Jesus Shall Reign

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(Psalm 72:1-20)

INTRODUCTION: Today is Global Missions Sunday and churches all around the world are focusing on missions and singing variations of the great hymn, “Jesus Shall Reign.” (See Global Hymn Sing at https://www.globalhymnsing.com) It is a wonderful hymn that was written by Isaac Watts and based on the psalm we will be looking at in our message today. Psalm 72 is a fairly long psalm, so we will just read verses 5-7 for right now, but we will look at all the verses together in the course of the message. (Read Psalm 72:5-7 and pray)

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Psalm 72 is an amazing psalm in so many ways. It is a royal psalm because it has to do with the king. It is a prophetic psalm because it has to do with the future. And as we shall see it is a Messianic psalm, because it has to do with Jesus as Messiah.

You may have noticed when reading through the psalms that the book of Psalms is divided into five sections or five smaller books of psalms. Psalm 72 is the last psalm in the second collection or book of psalms which stretch from Psalm 42 to Psalm 72.

The inscription says it is “a psalm of Solomon,” which could mean either a psalm by Solomon or a psalm about Solomon. Most likely it is a psalm written by Solomon as he prays for God’s blessing on his reign as king. However, as we have already mentioned, it is also a Messianic psalm which looks forward to Jesus and describes Jesus’ future reign over all the earth.

If I was going to summarize the whole psalm in one sentence, it would simply be this: “Jesus will reign, so rejoice!” Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, so we will look at this psalm in five sections this morning. 1) Jesus will reign in justice. 2) Jesus will reign forever. 3) Jesus will reign over all the nations. 4) Jesus’ reign will help the weak and needy. 5) Jesus’ reign will be blessed and a blessing

1. Jesus will reign in justice (1-4)

So, let’s begin with the first section. Jesus will reign in justice. Look at verses 1-4:

“Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 2 He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. 3 The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. 4 He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.” (Psalm 72:1-4)

The whole psalm begins with a prayer to endow the king with justice. Notice the king is called the royal son in verse one. We have already seen how on one level this psalm is about Solomon, who was David’s royal son. But this phrase, royal son, also emphasizes the line of succession starting with David. And so, although this psalm is about Solomon on one level, it is ultimately fulfilled by another royal son, another Son of David – Jesus, the Messiah, who stands within the rightful line of kings.

The psalm goes on to show us three ways that Jesus will reign in justice. Jesus shares God’s righteousness. He will judge the people with justice. He will defend the afflicted and crush the oppressor.

   – Jesus shares God’s righteousness (Hebrews 1:8)

First of all, Jesus shares God’s righteousness. Notice the prayer in verse one: “Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness.” Although God may have fulfilled these requests through Solomon on a small scale, only Jesus, the Son of God, truly shares God’s righteousness. We read this about Jesus in Hebrews 1:8: “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” (Hebrews 1:8) Here Jesus is addressed as God and as one who shares God’s very throne and righteousness. Jesus will reign in justice first of all because Jesus shares God’s righteousness.

   – He will judge the people with justice (John 5:22)

Secondly, Jesus will judge the people with justice. Look at verses 2-3: “He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. 3 The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness.” (Psalm 72:2-3) Because Jesus shares God’s righteousness, he will judge the people with justice.

John 5:22 says: “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22) God the Father has entrusted all judgment to God the Son. Now there’s a reason God hasn’t entrusted all judgment to you or me. Because he doesn’t trust us! And he shouldn’t trust us. None of us are qualified to judge the whole world with justice. But the Father has entrusted all judgment to the Son, because the Father knows the Son will judge with perfect justice, righteousness and fairness.

   – He will defend the afflicted and crush the oppressor (Rev 11:18)

Jesus shares God’s righteousness, he will judge the people with justice, and thirdly, he will defend the afflicted and crush the oppressor. That’s what verse 4 says: “He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.” (Psalm 72:4)

The poor and afflicted will also be judged fairly, and those who oppress others will be taken to task. Revelation 11:18 says this about Jesus: “The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants … and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:18)

The poor are too often taken advantage of in this world by the powerful and the wealthy. But Jesus will defend the afflicted and crush the oppressor. He will show no partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great but will judge all the people fairly. (Leviticus 19:15) That’s the first thing this psalm tells us about Jesus’ reign. Jesus will reign in justice.

2. Jesus will reign forever (5-7)

Secondly, Jesus will reign forever. Look at verses 5-7:

“He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. 6 He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. 7 In his days the righteous will flourish; prosperity will abound till the moon is no more.” (Psalm 72:5-7)

Verse 5 could be translated either “He will endure as long as the sun” or “They will fear you as long as the sun.” Either way verses 5-7 describe for us Jesus’ endless reign. This is another early clue in the psalm that the whole psalm points beyond the earthly king to Jesus as Messiah.

   – He will outlast the moon and the sun (Rev 11:15)

Psalm 72 tells us that Jesus will outlast the moon and the sun. “He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations.” (Psalm 72:5) Charles Spurgeon writes of this verse: “His kingdom … is as lasting as the lights of heaven; days and nights will cease before he abdicates his throne.”

The book of Revelation also speaks of Jesus’ unending reign. We read in Revelation 11:15: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15) How unlike all the other kings and kingdoms of the earth which are here today and gone tomorrow. Most kings just try to outlast their nearest competitors. Jesus will outlast the moon and the sun.

Every morning when you wake up and see the sun rise; every evening when you see the moon grace the night skies; that is a daily reminder that Jesus reigns and he will reign forever.

   – He will bring blessing to the righteous (Rev 7:17)

Psalm 72 also tells us Jesus will bring blessing to the righteous in his unending reign. Look at verses 6-7: “He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. 7 In his days the righteous will flourish; prosperity will abound till the moon is no more.” (Psalm 72:6-7) Not only is the king righteous, but his people will be righteous also. The righteousness of the king will extend to his people, and he will reign forever with blessing and prosperity for all.

Revelation 7:17 speaks of the blessing Jesus will bring to his people as ruler and king: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)

This theme of blessing will be developed further in the closing verses of the psalm, but here it is introduced as part of Jesus’ endless reign. This beautiful and blessed reign will not just be for a season. Earthly kings come and go, but Jesus will reign forever.

3. Jesus will reign over all the nations (8-11)

Jesus will reign in justice. Jesus will reign forever. And then thirdly, Jesus will reign over all the nations. Look at verses 8-11 now:

“He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. 9 The desert tribes will bow before him and his enemies will lick the dust. 10 The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. 11 All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.” (Psalm 72:8-11)

Jesus will not only rule forever. He will rule everywhere.

   – He will rule from sea to sea (Matthew 28:19)

Verse 8 says: “He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Psalm 72:8) There are several places in the Old Testament which give the precise boundaries for the kingdom of Israel. But here God extends the boundaries of Jesus’ kingdom to include the whole earth.

The river here probably refers to the great River Euphrates, but take a river any river – you can start at any river you like and walk in any direction you want for as far as you want, and you will still be walking in Jesus’ territory.

Later Jesus will tell his disciples: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) Why all nations? Because there isn’t a square inch of this world that does not belong to Christ. This is our missionary call to bring the gospel to all the nations. Jesus will rule from sea to sea.

   – His enemies will bow down before him (1 Corinthians 15:25)

He will rule from sea to sea, and his enemies will bow down before him. Verse 9 says: “The desert tribes will bow before him and his enemies will lick the dust.” (Psalm 72:9) One of the difficulties that earthly kings have in extending their boundaries is subduing their enemies. Jesus doesn’t have that problem. 1 Corinthians 15:25 says about Jesus: “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25)

   – Kings will bring tribute to him (Matthew 2:11; Rev 21:24,26)

Not only will his enemies bow down before him, kings will bring tribute to him. Verse 10 says: “The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts.” (Psalm 72:10) The Queen of Sheba brought tribute to Solomon, but all kings will bring tribute to Jesus, even those from distant lands.

This prophecy was partly fulfilled by the Magi when they came from distant lands bringing gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh for Jesus at his birth. (Matthew 2:11) But one day all the kings of the earth will pay tribute to Jesus. Revelation 21 says about the New Jerusalem that “the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it…. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.” (Revelation 21:24,26)

Earthly kings sometimes received tribute from other kings. But Jesus is the King of kings, and all kings will bring tribute to him.

   – All nations will serve him (Philippians 2:10-11; Rev 15:4)

Not only that but all nations will serve him. Look at verse 11: “All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.” (Psalm 72:11)

The New Testament tells us that this verse will truly be fulfilled in Jesus as king. Philippians 2 says: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11) Revelation 15:4 says: “Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:4)

Jesus will rule from sea to sea. His enemies will bow down before him. Kings will bring tribute to him. All nations will serve him. That’s the third thing this psalm tells us about Jesus’ reign. Jesus will reign over all the nations.

4. Jesus’ reign will help the weak and the needy (12-14)

Next, the psalm tells us how Jesus’ reign will help the weak and the needy. Look at verses 12-14:

“For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. 13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. 14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.” (Psalm 72:12-14)

   – He will deliver the needy who cry out (Romans 10:13)

First, Jesus will deliver the needy who cry out. “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.” (Psalm 72:12) Many kings care only about the strong. But Jesus has a special heart of compassion for those who hurting. And unlike earthly kings, he never misses a cry for help.

This is especially true when it comes to salvation. We are all in need of salvation. When it comes to salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, we are all needy and we all have no one to help. No one except Jesus, that is. Romans 10:13 says: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) When you cry out to Jesus for salvation, he always hears you, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

   – He will take pity on the weak (Matthew 11:28)

Psalm 72 also says that Jesus will take pity on the weak. Verse 13 says: “He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death.” (Psalm 72:13) Jesus showed again and again his pity and compassion for the weak and needy. And Jesus’ offer to the weak in Matthew 11:28 still stands open today: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

   – He will rescue them from oppression and violence (1 Peter 1:18-29)

Psalm 72 says that Jesus will rescue them from oppression and violence. Look at verse 14: “He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.” (Psalm 72:12-14) The word translated rescue in verse 14 is a word that means “to redeem, to purchase, or to buy back.” Jesus sees every act of violence and oppression that takes place in this world. He sees. He cares. He remembers. And he will rescue and redeem.

Verse 14 says their blood is precious in his sight. So precious, in fact, that Jesus redeemed us with his own precious blood. 1 Peter 1 says: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed … but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Jesus is our Rescuer and Redeemer. He offers hope for the hopeless and help for the helpless. That’s the fourth thing this psalm tells us about Jesus’ reign. Rather than favor the strong and the self-sufficient, Jesus’ reign will help the weak and the needy.

5. Jesus’ reign will be blessed and a blessing (15-20)

And then finally, Jesus’ reign will be blessed and a blessing. Look at verses 15-17:

“Long may he live! May gold from Sheba be given him. May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long. 16 Let grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon; let it thrive like the grass of the field. 17 May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.” (Psalm 72:15-17)

As we’ve seen working our way through this psalm, Psalm 72 began with prayer for the king in verse one and then turned to a description of the king’s reign. Now in verse fifteen the psalm turns from description back to prayer, in this case a prayer of blessing for the king.

These final verses tell us how Jesus’ reign will both be blessed and a blessing. Let me summarize them for you in six brief statements. Long live the king! May people honor and bless him! May his blessings abound! May his name endure forever! All nations will be blessed through him! May the whole earth be filled with his glory! Let’s look at each of these statements briefly now in closing.

   – Long live the king! (Hebrews 7:24)

First of all, long live the king! Here we find a blending of this psalm’s original application to King Solomon and its ultimate fulfillment in King Jesus. It makes sense to wish long life for Solomon, but in what way does this apply to Jesus? Jesus lives forever whether we wish it or not. (Hebrews 7:24) Our cry of “Long live the king” does not extend Jesus’ life. Rather, it means we welcome his rule, and we desire his reign to last forever.

   – May people honor and bless him! (Rev 5:12)

Secondly, may people honor and bless him! Verse 15 continues: “May gold from Sheba be given him. May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long.” (Psalm 72:15) Here we see the mix of Solomon and Jesus blend together again in the psalm. Solomon, as with all earthly leaders, needed his people’s prayers. Jesus most assuredly does not. And yet we honor Jesus with prayers of blessing and praise. We see this, for example, in Revelation 5:12 where the heavenly chorus sings to Jesus: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12)

   – May his blessings abound! (Ephesians 1:3)

Thirdly, may his blessings abound! Verse 16 says: “Let grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon; let it thrive like the grass of the field.” (Psalm 72:16) The tops of the hills are not known for great soil or growing conditions, and yet here the grain abounds and sways in the breeze on the hilltops. Lebanon was known for its tall cedars. Here the fruit trees flourish like the cedars of Lebanon. Ephesians 1:3 says: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) And so Jesus’ reign is marked by blessing, abundant blessings for all his people.

   – May his name endure forever! (Hebrews 13:8)

And then fourthly, may his name endure forever! Verse 17 says: “May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun.” (Psalm 72:17) Here we have a reference to Jesus’ reign outlasting the sun again. Hebrews 13:8 says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) His name will endure through all of eternity.

   – All nations will be blessed through him! (Genesis 12:3; Rev 5:9)

Fifthly, all nations will be blessed through him! Verse 17 continues: “All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.” (Psalm 72:17) The rabbis in Biblical times understood this verse as pointing forward to the Messiah. This verse recalls God’s words to Abraham in the Old Testament when God first called Abraham to himself. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)

God told Abraham from the beginning that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him and through his seed. That seed passed on through his sons and through King David and the royal son, King Solomon, and was eventually fulfilled in the birth of our Lord Jesus into this world as King of kings and Lord of lords. It has always been God’s purpose to bless the nations, and that purpose was fulfilled in Jesus’ death on the cross as a Savior for all. As Revelation 5:9 says about Jesus: “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)

   – May the whole earth be filled with his glory! (Rev 5:13)

And then finally, may the whole earth be filled with his glory! We find this in the conclusion to the psalm in verses 18-20:

“Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. 19 Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. 20 This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.” (Psalm 72:18-20)

Verses 18-20 not only close out this Psalm, but they close out this whole second book of Psalms stretching from Psalm 42-72. That’s why David is named at the end, as he wrote the majority of the psalms in this section. It is a fitting close to both as the psalmist gives praise to the God of Israel who alone does marvelous deeds.

This prayer for the whole earth to be filled with his glory will be fulfilled in the reign of Jesus over all the earth. As we read in Revelation 5:13: “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’” (Revelation 5:13) May the whole earth be filled with his glory!

CONCLUSION: Psalm 72 is such an amazing psalm on so many levels. On one level it is a beautiful prayer for the king of Israel and his people. But on a greater level, it is a prayer for Jesus the Messiah and his people, for all who would put their trust in him.

If it were only a prayer about earthly kings, then all kings fall far short of the ideal presented here. But if it truly points forward to the Messiah, we can see how this psalm is and will be fulfilled in the reign of Jesus as Messiah and king over all the earth.

Jesus will reign, so rejoice! He will reign in justice. He will reign forever. He will reign over all the earth. His reign will help the weak and the needy. His reign will be blessed and a blessing. And so, we can rejoice in Christ knowing that his reign will be one of wisdom, justice, beauty and flourishing for ever and ever!

Come, Lord Jesus! Come reign in our hearts! Come reign over all the earth!

© Ray Fowler

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