Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 72

Till kingdom come

Avoiding both blind faith in our politicians’ promises and rank cynicism over all hope of change, we need to focus on God’s standard for government that enables all to flourish.

A Solomon psalm.

Endow the king with your justice, God
your royal son with righteousness
2 enabling him to judge your people rightly
and your poor with justice.
3 May the mountains yield peace
the hills justice for all.
4 May the king defend the downtrodden
advocate for the children of the poor
and crush their oppressors.
5 May he reign for untold ages—
for as long as the sun shines
and the moon lights up the night sky.
6 May he be like rain falling on fresh-mown grass
like showers moistening the earth.
7 May the just flourish under his rule
and everyone be at peace
till the moon shines no more.
8 May he reign from sea to sea
and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth.
9 The Bedouin tribes will submit to him
and all his enemies lick the dust at his feet.
10 The kings of Tarshish and other far-flung lands
will bring him tribute—
the kings of Sheba and Seba will offer him gifts.
11 All the kings will bow down before him
and all the nations will serve him.
12 He’ll rescue the poor when they cry out to him
the oppressed who have no one to help them.
13 He’ll look with compassion on the poor and lowly
and will save the lives of the needy.
14 He’ll redeem them from violence and oppression
because their blood is precious to him.
15 Long may he live!
May gold from Sheba be given to him
prayers ascend on his behalf continually
and blessings be invoked on him all day long.
16 May there be abundant grain in the land
right up to the mountaintops.
May its fruit flourish like the fruit of Lebanon
and his people flourish in the city
like the grass of the field.
17 May his name be blessed forever
outshining the sun.
May every people be blessed by him
and all nations call him blessed.

18 Blessed be Sovereign YHWH
Israel’s God, who alone performs miracles.
19 May his glorious name be blessed forever
and the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and amen.

20 Thus end the prayers of David, son of Jesse.


Our political leaders and their police, judicial, and military backers are charged with maintaining order for the common good. But no matter the political system, they’re easily seduced by self-serving politics, justified by a sense of entitlement that renders the poor dispensable. They thus disenfranchise people, exploit them through unjust laws and taxation, and turn their youth into cannon fodder for their military adventures—all to support their own lust for wealth and power. The old seer Samuel had warned that Israel’s kings would do this. And one king after another, from Saul to the end of David’s dynasty, proved Samuel right.

Possibly written for his coronation, Solomon here spells out the vision God called Israel’s monarchy to and prays that it may be realized. The king must share his divine master’s moral values, protecting the poor from injustice and creating an environment where everyone can prosper equally. By so doing, he moves in sync with both God and creation, as the land helps make wholeness, peace, prosperity, and righteousness pervasive. Two results of this are that everyone submits to him–even the nomadic Bedouins, the most ungovernable tribes of all–and everyone flourishes.

Israel realized some of its destiny over the nations in David and Solomon’s day, with Solomon’s empire extending all the way to the Euphrates. But Solomon led the nation astray by domesticating and syncretizing Israel’s religion. How ironic, considering that Solomon wrote this psalm. This presents us with a clear case of knowing but being unable to do right. By the time the Jews had returned from exile, they had realized that, while this psalm sets out the ideal for national leadership, it would be fully realized only by God’s promised Messiah. Concluding the Psalter’s second book, the psalm’s closing doxology calls for praise of God alone and longs for the day when his glory fills the earth.

Grant us just government, Lord, with your blessing. Help me to want what you want, to value the lives of the poor and disenfranchised as I do my own life, and to let go of self-interest long enough to learn how I can help right any evils I’m complicit in. May your kingdom come! Amen.

Grant us just government, Lord, with your blessing. Help me to value the lives of the poor and disenfranchised as I do my own life, to let go of self-interest long enough to see how I can help right any evils I’m complicit in. May you reign undisputed, Jesus. May your kingdom come! Amen.

During your free moments today, pray this prayer:

May his glorious name be blessed forever
and the whole earth be filled with his glory!

Why YHWH?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.