20 The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended. (Psalm 72:20)
Through the Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 1, Psalm 72
In today’s Bible Recap, Tara-Leigh acknowledges the head scratching that goes along with this Psalm–how it seems to start with a superscript indicating Solomon wrote it, but ends with a postscript saying, “this psalm concludes the prayers of David, son of Jesse.” So which is it?
TLC is right; there is nothing about your faith that hinges on this. I did read a couple of other alternative explanations of this that I thought might be of interest, though.
A footnote in the Quest Study Bible suggests the possibility that Psalm 72:20 at one time marked the last of the Davidic psalms, but was originally attached to a different Psalm:
Over several centuries, before the sequence of the psalms was finalized, the book of Psalms underwent many editorial changes. Most think this verse at one time concluded the Davidic collection. But as other psalms were added, it was moved around in the sequence. This verse does not mean David wrote all the psalms up to this point (see, for instance, Ps 42–50). Furthermore, some later psalms (Ps 138–145) are credited to David.
Personally, I prefer to think that “Of Solomon” at the beginning really should be “about Solomon”–that it was a prayer composed by David for his son’s coronation day. Here are a few reasons I think that:
- Verse 1 says, “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son.” It makes more sense to me that David would refer to Solomon as “the royal son” than that Solomon would refer to himself that way.
- Verse 5 briefly slips into second person, when the rest of the Psalm is in third person: “May they fear you…” To whom is the Psalmist speaking? Is he telling God that he hopes people will fear God while the sun endures? Or is David giving a blessing to the future king, praying that the oppressor (verse 4) will fear Solomon? I think David is praying this for his son, so the “you” is Solomon.
- If Solomon did write this psalm, then our boy’s pretty full of himself. Would he really write verses 11-14 about himself:
11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! 12 For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper. 13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. 14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.
I mean, Solomon certainly could have written that about himself, but it’s a far cry from the humility he expressed when he prayed for wisdom:
7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in.
Furthermore, when Solomon penned Proverbs 27:2, he wrote,
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
It seems to me that this Psalm was written by David for Solomon. And if that is true, then it goes a long way toward making me feel better about David. I’ve written a couple of times about how I’m not a big fan of David (see Day 139: Recycled Revenge, and the Better Way of Jesus, and Day 111: Not Really Loving David Today, and Why I’m Not Supposed To).
But now, imagine an aging father, seeking to bless his son before his son takes the throne. Imagine him praying every blessing of success over his son.
If you have been the parent standing in the driveway watching your son drive off to college for the first time, or your daughter leave the church for her honeymoon with her new husband, you know the feeling.
You hope they don’t make the same mistakes you made.
You know they probably will, as well as some brand new ones.
You hope, desperately, that they have seen you pursuing God enough in your own life that they will want to do the same thing.
And so you pray:
- Endow my son with your justice, O God (verse 1).
- Let him flourish (verse 3).
- Let him live his life with compassion (verse 4).
- Help him prosper (verse 15).
- Let there always be people praying for him (verse 15).
- Let him be a blessing to other people (verse 17).
Because the truth is, God, you alone do wondrous things. (verse 18). You alone can accomplish this in the life of my son. So let my son always turn to you. Blessed be Your glorious name forever! Amen and amen (verse 19).
Verse 20 says that with this, the prayers of David the son of Jesse, were ended. You know, if the last prayer I pray is for the success and well being of my sons, then guess what:
I am totally okay with that.