A Meditation on Psalm 72

Kevin J Youngblood

For Solomon . . .

. . . The prayers of David, son of Jesse, have been fulfilled

Psalm 72:0, 19; (MT, Psalm 72:1, 20)

Up until recently, I had always simply read the final verse of Psalm 72 as an indication that the collection of Davidic prayers was complete – perhaps an indication that an earlier edition of the Psalter concluded with this psalm. Of course, in the Book of Psalms as we now have it, one finds a number of other Davidic psalms after Psalm 72. I read it, therefore, as nothing more than old scaffolding of the developing structure of the Psalter that someone had forgotten to remove once the collection as a whole was finished (mid 4th century BCE?).

While I still believe that this verse may have originally had this significance, I now read it differently in the light of the heading of Psalm 72 (“for Solomon”) and in the light of the Psalter as a whole. The fact that this psalm is dedicated to Solomon points to the moment when Solomon succeeded David as king, i.e. at the time of David’s death (1 Kings 1). Could this have been David’s deathbed prayer – a prayer for his son and for the success of his reign? The content of the psalm is certainly fitting for such an occasion. The prayer asks God to grant the new king wisdom and compassion for the people of God, especially for the poor and oppressed. It asks that God would guide him to exercise his power for justice and for the cause of the marginalized, the mistreated, and the poor.

This now has me thinking about my own children and how I pray for them. What I want most for my children is that they would share in the reign of the eternal Davidic son, the one greater than Solomon (Matt 12:42; Lk 11:31). I want them to share the Messiah’s concern for justice, mercy, the mistreated, and the poor. I want them to enjoy the eternal life found only in him not only in the world to come but in this world as well. I must admit that I had never considered Psalm 72 as a model for how to pray for my own children, but now I do, and, wow! what a difference it is making in the way that I pray for them and the priorities of my prayers for them.

One final thought – the closing verse of this psalm also identifies David as “the son of Jesse,” not the king of Israel, not the man after God’s own heart, not the founder of the eternal dynasty of the people of God. Why such a simple, understated, farewell for arguably the most significant human character in the Old Testament (David actually receives as much, if not more, narrative space and attention than even Moses, and Jesus did not descend from Moses’ tribe of Levi, but from David’s tribe of Judah.)? Perhaps this is the psalmist’s version of the old Italian proverb, “When the game is over, the king and the pawn both go into the same box.” Or, perhaps it is a foreshadowing of the failure of the Davidic dynasty that will later be lamented in the Psalter (Psalm 89:38-51). Or, perhaps, it is a subtle reference to a family tradition. Who knows what Jesse may have prayed over David, especially after discovering that he would become Israel’s next king? Prayer – what a great family legacy!


I pray for my children a place in your kingdom, that they would seize by obedient faith the opportunity to reign with your Son, our Lord Jesus the Messiah, over the new creation. Give them your heart for the poor and the downtrodden. Enable them to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and to long with all of their hearts for true justice mingled generously with true mercy. Lord Jesus, remember my children when you come into your kingdom. I borrow the words of the thief on their behalf because I am no better than he, and it should have been me hanging on one of those crosses, or, even, God forbid, my children. Thanks to your sacrifice, however, instead of the cross we deserved, we receive a crown we do not deserve, and whatever cross we bear in this life is light by comparison to the one you bore for us. Holy Spirit, so work in me that I might model those qualities I am praying for you to cultivate in them. May I begin reigning with Christ now. May I begin modeling concern for his justice now. May I begin administering his grace and love for the marginalized, mistreated, and the poor NOW so that my children can see Christ reigning and living in me through you, sweet Spirit of God.