Corruption and Oppression

Psalm 73: 8-11.

They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.

They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.

Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.

And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?

The heart of mankind does not change from age to age. This psalm was probably written in the post-exilic period, which my research says was 516 b.c.–a.d.70. Israel had returned to Jerusalem from a long captivity. They were very familiar with the attitudes described in this psalm.

All of the attitudes described in this psalm can be plainly seen around the world today. Christians are mocked, tormented, and executed for their beliefs. Satan, of course, is the true enemy, but he works through the haughty attitudes of the powerful–all of whom are eventually overcome and replaced by others through whom Satan continues to work.

I watched just a short portion of a video this morning in which the leader of an organization was talking about the importance of “Forced Behavior.” It sounded like brainwashing to me, but the spin was that all people need to understand and behave according to the standards of this organization, and when that goal is accomplished, the world will be at peace. Those who continue to resist, or dissent, will be “dealt with.” A little vague, isn’t it?

To set one’s mouth against the heavens seems futile to me. Shaking one’s fist in God’s face and saying, “YOU don’t exist!” is often the mantra of those who seek absolute power. As for their tongues walking through the earth, that is a reality in this day of communications via radio, internet, and television. It is good to understand that those same tools are being used to teach and preach God’s Word, too.

I was intrigued by v. 10: “Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.” Here is another translation of this verse:

Therefore his people return here,
And waters of a full cup are drained by them.
And they say, “How does God know?
And is there knowledge in the Most High?”


This is Asaph’s perspective on the wicked, the oppressor, who has “friends” who are just like him. They tend to gather together, questioning God, and taking everything they can get their hands on (draining the waters of a full cup). I looked in several other places, and it seems to be the consensus that this is a difficult passage to set into the context. I couldn’t help but consider how tyrants in the earth over all of history have gained power and control.

How does any oppressor control the people? By twisting their minds with “new” ways of thinking; by controlling the education of the children; and by making the people totally dependent upon the government–taking control of all financial assets. Most important, they rely on the complacency of people who have become comfortable and lazy, feeling secure without exerting any efforts of their own to brace up their security.

Pride and Violence

Psalm 73:4-8.

For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.

They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.

Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.

Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.

They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.

It must have seemed to Asaph, as it often seems to us, that there is no pain, no suffering, for the wicked as they die. Of course we know this is not true, but our judgment is clouded by lack of faith.

It does seem as if wicked people literally get away with murder, and yet are idolized and held in high esteem because of their wealth. I remember seeing news clips of funerals of mafia leaders, with tons of flowers and endless cars following the hearse to the church and then the burial.

Bringing it to modern times, George Soros has seemingly endless wealth and endless life, and is honored by the so-called elite politicians he supports. Yet he was a traitor to his own people during WWII, and is banned from his own country because of his evil deeds. It is easy for ordinary people to become angry and discouraged that such criminal behavior is rewarded in this life.

They wear their pride like a priceless necklace, and their violence is draped over them like an expensive cloak. They are corrupt; they care nothing for the oppression of the people they destroy, and they orate in lofty terms about their accomplishments. They do not care for “the people.” They are not humanitarian in nature. Rather, they are power-hungry and desire to bring everyone and everything under their control.

Asaph saw it. No wonder he struggled with keeping a right spirit, and with maintaining his trust in God.

A Clean Heart

Psalm 73: 1-3.

[[A Psalm of Asaph.]] Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.

But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.

For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Asaph was an organizer and leader for the temple choirs in the days of David, and presumably for Solomon after him. He was one who prophesied according to the order of the king (1 Chronicles 25:1-2).

I’ve been thinking about Asaph quite a bit over the last couple of days. We aren’t told much about him, but we can guess that he was a skilled musician, poet, and leader. He was from the tribe of Levi, so came to his position both by inheritance and skill. I couldn’t find anywhere that tells us he was specifically selected by David to carry on with David’s work in creating psalms and hymns. I’d like to think that he had David’s blessing. I believe he may have been just a bit intimidated to follow in David’s footsteps, but that’s just my own thinking.

It is clear that Asaph shared David’s deep reverence for God. He recognized that God’s blessing was abundant on those whose hearts were in tune with Him. Apparently, Asaph experienced his own crisis of faith. What tripped him up?

The same thing that often tempts us all: The material wealth and prosperity of wicked people.

Wealth is not wicked. Prosperity is not evil. It is the worship of wealth and prosperity, turning our hearts from God to self, that causes us to lose God’s blessing.

In Psalm 37: 1-2, David wrote, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.”

When our own feet slip and falter as our eyes are drawn to the wealth of the wicked, we need to ask God to help us keep our eyes on Him. Having a pure heart for God is the only way to experience His blessings, whether they be material, spiritual, or physical.

Praise God!

Psalm 72:17-20.

His Name shall endure for ever: His Name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed.

Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, Who only doeth wondrous things.

And blessed be His glorious Name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen.

The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

When I was around five or six, at Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis, we always opened the Sunday Morning service with this grand old hymn. The organist would play the opening chord, as the congregation rose to its feet. It was a beautiful pipe organ, and I used to love to watch the biggest pipes in the center open and close what I thought of as their doors 🙂 After a while, I began to realize that those flaps opened or closed when the music changed from one chord to another. I got early ear-training :). The words to that hymn echoed in my mind as I read today’s passage.

It seems to me that there is no commentary needed for these verses. In spite of man’s efforts to humanize God and elevate man, the fact remains that His is God, and there is no one else like Him, and never will be.

The final line indicates that the rest of the psalms will be written by someone other than David. His life was ending, and he used this final song to bring praise, glory, and honor to the God Who had set him on Israel’s throne, and Who had always, always restored him to favor with Himself when David repented of his sin and was broken by his guilt.

He was, after all, a man after God’s own heart.

Precious in His Sight

Psalm 72:14-16.

He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in His sight.

And He shall live, and to Him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for Him continually; and daily shall He be praised.

There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.

Solomon had a remarkable reign, especially in the earlier years of his kingdom. However, in spite of the wisdom God had granted to him, he took on many wives and concubines. These women were often part of peace treaties between other nations and Israel. They maintained their worship of idols, and Solomon permitted such worship to continue in Israel. He also increased his numbers of horses and chariots, against God’s specific command. He conscripted men into his army and women into his harem; and he raised taxes to support things that God had forbidden him to do. He was, in earthly terms, a great king. He had a great start, but success weakened him.

The greater King, however, would not repeat Solomon’s errors. Messiah, during the Millennial reign, would not only take care of the wealthy; He would also care for the poor and needy, providing food in abundance to meet their needs. Verse 14 says that their blood shall be precious in His sight. We see this statement again in Ps. 116:16: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

In Solomon’s day, as has always been the case all through history, the poor and needy were given little attention when they sickened and died. They were of little value to the rulers who used and abused them. But when Jesus reigns, there will be no such dismissal of the value of human life. Their blood will be precious to Him. They are His creation, and His blood was shed for them. Each life will be counted as having great importance to Him.

Finally, during the Millennial Kingdom, there will be no want of food. The picture in v. 16 is that of a handful of grain on a mountaintop expanding and growing, and pouring down upon the valleys in an abundance of food. No one will go hungry. The famine that would destroy a great deal of the population during the Tribulation will cease to exist, and the whole earth will rejoice in the abundance of food.

Near Future and Far Future

Psalm 72:10-13.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.

Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him.

For He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.

He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.


There are many interesting graphics depicting v. 10. As I searched for the one I felt would best represent the verse, I came upon three different interpretations:

The first picture depicts King Solomon being visited by the Queen of Sheba, who brought him lavish gifts. In the second, we see the Wise Men bringing gifts to Jesus. In the third, we see the prophecy fulfilled that all nations of the earth will bow down before Him.

Which one is correct?

I believe all three hold the truth of this passage. In the near future, as this psalm was penned, would be the visit of the Queen of Sheba. In the far future would be the birth of Messiah, Jesus Christ. Farther yet will be the reign of Messiah over all the earth. Jesus has always been Messiah. He is the heart and soul of all scripture. Before He gave up His life on the cross, all scripture pointed forward toward that event. Since the cross, all scripture points back to that event! It is central to everything else, and His resurrection is a part of that picture. Without it, His death would have been that of just another Jewish rebel dealt with in the customary horrific Roman manner.

He conquered sin on the cross, and He conquered death with His resurrection.

This psalm takes on a whole new meaning when it is read with these things in mind.

His millennial reign will be one of justice; it will also be one of great compassion.

One last thing. Both Sheba and Seba are mentioned in v. 10, along with Tarshish. Tarshish was

  1. a city of the Phoenicians in a distant part of the Mediterranean Sea to which the prophet Jonah was trying to flee
    1. site unknown but perhaps in Cyprus or Spain
  2. a city somewhere near and accessible to the Red Sea to which ships constructed at Ezion-geber on the Elanitic Gulf on the Red Sea were to sail
BlueLetter Bible

Sheba was a nation in southern Arabia, likely descendants of Seth. And Seba was a nation south of Palestine, perhaps Ethiopia. In all three cases, it was a long journey to Jerusalem.


Psalm 72:7-9.

In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.

They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust.

The world cries, “Peace, Peace! And there is no peace.”(Jeremiah 16:9, et. al.)

Why will there be no peace in this world until the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ? Even then, there will be some who will try to stir an insurrection, but they will have no success. Satan will be bound, and his influence limited.

There will be no peace until Jesus rules and reigns because the heart of mankind craves power and control over all the rest of mankind. So it has been since Satan spoke to Eve and destroyed their peace in the Garden of Eden. Part of God’s curse on their sin was that Eve’s desire would be to rule over and control her husband. It’s what we all want–we want to be THE BOSS–even if it’s just for a short time. As long as that desire exists, there can be no peace in this world.

When Jesus reigns, the righteous will flourish because sin will not have dominion. All the parts of the earth, from the oceans to the rivers that empty into them; from the wilderness and the deserts to even the hearts of His enemies, there shall be peace.

The wonderful things is that when we know Christ, we can have peace in our hearts and minds in spite of the turmoil around us.

Like Refreshing Rain

Psalm 72:5-6.

They shall fear Thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.

He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.

Following the theme of prophecies of the Millenial Kingdom, these two verses speak of the incredible blessings that will come with the reign of Messiah here on Earth.

The word fear in v. 5, is to stand in awe, to be in reverence. I rarely use the word awesome to describe anything with which we’re familiar in this life. Things can be spectacular, like the Rocky Mountains as they grow from a blue line on the horizon to their majestic heights as one grows closer. Things can be amazing, like a young woman named Yuja Wang, who dominates the piano keyboard. Look her up on Youtube. You’ll be impressed!

But only God is truly awesome, inspiring reverence and complete humility in those who believe in Him; and some day, even those who do not believe in Him now will see Him as He is.

Verse six describes the incredible joy of a sorely-needed rainfall after a long dry spell. Petrichor is the word for the smell of rain. Nothing can be more refreshing and satisfying. That is what it will be like when Jesus reigns.

That’s truly something we can anticipate with joy!

Righteousness and Peace

Psalm 72:1-4.

 Give the king Thy judgments, O God, and Thy righteousness unto the king’s son.

He shall judge Thy people with righteousness, and Thy poor with judgment.

The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

I consulted several commentaries concerning this Psalm, as it seems to me to be, as one of David’s final psalms, a possible Messianic prophecy as well as a possible prayer for David’s son Solomon, who would succeed David on the throne of Israel. As it turns out, there are strong argument both for and against my own perception. Later in this psalm, it seems indisputable that it describes Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is possible that God was giving David both present and far future vision. It certainly isn’t the only time one of David’s psalms describes the longed-for Messiah.

Many of my sources believe that Solomon was actually the writer of this psalm, and there are strong reasons to suppose that it is so. One of the things I’m seeing more clearly, as I continue to blog through the Bible, is that there is much we don’t know, can’t know for sure, until we get to heaven.

The title of this psalm would seem to support the belief that Solomon was the writer. It is titled as A Song of Solomon. Some interpret that as A Song TO Solomon, with David as the author. Again, I just don’t know. Hebrew can be a very tricky language for us to interpret, and especially the ancient Hebrew in which the Old Testament is written.

For the sake of consistency, I’m going to go with the idea that this psalm is authored by David, and concerns both Solomon and the Messiah.

The first four verses in Psalm 72 describe a king of great wisdom; a king who will judge with righteousness, mercy, and peace. These words certainly describe King Solomon in the beginning of his reign. The reflect the heart that made the humble request to God for wisdom in I Kings 3:5-9:

5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. 6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before Thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with Thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 And now, O LORD my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?

KJV Bible

When Solomon declared that he was like a little child, he was showing humility before God. He was acknowledging that he was overwhelmed by the reality of ruling over so many people, and he knew he needed the wisdom that could come only from God for the task ahead.

Verse four can easily be seen as both referring to Solomon and to the Messiah during the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ. We hear a lot about social justice today; equality, equity, everyone having the same outcomes. That goal will finally be realized during the reign of Christ, and it will not come about by any human endeavor. Only when Satan is no longer the “prince of the power of the air” will we see true righteousness for everyone.

A final note: There are those who shy away from the study of the end times, fearing that we cannot understand it. I think it is important for us to know what is coming as it is given to us in God’s Word. Prophecies of the far future begin in Genesis 3: 15-16, and exist throughout the scriptures, including the major and minor prophets. To refuse to study and understand the book of Revelations is to ignore great portions of both the Old Testament and New Testament writings. At some point, I would love to dig into Daniel, Ezekiel, and some minor prophets in relation to the book of Revelations. I’m more than a little overwhelmed by that idea, but perhaps at some point I’ll tackle it.

Old Age is Just a Beginning

Psalm 71:9. Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.

Psalms 69-71 are David’s impassioned pleas for God to protect him from his enemies; to save him from shame and defeat. The attempts against his life started when he was very young, and continued into his old age. He had times of blessing and prosperity, and he had times of grinding loneliness and hopelessness.

Such is the human condition. Much of what David endured, he created by his own poor judgment and behaviors. The thing that so amazes me is that David was always willing to confess his sin and beg God for mercy. Even in his old age, as his physical strength left him, he acknowledged his sin before God.

The verse I’ve chosen today speaks to me on a very personal level these days. Terry had his 80th birthday last week. He’s worked very hard all his life, and one can see the toll of that hard physical work on his body. His injured foot has given him 11 years of unrelenting pain. The compression fractures in his spine have robbed him of inches. Severe arthritis in his right hand has limited his ability to use his hammer, pliers, and other tools. Those who didn’t know him even 15 years ago will probably always see him as he is today. But I knew him as he still is, in his own heart and mind, and that is how I will always see him Strong, vital, full of energy. He is physically limited these days, but he’s not limited in his heart, mind, and spirit.

That’s the way I see David in this verse. He’s old. His great strength and energy have been worn out. He feels vulnerable, because even in his old age there are enemies who want to take him from his throne. And so he prays to God, asking God to continue to protect him; to remember him even in his old age, and to be his strength in a time when his own physical strength is failing.

The comfort I find here is that God has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Even when we are old and can no longer fight our own battles; even when it seems the world is moving on without us, leaving us with memories of days gone by, we still have a hope and a future. That future is that after we leave this life, we will see Jesus face to face, and live eternally in heaven with Him. We will be changed from the confines of our physical bodies, and there will be no more sickness, death, pain, or dying.

I look forward to death, not with dread or morbid thoughts, but with the faith that it is the door to an existence we can’t begin to imagine!