Commentary on Ps 71 for Advent 2A by Dr Noel Donnelly
Psalm 71 Commentary
Psalm 71 was originally a prayer for the king at his coronation. It was probably used again at the annual renewal of this event. The church uses this psalm in Advent when we are reflecting on the Coming of Christ in glory.
This psalm is quite unusual for its times in that it has no regard for military prowess: peace and justice for the poor are its main interests. Here we have a job description for the new king. The prayer starts, “O God, give your judgment to the king; your justice so that he may govern your people with justice, and your oppressed with right judgment.” Verse 4 spells this out clearly: “May he make judgements in favour of the poor and oppressed; may he save the children of the needy and crush those who oppress them.”And again in verse 12 the prayer stresses this intention: “He shall deliver the poor ones who are crying out, the needy ones who have no one to help them”. And again in verse 14, “He will have pity on the helpless and needy. He will save the living conditions of the poor and redeem them from false accusations and cruelty!” With this in mind, the singer announces something like our National Anthem, “Long live our King!”
Two things occur to me when reflecting on this psalm: firstly, it is important to pray for those who have responsibilities over us: our government leaders, our local authorities, not forgetting our health carers, and, of course, prayer for our church leaders; and secondly, very close to this, it makes me think more deeply of the phrase, “Thy kingdom come!”. When I pray the Lord’s Prayer I should probably make a pause after saying “Thy kingdom come!” What does that really mean, here and now … and at the end of time? And how may I respond to these words with actions?
I hope you’ll agree that a psalm that was important 3000 years ago still has relevance today.