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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Psalm 72:7-11

Commentary On Psalms Volume 3 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 72:7-11

7. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and there shall be abundance of peace, so long as the moon endureth. 8. He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.9. The inhabitants of the desert shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.10. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring a present: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring a gift to him.11. And all kings shall prostrate themselves before him; all nations shall serve him.

7. In his days shall the righteous flourish It is unnecessary for me frequently to repeat what I have once stated, that all these sentences depend upon the first verse. David, therefore, prayed that the king might be adorned with righteousness and judgment, that the just might flourish and the people prosper. This prediction receives its highest fulfillment in Christ. It was, indeed, the duty of Solomon to maintain the righteous; but it is the proper office of Christ to make men righteous. He not only gives to every man his own, but also reforms their hearts through the agency of his Spirit. By this means he brings righteousness back, as it were, from exile, which otherwise would be altogether banished from the world. Upon the return of righteousness there succeeds the blessing of God, by which he causes all his children to rejoice in the way of making them to perceive that under their King, Christ, every provision is made for their enjoying all manner of prosperity and felicity. If any would rather take the word peace in its proper and more restricted signification, I have no objections to it. And, certainly, to the consummation of a happy life, nothing is more desirable than peace; for amidst the turmoils and contentions of war, men derive almost no good from having an abundance of all things, as it is then wasted and destroyed. Moreover, when David represents the life of the king as prolonged to the end of the world, this shows more clearly that he not only comprehends his successors who occupied an earthly throne, but that he ascends even to Christ, who, by rising from the dead, obtained for himself celestial life and glory, that he might govern his Church for ever.

8 He shall have dominion from sea to sea. As the Lord, when he promised his people the land of Canaan for an inheritance, assigned to it these four boundaries, (Genesis 15:18,) David intimates, that so long as the kingdom shall continue to exist, the possession of the promised land will be entire, to teach the faithful that the blessing of God cannot be fully realised, except whilst this kingdom shall flourish. He therefore declares that he will exercise dominion from the Red Sea, or from that arm of the Egyptian sea to the sea of Syria, which is called the Sea of the Philistines, and also from the river Euphrates to the great wilderness. If it is objected that such narrow bounds do not correspond with the kingdom of Christ, which was to be extended from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof, we reply, that David obviously accommodates his language to his own time, the amplitude of the kingdom of Christ not having been, as yet, fully unfolded. He has therefore begun his description in phraseology well known, and in familiar use under the law and the prophets; and even Christ himself commenced his reign within the limits here marked out before he penetrated to the uttermost boundaries of the earth; as it is said in Psalm 110:2,

|The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion.|

But, soon after, the Psalmist proceeds to speak of the enlarged extent of the empire of this king, declaring that the kings beyond the sea shall also be tributaries to him; and also that the inhabitants of the desert shall receive his yoke. The word tsyym, tsiim, which we have translated inhabitants of the desert, is, I have no doubt, to be understood of those who, dwelling towards the south, were at a great distance from the land of Canaan. The Prophet immediately adds, that the enemies of the king shall lick the dust in token of their reverence. This, as is well known, was in ancient times a customary ceremony among the nations of the East; and Alexander the Great, after he had conquered the East, wished to compel his subjects to practice it, from which arose great dissatisfaction and contentions, the Macedonians disdainfully refusing to yield such a slavish and degrading mark of subjection. The meaning then is, that the king chosen by God in Judea will obtain so complete a victory over all his enemies, far and wide, that they shall come humbly to pay him homage.

10. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents. The Psalmist still continues, as in the preceding verse, to speak of the extent of the kingdom. The Hebrews apply the appellation of Tarshish to the whole coast, which looks towards Cilicia. By the isles, therefore, is denoted the whole coast of the Mediterranean Sea, from Cilicia to Greece. As the Jews, contenting themselves with the commodities of their own country, did not undertake voyages to distant countries, like other nations; God having expressly required them to confine themselves within the limits of their own country, that they might not be corrupted by the manners of strangers; they were accustomed, in consequence of this, to apply the appellation of isles to those countries which were on the other side of the sea. I indeed admit that Cyprus, Crete, and other islands, are comprehended under this name; but I also maintain that it applies to all the territories which were situated beyond the Mediterranean Sea. By the words mnchh, minchah, a present, and 'skr, eshcar, a gift, must be understood any tribute or custom, and not voluntary offerings; for it is vanquished enemies, and the mark or token of their subjection, which are spoken of. These terms appear to be used intentionally in this place, in order to mitigate the odium attached to such a mark of subjugation; as if the inspired writer indirectly reproved subjects, if they defrauded their kings of their revenues. By sv', Sheba, some think Arabia is intended, and by sv', Seba, Ethiopia. Some, however, by the first word understand all that part of the Gulf of Arabia which lies towards Africa; and by the second, which is written with the letter s, samech, the country of Sabea, the more pleasant and fruitful country. This opinion is probably the more correct of the two. It is unnecessary here to remark how foolishly this passage has been wrested in the Church of Rome. They chant this verse as referring to the philosophers or wise men who came to worship Christ; as if, indeed, it were in their power of philosophers to make kings all upon a sudden; and in addition to this, to change the quarters of the world, to make of the east the south or the west.

11. And all kings shall prostrate themselves before him. This verse contains a more distinct statement of the truth, That the whole world will be brought in subjection to the authority of Christ. The kingdom of Judah was unquestionably never more flourishing than under the reign of Solomon; but even then there were only a small number of kings who paid tribute to him, and what they paid was inconsiderable in amount; and, moreover, it was paid upon condition that they should be allowed to live in the enjoyment of liberty under their own laws. While David then began with his own son, and the posterity of his son, he rose by the Spirit of prophecy to the spiritual kingdom of Christ; a point worthy of our special notice, since it teaches us that we have not been called to the hope of everlasting salvation by chance, but because our heavenly Father had already destined to give us to his Son. From this we also learn, that in the Church and flock of Christ there is a place for kings; whom David does not here disarm of their sword nor despoil of their crown, in order to admit them into the Church, but rather declares that they will come with all the dignity of their station to prostrate themselves at the feet of Christ.

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