The Fathers on Psalm 72

This post is part of an ongoing series offering translations of various early Church father’s commentaries on the Psalms.

Psalm 72

O God, give your judgment to the king;
your justice to the king’s son;
That he may govern your people with justice,
your oppressed with right judgment,
That the mountains may yield their bounty for the people,
and the hills great abundance,
That he may defend the oppressed among the people,
save the children of the poor and crush the oppressor.

May they fear you with the sun,
and before the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain coming down upon the fields,
like showers watering the earth,
That abundance may flourish in his days,
great bounty, till the moon be no more.

May he rule from sea to sea,
from the river to the ends of the earth.
May his foes kneel before him,
his enemies lick the dust.
May the kings of Tarshish and the islands bring tribute,
the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
May all kings bow before him,
all nations serve him.
For he rescues the poor when they cry out,
the oppressed who have no one to help.
He shows pity to the needy and the poor
and saves the lives of the poor.
From extortion and violence he redeems them,
for precious is their blood in his sight.

Long may he live, receiving gold from Sheba,
prayed for without cease, blessed day by day.
May wheat abound in the land,
flourish even on the mountain heights.
May his fruit be like that of Lebanon,
and flourish in the city like the grasses of the land.
May his name be forever;
as long as the sun, may his name endure.
May the tribes of the earth give blessings with his name;
may all the nations regard him as favored.
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does wonderful deeds.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may he fill all the earth with his glory.
Amen and amen.

Athanasius: “Psalms 21, 50, and 72 make known the Savior’s kingship and just rule, and in turn, his coming in the flesh to us and the calling of the Gentiles.”[1]

Pseudo-Athanasius: This psalm is ascribed to Solomon since it introduces the person of Christ, the true Solomon, who made peace through his blood and—May he rule from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth—held sway over the whole habitable world. May they fear you with the sun, and before the moon, through all generations. His name existed before the sun and moon. O God, give your judgment to the king; your justice to the king’s son; that he may govern your people with justice, your oppressed with right judgment. As he is king, the king’s son, and the Father’s righteousness, he said that judgment and righteousness would be given him at the time of his divine incarnation—that he may defend the oppressed among the people, save the children of the poor and crush the oppressor—because he will judge and save the needy people from the oppression of Satan, the ruler of this world who was expelled. That the mountains may yield their bounty for the people, and the hills great abundance, that he may defend the oppressed among the people, save the children of the poor and crush the oppressor. For thenceforth even the mountains and hills preached peace on earth, because he had saved the sons of the poor and had humbled the false accuser. May they fear you with the sun, and before the moon, through all generations. May he be like rain coming down upon the fields, like showers watering the earth, that abundance may flourish in his days, great bounty, till the moon be no more. Although he existed before the sun and the moon as God and creator, he came silently to earth like rain on the fleece in order that righteousness might flourish here instead of evil, and so that for many years—in all generations—he may reign over it instead of war. May all kings bow before him, all nations serve him. For he rescues the poor when they cry out, the oppressed who have no one to help. For all the Gentiles will render him service, because he saved and liberated them, not only from the tyrant’s evil servitude—from extortion and violence he redeems them, for precious is their blood in his sight—but also form usury and evil in that he tore up the contracts of their sins, he who owed five hundred and he who owed fifty. Therefore his name is honored before them. Long may he live, receiving gold from Sheba, prayed for without cease, blessed day by day and they will offer him the gold of Arabia and pray in his name and bless him all the time, asking the Father that through him he may give them good gifts. May wheat abound in the land, flourish even on the mountain heights. May his fruit be like that of Lebanon, and flourish in the city like the grasses of the land. For he was a support on earth for his church, which was founded on the mountains—the prophets and apostles—so that he might indicate that the spiritual service of the gospel is superior to the fruits of Lebanon, the Jerusalem below which served the types and shadows. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does wonderful deeds. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may he fill all the earth with his glory. Amen and amen. For he also calls it a city of which wonderful things are spoken, by the God if Israel who alone created wonders and whose glorious name is blessed in the whole earth forever and ever.[2]


[1] Benjamin Wayman. Make the Words Your Own: An Early Christian Guide to the Psalms (Brewster, M.A.: Paraclete Press: 2014), 149.

[2] Syriac. CSCO 387, SYRI 168 V, pg 45-46. Cx. PG 27 for Greek and Latin.

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