Psalm 72 is not the last psalm ascribed to David, but it is the last one he wrote. In that sense, it is his last will and testament; and as such, we may consider what he said here to be the most important lessons he has ever learned throughout his life. He writes this as an old man, in dedication to Solomon as he prepares to assume the throne in his father’s stead. So what does David want his son (and us) to know?
One verse jumped out at me above all the rest—verse 3:
The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.
Those of us who know our Bible history are familiar with the fact that Solomon’s reign was characterized by peace. He never fought any battles, but reigned prosperously and peacefully over the land. This psalm tells us the secret of his peace—righteousness.
But there’s more to it than that. Do you recall the lesson from the previous psalm? In Psalm 71 we learned that all our righteousness comes from God alone. Morally we are not right, just, virtuous, or prosperous. When left to ourselves, we are morally bankrupt. But God applies to us the righteousness of His Son, and on the merits of the atoning work of Christ alone accepts us into His presence.
That, my friends, is the only way to have peace. It is here in Psalm 72, and it is so throughout the Bible. Just look at all the verses I found where righteousness and peace appear together…
Psalm 85:10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
This one is coming in our study, but for now I wish to say a little about the second part of this verse: “righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Righteousness is the upholding of the law; peace is the result of pardon from the law. The two seem to be diametrically opposed. But because our sins were judged at the cross, we can receive pardon. Our sin was atoned by the blood of the Lamb so that we can receive mercy. Christ’s righteousness paid the penalty for our sin so that we can have peace with God. Righteousness and peace had become estranged, but now they are united in the person of Christ, and like once-separated friends, they now run into each other’s arms, embrace, and kiss each other.
Isaiah 32:17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.
This verse reminds me of Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Remember, all our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We are saved—we have peace, if you will—by the work of the righteousness of God and God alone.
Isaiah 48:18 O that you had hearkened to My commandments! Then had your peace been as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea.
Sadly, not everyone will receive this wonderful gift from the Lord.
Isaiah 60:17 For brass I will bring gold; and for iron I will bring silver; and for wood, brass; and for stones, iron: I will also make your officers peace and your exactors righteousness.
There’s a lot more going on here, but I will simply say that you cannot outgive God. If you honor Him, He will bless you more abundantly than you can imagine. He is saying, “Give Me your things that appear to have value, and I will give you things that really do have value.” Peace and righteousness are included in those blessings.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The Christian life is not about a list of rules about what you should and should not do (i.e. eat or drink), but it is a matter of the heart. God desires to change the heart, instilling righteousness, peace, and joy in the heart of the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. Then when the Holy Spirit takes control of the believer, outward things will take care of themselves. That’s what Romans 12:2 is all about. God doesn’t want us to conform to a set of rules and regulations; He wants us to be transformed from the inside out. He doesn’t want to clean us up; He wants to make us completely new—a new heart, new desires, new goals, new righteousness, new peace, new joy.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
The goal of the believer is righteousness, faith, love, and peace. And we are not alone in this pursuit of holiness, but we can and should seek holiness together with others, encouraging one another to do the same. This is positive peer pressure at work.
Hebrews 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace.
This is a reference to Melchizedek, a type of Christ, for he is the only man to ever simultaneously hold the offices of prophet, priest, and king. Also, as nothing is known of his birth or death, there is an air of timelessness about him, symbolizing the eternality of Jesus Christ, who is, and was, and is to come. Notice that he is first called the King of righteousness, and then the King of peace. Righteousness comes first, then peace. Without righteousness, there can be no peace.
James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Righteousness produces peace. When you are clothed with God’s righteousness, it follows that you will also know His peace and that you will be a peacemaker. In other words, you will want others to know His peace. The gospel is not spread by force, but by gentleness, love, meekness, patience, and longsuffering. Picture a farmer walking through his field, scattering seeds by the handful from a sack slung over his shoulder. There is no more peaceful scene than that. Any religion that makes converts forcefully is a false religion, for that is not the way of Christ. He is the only way to heaven, and He invites all to come to Him, but you have to come willingly.
When will the world be at peace?
The world is crying out for peace, but they will never know true peace without first putting on Christ’s righteousness. There is no other way. Any other “peace” is merely a truce: the calm before the next storm. Be clothed in Jesus’ robe of righteousness today, and you will know the peace of God that will enable you to keep your mind when others are losing theirs, the peace of God that passes all understanding.
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