Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 72. (MsgB)
A Solomon Psalm
Give the gift of wise rule to the king, O God, the gift of just rule to the crown prince.
May he judge Your people rightly, be honorable to Your meek and lowly.
Let the mountains give exuberant witness; shape the hills with the contours of right living.
The ancient biblical texts tell us that King Solomon followed his father, King David, as leader of God’s people. After David, a man after God’s own heart, had faithfully served as king of a united Israel for forty years (1010-970 BC), his son Solomon was given the task. And an easy task, it was not.
If there’s one thing we can learn from Israel’s history, as recorded for us in God’s Book, it’s the fact that God’s people were not an easy people to lead. From Moses to Jesus, we find that those who have been appointed by God to lead His chosen people never have an assignment that goes without its problems or hiccups.
In truth, leading any group of people; whether it be the twelve tribes of Israel as they wander through the wilderness, twelve disciples trekking through the streets of Jerusalem, or just twelve church members attempting to agree on the color of carpet for the sanctuary; can be one heck of an assignment that makes most leaders shudder in fear.
Leadership of God’s people, you see, is not an easy task. Guiding God’s people to a pre-determined God-destination is many times like herding cats in a parking lot or getting a pack of dogs to follow you in a park full of squirrels.
So, as I see it, Psalm 72 stands out as a classic prayer for church leaders. A gut-honest cry to God. A humble prayer for wisdom. A call upward, asking for God’s insight, God’s integrity, and God’s compassion. Three core leadership qualities missing from so many church leaders over the centuries.
Apparently, young Solomon’s request for wisdom as he was ascending the throne, was so unique, the book of 1st Kings calls attention to it in the 3rd chapter, verses 5-14.
God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, “What can I give you? Ask.” Solomon said, “You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in Your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And You have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne. And now here I am: God, my God, You have made me, Your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people You’ve chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count. Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead Your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading Your glorious people?” God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for—I’m giving you a wise and mature heart. There’s never been one like you before; and there’ll be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.”
What an amazing story. Solomon was indeed one wise dude. A man not too proud to pray a humble prayer for wisdom. Too bad more of us in church leadership today aren’t humbly reciting this prayer to God as we take up our roles of leadership of God’s people. Don’t you think?
My prayer: Father, leading Your people is a task that, quite honestly, is beyond my abilities. I choose today to defer to Your insight, Your integrity, and Your compassion. I’ve learned my lessons well, Lord. When I lead out of my own strength, bad things happen. But as I wait upon You, preferring and deferring to You, I know Your wisdom will give me all I need to lead justly and rightly. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How can I better practice Solomon’s humble approach to leadership as found in 1st Kings 3? Have I been focusing on the wrong things…long life, riches, or the doom of my enemies? What might it look like to prefer and defer to God’s wisdom, allowing Him to grant me a wise and mature heart?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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