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(Part 30)


December 1, 2009

In today’s reading, Solomon prays for the king. “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!” (Ps 72:1-2, RSV)

A king’s authority and rule come from God, the King of kings. Here Solomon looks to the Almighty and sees what kind of God He is, that is, one who is just and righteous, and so he asks for the virtues of justice and righteousness for the one who will rule over God’s people, and finally prays that the king would indeed rule with such justice and righteousness.

What is the effect of just and righteous rule?

First, the poor are defended, the poor saved, and the oppressor crushed (Ps 72:4). Those who suffer will experience redemption from affliction. “From oppression and violence he redeems their souls” (Ps 72:14a).

Second, there will be bounty, prosperity and great abundance in the land (Ps 72:3).

Third, the nations who witness what is happening will flock to him and bless him. In effect, he will be evangelizing, proclaiming the good news of just and righteous rule under God. Nations, seeking peace and prosperity, will imitate what he does, as “all nations call him blessed!” (Ps 72:17c, RSV).

The ultimate just and righteous king is of course our Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah in today’s reading prophesies about the new shoot that will arise from the stump of the Davidic dynasty. Among his virtues is “the fear of the Lord” (Is 11:3a). Further, this king “shall judge the poor with justice” (Is 11:4a, NAB). Another rendering says, “with righteousness he shall judge the poor” (Is 11:4a, RSV). The belt or band around his waist will be “justice” (Is 11:5a, NAB) or “righteousness” (Is 11:5a, RSV).

This prophecy about this rule of Immanuel finds ultimate fulfillment in Jesus.

When the king is just and righteous, he helps the poor and the oppressed, and he crushes the oppressor (Ps 72:4). By this he humbles the proud and lays low the mighty. “May his foes kneel before him, his enemies lick the dust.” (Ps 72:9). But being laid low is a blessing, as it puts one in a right relationship with God. This leads God to “decide with equity for the meek of the earth” (Is 11:4b, RSV).

Aside from helping the poor and oppressed, here we see that the result of just and righteous rule will be peace and harmony. Such peace and harmony are radical, as those who ordinarily cannot come together, because one would devour the other, do so -- the wolf and the lamb, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear, the baby and the cobra. “There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain” (Is 11:9a).

When something like that happens, that is great and amazing news. All peoples are looking for peace and unity. And so something like that cannot pass unnoticed. And when people see with amazement what is happening, they will be struck with awe, and give praise to the only one who makes such a thing happen, and that is God. “On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (Is 11:10). When the light of a nation shines forth like that, the whole world will be evangelized. Then “the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.” (Is 11:9b).

What a day to look forward to! When the whole world is in awe of God the Almighty, when those who are suffering will be redeemed, when peoples will be humbled and live in obedience to God’s law.

Such a perfect world will not happen on this earth, but only ultimately in heaven. But even then, we must work so that peoples have a foretaste of what is to happen, and will look forward to being in the eternal presence of the God who is just and righteous.

“May all kings bow before him, all nations serve him.” (Ps 72:11). “May his name be blessed forever; as long as the sun, may his name endure.” (Ps 72:17a).

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Postscript: Affliction and suffering can be blessings of God for our purification. When a nation suffers devastating floods and unimaginable massacres of innocent people, there is a cry for justice and righteousness. When we see that the rulers of the world who are unrighteous will not provide such justice, then in our helplessness and hopelessness we cry out to God. Further, we see that the only ultimate way is the conversion of peoples and the transformation of their lives, thus necessitating the work of evangelization.

God allows suffering to discipline, to test (like Job), and to purify His people. His aim to is to raise a nation that will be a light to the world.

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