A Prayer for a New Government

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 — Week of Proper 26, Year 2

Willibrord, Archbishop of Utrecht, Missionary to Frisia, 739

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 991)

Psalm 72 (morning) // 119:73-96 (evening)

Ecclesiasticus 43:23-33 (found in the Apocrypha; also called Sirach)

Revelation 16:1-11

Luke 13:10-17

It is a nice thing to read Psalm 72 on the morning after an election. It might be that the psalm was first composed for the coronation of a king. It speaks of the yearning for good government, described as “justice” and “righteousness.” When justice and righteousness predominate, peace prevails. Justice and righteousness happen when the needy, poor and weak are empowered and protected. Psalm 72 is a fine vision for governance and a prayer for our corporate health.

The vision of the psalmist connects the nation’s prosperity with its treatment of the poor. The poor are to receive justice (v. 2), which is linked to their economic prosperity:

Give the King your justice, O God, *

and your righteousness to the King’s Son, *

That he may rule your people righteously

and the poor with justice;

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, *

and the little hills bring righteousness.

He shall defend the needy among the people; *

he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

The psalmist prays for the political security of the nation and its ruler. The psalm imagines abundant trade and commerce, and a high place of respect for the nation. The writer implies that the measure of respect that the ruler enjoys is related to his service to the poor and oppressed:

All rulers shall bow down before him, *

and all the nations do him service.

For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress *

and the oppressed who has no helper.

He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; *

he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, *

and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

Long may he live;

and may there be given to him gold from Arabia; *

may prayer be made for him always,

and may they bless him all the day long.

The writer prays for abundant blessings from the earth, grain “growing thick even on the hilltops.” He prays that prosperity and peace will be the products of a rule of righteousness and justice.

Then he closes with a doxology:

Blest are you, O God of Israel; *

you alone do wondrous deeds!

And blest is your glorious Name for ever! *

May all the earth be filled with your glory.

Amen. Amen.

O blessed God, look upon your people and fill our leaders with your wisdom and insight, that righteousness and justice may abound in our nation, bringing peace and prosperity, especially for the lowly and poor, that all nations may live in harmony and respect, within the blessedness of your abiding glory. Amen.

(note: I use The Saint Helena Psalter translation)

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