God’s Advent Song of National Hope Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Every four years America stands at a crossroads. Leading up to November 4, 2008 we are approaching another fork. For the next 11 months we will watch Hillary and Guliani, Obama and Romney let their elbows fly. And fly they must because America has some tough problems to solve. Think of our national problems:
A troubled economy—the economy having forecasted 13 out of the last 15 elections;Exploding health care costs, Social Security for Boomers and beyond…
Then think of some of the international problems that America faces:
Climbing cost of Iraq War (now @ $500B), nuclear proliferation in North Korea, Iran & Pakistan—not to mention Pakistan’s instability, and Climate change. I don’t want to be an alarmist here, but where does the US church find hope in `08?
The Hebrew people found hope in the song that the High Priest announced:Let us sing Psalm 72!As the trumpets sounded and harps strummed the introduction, the Levite choir gathered on the platform. With the choirmaster’s downbeat the choir began: Give the king your justice, Lord! The new king walked down the aisle in flowing robes for the enthronement ceremony. The worshipers’ chests swelled with hope that God would grant the new king wisdom to deal with their national problems and international enemies. Incense enveloped the congregation flowing heavenward to symbolize this prayer for a new start.
For what did the Hebrew people pray in this song of hope? 3 things:
vv. 1-2… justice for all—especially the underdog,vv. 3…prosperity for all–especially the poor, and,vv. 6-7…peace for all—especially creation.
I believe that this prayer can give hope today! Justice for all, especially the underdog reminds me of what I pray to happen in the Israeli Palestinian negotiations to reduce terrorism and bring peace. I don’t believe that God calls us to support only Israel. Pros-perity for all—especially the poor reminds me of what I pray for our fine state as it looks at the school funding formula. I pray we strike a balance between tax reduction and fun-ding poor districts. Peace for all, especially creation reminds me of what I pray Google can accomplish by their ambitious goal of making renewable energy as cheap as coal.
Was Israel’s prayer answered in such a way as to give hope? Yes and no. If you understand Psalm 72 to be written for Solomon’s coronation, like many scholars, then since Solomon’s reign was very prosperous: Yes. Yet, his construction projects, like the temple, put such a heavy tax burden on the people that the nation eventually split; so No.
Do prayers for justice, prosperity and peace have a hope of being answered today? Yes and no. Yes, I think that an increased emphasis on prayer from the church for the US will increase God’s reign of justice, peace and prosperity. As valuable as debating our friends over the most hopeful candidate might be, prayer to God is even more valuable. But let’s be realistic that no amount of prayer will help even the best candidate solve all of our problems this side of heaven. Our next leader may choose to ignore the SS mess.
How does prayer for justice, peace and prosperity give us hope if not completely answered? Though it won’t be 100% answered by these folk, it will be fully answered by Jesus when he returns. And that above all makes Psalm 72 an advent song of hope.