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Words: James Montgomery (b. Nov. 4, 1771; d. Apr. 30, 1854)
Music: Ellacombe, an old German tune adopted and harmonized by William Henry Monk (b. Mar. 16, 1823; d. Mar. 1, 1889)
Note: In 1821, hymn writer James Montgomery wrote a paraphrase of Psalm 72. Isaac Watts had based his hymn Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun on the same psalm. Montgomery wrote his as a Christmas hymn, but clearly many details of the psalm were not fulfilled at Christ’s first coming, but await His return. The tune, Ellacombe, is used also with Isaac Watts’s hymn I Sing the Might Power of God.
Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in a service at Westminster Abbey on June 2nd, 1953, before more than eight thousand guests, representing one hundred and twenty-nine nations. The three-hour service followed a traditional pattern, then over nine centuries old. There was a great deal of sacred choral music, but only one congregational hymn, All People That on Earth Do Dwell.
During the service, a Bible was presented to the Queen, with these words:
“Our gracious Queen: to keep your Majesty ever mindful of the Law and the Gospel of God as the rule for the whole life and government of Christian princes, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the royal Law; these are the lively Oracles of God.”
What a wonderful admonition for all rulers everywhere! Like the kings of Israel, Britain’s monarch was to take God’s Word as a guidebook for her rule (cf. Deut. 17:18-19).
A significant part of the long ceremony was an anointing, done with a special oil that was only used for that purpose. This is something we find in the Bible as well. Priests were anointed (Exod. 28:41); prophets were anointed (I Kgs. 19:16); and kings were too (I Sam. 10:1). It represented a dedication to the Lord, a setting apart of the person for the service of God. Possibly it also symbolized the empowering of the Spirit of God for service, since this is also referred to as an anointing (Lk. 4:18-19; Acts 10:38).
The roles of prophet, priest, and king are all to be fulfilled in the final sense by the Lord Jesus Christ. And, significantly, both the Hebrew word Messiah (mashiyach), and the Greek word Christ (christos) mean Anointed One. As Prophet, the Lord Jesus not only spoke the Word of God, He is, Himself, the living Word (Jn. 1:1, 14). As Priest, He not only offered a sacrifice to God, as the Old Testament priests did, on the cross Christ Himself became the final Sacrifice (Eph. 5:2).
Christ is also our coming King. Though He rules now in the hearts of individual Christians, those who own Him as Lord, one day He will return and set up His reign over all the earth.
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:31-33; cf. Isa. 9:6-7; I Tim. 6:14-15).
Psalm 72 is a royal psalm. Apparently written by David (vs. 20), it is headed “A Psalm of Solomon”–not in the sense that it was written by him, but about, or concerning him.
The psalm celebrates the coronation of Solomon, David’s son. But it is soon clear that it goes way beyond what was possible for Solomon. It has a further application prophetically to the Messiah’s coming reign. Solomon’s investiture is seen as a foreshadowing of the coming of Israel’s Messiah-King who, in His humanity, was also a descendant of David (Matt. 1:1), and who referred to Himself as “greater than Solomon” (Matt. 12:42).
Only of Christ at His return could many of the things in Psalm 72 be said.
“In His days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth….Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him” (vs. 7-8, 11).
CH-1) Hail to the Lord’s anointed, great David’s greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free;
To take away transgression, and rule in equity.
CH-3) He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth;
Love, joy, and hope, like flowers, spring in His path to birth.
Before Him, on the mountains, shall peace, the herald, go,
And righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.
CH-6) Kings shall fall down before Him, and gold and incense bring;
All nations shall adore Him, His praise all people sing;
For He shall have dominion o’er river, sea and shore,
Far as the eagle’s pinion or dove’s light wing can soar.
CH-8) O’er every foe victorious, He on His throne shall rest;
From age to age more glorious, all blessing and all blest.
The tide of time shall never His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever, His name to us is Love.
1) What would happen on earth if every ruler consistently followed the instructions given to Queen Elizabeth regarding the Bible presented to her?
2) From what the Bible says, what can be said about the characteristics of Christ’s coming reign?