What Does Righteous Rule Mean to You?
HOW desirable would be a rulership that is distinguished by an active concern for all its subjects! If poverty, oppression and injustices could be removed, this would surely mean refreshing relief for earth’s inhabitants.
In the 72nd Psalm 72, evidently written by David (Ps 72 verse 20), we find the description of a rulership that will accomplish this. It is the kingdom of God by Jesus Christ. A foregleam of this rulership was provided by the peaceful and prosperous reign of King Solomon during the period of his remaining a faithful servant of Jehovah God. Pointing forward to the initial fulfillment, the superscription of Psalm 72 says, “Regarding Solomon.”
The opening verse reveals that righteous rule cannot exist apart from the eternal principles of divine justice. We read: “O God, give your own judicial decisions to the king, and your righteousness to the son of the king.” (Ps. 72:1) These words constitute a prayerful appeal that the king, in rendering decisions, might express Jehovah’s judgments. Moreover, the righteousness that distinguishes the true God should also be an attribute of the king’s son.
The expression “son of the king” fits both Solomon and Jesus Christ. Solomon was the son of King David, whereas Jesus is the Son of the great King Jehovah God. (Isa. 33:22) Regarding Solomon, his subjects came to recognize “that the wisdom of God was within him to execute judicial decision.” (1 Ki. 3:28) And Jesus Christ said: “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.”—John 5:30.
Of course, for righteousness to flourish, all persons must receive the benefits of impartial justice. The psalm continues: “May he plead the cause of your [God’s] people with righteousness and of your afflicted ones with judicial decision. Let the mountains carry peace to the people, also the hills, through righteousness. Let him judge the afflicted ones of the people, let him save [deliver from oppression] the sons of the poor one, and let him crush the defrauder.” (Ps. 72:2-4) When justice is administered impartially to all, including the afflicted and the poor and their offspring, the result is peace and security. Then no one has to live in fear of being defrauded or of having his rights denied. For the mountains and hills that dominate the landscape to “carry peace to the people” would mean that such peace would extend throughout the land. It is just as when the streams and rivers that have their sources in hills and mountains carry life-sustaining water to the valleys and plains. Those who commonly suffer under corrupt rule will enjoy security, as all oppressive, fraudulent men will be ‘crushed,’ punished or brought to justice.
Such a righteous rule would bring great honor to Jehovah God. As the psalm says: “They will fear you as long as there is a sun, and before the moon for generation after generation.” (Ps. 72:5) Since the king expresses the judgments of Jehovah, the subjects will have a wholesome fear of the Most High. This fear would last as long as the sun and moon continue, throughout all generations. When, for example, Solomon judged the case of two prostitutes, the people, seeing the evidence of divine wisdom in action, did ‘become fearful.’ (1 Ki. 3:28) It may also be noted that the miracles performed by Jesus Christ while on earth filled many persons with a wholesome fear and moved them to praise Jehovah God.—Matt. 9:8; Luke 7:16.
The refreshing effect of righteous rule is described as follows: “He will descend like the rain upon the mown grass, like copious showers that wet the earth. In his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more. And he will have subjects from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” (Ps. 72:6-8) The king’s righteous rule would be as refreshing as abundant showers that are needed to make the mown grass flourish. In view of the existing peace and security, the righteous person could “sprout,” that is, flourish or prosper. Sooner would the moon pass away than would peace end under this righteous rule.—Compare Matthew 5:18.
It is noteworthy that Solomon’s reign was outstandingly peaceful. The Bible reports: “Peace itself became his in every region of his, all around. And Judah and Israel continued to dwell in security, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree, from Dan to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon.” (1 Ki. 4:24, 25) Under the rulership of Jesus Christ, the “Prince of Peace,” we can expect even a grander fulfillment of the psalmist’s words.—Isa. 9:6.
Solomon’s dominion extended from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the Euphrates River to the land lying to the south and the west. (Compare Exodus 23:31.) But Jesus Christ will rule over the entire earth.—Zech. 9:9, 10; compare Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45; Matthew 21:4-9; John 12:12-16.
Regarding the peoples who would come under the king’s authority, Psalm 72 states: “Before him the inhabitants of waterless regions will bow down, and his very enemies will lick the dust itself. The kings of Tarshish and of the islands—tribute they will pay. The kings of Sheba and of Seba—a gift they will present. And to him all the kings will prostrate themselves; all the nations, for their part, will serve him.” (Ps 72 Vss. 9-11) What do these words indicate? The tent-dwelling nomads inhabiting the wilderness region to the east of the land of Israel would submit to this king. His enemies would submissively prostrate themselves before him, with their faces touching the dust itself. Tribute would be brought from far and wide. You may read at First Kings 10:22-25 the extent to which the psalm was fulfilled during Solomon’s reign.
However, compared with the rule of Jesus Christ, the dominion and glory of Solomon will pale into insignificance. Not only has the Son of God inherited dominion over the whole earth, but even the angels of heaven acknowledge his lordship.—Phil. 2:9, 10; Heb. 1:3-9; 2:5-9.
The greatness of the king’s dominion does not mean that he would have no time for giving individual attention to the needs of his subjects. He was to be accessible to all and to have depth of concern for them. Verses 12 through 14 of Psalm 72 tell us: “For he will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes.”
Yes, even the lowliest subjects could have an audience with this king, and he would come to the rescue of all needing help. He would take pity on the poor and the needy, delivering them from the wrong that is being done to them. To him, blood, representing human life, would have a very high value, would not be something to be shed without genuine cause. During Solomon’s reign, the subjects did have access to the throne for judgment. This is clear from the fact that two prostitutes were able to come before him with their case, and heard a just decision pronounced on that very day. (1 Ki. 3:16-27) How different he was from the Persian kings of a later period! Not even a queen could come uninvited before her husband without jeopardizing her life. (Esther 4:11) On earth, the one greater than Solomon, Jesus Christ, repeatedly demonstrated his active concern for humankind. When he saw the crowds, “he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36) Why, he even gave up his life for humankind.—Matt. 20:28.
With reference to such a king as described by the psalmist, it would only be right to exclaim: ‘Long live the king!’ He should receive tribute and, in behalf of such a ruler, prayers should be offered up. He would be deserving of blessing, not cursing. These thoughts are emphasized in verse 15 of Psalm 72: “And let him live, and to him let some of the gold of Sheba be given. And in his behalf let prayer be made constantly; all day long let him be blessed.”
How can we act in harmony with the spirit of Psalm 72:15 toward Jesus Christ? This is done by loyally submitting to him, ‘openly acknowledging him as Lord to the glory of God the Father.’ (Phil. 2:11) Note how the sentiments of Psalm 72:15 parallel the following words of Revelation 5:13, 14: “Every creature that is in heaven and on earth and underneath the earth [the dead who will be resurrected] and on the sea, and all the things in them, I heard saying: ‘To the One [Jehovah God] sitting on the throne and to the Lamb [Jesus Christ] be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.’ And the four living creatures [the cherubs] went saying: ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
Describing the prosperity that would attend righteous rule, Psalm 72 continues: “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow. His fruit will be as in Lebanon, and those who are from the city will blossom like the vegetation of the earth.”—Ps 72 Vs. 16.
Being free from the devastations of war and the insecurity brought about by injustice and oppression, the subjects could peacefully pursue agriculture. With God’s blessing, the ground would produce abundantly. It would be as if grain were growing along the sides of the mountain, clear to the top. Since mountaintops are not generally places for there to be an overflow of grain, the words “on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow” present a beautiful picture of how great the abundance would be. The fruitage would be flourishing as Lebanon, yes, like the massive cedars of Lebanon that are luxurious in their growth. This may indicate that the stalks of grain would be tall and thick, able to support heavy ears of grain. Even the inhabitants of the city would flourish, becoming numerous as the vegetation. This proved to be true during Solomon’s reign, for we read: “Judah and Israel were many, like the grains of sand that are by the sea for multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing.” (1 Ki. 4:20) Even better conditions will exist in the “new earth” under the rule of Jesus Christ.
Truly, righteous rule and its accompanying blessings should give rise to deep gratitude, the kind of appreciation described in Psalm 72:17: “Let his name prove to be to time indefinite; before the sun let his name have increase, and by means of him let them bless themselves; let all nations pronounce him happy.” The name of a king who rules in righteousness deserves to continue for time indefinite. In the case of Solomon, the psalmist’s words express the wish that his dynasty continue and flourish. For the name to “have increase” would point to the king’s having offspring to continue the dynasty. And for the people to bless themselves by the name of the king would mean to mention him in wishing like blessings on others. That people of other nations must have pronounced Solomon happy is evident from the expression made by the queen of Sheba: “Happy are your men; happy are these servants of yours who are standing before you constantly, listening to your wisdom!”—1 Ki. 10:8.
The words of the psalmist are grandly fulfilled in Jesus Christ to whom Jehovah God gave “the name that is above every other name.” (Phil. 2:9) Being the immortal Son of God, he needs no successors. Since he has life-giving power, he can restore the dead to life and thus become the father to many millions. (Isa. 9:6, 7; John 5:26, 28; 1 Tim. 6:15, 16) What great increase that will mean for his name! As the primary ‘seed of Abraham,’ he is the one by means of whom “all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.”—Gen. 22:18.
How desirable will be the righteous rule of the Son of God! The queen of Sheba said to Solomon: “May Jehovah your God come to be blessed, who has taken delight in you by putting you upon the throne of Israel; because Jehovah loves Israel.” (1 Ki. 10:9) May we likewise bless Jehovah for designating his Son as king, taking up the words of the psalmist: “Blessed be Jehovah God, Israel’s God, who alone is doing wonderful works. And blessed be his glorious name to time indefinite, and let his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.”—Ps. 72:18, 19.