A Ruler’s True Measure

Readings: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Isaiah 30:19-26; Acts 13:16-25

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more…

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.

Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.

This psalm of Solomon is an admission that ruling with wisdom and compassion is not sustainable without God’s presence and guidance. Solomon knows that he does not have the strength to rule God’s beloved children out of his own resources; he must draw on God’s well of compassion and wisdom if he is to exercise his power without losing his soul. The king’s rule is measured by how communal life for the most vulnerable is blessed, not by how much wealth he attains.

None of us will be ruling an ancient civilization any time soon. Most of us don’t hold the power of life and death in our hands, and we do not make or enforce the laws of our society. But each of us has power – the power to nourish the life of this world we call our own. When we call on God’s strength and compassion, we can use our power wisely – and be nourished in mind and spirit through it all.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.