By Justin Borger with assistance from Generous Giving staff
The Psalms teach us that God is the Creator and King of all the earth. As such, he is the absolute owner of everything (24; 50). Composed in response to hundreds of urgent situations, the Psalms teach us that God is our Refuge and Rock, our only source of safety and security (16; 46). We learn of God’s special concern for the poor and the powerless and his love of generosity and justice (72; 112). Finally, as a book of praise and poetry, the Psalms teach us that God alone is to be longed for as our ultimate source of satisfaction (42). Accordingly, we are called to praise the Lord with all we have—including our material possessions (150).
Our study of Psalms consists of two parts. In the first section, readers will find our stewardship study notes. These notes analyze, in a passage-by-passage fashion, the implications of the book’s teaching for Christian generosity and related issues. The second section consists of short essays describing the book’s major stewardship themes. These notes and essays are not intended to be comprehensive explanations of the authors’ goals in writing this book, nor do they exhaust the book’s possible applications in matters related to stewardship and generosity.
While Generous Giving’s Bible study material will aid anyone who is searching the Scriptures for guidance, they may prove especially useful as sermon helps for pastors and as a resource for teachers, advisors and lay leaders interested in obeying and teaching the message of Scripture in matters of generosity and stewardship. We readily acknowledge our fallibility in writing these study notes, for they are the work of humans, not God. Please search the Scriptures (Acts 17:11) as you read this material critically, carefully and prayerfully. May God bless you in your studies.
Passage-by-Passage Study Notes
Psalm 8 (Key Passage) — Praise for Stewardship: The first hymn of praise in the Psalter sings of the stewardship that God has entrusted to man. As he reflects upon the resplendence of all God has created and the role God has given humanity, the psalmist is compelled to ask, “What is man that you are mindful of him ... ?” (Psalm 8:4). The answer is found in the fact that God has chosen people to be his representatives in the world. He created humanity in his image and called them to partner with him in the implementation of his will. Among other things, this includes the stewardship of cultivating creation (Psalm 104:14) and caring for the things he has made (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:19-20). See Psalms theme essay Worship with Possessions.
Psalm 16:1 — “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.” Material possessions compete with God for our trust. By seeking refuge in God, the psalmist refuses to view wealth as his source of security (cf. Psalm 62:10). We all know that the temptation to trust in money is dangerously strong. On the surface, material resources appear to have the power to insulate us from many of life’s difficulties. But “wealth is worthless in the day of wrath” (Proverbs 11:4; cf. Psalm 49:7-9). As Jesus’ parable of the rich fool reveals, whether we are rich or poor, God can demand our lives at any moment. When that happens, the money we have will be of no use (Luke 16:19-31), but those who trust in God will be kept safe (Psalm 62:1-2). See other Psalms asking for refuge and deliverance: 3; 6; 7; 11; 16; 31; 42-43; 46; 61; 62; 69; 71. See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 16:2 — “... [A]part from you I have no good thing.” This verse strikes a death-blow to greed and materialism. In the preceding verse the psalmist sought security in God; here, he declares God to be his supreme “good”. People tend to trust in money for one of two reasons—safety or satisfaction. Here, both are denied by the psalmist, who finds his “refuge” (Psalm 16:1) and “good” (Psalm 16:2) in God. When we look for something beyond God for our security or significance, the problem is not that we want too much but too little. For apart from God we have no good thing. See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 16:3 — The psalmist finds solidarity with the saints. When our trust is placed in God for security and satisfaction, our fellowship with others often is restored. We don’t have to jockey for position or climb the corporate ladder. We don’t have to buy things we don’t want to impress people we don’t like (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 80). Instead of jealousy we can enjoy fellowship with those who love God—“the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.” Here we begin to see how seeking God brings everything else into a proper perspective. A right relationship with God leads to God-centered relationships with others. See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 16:4 — All other gods break the hearts of their worshipers. And of course, this includes the gods of money and materialism. The righteous will have nothing to do with their worship because they cannot satisfy. As Proverbs says, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:5). Cars rust, bank accounts dwindle, and “things” fall apart. Serve them, and you will be sorry. See Psalms theme essay Worship with Possessions.
Psalm 16:5, 6 — The psalmist reflects on God’s generosity. When God divided the inheritance of the 12 tribes of Israel, he had told the Levites that they would have no portion of the land. Instead, God himself would be their “share and inheritance” (Numbers 18:20). Commentator Derek Kidner suggests that the “portion” and “boundary lines” of which the psalmist speaks are not material blessing like wealth and land but the priestly “inheritance” spoken of in Numbers 18:20. Thus, the psalmist’s “portion” is God himself, not ancestral lands or property. The same is true for us. God is our portion. As the apostle Paul said, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20), and “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3:8). The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for us—even if we sacrifice all we have—so long as we have Christ. See Psalms theme essay Satisfaction.
Psalm 16:7-9a — The benefits of the psalmist’s devotion to God are brought into light. Because the psalmist has centered his mind’s attention and his heart’s affection on God, he is given divine guidance (Psalm 16:7), peace of mind (16:8) and joy (16:9a). The restlessness that comes from financial fears are no where to be found. The psalmist is not worried about “stuff” because God himself is his portion (Psalm 16:5-6). Among other things, this leads to the peace and joy of a sound mind. See Psalms theme essay Satisfaction.
Psalm 16:9b-10 — Beyond soundness of mind, trust in God brings bodily security (Psalm 16:9b). Here, the hope of a physical resurrection is in view. Because the body of Jesus Christ, the “Holy One” (Psalm 16:10), was not abandoned but raised from the dead (Acts 2:31-32; 13:35-37), we know that we who are “in Christ” will rise when he comes again. When our lives revolve around the reality of our future resurrection, the realities of this present life are no longer viewed as our source of safety, satisfaction or the focus of our hope. See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 16:11 — The statement, “You have made known to me the path of life,” summarizes what the psalmist has said up to this point. By pursuing God alone, he has taken hold of life that is truly life (cf. 1 Timothy 6:19). In his pure pursuit of God, the psalmist recognizes that the incomplete joys of this life will give way to eternal pleasures that the righteous will find in God’s presence when Christ comes again.
Psalm 23 (Key Passage) — I Shall Not Be in Want: The ordering of the Psalter is no accident. As English pastor and theologian Charles Haddon Spurgeon observed, it is only after we have read, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1), that we come to, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). We are not offered escape from the “valley of the shadow of death” but the comfort of God’s guiding presence as we pass through the shadow itself (Psalm 23:4-5). See Psalms theme essays Safety and Security and Satisfaction.
Psalm 23:1-3 — What can the words “I shall not be in want” mean? Human experience teaches us that these words cannot mean that we will always have the things we desire. Even if our desires are in keeping with God’s general principles, we may not receive what we want in particular. A man may desire to become a missionary only to be paralyzed in a car crash. A woman may want children and remain infertile. And this is to say nothing about more dubious desires for things like possessions and promotions. This verse does not exclude the possibility that we may someday lack the food and clothing that we need. We know that some of God’s “sheep” in various parts of the world are hungry, naked and even dying at this very moment. Yet this psalm is true for them, too. The reason we “shall not be in want” is because the Good Shepherd is guiding us “in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). He has thrown his lot in with ours. Therefore, we share a common good. Thus, the words “I shall not be in want” must be understood as meaning that we will lack nothing that is necessary to our ultimate good, which he has wrapped up with his own (Psalm 23:3; cf. Romans 8:28, 38-39). The “green pastures” and “quiet waters” in Psalm 23:2 describe the way in which God cares for his flock—both spiritually and materially. Even while at times we may suffer from the lack of material resources, the descriptions in Psalm 23:2 express the quality of God’s care for us at all times. As the apostle Paul wrote from prison, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12b-13). See Psalms theme essay Satisfaction.
Psalm 23:4-6 — In “good times” we often confuse God’s providence with our own accomplishments. When we sail on smooth seas and all goes well, we tend to congratulate ourselves. But when a table is prepared in “the presence of our enemies,” there is no mistaking God’s provision with our own. Thus, if there were no shadow of death in this psalm, it would not be nearly so comforting. But seeing the “valley of the shadow of death” written about in God’s word reminds us to abandon self-reliance even when we are experiencing those “good times” in the present. More importantly, however, when we are in the valley, we know that we “shall not be in want.” After all, the only reason a shepherd would take his sheep from “green pastures” and “quiet waters” into a dangerous valley would be to lead them through it to a “better place” (Romans 8:28, 38-39; Hebrews 11:16, 40). See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 24 (Key Passage) — Earth Is the Lord’s: As King and Creator of all, God is the absolute owner of everything. Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper put it this way: “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’ ” Because of this, it is impossible to exaggerate the claim that God has on “our” possessions and lives. Nothing we have belongs to us, not even ourselves. Creation in its totality belongs to God because nothing existed until “he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters” (Psalm 24:2). As the Creator-King, he exercises benevolent ownership over his creaturely subjects, giving generously of himself and his bounty (cf. Psalm 65:9-13). As we read in Psalm 29:10-11, “The LORD sits enthroned over the flood, the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” God owns everything, and we are his stewards (Psalm 8:6-9). See key passage Psalm 50.
Psalm 37:1-11 — There is no reason to worry when bad people appear to be doing well. It makes no sense to be jealous of God’s enemies—even when they seem to be experiencing a time of prosperity. In the end, God wins. The wealth of the wicked won’t last. Psalm 39:5-5 tells us that man’s life is a mere “handbreadth” before God; “he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it” (cf. Luke 12:13-21). An “eternal perspective” allows us to transcend our present circumstances as we look by faith to God’s promises. The psalmist tells us to be patient, “A little while, and the wicked will be no more” (Psalm 37:10). Finally, we should note that Jesus alluded to Psalm 37:11 when he reminded that it would not be the proud, rich and powerful, but the meek that would inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Psalm 37:12-26 — Those who “will be no more” are those who trust in “things” that won’t last. The wicked put their trust in their own plans, power and possessions. This causes them to oppress the poor and the needy (Psalm 37:14). They even lie in wait to take the lives of the righteous (Psalm 37:32). Accordingly, wickedness is epitomized by greed and injustice. On the other hand, righteousness in the psalms is epitomized by generosity and justice (i.e., Psalm 112:9). Because they trust in God, the righteous are able to be “generous and lend freely” (Psalm 37:26). The contrast is nicely summarized in Psalm 37:21: “The wicked borrow and do no repay, but the righteous give generously.”
Psalm 37:27-40 — The last section focuses on the security that the righteous man has. This comes not from stocks and bonds but from trusting in God alone. You can tell a person who trusts in God’s resources by the way he uses his own. Where we put our money is perhaps the best indicator of where we put our trust (c.f. Matthew 6:21). Psalm 37 teaches us that those who trust God wholly—with all their resources—find him wholly true. See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 40 — I Am Poor and Needy: In the Psalms, God’s special concern for the powerless is realized in the prayers of the poor who invoke God to act on the basis of their poverty (cf. Psalms 34:6; 40:17; 86:1; 109:22). Appeals like this move God because he has promised to listen to the poor when they pray—as if to be marginalized by the world were to be ushered before God (e.g., Exodus 22:22-24; Proverbs 22:22-23). Especially for those of us who have been forced to recognize our own poverty—whether spiritually, materially, or both—these psalms provide a pattern for prayers as we bring our needs before God. See Psalms theme essay Prayers of the Poor.
Psalm 41 (Key Passage) — Blessed Are the Merciful: This psalm provides a beatitude that is strikingly similar to the words of Jesus in Mathew 5:7. Commentator Derek Kidner notes that the word for “regard” in Psalm 41:1 typically would refer to the practical wisdom and planning of a businessman and, therefore, “implies giving careful thought to the person’s situation” (Derek Kidner, Psalms, 161). This “regard for the weak” is no mere handout or drop in the bucket. The one who is blessed is one who exerts his energies as he carefully considers the best way to help those who are helpless. We should take special notice of the practical nature of the blessings that come with generosity to the poor and powerless (Psalm 41:2-3). Often we think of generosity as an obligation; here it is viewed as an opportunity (Psalm 41:1-3). And while this may seem paradoxical to those of us who believe a tight fist rather than an open hand will lead to gain, the Bible goes to considerable lengths to show this to be a lie: “Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely ...” (Psalm 12:5). “A generous man will prosper: he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again ...” (Ecclesiastes 11:1). “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you ...” (Luke 6:38). “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted ...” (Luke 12:33). “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously ...” (2 Corinthians 9:6). “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:18-19). See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 44 — Innocent Suffering: This psalm reminds us that there are times when Christians suffer for reasons not directly linked to their own moral failings. As Christian soldiers, we are in a battle. Because of this we may experience suffering in the present because of the fight between good and evil (Psalm 2:2). Often this conflict carries economic ramifications. It certainly carried consequences for Job’s financial situation. He lost all of his earthly possessions in a single day because God permitted his persecution for a time (Job 1:6-22). Ultimately, we must not put our trust in the “things” we have here and now, but in Christ the victor, who wins the battle in the end (Psalm 2:8-9). See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 49 (Key Passage) — Wealth Won’t Last: How should we think about the wealth of the wicked? Should their power and prosperity cause us to worry? How should we feel when we have great abundance or lack of resources? Should these circumstances cause us to be either confident or afraid? This psalm answers these questions by reminding us that wealth won’t last. Wisdom teaches us that our financial situations are never an appropriate cause of fear or self-reliance. Psalm 73 is a companion to this psalm. But rather than beginning with Psalm 49’s clear-headed recognition that wealth won’t last, Psalm 73 begins with desperate questions about the intolerable pride and wealth of the wicked and their seemingly carefree existence. Still, both Psalms 49 and 73 resolve in the same way. Both recognize the transient nature of worldly wealth. Psalm 73 goes so far as to say that those who are worried about such things are “senseless and ignorant” (Psalm 73:22). And in the end both Psalms recognize the eternal value of the relationship the righteous have with their God. See Psalms theme essays Safety and Security and Satisfaction.
Psalm 49:1-4 — The psalmist explains that the following instructions carry wisdom for absolutely everyone—“both low and high, rich and poor alike” (Psalm 49:2). The universal relevance of the psalmist’s instruction about wealth is significant. It indicates that everyone needs to be taught how to view wealth wisely. “All who live in this world” (Psalm 49:1) are susceptible to temptation in this area. Money is the leading contender against faith in God (Matthew 6:24).
Psalm 49:5-15 — This passage is strikingly similar to Jesus’ words in Mark 8:36-37, where he asked, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Wealth may give us a false sense of immortality, but in the end it cannot save us from death. The ultimate futility of worldly wealth is clearly established in the wisdom traditions of the Old and New Testaments (Proverbs 23:5; Ecclesiastes 2:18, 21; Luke 12:32-33). For example, Proverbs 11:4 tells us that “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” Turning our attention from this world to the next, Psalm 73 asks, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you ... my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26). As a part of God’s creation, material resources such as money and wealth are good and not evil in themselves. Wealth has a limited capacity to insulate us from many of life’s dangers and difficulties. We should not despise wealth or deny its practical utility, but we must recognize how incredibly limited worldly wealth is from an eternal perspective (Psalm 49:7-9, 16-20; Luke 12:15-21). Wealth is transient. Cars rust. Houses fall apart. Bank accounts dwindle. Sooner or later it all disappears. For these very reasons, Jesus warns us not to store up treasures on earth, but in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). As author Randy Alcorn points out, “It’s not just because wealth might be lost; it’s because wealth will always be lost. Either it leaves us while we live, or we leave it when we die. No exceptions.” (Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle, 13). As Jesus’ parable of the rich fool reveals, whether we are rich or poor, God can demand our lives of us at any moment. When that happens, the money we have will be of no use (Luke 16:19-31), but righteousness expressed by the right use of wealth will endure forever (Psalm 112:9; 2 Corinthians 9:9 Revelation 19:7-8). See also Proverbs 11:7; 11:28; Mark 10:23; Luke 18:24. See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 49:16-20 — Once our minds have been reoriented according to this “eternal perspective”, we will find wealth to be far less impressive. See Psalms theme essay Satisfaction.
Psalm 50 (Key Passage) — How to Give to a God Who Owns Everything: This psalm teaches us how to give to the God who owns everything. As Christian givers, we have much to learn from God’s judgment against the “religious” community in Psalm 50:7-16. God does not rebuke them for failing to meet his minimal requirements with respect to making sacrifices and burnt offerings (Psalm 50:8). In this regard, the religious community had kept its nose clean, much like the Pharisees of the New Testament and our own day (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42). Instead, God rebuked the religious community for forgetting to whom it was giving in the first place. So, in Psalm 50:9-13 God reminds his people that he needs nothing. He is no beggar. He is the King of all the earth who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). Giving to the God who owns everything always has been a matter of responding to the gifts that he gives to us. In contrast to the idols of Israel’s neighbors, its sacrificial worship was never about supplying God’s needs. This is why, in Psalm 50:13 and 23, worshippers—who have already given to God materially (Psalm 50:8)—are called to sacrifice thank offerings of pure praise. The same holds true for Christian givers today, as Hebrews 13:15-16 says. Still, the following verse reminds us “not forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Thus, the way we give to the God who owns everything is by giving to those who have nothing (Matthew 25:44-45) and by praising him for all that he has given to us (2 Corinthians 8:9). See Psalms theme essay Satisfaction.
Psalm 51 (Key Passage) — Repentance: King David wrote this psalm after the prophet Nathan rebuked him for committing adultery with Bathsheba. The historical account of David’s sin and his repentance is recorded in 2 Samuel 11-12. Before delving into Psalm 51, it is worth noting the nature of Nathan’s description of David’s adultery with Bathsheba. Rather than describing the sin of adultery in terms of the obvious sexual immorality it entailed, Nathan describes David’s sin terms of oppression and greed. That is, Nathan focuses on the fact that David was a rich man who had oppressed a poor man by stealing his wife. One powerful proof of David’s repentance can be found in the fact that David and Bathsheba eventually name their son Nathan (1 Chronicles 3:5), a name which in Hebrew meant “gift.” God had given David the gift of repentance, and he responded appropriately.
Psalm 51:12 — While David’s request for a “willing spirit” may strike us as odd, it makes a great deal of sense when the particular nature of David’s sin is considered. In his prosperity David had become overreaching and greedy. As a wealthy ruler, he had developed a sense of entitlement that was opposed to generosity. Accordingly, David asked for a “willing” sprit because it was the corrective needed to combat his greed. The same principle of repentance appears in Ephesians 4:28. When we find that we have fallen into materialism and greed, it is not enough for us merely to stop behaving greedily. Positive action is necessary. We must become generous and willing to share by asking God for a “willing spirit.” In doing so, we no longer will be sustained (Psalm 50:12b) by our possessions but by God, who possess us (Psalm 100:3).
Psalm 51:14 — David asks to be saved from “bloodguilt.” This request arises from the fact that he had murdered Uriah because he had stolen his wife. Though we often act greedily without actually committing murder, we should recognize that violence is an inevitable consequence of greed, as the apostle James says in James 4:1-2.Our greed is no less deadly that David’s .
Psalm 51:16-19 — As commentator Derek Kidner points out, Psalm 51:16 should not be taken as a statement suggesting that God does not desire our sacrifices and offerings (i.e. Psalm 51:18ff) but as a qualification of those offerings. The issue involved in sacrifice was whether the sacrifice represented an act of true thanksgiving and/or repentance in the heart of the worshiper. God desires a “broken spirit” first and foremost (Psalm 51:17). However, this spirit of repentance inevitably will lead to material sacrifice and thanksgiving to God as we see in the psalmist’s conclusion (Psalm 51:19).
Psalm 62:1-2 — We often seek rest and refuge in our riches and resources. Many of us work to build fortunes and increase assets for the sake of a leisurely retirement. But more often than not, we find that we have run ourselves ragged for the riches that were supposed to bring us rest (Proverbs 23:4). The psalmist avoids this vicious cycle of mistrust by resting in God alone. Even after our bank accounts dwindle and all our “things” fall apart, we can dwell secure. So long as God is our “rock,” we will never be shaken (Psalm 59:9). See other Psalms asking for refuge and deliverance: Psalm 3; 6; 7; 11; 16; 31; 42-43; 46; 61; 62; 69; 71. See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 62:3-8 — Rest may be found even in hostile and threatening situations. The merciless foes (Psalm 62:3-4) are not identified, but their presence in this psalm serves to demonstrate the fact that the rest God gives is trustworthy at all times (Psalm 62:8). Even in difficult financial situations this holds true. It holds true when we are tempted to worry that our needs will go unmet for lack of resources. Whatever the threat, the following verses exhort us to find rest in God at all times (Psalm 62:5-8), even as we pour out our hearts to him for help. See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 62:9 — The distinction between “lowborn” and “highborn” is meant to signify that all human strength is unreliable at best. Thus, we should not trust in political parties, family connections, social standing or our own abilities for our security. Rather than trusting in human powers, we ought to take on a prayerful mindset of humble reliance that directs our consciousness in every action. We must not do anything without recognizing that our “life is but a breath” (Job 7:7) which rests in God’s providence, “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
Psalm 62:10 — The last false object of trust to be identified is money. This verse bears a striking resemblance to 1 Timothy 6:17, where we are warned against putting our hope in wealth, “which is so uncertain.” Even wealth that is honestly earned has the power to blind us to our need for God (Mark 10:22). We must take this temptation seriously if we are to truly trust in God (Matthew 6:24). See Psalms theme essay Safety and Security.
Psalm 72:1-3 — These verses introduce the psalm’s recurring theme of justice and generosity as hallmarks of true kingship. In verses 1-2 the people pray for a king endowed with justice, specifically with regard to the poor. In verse 3, as if in direct response to this righteous establishment, the mountains and hills bring forth fruit and prosperity. The idea that justice and compassion for the needy promotes peace and prosperity is well established in the poetic and wisdom traditions of the Old Testament (e.g., Psalm 112:5-9; Proverbs 11:24-26; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27). Mercy and generosity are not only obligations, but they are also opportunities to create the kingdom God desires. See Psalms theme essay Worship with Possessions.
Psalm 72:4 — This verse reemphasizes justice and the concern for the poor as traits of godly government. We learn that there are two sides to the royal coin. On the one hand, a ruler must show special concern for the poor and disenfranchised; on the other hand he must administer justice and crush the oppressors. The emphasis on mercy and compassion for those who are poor and oppressed is clearly seen in the earthly ministry of Jesus, who came “to preach good news to the poor” and “to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18). As citizens of his kingdom, we must share his priorities. Deuteronomy 17:16-17 emphasizes the need to restrain one’s appetite and pay careful attention to God’s commands, the chief of which for the Christian is “loving God with all you are” and “loving others as you love yourself.” This prevents us from becoming distracted by desires and lack of attention to God’s ways. See also Matthew 25:31-46.
Psalm 72:8-11 — These verses emphasizes the kingly aspect of God’s absolute ownership. One theologian put it in this way: “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’ ” Psalm 24 emphasizes God’s ownership as Creator. Here we see Christ’s ownership in terms of his kingly domain. These verses look forward to a day when all the kings of the earth will bring tribute to the King of kings. This is an important theme in the Old Testament, especially for Israel, who was so often plundered by the empires that surrounded her. For example, Zechariah 14:1-19 speaks of a time when the wealth of the nations who had plundered God’s people would be gathered up in God’s final victory as King (Zechariah 14:14). Such passages make it clear that God owns it all, regardless of present political or personal circumstances. They remind us that in the end, all the world’s wealth will be returned to its Owner. We should not be anxious when the wicked prosper in this life; this is to be expected of those who serve money as their god. In the end, Jesus Christ will establish his universal rule and bring prosperity to his people. See Psalms theme essay Worship with Possessions.
Psalm 72:15-16 — These verses repeat the sequence of justice and generosity. The implementation of justice and mercy toward the poor in verses 12-14 lead to prosperity and blessing in verse 16. See also Psalm 72:5-7 above.
Psalm 72:17 — This verse recalls the promise when God said to Abraham, “I will bless you ... so that you will be a blessing ... and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). Similarly, here we see that God blesses the king so that he will be a blessing to all the people. Ultimately, this blessing is fulfilled in Christ, but we are called to participate in its realization—and this includes the way we use our money. 2 Corinthians 9:11 says, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion ...” God does not bless us exclusively for our own personal prosperity. Blessing others is what it means to be “blessed”.