our nation, ourselves
|How do we pray for our country? King David was a poet and musician. He broadened the reach of his kingdom through wars and alliances. He was a lover. Of God, of friend, of women. David enjoyed popularity with the people. He knew how to pray. |
O God, endow the king with Your judgments, the king’s son with Your righteousness; that he may judge Your people rightly, Your lowly ones, justly. Ps. 72:1
The Jewish Study Bible describes Psalm 72 as a coronation ode. Certainly a prayer for the king’s success. Rashi attributes this psalm to David, on behalf of his son Solomon.
Let him rule from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth. Let all kings bow to him, and all nations serve him. Ps. 72:8,11
American presidents could endorse this prayer. The wish for power resonates easily. And the pleas for prosperity align with our values. For the gold of Sheba, abundant grain, and flourishing fruit. What if Psalm 72 informed our inauguration?
Let him champion the lowly among the people, deliver the needy folk, and crush those who wrong them. Ps. 72:4
This is a different kind of champion. And not the crushing we might expect. The annotations say “Moral order (justice for the poor and oppressed) in the world brings about cosmic order (fertility and bounty).” Huh. That doesn’t sound like anything I learned in school. But in this prayer for the nation’s leader, the king is served “not because of his military power, but because of his righteousness.”
For he saves the needy who cry out, the lowly who have no helper. He cares about the poor and the needy; He brings the needy deliverance. He redeems them from fraud and lawlessness; the shedding of their blood weighs heavily upon him. Ps. 72:12-14
Righteousness is defined not as personal purity, but as allyship with the poor. Their lives, and their deaths, are a heavy responsibility. That is the job of a leader.
Today is a good day to pray for our country. May our leaders be endowed with righteous judgments. May they advocate for the needy. May they feel the weight of precious lives depending on their decisions. May abundance be for all.
Blessed is the Lord God, God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things; Blessed is His glorious name forever; His glory fills the whole world. Amen and Amen. Ps. 72:18-19