by Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah - I Chr 3:5
I Chr 22:6-10
David, speaking to Solomon, declared
God’s purpose that He’d chosen him to be king after himself (I Chr 22:9 - see also I Kings 1:17,29-30 where David shows that he’d declared the will of God concerning Solomon to his close family and advisors before the need for Solomon’s enthronement took place) and so the promise of the line of the eternally reigning King was to come through him (I Chr 22:10 - ‘...I will establish his royal throne forever...’).
Solomon was the first son conceived after David lost the child born to him through the adulterous relationship with Bathsheba (II Sam 12:24-25). Even though David had murdered Bathsheba’s husband (II Sam 11:14-21) and was to pay the price for his unfaithfulness to both Uriah and God (II Sam 12:7-12 and Cp II Samuel chapters 13-20), the Lord nevertheless had regard for David’s offspring through Bathsheba (II Sam 12:24-25), this being the chosen line of the Messiah whether we read Matthew or Luke’s genealogical record (we’ll look at the reasons for the branching of the two genealogies from David onwards under the article ‘Jeconiah’).
Just what the reasons were for Scripture recording the fact that ‘the Lord loved him’ are unclear but, as JFB points out
‘This love and the noble gifts with which he was endowed, considering the criminality of the marriage from which he sprang, is a remarkable instance of divine goodness and grace’
Again, in the genealogical record of the Messiah, we see that God’s sovereign choice - not legal righteousness - is the criteria for inclusion and selection.
This psalm was written by Solomon. While it cannot be certain at what point in time he wrote it, it seems most relevant in the context of Solomon, now on the throne, looking forward to the son who was to follow as King after him. Though this certainly appears to be the best context, it goes beyond this to look to the One who was to be born through David’s line, establishing David’s kingdom forever.
Notice some of the statements in the psalm (my italics throughout) which, although having partial relevance to Solomon’s successor, must look forward to the time of God’s anointed King, Messiah.
‘May He have dominion from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth...’
Although this may be a father’s wish for his child, it could never be realistically fulfilled until the coming King who would have world dominion.
‘May all kings fall down before Him, all nations serve Him...’
Again, only this could be totally fulfilled if it refers to the Messiah.
‘May His name endure forever...may men bless themselves by him, all nations call Him blessed!’
This reiterates the promise made to Abraham many centuries before in Gen 12:3 which runs
‘By you shall the nations of the earth be blessed...’
though the phrase in Ps 72 doesn’t contain the exact wording. The Messiah who was to come was to bring blessing to all nations not just to the Jewish people (yet, ‘to the Jew first...’ Rom 2:10).
When read with the Messiah in mind, Psalm 72 takes on quite a different meaning from being one of a father’s desire for his son, to the desires of a man seeking God for the establishment of the world Kingdom through God’s anointed King (though, admittedly, through his own line - but, perhaps, Solomon wrote this before David’s declaration to him in I Chr 22:6-10 so that he initially thinks of ‘whichever son’ that will follow his father, rather than himself and subsequent offspring?).
That the Jews understood this psalm in a Messianic context is not open to doubt. Edersheim (volume 2, page 719) writes
‘This Psalm also was viewed by the ancient Synagogue as throughout Messianic, as indicated by the fact that the Targum renders the very first verse: “Give the sentence of Thy judgment to the King Messiah and Thy justice to the Son of David the King” which is re-echoed by the Midrash on the passage...which applies it explicitly to the Messiah, with reference to Is 11:1...’
and then goes on to list individual verses and their references in ancient Jewish literature (notably verses 8,10,16 and 17). Although the application to some of these verses may seem a bit strained, the Jews regarded it as a psalm written about Messiah.
Notice I Kings 9:4-5, however. It would seem that the establishing of Solomon’s throne was conditional upon obedience to God’s Laws which he wasn’t zealous to keep (see I Kings 11:1-8 and compare it with God’s word on the matter in I Kings 11:11-13 and the subsequent situations that arose because of the declaration in I Kings 11:14ff until the division of the kingdom during Rehoboam, Solomon’s son’s rule).
The option, therefore, remained open for YHWH to choose the Solomonic line but, in the end, He chose to bypass it, as can be seen by the comparison and consideration of the genealogies of Matthew and Luke and by God’s word to Jeconiah. The line of the Messiah ignored Solomon in preference for Nathan, another son of David by Bathsheba and full brother of Solomon (I Chr 3:5).