, and blessedness, ascribed to him, Ps 72:15. So Tertullian {k}, long ago, observed, that this psalm belongs to Christ, and not to Solomon. And that the Messiah is intended, many of the Jewish writers, both ancient and modern, acknowledge, as appears from the Targum, Talmud, Midrash, and other writings, which will be observed in the exposition of it. Jarchi, though he interprets it of Solomon, yet owns that their Rabbins expound the whole psalm of the Messiah: and Kimchi, who explains it hyperbolically of Solomon, acknowledges that, in the proper and literal sense, it is to be understood of the Messiah; and which is the sense given by his father, R. Joseph Kimchi. Aben Ezra says, this psalm is either concerning Solomon, or concerning the Messiah; but Abarbinel {l} makes no doubt that it is said concerning him. R. Obadiah says, it is concerning the coming of the Messiah; and to this agrees the title in the Syriac version,

“and a prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah, and the calling of the Gentiles.”

{h} hmlvl “ipsius Selomoh”, Vatablus; Salomonis, Cocceius. {i} “De Salomone”, Muis. {k} Adv. Marcion. l. 5. c. 9. {l} Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 78. 2, 3.

Ver. 1. Give the King thy judgments, O God,… A prayer of David, or of the church he represents, to God the Father concerning Christ; for he is “the King” meant; which is the sense of the old Jewish synagogue: the Targum is,

“give the constitutions of thy judgments to the King Messiah;”

and so their Midrash {m} interprets it. He is “the King”, by way of eminence, as in Ps 45:1; not only the King of the world in right of creation and preservation, in conjunction; with his Father, having an equal right with him; but of saints, of the church and people of God, by the designation and constitution of his Father; hence he was promised and prophesied of as a King, Jer 23:5 Zec 9:9; and he came into the world as such, though his kingdom did not appear very manifest in his state of humiliation; yet at his ascension it did, when he was made and declared Lord and Christ; and it is for the manifestation of his kingdom, and the glory of it, the psalmist here prays. For by “judgments” are meant not the statutes and laws of God, given him to be shown, explained unto, and enforced on others, which rather belongs to his prophetic office, or as the rule of his government; nor the judgments of God to be inflicted upon wicked men, which is only one part of his kingly office; but of all power in heaven and in earth, which was given him by his Father upon his resurrection, and about the time of his ascension, Mt 28:18; and is the same with “all judgment” committed by him to his Son, Joh 5:22; and which explains the clause here, and is the reason why it is expressed in the plural number here; which takes in the whole of the power and authority, the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom, delivered to Christ; and which chiefly lies in the government of the church, which is on his shoulders, and is committed into his hand; exercised in enacting laws, and delivering out ordinances, to be observed by the saints, and in the protection and defence of them; and also includes his judgment of the world at the last day, to which he is ordained and appointed by his Father, and will be managed and conducted by him;

and thy righteousness unto the King’s Son; who is the same with the King, as Jarchi well observes; for only one single person is afterwards spoken of, and designs the Messiah; who, as a divine Person, is the Son of the King of kings, the only begotten of the Father, the true and proper Son of God; and, as man, the Son of David the king. And so the Targum,

“and thy righteousness to the Son of David the king;”

a known name of the Messiah, Mt 1:1. And by “righteousness” is meant, not the essential righteousness of God; this Christ has by nature equally with his divine Father, and is not given or communicated to him; but the fulness of the graces of the Spirit, and perfection of virtues, which he received without measure; whereby, as Mediator, he is abundantly qualified to judge with righteousness, and reprove with equity; and not as other judges do, after the sight of the eyes, or hearing of the ears; see Isa 11:2. Unless it can be understood of the everlasting righteousness, which Christ has wrought out, called his Father’s, because appointed in council and covenant, approved of and accepted by him, and imputed to his people. To work out this righteousness was not only given to Christ in covenant, but he was sent in the fulness of time to do it; and had a power given him, as Mediator, to justify many with it, Isa 53:11; and which may be here prayed for. Jerom, by the “King’s Son”, understands such as are regenerated, and taken into the adoption of children; and to such the righteousness of God is given. This is a truth, but not the sense of the text.

{m} In Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 112. 2.

Psalms 72:2

Ver. 2. He shall judge thy people with righteousness,… Or, “so shall he judge”; or, “that he may judge” {n}, as the Syriac and Arabic versions; having the judgments and righteousness of God given him, he will be thereby qualified to judge the people of God; such as are so, not by creation, but by special grace; his chosen and covenant people, the redeemed and purchased people of God, and who in the effectual calling appear to be so, and are made his willing people. These Christ judges, rules, and governs, protects and defends, in a righteous manner; pleads their cause, vindicates their right, and avenges them on their enemies, as well as justifies them with his own righteousness;

and thy poor with judgment; justice and equity. Such who are literally poor, and are the Lord’s poor, whom he has chosen, and makes rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom; and with whom Christ, when here on earth, was chiefly concerned, and now is; and not with the great men and rulers of the earth: or such who are poor in spirit, sensible of their spiritual poverty; that find themselves hungry and thirsty, and destitute of righteousness, and without money, or anything to procure either. Or, “thine afflicted ones” {o}; such as are distressed in body or mind, with respect to things temporal or spiritual; oppressed by sin, Satan, and the world, These Christ regards, and administers justice to in his own time and way; see Isa 11:4.

{n} Nydy “ut jus dicat”, Tigurine version; so Ainsworth. {o} Kyne “afflictos tuos”, Montanus, Vatablus, Musculus, Piscator, Gejerus, Michaelis, Tiguriue version.

Psalms 72:3

Ver. 3. The mountains shall bring peace to the people,… The people of God, as before. Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret this of the nations, and kings of the nations, comparable to mountains and hills, as in Mic 6:1; that should make peace with Israel in the days of Solomon, and in the days of the King Messiah. Jarchi, of the abundance of fruit the mountains and hills should bring forth; so that there would be no contention among men about gathering it; but everyone would invite his neighbour to partake thereof, according to Zec 3:10, and so the Midrash {p}. The Targum explains it of the inhabitants of the mountains; and may be applied to the churches of Christ, comparable to the mountains for their firmness and stability, Isa 2:2; and to the abundance of peace, holiness, and righteousness, that should be found in them in the times of Christ; or to the ministers of the Gospel, whose feet are beautiful, upon the mountains publishing peace and salvation by Christ, Isa 52:7;

and the little hills by righteousness: that is, shall bring peace, by or with righteousness, the righteousness of Christ; the effect of which is spiritual peace and joy, Ro 5:1.

{p} In Yalkut Simeoni, ut supra. (par. 2. fol. 112. 2.)

Psalms 72:4

Ver. 4. He shall judge the poor of the people,… Of the people of God, whether among Jews or Gentiles; See Gill on “Ps 72:2”;

he shall save the children of the needy; whose parents being needy, they are so too, in a spiritual sense, and in distressed circumstances. Such Christ saves from their sins; from the curses and condemnation of the law: from, wrath to come, and out of the hands of all their enemies;

and shall break in pieces the oppressor; the tyrant Satan, the god of this world; that has usurped a power over it; who works in the children of disobedience, and leads captive the people of God in their unregenerate state: the “calumniator”, as some render the word; the accuser of the brethren: “the defrauder” {q}, as others: who beguiled our first parents, and deceives mankind. Now it was foretold of Christ that he should break his head; and he was manifested in the flesh to destroy his works; and him himself; and he has broke him and all his schemes in pieces, and spoiled all his principalities and powers: The Syriac Version reads, “tyrants” or “oppressors”, in the plural number; and it may include the Jews, who were the persecutors and oppressors of the first Christians; and Rome, Pagan and Papal; antichrist, and all the antichristian states, which have been, or will be, broken to pieces by Christ; who will rule them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces as a potter’s vessel, Re 2:27.

{q} qvwe “calumniatorem”, Pagninus, Tigurine version, Vatablus, Musculus; “fraudatorem”, Muis, Cocceius.

Psalms 72:5

Ver. 5. They shall fear thee,… The King Messiah, the Judge of the poor, and the destroyer of the oppressor: either the tyrants and oppressors themselves shall fear him, and such who have been aiding and assisting to them; see Re 11:11; or rather the people of God, the poor of the people, and children of the needy, judged and saved by Christ; who shall fear the Lord, both internally and externally, in the exercise of grace, and in the performance of religious worship; in all the parts of it, which are both included in the fear of the Lord; of which there will be many instances, both among Jews and Gentiles, in the latter day; see Ho 3:5; and this they shall do,

as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations; or, “with the sun, and before the moon, generation of generations” {r}; that is, to the end of the world, until sun and moon shall be no more: so long will Christ have a seed to serve him:; see Ps 89:36.

{r} Sic Eth. Syr. Arab. Apollinarius, Vatablus, & Cocceius.

Psalms 72:6

Ver. 6. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass,… That is, the King and King’s Son, the Messiah, whose coming is compared to rain, and showers of it; see Ho 6:3; and may be understood of his incarnation; when, like rain, he came down from heaven; not by an illapse or entrance of the human nature, which before was not in him; nor by local motion of his divine Person, with which that will not agree; but by assumption of human nature into union with him, as the Son of God; which was an instance of his condescending grace: like rain, he had no father as man; see Job 38:28; but was born of a virgin, through the power of the Holy Ghost; which was very marvellous, like the dew that fell on Gideon’s fleece, when the earth about it was dry; which some think is here referred to. The word used signifies also a shorn fleece of wool; and so it is rendered by the Septuagint, and those versions which follow that: or, “shorn grass”, shorn by locusts, as the Targum; rather by sheep, who, as by classical writers {s}, are said to sheer the grass by biting it. Or, “like rain upon the fleece” {t}; and as the rain is the gift of God to persons undeserving, in consequence of a decree, Job 28:26; sometimes comes suddenly, and is very grateful and refreshing; so Christ is the free gift of God to sinners, and by a decree of his; and his coming was suddenly, into his temple, and was welcome to them that looked for him; as he still is to all sensible sinners. Or this may be interpreted of the coming of Christ into the hearts of his people, by the communications of his Spirit and grace, which, like rain, came down from heaven; are dependent on the will of God, are free grace gifts, and given in abundance; and, like rain, refresh, revive, and make fruitful. Or else this may be applied to the administration of Christ’s offices; as his prophetic office, his Gospel and doctrine, being from heaven, like rain, and falling, by divine direction, sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; and like it in its effects, softening, quickening, and fructifying; and more especially it may respect the administration of his kingly office, since he is in the context spoken of as a King and Judge, and that in the latter day; whose administrations, though just and righteous; yet not cruel and severe, but mild and gentle; his commands are not grievous, nor his yoke heavy; though he will rule the wicked with a rod of iron, he holds forth the sceptre of grace and mercy to his own people; and when his kingdom shall come in all its glory, it will be times refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and his favour will be as the cloud of the latter rain; see Ac 3:19;

as showers [that] water the earth: signifying the same. The word

Pyzrz is only in this place, and is used in the Talmud {u}, in the plural number, for drops of water; and this sense of showers dropping on the earth is given by the Targum. Kimchi derives it from Prz, which, in the Syriac language, signifies to “cut”; and thinks the phrase is the same with the former, “as showers on the cut grass of the earth” {w}. But perhaps the word rather designs the fissures and cracks of the earth through drought; and the sense is, that Christ’s coming is like showers of rain upon the dry and parched ground, which are very acceptable to it.

{s} “Tondentes gramen oves”, Ovid. de Remed. Amor. l. 1. “Tondentes gramina lanigerae pecudes”, Lucret. c. 2. {t} zg le “super vellus”, V. L. Pagninus, Montanus. {u} T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 87. 1. {w} In Sepher Shorash. rad. Pwrz.

Psalms 72:7

Ver. 7. In his days shall the righteous flourish,… As the grass of the field, Ps 72:16; the dews and rain of grace descending upon them; and as a branch, Pr 11:28. They being branches in Christ the vine, flourish and bring forth fruit; and as the palm tree, Ps 92:12; which the more it is pressed with weights, the more it grows; so they, the more they are afflicted, as the Israelites, the more they grow in grace and experience, and become fruitful in every good word and work; which is owing to their being planted in a good soil, in the house and courts of the Lord, where the word is preached, and ordinances administered; to their being rooted and grounded in the love of God and grace of Christ; to their being watered continually with the dews of divine favour; enjoying the bright shining of the sun of righteousness, and the refreshing gales of the divine Spirit, like the south wind upon them, causing their spices to flow out. The Targum is,

“in his days the righteous shall be multiplied;”

when the forces and fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in, and the nation of the Jews shall be born at once: in the latter days of the Messiah, all the Lord’s people shall be righteous; and none but righteous persons shall dwell in the new heavens and earth, Isa 60:21 2Pe 3:13. This is to be understood not of persons outwardly righteous only; nor that are so in their own conceit; nor that seek for righteousness by the works of the law, or depend on an external profession of religion; for such never flourish, nor grow in grace, who have no grace to grow in: but of such that are justified by the righteousness of Christ, have faith in him, and the seed of grace implanted in them. This is interpreted of the Messiah, by a Jewish writer {x}; who observes, that in his days the priesthood shall return, and the rod of Aaron shall flourish;

and abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth; alluding, no doubt, to the name of Solomon, which signifies peace; and to that peace and prosperity which were enjoyed under his reign, and was a shadow of what would be in the times of Christ: universal peace, in a temporal sense, was in the times of Augustus, in which Christ was born, and in whose reign the temple of Janus was shut, a sure sign of peace {y}. Spiritual peace was made with God by his blood, and all things were reconciled by him, whether in heaven or in earth; Jew and Gentile were made both one, and reconciled in one body; and abundance of spiritual peace is enjoyed by those that believe in Christ: they are kept in perfect peace, and filled with it; and in the latter day there will be abundance of peace among the saints, There will be no disputes nor discord among them; no envying nor vexing one another; no animosities or contentions about religious matters; for they will then see eye to eye: and they will be at peace with the men of the world; there will be no more wars in the earth, nor bloodshed, nor persecution. And this shall endure till there is no moon, till there shall be no need of one; as there will not in the New Jerusalem state, in which there will be no night.

{x} Baal Hatiurim in Numb. fol. 169. 3. {y} Vell. Patercul. Hist. Rom. l. 2. Aurel. Victor. de Vir. Illust. Addit. c. 2. de Caesar. c. 1.

Psalms 72:8

Ver. 8. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,… The same is said of the Messiah in Zec 9:10; where he is manifestly spoken of as here, and regards the extent of his dominion; not over the land of Israel only, as some think; but over the Gentile world, through the preaching of the Gospel in the several parts of it; and especially as it will be in the latter day, when the kingdoms of this world will be his, and he will be King over all the earth; see Re 17:14; which cannot agree with Solomon, whose dominion reached only to the land of the Philistines, to the border of Egypt, 1Ki 4:21; but Christ’s dominion will be, as it follows,

and from the river unto the ends of the earth; which, as Kimchi owns, is clear, if applied to the Messiah, since his government shall be over all the world. The note of Aben Ezra on the text is worthy of regard.

“If this is said concerning Solomon, the meaning is, from the Red sea to the sea of the Philistines; and from the river, this is Euphrates; and the ends of the earth mean the wilderness; (see Ex 23:31); and, lo, mention is made of the length and breadth of the land of Israel: and if of the Messiah, the sense is, from the south sea, which is called the Idumean sea, to the northern sea, which is the sea of the ocean; and from the river, the river that goes out of Eden at the beginning of the east, unto the ends of the earth, which is at the end of the west;”

though rather the sense is, from the Indian ocean, the great sea, unto the Mediterranean sea; and from the river Euphrates to the end of the world. This text is applied to the Messiah by many Jewish writers {z}, ancient and modern.

{z} Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Exod. fol. 49. 4. Bemidbar Rabba, s. 13. fol. 209. 4. Baal Hatturim in Num. fol. 178. 4. R. Nachman. Disput. cum fratre Paulo, p. 41.

Psalms 72:9

Ver. 9. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him,… In token of subjection to him, reverence and worship of him, to whom every knee shall bow, Isa 45:23. The Septuagint version, and others, render the word Myyu, “Ethiopians”, who dwell in a dry land, parched and burnt with the sun; and so it is a prophecy of their conversion to Christ, as in Ps 68:31; of which there is an instance, Ac 8:27; the word is used of the wild beasts of the field, in Isa 13:21; to which wicked men, for the malignity of their nature, may be compared; as they are to the wild ass, to lions, leopards, and bears; and yet these are so tamed by the power of divine grace as to be made subject to Christ. Kimchi explains it as we do, of the inhabitants of the wilderness; and so the word is rendered in Ps 74:14; and instances in the Kedarenes; and it may in particular design those that dwell in the deserts of Arabia; and in general the Gentiles, the wilderness of the people, who in Gospel times should be brought to the knowledge of Christ, and submission to him: and it fitly describes the people of God in an unregenerate state; when they are as barren and unfruitful as the dry and parched ground, and as the heath in the wilderness; are in want of provision, and have nothing but husks to feed upon; in perplexity of ways, and know not which to take, or whither they are going; and in very dangerous circumstances, destruction and misery being in all their ways: in this wilderness state the Lord finds them, as he did Israel of old, and leads them about, and brings them to Christ; when they submit to him as a Saviour, being willing to be saved by him, and him only, and to his righteousness, as their justifying righteousness before God, and to the sceptre of his kingdom, to his laws and commands, to his Gospel, and the ordinances of it; all which they do not by constraint, but willingly. The Targum and Jarchi interpret it, the one of governors of provinces; the other of companies of princes. The Syriac version is, “the isles shall bow before him”; the inhabitants of the islands: but this is expressed in Ps 72:10. Aben Ezra thinks masters of ships are meant;

and his enemies shall lick the dust; of the earth; which is an instance of their great subjection to him; see Isa 49:23; the allusion is to the custom of the eastern people, and which continues to this day with the Turks, that as soon as an ambassador sees the sultan, whether at the window, or elsewhere, he immediately falls down on his knees, and kisses the ground {a}. The Jews particularly are the enemies of Christ, who rejected him, and would not have him to reign over them; and yet some of these became obedient to the faith of Christ, and more of them, even the whole nation, will in the latter day: all that are Christ’s are, before conversion, enemies to him, to his people, to his Gospel and ordinances, to him as a King, and to all his laws and commands; but when his arrows are sharp in their hearts, they fall under him, and submit to him; throw off the yoke of sin, Satan, and the world, and own him, and obey him, as their King and Lawgiver.

{a} Mandevil. Itinerar. c. 7.

Psalms 72:10

Ver. 10. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents,… Tarshish either signifies the sea, as it is sometimes rendered in the Targum; and then the sense is, the kings of the sea, that is, of the islands of the sea, as it follows, shall be subject to the kingdom of Christ; and, as a token of it, bring presents to him, as the Moabites and Syrians did to David, and as several nations and kings did to Solomon, 2Sa 8:2; or it designs a large country inhabited by the Celtae {b}, and so is distinct from the islands; and then the sense is, that kings, both of the continent, and of the islands of the sea, shall do homage to the Messiah;

and the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts; the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions, render it, “the kings of the Arabians and Saba”; and so Apollinarius, the Arabians, and Sabeans, these being places in Arabia Felix and Petraea {c}: this will be fulfilled when the kings of the earth shall bring their honour and glory into the New Jerusalem, Re 21:24. This, and the preceding verse, are interpreted of the Messiah by the ancient Jews {d}; who say {e}, that all the gifts that Jacob their father gave to Esau, the nations of the world shall return them to the King Messiah in time to come, according to the sense of these words; where it is not written “they shall bring”; but whyvy {f}, “they shall return [presents]”.

{b} Hiller. Onomast. p. 944. {c} Hiller. ibid. p. 165, 920. {d} Zohar in Gen. fol. 71. 1. {e} Bereshit Rabba, s. 78. fol. 69. 1. Bemidbar Rabba, s. 13. fol. 210. {f} “Redire facient, vel reddant”, Muis.

Psalms 72:11

Ver. 11. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him,… Or worship him; not with a civil, but religious worship; for such worship is due to Christ, he being God equal with the Father, and so to be equally honoured; the Creator of all things, the Redeemer of his people, Head and Lord of the church, and whom the angels adore; every part of worship is to be given him; internal, which lies in the exercise of faith, hope, love, fear, &c. and external, which consists of prayer to him, praise of him, preaching in his name, and the administration of ordinances; and this worship is to be performed in the same manner as to the Father, in spirit and in truth, in righteousness and holiness, with reverence and godly fear. This is to be understood, either literally of the kings of the earth, and which will have its full accomplishment in the latter day; see Isa 49:23; or mystically of such who are made kings unto God the Father by Christ; who reign spiritually now, through the power of divine grace in their hearts; have the honour, riches, and attendance of kings, and a crown and kingdom prepared for them; and shall reign with Christ on earth, though under him, at whose feet they cast their crowns: all this shows the dignity of Christ’s person and office; that he is the Prince of the kings of the earth, the firstborn of God, whom he has made higher than they, and King of kings, and Lord of lords; whose princes, and all whose subjects, are altogether kings. This passage is allowed to belong to the Messiah, both by ancient and modern Jews {g}; and indeed it never was true of Solomon, nor of any other;

all nations shall serve him; which will be in the latter day; see Isa 2:2; the Jews say {h}, that in the world to come, or the times of the Messiah, all the Gentiles shall be voluntary proselytes.

{g} Zohar in Gen. fol. 84. 4. Bemidbar Rabba, s. 13. fol. 209. 4. Midrash Megillat Esther, fol. 86. 2. R. Isaac Chizzuk Emunah, par. 1. p. 44. {h} T. Avodah Zarah, fol. 24. 1.

Psalms 72:12

Ver. 12. For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth,… Such as are not only in want, but are sensible of it, see their need of Christ and his righteousness, and salvation by him, and cry to him for the same, under a sense of their misery and danger; these he delivers out of all their troubles, and out of the hands of all their enemies, and supplies all their need;

the poor also; the poor in spirit; who acknowledge their spiritual poverty, and apply to him for the true riches; to these he gives gold tried in the fire, that they may be rich; he gives them grace here, and glory hereafter;

and [him] that hath no helper; that is in an helpless condition; can neither help himself, nor can any creature, angel or man, give him any help: but this being laid on Christ, and found in him, is given to him, whereby he is delivered out of a miserable state into a very comfortable and happy one; and such humane, kind, and tender regard to the needy, poor, and helpless, in this great King spoken of, is what engages to a cheerful subjection to him, and worship and reverence of him; more of which is expressed in the following verses, as the reason of the great esteem he should be had in.

Psalms 72:13

Ver. 13. He shall spare the poor and needy,… Pity them, have mercy and compassion on them, and sympathize with them; such an one is Christ, a merciful King, as well as High Priest, who is touched with a feeling of his people’s infirmities, and who in his love and pity has redeemed them;

and shall save the souls of the needy; not to the exclusion of their bodies, which are also his care and charge, are bought with his blood, are preserved by him, will be raised from the dead, and made like his glorious body; but souls are mentioned as being the most excellent part of man, and which having sinned, are liable to damnation and the second death; and are therefore the special objects of redemption and salvation; these are saved by him from all their sins, and from wrath to come they deserve; hence his name is called “Jesus”, a Saviour.

Psalms 72:14

Ver. 14. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence,… From all the secret and open designs and efforts of their enemies; “from deceit”, and deceitfulness of sin and its lusts, so as that they shall not be finally hardened and destroyed by it; from the deceitfulness of the old serpent the devil, and all his cunning wiles and stratagems; and from false teachers, who lie in wait to deceive, and who would, if possible, deceive the very elect, but shall not: and from “violence”; from the violent and tyrannical power of sin, so as that it shall not have the dominion over them; from the rage and fury of the men of the world, which is overcome by him; and from Satan, the strong man armed, who is stronger than they; from him the devouring lion, who will not be able to snatch them out of Christ’s hands;

and precious shall their blood be in his sight; so that he either prevents the shedding of it, or, when shed, avenges it; and dear are such persons to him; and very acceptable is the sacrifice of their lives for his sake, who have the honour to suffer martyrdom for him; see Ps 116:15.

Psalms 72:15

Ver. 15. And he shall live,… Either the poor and needy man, saved and redeemed by Christ; he, though dead in trespasses and sins, shall live spiritually, be quickened together with Christ, and by his Spirit, and live a life of faith and holiness; and though dead by law, yet, through the righteousness of Christ, shall have the justification of life, and live in the sight of God; and so shall live comfortably by faith in Christ, being filled with joy and peace in believing in him; and though he may lose his life for Christ’s sake, he shall find it again, and live eternally with him: or the Messiah, the Saviour and Redeemer of the poor and needy; who, though he was to die, and by his precious blood redeem them; yet should live again, and never die anymore; as he now does live at the right hand of God, where he ever lives to make intercession for his people, as well as lives in their hearts, and supplies them with all grace, and keeps alive his own work on their souls;

and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: or Arabia, as Apollinarius; either to the poor and needy, to whom is given faith, which is more precious than gold that perisheth; or the knowledge of Christ, which is preferable to gold and silver; and of the doctrines of the Gospel, which are of more value than thousands of gold and silver: also the justifying righteousness of Christ, which is the free gift, and is called clothing of wrought gold, and is signified by gold of Ophir, Ps 45:9; moreover, this may include all the riches of Christ, his durable and unsearchable riches; his riches of grace and glory, which he bestows upon his subjects; so that the poor and needy are not only saved and redeemed, and live through him; but are made rich by him, become rich in faith, and heirs of a kingdom: or to the Messiah, who had gold presented to him, in his infancy, Mt 2:11; though rather it is to be understood spiritually of the exercise of faith upon him, and every other grace, which is as gold tried in the fire; and which, as it comes from Christ, it is given to him again. A truly gracious soul gives Christ the best it has: it gives him its whole self, body and soul, its heart and affections, and all its grace, and the glory of all;

prayer also shall be made for him continually; or “he shall pray for him” {i}; that is, either Christ shall pray for the poor and needy man; not only save and redeem, but make intercession for him, as Christ does for all he redeems: he prays for them, that they may be enriched with all the blessings of grace; that the gold he gives them may be kept; that their faith fail not; that they may be preserved from the evil of the world, and be with him, where he is, to behold his glory: or the poor and needy shall pray for Christ, for the prosperity of his church, for the increase of his interest, and the coming of his kingdom: or “prayer shall be made by him”; or “through him continually” {k}; as the Mediator between God and man, the way of access to God, through whom petitions are offered to him, and become acceptable with him;

[and] daily shall he be praised; or “daily shall he bless him” {l}; either Christ shall daily bless the poor and needy, with spiritual blessings, as he stands in need of them, and even load him with his benefits: or he shall bless Christ, ascribe blessing, honour, praise, and glory to him; because of his perfections and excellencies; because of redemption and salvation by him; and on account of the various blessings of grace, and the daily supplies of it, he receives from him.

{i} wdeb llptyw “et orabit pro eo”, Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius. {k} “Per ipsum”, Genebrardus; “per et propter eum”, Calvinus apud Michaelim. {l} whnkrby “benedicet ei”, Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius.

Psalms 72:16

Ver. 16. There shall be an handful of corn,… By which are not meant the people of Christ, compared to corn, or wheat, in distinction from hypocrites, said to be as chaff, Mt 2:12; who are but few, yet fruitful and flourishing; nor the Gospel, so called in opposition to the chaff of false doctrine, Jer 23:28; nor the blessings of grace, signified by corn, wine, and oil, Jer 31:12; but Christ, who compares himself to a corn of wheat, Joh 12:24; for its choiceness and purity, and for its usefulness for food; and he may be compared to an handful of it, because of the little account he was made of here on earth, and the little that was expected from him; and on account of the small beginnings of his kingdom, which came not with observation, was like a little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and like a grain of mustard seed: so R. Obadiah Gaon {m} interprets these words,

“an handful of corn; that is, the Messiah shall be at first as an handful of corn; but afterwards a multitude of disciples shall grow as the grass;”

in the earth; that is, sown in the earth: this denotes not Christ’s being on the earth in the days of his flesh; but his death and burial, his descending into the lower parts of the earth, where he continued a while to answer the type of Jonah; and which is represented by a corn of wheat falling into the earth and dying, Joh 12:24; by which is signified, that Christ’s death was not accidental, but designed, as is the sowing of corn in the earth; and that it was voluntary, and not forced, and was but for a time: for as the corn dies, and lives again, and does not lie always under the clods; so Christ rose again; nor could he be held with the cords of death. It is added,

upon the top of the mountains; where corn being sown, it is very unlikely it should come to anything; and as little was expected by the Jews from the crucifixion and death of Christ: or else this may denote the publicness of Christ’s death, it being a fact known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and many others;

the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; meaning either a large number of souls converted, the fruit of Christ’s death, and of the Gospel ministry; of whom there was a large harvests, both in Judea and in the Gentile world, in the first times of the Gospel, immediately after Christ’s death and resurrection; and there will be still a greater in the latter day: or else the blessings of grace are meant, which come by the death and resurrection of Christ; as righteousness, peace, pardon, and eternal life. The allusion is to a field of wheat when ripe, and its ears heavy, which, when the wind blows upon it, is shaken, rustles, and makes a noise {n}, like the shaking of trees, and even of the cedars in Lebanon; it denotes the goodness and excellency or the fruit;

and [they] of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth; or “they shall flourish out of the city” {o}; which the Targum interprets of the city of Jerusalem; and so the Talmud {p}, and also Jarchi; and was literally true; for the Gospel, after Christ’s death, was first preached in the city of Jerusalem, and was blessed for the conversion of many there, who were fruitful in grace and good works: it may very well be understood of all the citizens of Sion; such who are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, who being planted in the house of the Lord, flourish in the court of our God, and become very fruitful in every good word and work; and flourish like grass of the earth for numbers, for quickness of growth, and for verdure and beauty; all which is owing to their being rooted in Christ, to his coming down upon them as rain, Ps 72:6; to the dews of his grace, and to his arising upon them as the sun of righteousness. The ancient Jews interpreted this passage of the Messiah:

“as the first Redeemer, they say {q}, caused manna to descend, as it is said, Ex 16:4; so the latter Redeemer shall cause manna to descend, as it is said, “there shall be an handful of corn in the earth”.”

Jarchi says our Rabbins interpret this of the dainties in the days of the Messiah, and the whole psalm concerning the King Messiah.

{m} In Viccars. in loc. {n} “Corpus ut impulsae segetes aquilonibus horret”, Ovid. Epist. 10. v. 139. {o} ryem “de civilate”, V. L. Musculus, Gejerus; so Montanus, Tigurine version, Cocceius, Michaelis. {p} T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 111. 2. {q} Midrash Kohelet, fol. 63. 2.

Psalms 72:17

Ver. 17. His name shall endure for ever,… As a King; for he is chiefly spoken of here in his kingly office: not merely the fame of him; for so the fame of an earthly king; even of a tyrant, may continue as long as the world does; but the meaning is, that he himself should continue in his office for ever: his throne is for ever and ever; of his government there will be no end; his kingdom is an everlasting one; he shall reign over the house of Jacob, and on the throne of David, for ever and ever: he shall have no successor in this his office, any more than in the priestly office; which is an unchangeable one, or does not pass from one to another: his Gospel is his name, Ac 9:15; and that shall endure for ever, or to the end of the world; until all his elect are gathered in, notwithstanding the violent persecutions of men, the cunning craft of false teachers, and the death of Gospel ministers and professors: as long as this is preached, Christ’s name will endure, since he is the sum and substance of it; and not only is his name perpetuated in his Gospel, but also in his ordinances, those of baptism and the Lord’s supper, which are administered in his name, and will be unto his second coming;

his name shall be continued as long as the sun; or “shall be sonned” or “filiated” {r}; that is, shall be continued in his sons, in his spiritual offspring, as long as the sun lasts; as the names of parents are continued in their children; so the name of Christ is, and will be, continued in him: he has children which the Lord has given him; a seed that he shall see in all periods of time, to whom he stands in the relation of the everlasting Father; these bear his name, are called “Christians” from him, and these his seed and offspring shall endure for ever: for though sometimes their number may be few; yet there are always some in the worst of times; Christ has always had some to bear his name, and ever will have; and in the latter day they will be very numerous, even as the sand of the sea. The Jews take the word “Yinnon”, here used, for a name of the Messiah {s}, and render the words, “before the sun his name was Yinnon”; and so the Targum,

“before the sun was, or was created, (as in the king’s Bible,) his name was prepared;”

or appointed: for they say {t}, the name of the Messiah was one of the seven things created before the world was: it is certain that Christ was the Son of God, from eternity, or the eternal Son of God: he was so before his resurrection from the dead, when he was only declared, and did not then become the Son of God: he was owned by his divine Father, and believed in as the Son of God by men before that time: he was so before his incarnation, and not by that: he, the Son of God, was sent in human nature, and made manifest in it, and was known by David and Solomon, under that relation; and, as such, he was concerned in the creation of all things; and was in the day of eternity, and from all eternity, the only begotten Son of the Father; see Ps 2:7; but the version and sense which Gussetius {u} gives seem best of all; “his name shall generate”, or “beget children before the sun”; that is, his name preached, as the Gospel, which is his name, Ac 9:15, shall be the means of begetting many sons and daughters openly and publicly, in the face of the sun, and wherever that is;

and [men] shall be blessed in him; men, and not angels, sinful men; such as are by nature children of wrath, and cursed by the law of works, yet blessed in Christ; even all elect men, all that are chosen in him, whether Jews or Gentiles; for he is the “seed [of] Abraham”, in whom “all the nations of the earth should be blessed”, Ge 22:18; as they are with all spiritual blessings; with redemption, peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life: they are in him, and blessed in him; he is their head and representative, and so blessed in him; he is the fountain, cause, author, and giver of all blessings; they all come from him, through him, and for his sake, through his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice. Or, “they shall be blessed in him”: that is, his children and spiritual offspring, in whom his name is perpetuated. Or, “they shall bless themselves in him” {w}; reckon themselves blessed in him, and make their boast of him, and glory in him;

all nations shall call him blessed; as he is a divine Person; not only the Son of the Blessed, but God over all, blessed for ever; and as man, being set at the right hand of God, crowned with glory and honour, and all creatures, angels and men, subject to him; and as Mediator, acknowledging him to be the fountain of all blessedness to them, and, upon that account, ascribing all blessing, honour, glory, and praise, unto him.

{r} Nwny “filiabitur”, Montanus, Vatablus, Michaelis. {s} T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2. Midrash Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2. Pirke Eliezer, c. 32. fol. 33. 2. {t} T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 54. 1. Nedarim, fol. 39. 2. Bereshit Bereihit Rabba, s. 1. fol. 1. 2. {u} Ebr. Comment. p. 511. {w} wb wkrbtyw “et benedicentes sibi in eo”, Junius & Tremellius; so Cocceius, Michaelis, Ainsworth.

Psalms 72:18

Ver. 18. Blessed [be] the Lord God,… The Messiah, who is truly and properly God, Jehovah, Lord of all, and the Lord our righteousness; to whom such a doxology or ascription of glory and blessing properly belongs, since all good things are from him, and by him;

the God of Israel; that brought Israel out of Egypt; went before them in the wilderness; redeemed and saved them, and bore and carried them all the days of old; and in whom all the true Israel of God are justified, and shall be saved with an everlasting salvation;

who only doeth wondrous things; in the creation of all things out of nothing; in the government of the world; and in the redemption and salvation of his people; which is a very marvellous thing: as that God should become man, suffer and die in the room of men, and save them from sin and ruin; this wondrous thing. Christ has done alone, and there was none with him.

Psalms 72:19

Ver. 19. And blessed be his glorious name for ever,… Every name of Christ is glorious in itself, and precious to his people; “like ointment poured forth”, as his name Messiah, to which the allusion is in So 1:3; his name Immanuel, God with us, Isa 7:14; Jehovah our righteousness, Jer 23:6; Jesus a Saviour; as well as what belongs to his royal dignity, King of kings, and Lord of lords; a name above every name that is named in this world, or that to come;

and let the whole earth [be] filled with his glory; as it will be, when his kingdom shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth; when the little stone cut out without hands shall become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth; when the Gospel shall be spread all over the world; and the earth be filled with the knowledge of Christ, by means of it, as the waters cover the sea; and when all nations shall come and worship before him.

Amen, and Amen; which word added is expressive of the desires of the psalmist, that all that he had said might come to pass; and of his faith, that so it would be: and it is repeated to show the vehemence of his desires, and the strength of his faith.

Psalms 72:20

Ver. 20. The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended. The Septuagint version renders it, the hymns. This psalm is thought by some to be the last that was written by David, though put in this place; and it is certain that the psalms are not always placed in the order of time in which they were written: this being, as is supposed, made by him in his old age, when Solomon his son was appointed and set upon his throne by his order; on account of which he composed it, with a view to the Messiah, the antitype of Solomon. Or, as others, this is the last of the psalms, which were put together and digested in order by David himself; the rest that follow being collected by Hezekiah or the Levites. Aben Ezra mentions it as the sense of some of their interpreters,

“then shall be fulfilled the prayers of the son of Jesse;”

that is, as R. Joseph Kimchi explains it, when those consolations are completed, then the prayers of David the son of Jesse shall be fulfilled. The sense is, when all the things spoken of in this psalm, concerning the Messiah and his kingdom, should be accomplished, then the prayers of David, and so of every good man, his hearty wishes and desires, will then be answered, and have their full effect, and not till then. This verse seems to be written not by David, for the psalm itself ends with “Amen and Amen”; but by some collector of the Psalms: it is not in the Arabic version, in the room of which is “Hallelujah”; and in the Syriac version it is, “the end of the second book”. The first book of Psalms ends with the forty first Psalm. The whole is divided into five parts by the Jews; observed by Origen {x} and Hilarius {y}, and others.

{x} Apud Montfaucon. Praelim. ad Hexapla Origen. p. 78, 79. {y} Prolog. in Psalm. p. 33.