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Psalm 72 Reflection

Psalm 72: A call to a Jesus shaped life and leadership

Psalm 72 comes towards the end of David’s life. His son, Solomon, is to become King. We can therefore read the beginning as a call to pray for our leaders and our children. However, the writer goes deeper than a simple call to prayer; this psalm is a call to a way of life; to a shape of life.

Most of us will have had a shape sorter toy when we were a small child. The type I remember is a yellow cylinder with different shaped holes in the top. On its own it would have provided a few moments of entertainment, but it was the coloured shapes that really made it an activity. Like many a young child I would try to push the square shape through the triangle-shaped hole, and the circular shape through the square hole. There was much frustration! The frustration came not from it being a bad toy, but from me trying to push the wrong shape through the wrong hole. True satisfaction and accomplishment came from getting the correct shape in the correct hole!

In these past few months much has changed, and continues to change. Some of the things that have changed are not new, they are simply the holes becoming more visible. For instance, poverty has existed for as long as inequality. Injustice has existed since power began. However, when we face a global crisis the polarisation becomes more vivid.

Through my own ministry, I have seen a marked increase in poverty, and its hallmarks; hunger; fear; isolation; family stress; and deterioration of health. The holes have become deeper and more visible. There’s a temptation to fill these holes with anything we can find. But, the psalmist calls for a specific type of response. One that will fill many shapes of holes, and fill them far beyond the surface.

This is of course a Jesus shaped response. For, whilst the psalmist begins by talking about the coming reign of Solomon, he spends most of the psalm pointing to the reign of the coming Messiah; a reign that will be hallmarked by justice and mercy.

Our government has been subject to compliment and criticism in its response to COVID-19. There have, perhaps, been many different motivations for the actions they have taken to attempt to fill the holes that have deepened through this crisis. The church is also not immune from compliment and criticism in its response. And, of course, as individuals we have all responded in different ways.

Psalm 72 reminds us that the Messiah’s reign is for all, and is a kingship that fits every hole perfectly. It fills every hole and situation with justice and mercy. It is a call to live a Jesus shaped life, that responds to situations in the way Jesus would have done. A call to a kingdom life, that sees holes filled not just practically but with the values of Jesus. It is when we, and our leaders live and exercise a kingdom shaped life that God’s kingdom grows and signs of health can be seen.

Let us then pray for our leaders and for each other, as God’s children, that we might live a Jesus, a kingdom shaped life, as we respond to the needs of our neighbours, and as we look beyond the situations we now face, to what a post lockdown world might become. A world in which we praise his name forever and is filled with his glory. Amen.

Watch a video of Rebecca Roberts reflecting on Psalm 72.


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