By J.R. Miller
"Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice."
In the seventy-second Psalm, we have a wonderful description of the ideal king. "The historical occasion of the Psalm is to be kept in mind. A human monarch stands in the foreground; but the aspirations expressed are so far beyond anything that he is or can be, that they are either extravagant flattery, or reach out beyond their immediate occasion to the Messiah King."
Though we may not be justified "in attempting to transfer every point of the psalmist's prayer, to the Messiah," yet we may study the words of the Psalm, as a picture of Christ. He is a KING whom we need never fear to trust. He is most gentle and loving. The weakest one in His kingdom, is sure of protection and care. Those who have failed the most sorely, are sure of compassion and help--help that will restore them to strength and joy--if they will but cling to Him and follow Him.
"He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice." We are sure that our King will never be unjust to any of His subjects. He will judge always with righteousness. He will never wink at sin. He is holy, and must have holiness in His followers. This is one thought.
Another thought, is that no one will ever receive any injustice at His hands. The poor often fail of justice in human governments. They have none to plead their cause. They have no money to employ advocates. Besides, they are thrust aside by the rich and the strong, and ofttimes cannot secure a hearing. But under this King, the poorest and weakest are as sure of justice, as the richest and the strongest. The Bible from beginning to end represents God as the Friend of the weak, the unfortunate, the defenseless, the unprotected.
"The mountains will bring peace to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness." We may not read into this thought about the mountains, all that modern science has taught us of the ministry of mountains, in the physical economy of the earth. But we know that the mountains give beauty and strength to a country. They are also full of healthful influences. The mountains were ancient hiding places for men in danger. They are firm and fixed, emblems of perpetuity. We read of the "everlasting hills." They are the massive foundations of the earth. They carry the valleys in their bosom and hold up the great plains in their arms. Their tall peaks catch the first gleams of dawning day and are the last to wave farewell to the setting sun. They are sources of inestimable blessing to the plains below. Their storms and currents, purify and sweeten the air. Rivers are born amid their crags. From their melting snows, millions of streams flow down to water the gardens and valleys below.
In all these and other ways, mountains are expressive emblems of God Himself. He is the refuge of men. In His bosom, the weary and heart-sore find most kindly shelter. He is the source of infinite blessing to the world. Rivers of goodness flow from His heart, bringing joy, life, and gladness to earth's homes.
Here it is said that the mountains bring peace. Probably the verse is only a poetical expression of the promise that peace shall prevail in the lands in which the Messiah reigns as King--peace in the widest sense. We know what a prominent place peace has among the spiritual blessings which Christ gives. It must be noted here that it is in righteousness, that the mountains and hills bring peace to the people. There is no peace, except in righteousness. We must be godly--before we can be happy.
"He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor." Here again we have a glimpse of the compassionate heart of Christ. He has a peculiar interest in the poor and afflicted. The Bible is a book for the poor. The old Mosaic code had its special provisions for them. Every seventh year the land was to rest, that the poor might eat the fruit that grew on the fields and vineyards. The corners were not to be reaped, nor all the grapes picked from the vine; but something was to be left always for the poor.
The Psalms gleam with golden words like these: "The Lord hears the poor;" "I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me;" "He shall spare the poor and needy;" "He shall deliver . . . the poor also, and him that has no helper." The world's heart is cold toward the poor. An Arctic explorer was asked whether he and his companions suffered much from the pangs of hunger during the eight months of starvation through which they had passed. He replied that the gnawings of hunger, were lost in the sense of abandonment, in the feeling that their countrymen had forgotten them and were not coming to their rescue.
The bitterest thing about poverty--is not the pain of privation, cold, and hunger; but the feeling that no one cares, the lack of sympathy and love in human hearts, the cruelty of injustice, oppression, and wrong which are the portion of the poor, where the love of Christ is not known. But the Bible throbs with love and sympathy for the poor--as a mother's heart throbs for her children. We need but to look even cursorily at the story of Christ's walk among men, to see in Him the most loving interest in, and sympathy with, the poor. His heart was ever most gentle--toward those whom men despised. The afflicted, the sick, the tempted, the crippled, the blind, the outcast, the fallen--were the ones to whom His compassion went out in special tenderness. He is ever the same--the same yesterday and today, yes, and forever. That is the kind of king we have in Jesus Christ. None need ever fear to trust Him. The safest place in the world--is in His bosom. The poorest are sure of His love.
"He will be like rain falling on a mown field; like showers watering the earth." This is a beautiful picture of the effect on the world, of the reign of Christ. The mown field has only roots--all the beauty has been shorn off. The removal of the grass, leaves the roots exposed to the fierce summer heat, which burns and parches them almost to death. This is a picture of this world--under sin's withering curse. We know what bitterness and sorrow, what burning up of life's beauty--sin produces. Think of a country where Christ is not known, where none of the blessings of His grace have ever been received--such a country as the missionaries find when they go to India or China. For example, it used to be said that in India the birds never sing, the flowers have no fragrance, and the women never smile. This is but a poetic representation of the spiritual withering and dearth, which do exist in all places where Christ's gospel is not known.
The warm, soft rain falls upon the parched, mown field--and the effect is magical. Almost immediately the seared grass becomes green and millions of tender blades shoot up. This beautifully illustrates the effect of the gospel wherever it goes. A boy lay very sick in a miserable garret in London. He had never known of the love of Christ. A faithful minister entered the place, bent over the cot and said, "My boy, God loves you," and hurried away. The boy looked up in surprise. But the word the minister had spoken was a revealing of the heart of Christ to him, and transformed his life. Every bright spot around a mission station is a commentary on this verse. Every Christian home, every saved and renewed life, exemplifies it.
"He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." We need not trouble ourselves about geography. The verse is a promise of the universal spread of the kingdom of Christ. The world is His empire--and all shall become His. It is ours to win His kingdom for Him. It is not enough to read the promise, and then wait for the kingdom. It is not enough for us to pray for its coming. It is ours to work to win the kingdom for the King. Enemies hold it now, and they must be dispossessed, and room must be made for Christ. Our work is to prepare the way of the Lord. We are to open doors for Him into hearts and homes. We must help in extending the dominion of Christ until it fills all the world.
"For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help." Over and over again in this description of our King, do we catch a glimpse of the gentleness of His heart toward the poor. Here we are told that He will hear the cry of the needy. There is in the one hundred and second Psalm, a wonderful picture of the interest the Lord takes in those who are oppressed. "He has looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth." This ought to have wonderful comfort to any who are suffering wrongfully, and for all who are in sore need.
Then "the afflicted who have no one to help" has special mention. No one can ever say, "Nobody cares for me," for there is always One who cares. Christ cares. There is an incident in John's Gospel which illustrates this. There was lying by the pool of Bethesda, a man who had been suffering for thirty-eight years. He had been waiting for a long time by the healing waters--but being lame, he was unable to get into the pool at the right time, other stronger people always jostling him aside and thrusting themselves in. Jesus came by and saw this man who "had no one to help," and at once His heart went out to him in sympathy, and He healed him. So it always is. The most needy person in our company--gets the most of Christ's compassion; and the one who has no helper--gets the most of the mighty help of Christ.
Usually kings pay heed to the great, the strong, the people of rank about them; but heaven's King sees first the poor and needy--and listens to their appeals. One day, in the darkest period of the war, President Lincoln was ill and gave orders that no one was to be admitted. Senators and generals and great men came--but none could see him. Then a poor woman in faded garments came, and craved to see the President. She was in great distress about her son, who was in the army and was in trouble. "Yes, admit her," said Mr. Lincoln to the messenger. So it is with our King. The poor and the needy are admitted, even though others are kept waiting. The surest appeal to the heart of Christ--is sore human need.