The Perfect King (Psalm 72)

Songs of the Savior Series GFX_App SquareThis past weekend at Eastbrook, I concluded our series, “Songs of the Savior: Psalms for Advent,” by exploring Psalm 72.

Psalm 72 is not an explicitly messianic psalm, but echoes themes of the Messiah that are seen in Isaiah 11 and Zechariah 9. New Testament writers nod toward Psalm 72 in many ways, for example in Matthew’s wording about the wise men coming to give gifts and worship to Jesus.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here, participate in Eastbrook’s Advent devotional, or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

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The Perfect King: Advent Devotional, Week 4

Read Psalm 72

During winter, one of our sons began cultivating seeds in the basement to plant in our gardens during spring. It was a lot of work to keep them watered and sufficiently warm during the cold months. When the weather finally turned, we planted the seedlings throughout our gardens. A new sort of work began, cultivating the seedlings outdoors with newly planted seeds so that tomatoes, radishes, peppers, and green beans could grow and later be gathered to our table to share with others.

In the winter of our world, Jesus comes to sow and cultivate the seeds of the kingdom of God in human lives, like Simon Peter and Mary Magdalene, like you and me. He comes as the chosen one, the beloved of God, the suffering messiah, and the eternal priest. And He comes as the perfect king, just as the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary:

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 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.”
(Luke 1:31-33)

Waiting for Messiah Jesus to be born, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, speaks about God’s plans, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:68-69). Here is this infant Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, born in the line of King David, in David’s town of Bethlehem. He is heralded by angelic hosts and worshiped by a ragtag group of shepherds. Exotic magi from other lands visit in His early years. His mother and earthly father watch in wonder.

Once grown, He calls out, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). But what is this kingdom and what throne will this king sit upon? All His earthly life seemed less than regal. He had nowhere to lay His head, yet always had more than He needed. He was rejected by elites, yet people from various nations searched for Him. Raised high upon the Cross, He became a sign to all of how far God will go to bring the good news of His kingdom into our lives.

But Jesus’ story does not end with the cross, resurrection, and ascension. The testimony of Scripture is that a new heaven and a new earth will arrive in God’s timing connected with the majestic return of King Jesus to rule over all the earth. “The Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). Advent is a time of remembering Jesus’ incarnation, but also anticipating His future return as the enduring perfect King, even as Psalm 72 describes. May we be found ready!



  1. Why does it matter for this life and eternity that Jesus is the perfect King of God’s eternal Kingdom?
  2. What does the anticipation of His identity as King do to your celebration of Advent this year?




When a king comes to town, his arrival is announced by a trumpet fanfare, tum-ta-dum! He is greeted by a parade of people waving and shouting! A herald cries out, “Hear ye, hear ye, His royal highness has arrived!” When the king goes home to his castle, a special flag called a “royal standard” is flown from the rooftop, letting everyone know that he is there. It’s a colorful, noisy, joyful day!

But . . . when King Jesus was born in Bethlehem, his arrival wasn’t anything like that! Jesus was born in the quiet of night, in a stable, greeted only by some animals and shepherds.

Remember back to the first Savior Song in Week 1 of Advent? We learned that God set apart his own Son, Jesus, to be a king over all other kings. So, what happened?

Well, Jesus’ kingdom is a little upside down:

  • Instead of ordering people around, Jesus served them.
  • Instead of hanging around with the rich, important people, Jesus made friends with lepers, outcasts, and, sinners.
  • Instead of holding on to His own life, Jesus gave Himself up on the cross.

Jesus has been in charge all along, but His kingdom is unlike any other earthly kingdom! The Bible tells us that one day He will return with trumpet, heralds, even riding a white horse! (Revelation 19:11-16). People everywhere will have to admit that He is the one true king, and they will bow to Him. As God’s people, we are so excited for that day! We wait—just like God’s people did for Jesus’ first coming—and we say, “Maranatha!, Come Lord Jesus!”

[This is part of the Eastbrook Church 2019 Advent devotional, “Songs of the Savior.”]

Songs of the Savior: Psalms for Advent


This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church we begin a new preaching series entitled “Songs of the Savior: Psalms for Advent.” As you can already tell, this series corresponds to the season of Advent, the start of the liturgical year that leads to our celebration of Christ’s birth.

The Psalms are referred to as the prayerbook of the Bible. This collection of prayer-songs gathers up the wide-ranging experiences and emotions of humanity at prayer with God. All through these prayers are clues to God’s plan to bring lasting hope and new beginnings through a promised Messiah. As we enter into Advent, remembering Christ’s nativity and anticipating His return, we journey through four psalms that are songs of the Messiah.

November 30/December 1 – “The Beloved Anointed of God” [Psalm 2]

December 7/8 – “The Suffering Messiah” [Psalm 22]

December 14/15 – “The Eternal Priest” [Psalm 110]

December 21/22 – “The Perfect King” [Psalm 72]

God Alone Does Marvelous Deeds (part 2)

Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds – Psalm 72:18

This final word in Psalm 72 highlights something else that is especially pertinent for those of us in leadership. It is a critical reminder with two parts. The first part is this: even with all of our efforts and plans, God “alone does marvelous deeds.” I am not the source of the marvelous deeds that I may see in my life, ministry, or church. God is the source. Even if I am the one most visibly attached to success, it is God who is the source. A clear conclusion we can draw from that truth is that God is the one to be praised…not me or you.

There is another part to this statement for those of us in leadership, and it has to do with our perspective: our ministry does not depend on us. As we expend energy and make strategic plans, there is only One who will make that energy useful and bring success from those plans. Again, God “alone does marvelous deeds.” If there will be marvelous results from our energy and plans it is because of God. Does this mean we stop expending energy or planning? Absolutely not! As we get active and make plans, though, we should do so with prayerful reliance on the only One will bring something ‘marvelous’ from us.

God alone does marvelous deeds.

God Alone Does Marvelous Deeds (part 1)

Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds – Psalm 72:18

Psalm 72 is a psalm that builds walls to keep me out when I read it. I feel immediately disconnected from what it is saying. The words are all about the king: praising him and praying for him. When I read these words, I am unsure of what to do with them. How does this connect with my real life today?

The psalmist sings to God grand blessings over the leader of the nation: may he be just and righteous, may he bring prosperity, may he rescue the poor and defenseless, may he bring peace, may his foes bow before him, and so on. I suppose we could transpose these blessings onto our national or state leaders, but it feels like doing so is a stretch.

But as the distance between us and this psalm appears to increase, a marvelous statement appears. The psalmist comes to grip with a striking truth. All of his prayers for and praise of the king remind him of something else. No king can do all of these things. Even a good king will struggle with doing them. We need only look at the life of David. Being ‘just and righteous’ seems a far cry from adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. The history of the kings of Judah and Israel chronicles mild human successes and massive human failures. All the wonderful things that a leader can offer are not always so easily realized. Leaders fail. And a leader’s successes oftentimes seem few and far between.

And so, the psalmist switches focus from the human king to the King of kings. He stops praising a man and starts praising God.  “Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds” (vs. 18). God alone does marvelous deeds. When good things happen, the psalmist writes, we can trace them back not to a human leader but ultimately to God. The Apostle James restates this when he writes: “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). God is the source of all good that we know. God is unchanging. Are we looking for a human leader to provide all that we need? Don’t hold your breath. When our leaders’ success comes, we do well to trace the goodness back to its original source in God.