Psalm 72 – The King of Kings

In Psalm 72 Solomon celebrates the ideal king. In Jesus, the King of Kings, we find the fulfillment of this psalm.


Psalm 72 is the final psalm of Book 2. This psalm divides into four parts not including the final doxology. The doxology was a compositional device used to close each of the five books in Psalms. In Psalm 72 the doxology also moves the focus from the king back onto God.

The meaningful center of Psalm 72 is verse 10. Here the King of Israel's authority over other kings is visually demonstrated by the image of other kingdoms coming to offer tribute to the King of Kings.

May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! Psalm 72:10

It is likely that this psalm was used to pray for God's blessings upon the current king. But it was also a reminder to the king of the attributes of a good sovereign and the blessings of being a just and righteous leader.

There are six attributes of a good king and seven benefits of being a good king listed in the psalm. As we apply this to our own lives, we can see that these attributes and blessings apply equally to any leader.

Attributes of a Good LeaderBlessings of Good Leadership
  • Just (Psalm 72:1)
  • Righteous (Psalm 72:1)
  • Defends the poor (Psalm 72:4)
  • Delivers the needy (Psalm 72:4)
  • Feared by oppressors (Psalm 72:5)
  • Compassionate (Psalm 72:12-14)
  • Prosperity/Abundance (Psalm 72:3)
  • The righteous flourish (Psalm 72:7)
  • Peace (Psalm 72:7)
  • Expanded influence (Psalm 72:8)
  • Enemies defeated (Psalm 72:9)
  • God's blessing (Psalm 72:15)
  • Fame (Psalm 72:17)

The Just King

Psalm 72:1-8

Although in the previous section I listed six attributes of a good king or leader, there are really only two key attributes: Justice and Righteousness. The other ones flow naturally from the first two.

Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son! Psalm 72:1

The first attribute is Justice. The good leader treats those he or she leads in a fair manner. The second attribute is Righteousness. The good leader does what is morally right.

The natural outflow of these two attributes is that the good leader defends and delivers the needy from those oppressing them. This causes the oppressor to fear the leader. Ideally this fear of punishment encourages oppression to stop and justice to flourish.

The result for the leader and those under this leadership is:

  • prosperity (Psalm 72:3)
  • the righteous flourish (Psalm 72:7)
  • peace (Psalm 72:7)
  • an expanded dominion (more opportunities to lead) (Psalm 72:8)
  • enemies defeated (Psalm 72:9)

We are all leaders somewhere. Do you want to see these blessings in your life? Then do what is right and make fair decisions.


The King of Kings

Psalm 72:9-11

If any king of Israel could be perfect in Justice and righteousness, he would experience such a blessing from God that all nations would bow down to him.

May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him! Psalm 72:11

In this section we get to the core of the psalm. Although this psalm was most likely used as a way to pray a blessing on the current king of Israel, the image of all kings bowing down to him also pointed to the coming Messiah and will ultimately be fulfilled only in Jesus.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,so 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 2:9-11

Interestingly, this image of all people bowing down is also applied to God in Isaiah 45:23, hinting that the Messiah would command equal allegiance as does God.

By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

Of note in this section is also the reference to "Sheba". It is very likely an allusion to Solomon's encounter with the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-13). This encounter is the perfect example of God's blessing on a king and the resulting honor he receives. It is also especially appropriate as the author of this Psalm is Solomon himself.

The Compassionate King

Psalm 72:12-15

The good leader is one who cares about others, especially those who are in need and oppressed. Notice the kings actions in verses 12-14:

  • Delivers the poor and needy (Psalm 72:12)
  • Has pity on them (Psalm 72:13)
  • Saves their lives (Psalm 72:13)
  • Redeems them (Psalm 72:14)
  • Considers them precious (Psalm 72:14)

Once again this has a clear parallel to Jesus, the King of Kings, who had pity on us, redeeming us and calling us His own dear children (1 John 3:1).

The King of Blessings

Psalm 72:16-17

The end result of being a good leader is God's blessing on both the leader's work and also his followers.

May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed! Psalm 72:17


Psalm 72:18-20

This final doxology serves two purposes: to end Book 2 of Psalms (each of the five books of Psalms end with a doxology) and also to bring the focus at the end of Psalm 72 back to God, the Great King. The spotlight that has been focused on the king is now focused on the ultimate sovereign, God.

In the end it is not the king's glory that is most important. It is God's glory.

This doxology is quoted by John the Baptist's father, Zechariah, in Luke 1:68, prophetically applying this psalm to the coming Messiah, Jesus.


Over and over we have seen that this psalm ultimately points to Jesus, the King of Kings. He is the only one who is perfect in justice and righteousness.

But we also can use this psalm as picture of good leadership no matter at what level. We should all ask ourselves if we are people of justice and righteousness. If we are, then we have placed ourselves in the path of God's blessing.

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in Psalms and tagged , , , , .