By: Chad Hyatt
Psalm 72.1-7, 18-19
Reflection—v. 4, ‘defend the cause of the poor of the people’
Psalm 72 paints a clear picture of Jewish expectation for God’s kingdom by the portrait of an ideal king. The king is praised for a prosperous peace and the defeat of foes. But the key to the success of this king is ‘compassion for the weak and needy’ (72.13). The ideal king ‘delivers the needy who cry out, those who have no helper’ (72.12). This king ‘redeems their lives from oppression and violence; their blood is precious in his eyes’ (72.14). As one who works on the streets, not only does this psalm describe our hopes for justice and liberation, but it seems to understand the grinding cruelty of poverty—what it is like to feel the humiliation of ‘needing’ what others take for granted, what it is like to go everywhere looking and to find ‘no one to help,’ that oppression is ‘violence’ and that it kills all of us. This psalmist knows that a truly just king must value the life of each person who is poor—not just as an impersonal group or as the beneficiaries of some benevolent program. This is what the kingdom of God looks like. This is what God wants. This is precisely the ideal king we see embodied in the poor Nazarene, Jesus.
Prayer O Nazarene, teach us your compassion in the depths of our hearts.