June 2, 2017 • Life for Leaders
Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.
Do you want your leadership to bring about fruitfulness and prosperity? Of course you do! Whether you’re a C-suite corporate officer, an entrepreneur, a mid-level manager, a schoolteacher, a life coach, a parent, a pastor, or you-name-it, you want to be a leader whose efforts are fruitful. You want to see the people you lead flourish. You want to see your work make a difference in the world.
Psalm 72 reveals one essential quality of leadership that bears rich fruit. This psalm is, most obviously, a prayer for an ideal human king. This ruler, endowed with God’s justice and righteousness (72:1), leads in such a way that “the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness” (72:3). To be sure, Israel enjoys the blessings that flow from the ideal king. But, even “all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed” (72:17).
Christians see in Psalm 72 a vivid prophecy of Jesus, the Messiah, the King of Israel and, indeed, the world. This is surely an inspired interpretation of the psalm. But we might also let these ancient words give us a vision for human leaders today.
Don’t you yearn for political leaders who are endowed with God’s justice and righteousness, and who, therefore, lead with such divine motivations? Don’t you want to work for a company, a school, or a non-profit with leaders like the king of Psalm 72? This psalm would encourage us to pray for our leaders because God “alone does marvelous deeds,” such as raising up leaders who seek justice and righteousness in all they do (72:18).
Moreover, Psalm 72 can encourage us to be leaders like the ideal king. We can learn to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness (see Matthew 6:33). We can be endowed with God’s justice. We can learn to “defend the afflicted” and “save the children of the needy” (72:4). Whether we’re leading a corporation, a startup, a school, a family, a church, or a sports team, we can look to the Lord for wisdom and strength. We can commit all that we do to furthering God’s purposes, looking to him for prosperity and righteousness.
In the end, we recognize that all we have accomplished comes as a result of God’s grace and power. Our accomplishments should not glorify us, but God. Thus we join the psalmist in proclaiming, “Praise be to [God’s] glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory” (72:19).
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
As you think about the leaders you have known in your life, which of them embody the qualities of the ideal king in Psalm 72?
As a leader, which of these qualities would you most like to grow in?
In what ways has God blessed your leadership, such that you have been fruitful and prosperous?
Gracious God, thank you for Psalm 72, for this inspired vision of godly leadership.
We pray today for our leaders. For presidents, governors, senators, and representatives, for judges and police chiefs, for CEOs and managers, for writers and other artists, for pastors and priests, for mothers and fathers, for principals and teachers, and for all others who lead. Endow them with a passion for your justice, Lord. Give them a heart for your righteousness.
Moreover, may I be such a leader in the places you have given me opportunity and authority. Help me to lead well, to be a leader “after your own heart.” May I pursue your justice and uphold your righteousness. May my work be blessed by your hand, and may you receive the glory.
All praise be to your glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with your glory! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: A Prayer for the King
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.