Psalm 72 - The greatest prayer ever answered

Psalms - Redemption Songs  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:29
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The Greatest Prayer Ever Answered

When it comes to the progress of society and our world in general.
I rekon there are two different views about the world.
There are a bunch of people who think the
world is getting better all the time.
Maybe you are one of these people.
You see changes in society, medical breakthroughs, increased education, child mortality rates are down.
This is good right.
And they aren’t even the big ones.
Did you know the Giant Panda was no longer on the endangered list.
That’s amazing.
Go world, go us.
But then there are this other bunch of people.
Who think that despite the Giant Panda wins.
The world is actually getting worse.
The gap between the rich and poor is widening globally.
There’s no community anymore.
Governments have weapons available to
them that could destroy the world.
Diseases are mutating.
Do you even read the news!
I think that no matter where you land on this spectrum.
We can all agree that we want, we desire,
we wish for a better world.
A world where there are no mutating diseases.
Where everyone has enough
Where there is no loneliness or depression.
Where there is no fear of military solutions
We all want a better world.
But the question is, how?
Is a better world possible?
How is it possible?
This is the question at the heart of Psalm 72.
You may have noticed as Bernie/Ellen was reading that Psalm 72 sounds like a prayer.
That’s because it is!
Probably written by David, the King of Israel for Solomon, his Son
or it could be written by Solomon for one of his sons
I think the big thing to see is that this is a prayer for a King.

A Prayer

Imagine with me for a moment.
Close your eyes if it is helpful.
Imagine a whole crowd of people, thousands of people, dressed in traditional Jewish dress walking up a hill toward a city.
This crowd walks through the gates of the city.
And along a path that leads to the palace.
The palace is crowded with people.
They are all looking toward the throne.
There is a man sitting there.
And someone else is placing a crown on his head.
As he does, he prays.
The whole crowd is silent now, listening to this prayer.
This prayer for the king.
And a prayer for the world.
Let’s look at it together.
Come to Psalm 72.

1. A Just and Righteous King

Look at verse 1 and 2.
Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
God, give your king justice and righteousness.
May he be a godly man.
May this king do the right thing all the time
and always for the right reasons.
May he treat people the way they deserve.
Don’t you long for this?
I remember when there was a lot of noise about
politicians using private planes to go on ‘working trips’ to exotic locations.
Or perhaps for you it has been the handling of refugees,
or the environment.
The injustice and a lack of loving, upright behaviour can be really upsetting.
How we all long for righteous leaders,
committed to justice rather than self-serving ends.
This prayer asks for that, and more.

2. A King Who Saves

This prayer is for a saving King.
Look at verse 4

May he defend the afflicted among the people

and save the children of the needy;

may he crush the oppressor.

And in verse 12.
For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.
Lord, give us a leader who will defend the weak and afflicted
rather than the powerful.
Who will save from the oppressor,
rather than collaborate or be the oppressor.
Who sees the weak and the needy as precious.
What a prayer this is for us in the West,
What a prayer this is for Syria right now
or many other parts of the world.
Lord, give us a saving King.
How will he save?
By conquest.

3. A Conqueror King

We saw this in verse 4, He will crush the oppressor.
His enemies will lick the dust it says in verse 9.
This saving of the needy and the afflicted will not come without a fight.
It is acknowledged that there will be a struggle.
That oppression does not go without a fight.
But this fight is a fight worth having
because with victory comes a new kingdom.

4. A Prosperous Kingdom

May this king bring with him a prosperous, flourishing kingdom.
In verse 3.

May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,

the hills the fruit of righteousness.

And in verse 7.

In his days may the righteous flourish

and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.

and in verse 16.

May grain abound throughout the land;

on the tops of the hills may it sway.

May the crops flourish like Lebanon

and thrive like the grass of the field.

May this king bring in a kingdom,
a world that is abundant for all who dwell in it.
Enough for everyone, satisfaction for everyone.
You may be finding it hard to make ends meet here in Wollongong,
or perhaps you find it devastating that so many people
around the world have not enough food to eat or clean drinking water.
How desperate this prayer is for those who are
living in these conditions right now.
Lord, for a king and a kingdom like this.
Where none are in need.
This prayer is far more ambitious than just
the small nation of ancient Israel.
This prayer is for a King above all kings.

5. A King of Kings

It’s in verse 8
May he rule from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
And 11
May all kings bow down to him
and all nations serve him.
A King of all nations.
A leader who rules from sea to sea, to the ends of the earth.
This isn’t just about a small nation.
This is about a world.
A King of Kings who will bring with him
A new world and a new kingdom.
And it will be, forever.

6. A Forever King

Verse 5,

May he endure as long as the sun,

as long as the moon, through all generations.

and here in verse 17,

May his name endure forever;

may it continue as long as the sun.

This is a forever King.
This is a king who doesn’t die.
Who will live forever. Whose kingdom will never die.
Who will bring in a new world that is everlasting.
At just the right time.

7. A King who comes at just the right time.

Come back to verse 6.
Now, this is fun and interesting.
What in the world is going on there.
You can tell this isn’t written by a guy in Austinmer.
I don’t know about you but
I get annoyed if it rains right after I mow my lawn
in the Australian summer.
Cause that backyard is going to need mowing again
in about a week.
I don’t know why that upsets me,
everyone knows my wife mows our lawn.
But anyway,
why does the Psalmist pray that the King
would be like rain falling on a mown field?
Well, my wife is from Berry
so I feel sufficiently qualified to explain agricultural poetry to you.
Like most places in the world,
Jewish farmers relied on hay to feed their animals
in the winter when grass doesn’t really grow.
So, they would grow their lawns or paddocks
and then harvest the grass when it was long.
But harvesting this grass is a bit of a risky activity.
Cause if you cut the grass short
And the weather doesn’t go your way.
You can kill the grass at the roots.
The desert sun will bake the short grass and kill the roots.
That’s really bad.
You don’t want dead grass in Israel.
So you pray for rain to come at just the right time.
This is the prayer.
May the King come at just the right time.
Like rain on a mown field.
Come back to verse 17.
This summarises the whole prayer.

8. A Blessed King in a Blessed World.

Then all nations will be blessed through him,

and they will call him blessed.

This is a prayer for a blessed king.
And a blessed world.
You might remember what this word blessed means.
It’s a word that signifies, that describes true happiness.
A happiness so much deeper than momentary pleasure.
It is total satisfaction and joy.
Peace and wholeness and harmony.
It’s all of these things.

Our Prayer

On one level, so much of this prayer resonates with us.
Yes, a world where the needy are delivered.
Yes, a world where everyone is satisfied and has enough.
Yes! A world where we are all blessed with a blessed King.
But there is also a dissonance I think, particularly for Australian’s.
Something feels a bit weird.
It’s this king thing right.
I don’t know about this King business.
Australian’s are funny about leaders and authority figures.
Particularly political ones.
We are skeptical of them.
And that’s even in a democracy where
they have quite limited power and authority.
Let alone a King.
We don’t even know how to think about a king.
Someone with ultimate authority.
We don’t trust political leaders and
authority figures and so
When we come to praying for a King.
We find it hard to conceptualise.
We think that if progress or good things do happen,
It will probably be in spite of our political leaders
rather than led by them.
But, I rekon we do want leadership.
I think even Aussie’s want leaders.
We want to be led well.
We want someone to look up to.
We want someone to show us the way to a better world.
I think you see glimpses of this.
Maybe in Obama’s first campaign and even in Kevin Rudd’s 07.
You see it in Steve Jobs and Elon Musk…
A glimpse of leaders who can truly rally people.
I rekon we do want a leader.
We have just been let down so many times.
We don’t want to get our hopes up about any leader anymore.
We particularly want a leader who brings a blessed world.
This is why I say, this is our prayer.
What would be the prayers you pray most often?
Maybe it is for sick and hurting friends or family.
Maybe it is for people living in poverty.
It could be for people who are struggling with sin
Or for yourself in these same situations.
At the heart of so many of our prayers is a longing,
a hope that one day we won’t have to pray anymore
for friends and family that are sick, because there are no afflicted.
At the heart of your prayers is a hope
that we won’t have to pray for people in poverty or famine,
because everyone is satisfied.
At the heart of all our prayers is a hope that one day
we won’t have to pray that our leaders would act righteously,
because they do so naturally.
This prayer is our deepest prayer.
I hope you long for this prayer to be answered.
For a King that is like a shower on mown grass.
For a righteous and just leader,
for a leader that saves the needy and oppressed.
For a world where all are satisfied.
I hope you ache for this prayer to be answered.
Wouldn’t it be great?
Isn’t this everything we really want?
This should be all of our prayers right?

Our Need for a Prayer

But we struggle to hope for it
Because we have been let down so many times by people
and leaders.
I think we need to see that this better world
will not come about naturally.
I think we need to accept that to hope in
ordinary humanity for a better world
Is to misplace our hope.
Remember for a moment what Psalm 72 is.
It is a prayer.
Why does the Psalmist pray?
The Psalmist prays because he knows that without God’s direct
intervention, this hoped for reality can never come true.
Because ordinary human’s are not capable of it.
And here is the danger of out time.
I think our world has misplaced its hope and
I think sometimes Christians fall into this trap.
If our hope is that eventually if we just get democracy right
then we will have righteous, just, saving leadership and governance.
Then I think our hope is misplaced.
If we think that once we get rid of ideology like religion and racism,
and embrace equality and total inclusivity,
then we will get a world like the one described by the Psalmist.
If we hope in the ordinary workings of humanity
then the Bible tells us we have misplaced our hope.
and I think history backs that up.
If you feel I am being negative or pessimistic
about humanity’s potential
then all I can say is that I believe the weight
of evidence shows this to be true.
I have studied and taught history.
I am not convinced that humanity is on an upward trajectory.
For every medical breakthrough
there is something else on the other side of the scales.
For every supposed progress, there is a regression.
You only need to look at world inequality to see this.
You only need to read a history of the modern world to see this.
You only need to watch the news to see this.
We are a people who for all our apparent progress are still at heart,
incapable of true righteousness.
Because, as Paul will say in Romans, quoting the Psalms,
there is no one righteous, not even one.
As King David will say in Psalm 51:5,
surely I, surely we, were sinful at birth.
We saw this in our series in Romans.
We inherit, our leaders inherit, our human race
inherits a predisposition,
an attitude toward unrighteousness, toward doing wrong.
By God’s grace we are not all as immoral as we could be.
Instead, we are predisposed to do wrong and that is why
to place hope within ourselves
Within ordinary humanity
is to misplace hope for the world.
A hundred years ago, a British newspaper sent out a question
asking, what is wrong with the world.
The story goes that one journalist,
a man called G.K. Chesterton,
responded with these words.
‘Dear Sir,
I am.
Yours Sincerely,
Chesterton saw it.
I am what is wrong with the world.
I am not righteous.
I am the problem.
I think this is the Bible’s view of the world and I think history proves it.
Ordinary humanity this righteous king or any government like it.
This is why the Psalmist prays to God.
This is why the Psalmist places his hope in God.
This is why he prays.
The Psalmist knows that his hope must be found outside himself.
Outside of humanity.
The Psalmist knows that only God could deliver on this hope.
That without God it is foolish to hope for a world or a leader like this.
But with God, it is possible.
With God, even a humanity bent to unrighteousness, can be saved.
With God it is possible.
But does God choose to answer this prayer?

Our Prayer Answered

It’s hard to say what the Psalmist envisioned when he prayed this prayer.
Perhaps he thought or hoped that Solomon would be this king
or the son after him.
That God would answer this prayer in his lifetime even.
We don’t really know.
But here is what we do know.
No king of Ancient Israel ever fit this description.
Solomon ushered in a golden age of Israel’s ancient kingdom.
Yet, he was not a righteous king.
and neither were his sons.
This prayer was not answered in the ancient kingdom of Israel.
One after another, kings fell short of this prayer.
Until, one didn’t.
1,000 years after Solomon.
A son of the line of David, a descendent of Solomon would be conceived.
Come to Luke 1:26-33.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,

27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,

33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

A child will be born and the angel says,
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever;
his kingdom will never end.”
When will this prayer be answered?
What if it already has been?
What if our hope has already been realised in Jesus Christ?
What if God has answered our prayer, the world’s prayer in Jesus Christ.
This is actually the Bible’s claim.
That God has answered our greatest prayer in Jesus Christ.
This is the great announcement of the Scriptures.
That God, sent His only Son to be born human flesh.
That this man was called Jesus.
That He is the prayed for King.
A different kind of King to the kings and rulers of the world.
A righteous King, free from greed and corruption.
A saving King, who saved the afflicted from sin and death
with his own sacrificial death
A conqueror King, who was victorious over the enemy
A King of Kings, who has been given authority over
all the earth and everything in it
A Forever King, who will live with His loyal subjects for eternity
And this King brings the kingdom we pray for
A Kingdom of plenty, a Kingdom of flourishing that will never end.
A Blessed King and a Blessed world.
This is the message of the Bible.
The greatest prayer ever prayed, has been answered in Jesus Christ.
Our prayers have been answered.
Our deepest hopes have been realised in Jesus Christ.
God has given us what we could not have naturally produced.
A righteous, saving, conqueror, eternal, blessed king of kings.
This is the good news about Jesus Christ.
Only, there’s a problem isn’t there.
I read the news this week about the Rohingya people of Myanmar.
I read about Syria and state sponsored violence.
I read about the Ukraine and about Central Africa and
I read about The United States and Australia and about
Road vehicle statistics.
This week I was told that an old friend has aggressive cancer.
And about another friends marriage breakdown.
If God has already answered this prayer.
Then why do these things still happen?
It doesn’t sound like our prayer has been answered?

Our Prayer Answered Now and Not Yet

This is where we need to understand how God has answered this prayer.
Certainly not in the way Israel thought he would.
God has answered our prayer in a very particular way that we need to understand.
We call this now and not yet.
That sounds a bit strange.
Now, and not yet.
This phrase captures the way that Jesus described His coming and His kingdom.
In certain places, Jesus would say the Kingdom of God is here now...
You get this in Luke 17:21 (screen)

Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed,

21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

The Kingdom is now, its in their midst.
But in other places Jesus would say the Kingdom of God is future.
Like in Luke 19:11-12

11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.

12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.

You see that, he addresses this very thought.
Jesus is speaking of Himself.
He went to a distant kingdom, earth.
He became King.
Then he returned to His original place, heaven.
Then he will return.
Have a look at Hebrews 2, it will come up on the screen.
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,1
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
Everything is in subjection to Jesus.
He is crowned with glory and honor.
But, at present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him.
One last place.
Titus 2:11–14 NIV
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Same idea right.
The grace of God has appeared.
But we are waiting for the blessed hope.
Here is a good way to think about it.
A guy called Oscar Cullman came up with this description.
In the Second World War,
The Allies of Britain, France and the United States
won the comprehensive victory of the war
at Normandy on what is called D-Day.
Essentially, the war was over.
Hitler was defeated.
The great battle was won.
But, peace was not signed until almost a year later.
This is sometimes called V-Day.
Between D-Day and V-Day the allies still had to fight.
That’s the time we live in.
The greatest victory has been won.
We read this in Hebrews.
Jesus has been crowned.
At the cross, everything was put under His feet.
But we don’t see it yet.
We live in the inbetween time.
Between victory and peace.
This is the way that God answered the prayer.
It wasn’t the way that Israel thought it would be answered.
But this is the way that God answered it.
Now and not yet.
But just like in the war.
The peace is a sure thing.
It is certain.
The blessed hope is not in doubt.
Jesus said at the cross, it is finished.
And because the victory has been won.
Because our King has come.
Because our greatest prayer has been answered.
We can have hope.
And not hope that is like a wish.
I hope everything will be ok.
I hope Australia win the World Cup
No, we have a certain hope.
It’s the hope that you feel when you know something is coming.
It’s the hope of a person stranded on a desert island
That knows the rescue plane has seen them and is coming.
It’s the hope that the allies had after their victory at Normandy.
There was a battle or two still to be fought but peace was coming.
It was certain.
If you are feeling tired.
If you are really feeling your fight with sin at the moment.
If your body isn’t right.
Remember, the greatest prayer has been answered
Endure patiently with the certain hope that peace is coming.
Our hope is in Jesus Christ.
In His work on the cross.
In His resurrection from death.
In His promise that those who trust in Him will become
citizens and children of the Kingdom of God.
And because we have recieved this wonderful gift.
I think it demands a response

Our Response

Firstly, because our hope lies in our King.
Because this is where the world’s hope lies.
Where my kids and my friends hope lies.
I think we need to ask ourselves a question.
Are we acting like true hope is only found in Jesus.
Here is where this hits home for me.
Maybe for you too.
Sometimes I buy into the idea that the answer
to the worlds problems is education
Sometimes I think rebuilding community and
even at one stage, politics was the answer to
the worlds problems for me.
These things have their place and they can make
some difference to peoples lives.
We should make the world a better place
Because we love people.
But we should never fall into the trap of thinking
that this our hope lies in education, community, science
or politics.
And this matters.
It matters because of what we teach our kids.
What are we teaching our kids.
Is homework more important than reading the bible,
than praying with my kids?
Where does their hope lie and how do we teach them
with our actions?
It matters because we want our friends to
share in this Kingdom.
And they won’t, unless they submit to this King
and find their hope in Him.
Sometimes I think we would prefer the people
we love to have a good education, a good career,
good relationships.
Than we would they find hope in Jesus.
Remember the flip side of this prayer.
This is no hope outside of Jesus Christ.
There is no better world outside of Jesus’ Kingdom
They need to trust in Him because He is the blessed King
and only those who trust in Him will be in
His blessed Kingdom.
Secondly, response.
See prayer differently.
Or to be more precise.
We need to see unanswered prayer differently.
For many of us, there is someone right now
Who we are praying for
Because they are sick
Or because they are going through a really hard time
Maybe it is someone in your small group
Maybe it is someone in your family
Or maybe it is your prayers for
people that live in poverty or in war
And you have been discouraged
because you feel like God is not answering your prayer
and sadly, this is reality
between the victory and the peace
there are casualties and there is death
there is sadness and sickness
God does not answer every prayer
But we need to remember two things from our Psalm
God does answer prayer, just not always in the way
we thought He would or should.
We also need to see that our greatest prayer
Our deepest prayer of love
Our prayer behind all prayers
This prayer has been answered
And so we who trust in Jesus as our King
We can find joy even in the midst of unanswered prayer
Because the greatest prayer has been answered
One final response - praise.
At the end of our Psalm 72 prayer.
We read,

Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,

who alone does marvelous deeds.

19 Praise be to his glorious name forever;

may the whole earth be filled with his glory.

This too is how we should respond.
In praise to our glorious King who has triumphed
over sin and death
and who will return to bring peace and a new world.
Let’s praise Him through song.
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