Officiant: The King is dead
People: Long live the King
Officiant: Let us offer Psalm 72 ….
Some of you may recognize the pseudo-liturgical setting above. I dreamed it up to help us connect with Psalm 72 a one of the Psalms offered at the coronation of the kings of ancient Israel and Judah. [i] The psalm asks for God to give the king and the king’s son righteousness and justice; it asks for the land to yield prosperity, for the king to defend the cause of the poor and needy and to crush the oppressor. The psalm ask for a long list of good things to come to the king, each petition beginning May he … It follows with rational for granting the petitions For he delivers the needy and poor, has pity on the weak, redeems their lives, for their blood is precious in his sight. The psalm concludes with a petition for long life and a second list of May he petitions. It all sounds pretty good, if the king is to be ours. But we don’t have kings. We elect leaders.
No, I have not forgotten that Christians believe Jesus the Christ to be our King, and he is. Nonetheless, as Henry Langknecht points out, this psalm really gives us pause when we move the object of the Psalm 72 to modern day leadership. [ii] There is really no need to pray for Jesus to have such attributes, Jesus and God are the source of justices, righteousness, etc. Langknecht asks: What if … we took the petitions at their real-world face value and ask God to deliver justice and righteousness to the world through a new, surprising referent, a tangible contemporary entity ordained into leadership by God: … our secular representative republic. [iii]
- Such a request is not contrary to the Constitution, it speaks only to what the government shall not do.
- Such a prayer does not preclude the church from any action.
- Such a prayer might be inspirational to our leaders; maybe, even ourselves.
It is Advent, a time when we prepare for the completion of the coming of the Kingdom of God. The vision of Psalm 72 is a work bearing fruit of the Kingdom’s emerging presence.
[i] The New Interpreter’s Bible One Volume Commentary, 2010, Abingdon Press
[ii] Henry Langknecht , Working Preacher, http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1907