Hello! I am Jim Jelinek and with my colleague, the Rev. Alan Neale, we serve the people and community of Trinity Church, Newport, RI. This is another in our series of daily meditations during the time of quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Yesterday in Morning Prayer the appointed psalm was Psalm 72 which I shall read now:
Give the King your justice, O God, * and your righteousness to the King’s Son;
That he may rule your people righteously * and the poor with justice;
That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, *
and the little hills bring righteousness.
He shall defend the needy among the people; *
he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.
He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure, * from one generation to another.
He shall come down like rain upon the mown field, * like showers that water the earth.
In his time shall the righteous flourish; *
there shall be abundance of peace till the moon shall be no more.
He shall rule from sea to sea, * and from the River to the ends of the earth.
His foes shall bow down before him, * and his enemies lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute, *
and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.
All kings shall bow down before him, * and all the nations do him service.
For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, * and the oppressed who has no helper.
He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; * he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, *
and dear shall their blood be in his sight.
Long may he live! And may there be given to him gold from Arabia; *
may prayer be made for him always, and may they bless him all the day long.
May there be abundance of grain on the earth, growing thick even on the hilltops; *
may its fruit flourish like Lebanon, and its grain like grass upon the earth.
May his Name remain for ever and be established as long as the sun endures; *
may all the nations bless themselves in him and call him blessed.
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, * who alone does wondrous deeds!
And blessed be his glorious Name for ever! *
and may all the earth be filled with his glory. Amen. Amen.
I very much like this psalm. I cannot remember having studied it in seminary, and I have none of my OT commentaries around to study it now, nor does Trinity’s library have anything on this. So I will not try to come at it in a scholarly fashion, but as I hear it and imagine the author writing it.
To me it sounds like the author is trying to express the wishes and longings we all have for a ruler; we want the best for him or her. We want our rulers to be so fulfilled in their inner being, that grace and mercy and justice and righteousness will flow out of them and build us up to be a healthy and good society, where everyone counts, everyone is precious. We want leaders and rulers who are so much at peace with themselves that they exude compassion for the poor and lowly, those who seem to have been dealt a bad hand in life. We want rulers who will protect the poor and save or rescue them from their oppressors. We do not mind if they become rich because of the many gifts others give in tribute, as long as they remain just and righteous and uncorrupted.
Verse 17 is very interesting: “May his Name remain for ever and be established as long as the sun endures; may all the nations bless themselves in him and call him blessed.” We want our leaders to have stunning reputations for wisdom and justice and helpfulness and cooperation, so that other leaders will look to them for guidance and partnership and peacefulness.
The psalmist speaks for me. He does not once mention a political point of view, for he is talking about character, the essence of a person, whether the person is true or not, true to him- or herself, true to others, especially those he or she serves, and true to his role, be it as a king, a general, a president, or a prime minister. This psalmist really believes that the integrity of the ruler shapes and blesses the people he or she governs.
The psalmist speaks for me. Let us pray. [BCP, p. 820]
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
God bless each and every one of you and keep you safe, and please do your part so as not to make it harder for God. Have a good day.