The Greater King

By Pamela Lewis

A Reading from Psalm 72

1 Give the King your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the King’s son;

2 That he may rule your people righteously
and the poor with justice.

3 That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,
and the little hills bring righteousness.

4 He shall defend the needy among the people;
he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

5 He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure,
from one generation to another.

6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown field,
like showers that water the earth.

7 In his time shall the righteous flourish;
there shall be abundance of peace till the moon shall
be no more.

8 He shall rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

9 His foes shall bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust.

10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute,
and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.

11 All kings shall bow down before him,
and all the nations do him service.

12 For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress,
and the oppressed who has no helper.

13 He shall have pity on the lowly and poor;
he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

14 He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence,
and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

15 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.

16 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.

17 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.

18 Blessed be the Lord GOD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous deeds!

19 And blessed be his glorious Name for ever!
and may all the earth be filled with his glory.
Amen. Amen.


There has been much discussion lately about leadership and the attributes that constitute a good leader. In her recent book Leadership: In Turbulent Times, eminent historian Doris Kearns Goodwin explores leadership as exemplified by four of this nation’s greatest presidents. Preternatural persistence, surpassing intelligence, and a gift for storytelling are some of the outstanding qualities Goodwin includes in her list.

As we in our time debate the qualities we want most in our leaders, Solomon devoted his entire psalm to answer this question, asking God to help his son to manifest the right qualities to rule justly and wisely.

Although Solomon reigned in Israel’s golden age, built the magnificent temple, and the land was at peace, he looks beyond his reign to the eternal one of Jesus the Messiah, who “shall have dominion also from sea to sea” (v. 8), where all earthly kings will fall down before him (v. 11a), and whose citizens will enjoy perfect peace. This is no utopian vision, but a mighty prophecy foretelling the advent of God’s government.

Admirable qualities are a good start; but Solomon’s great king will act by bringing righteousness and peace. His will be a moral realm where all people can flourish.

The truly great leader lifts his vision beyond his own status. Solomon’s vision anticipated the reign of a greater Son of David, and he expressed his powerful prophecy in beautiful psalmody. Thanks be to God.

Pamela A. Lewis taught French for thirty years before retirement. A lifelong resident of Queens, N.Y., she attends Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, and serves on various lay ministries. She writes for The Episcopal New YorkerEpiscopal Journal, and The Living Church.

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The Diocese of Aru (Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo)
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