Both High and Low
(8) May he rule from sea to sea and from the river (Euphrates?) to the ends of the earth. (9) Those who dwell in the desert will bow down before him, and his enemies will lick the dust. (10) The kings of Tarshish and the coast lands will bring him tribute. The kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. (11) All kings will fall prostrate before him. All nations will serve him, (12) for he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no one to help. (13) He has pity on the weak and the needy, and the lives of the needy he saves. (14) From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and their blood is precious in his sight.
Several repetitions and synonyms help us discover the message of this segment. “Kings” occurs three times (vss. 10 & 11). We encounter several phrases for submission: “bow down...lick the dust” (vs. 9), “bring tribute...offer gifts” (vs. 10), “fall prostrate” (a synonym to “bow down” in vs. 9)...serve” (vs. 11).
The closing verses contain several synonyms for the downtrodden: the “needy” three times (vss. 12 & 13), the “poor” (vs. 12), and “the weak” (vs. 13). Synonyms for “delivers” (vs. 12) include “saves” (vs. 13) and “redeems” (vs. 14). “Life” (literally, “soul”) occurs twice (vss. 13 & 14).
The greatness of God’s ruler will be
- acknowledged by all other earthly rulers. (8-11)
- measured by his compassion for the poor and needy. (12-14)
So great will be God’s ruler who compassionately meets the needs of the downtrodden that all earthly rulers will submit to him.
What are the qualities that make an earthly leader truly praiseworthy? The world admires a person with a great vision who can articulate and inspire others with that vision and then move them to follow him with that great purpose in mind. However, it is rare to find among the movers and shakers of our world any who are genuinely concerned about the little guy, ordinary people, poor folks, those with nagging needs and persistent problems. Such leaders may claim to be concerned, but the reality often leaves us bitterly disappointed.
God’s goal for earthly rulers is that they might become shepherd-kings, leaders with hearts of compassion for the hurting, the helpless, the victimized, the impoverished. Very few of the world’s rulers have ever come close to fulfilling this ideal. Most of those who reach the top all too quickly forget why they have been entrusted with such authority and spend most of their time with two goals in mind: seeking to enrich themselves, their families, and their supporters, and then doing everything they can to remain in the high position they have finally attained.
With this in mind, consider the following invitation issued by the greatest leader this world has ever known: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:28-30). Jesus here describes the kind of ruler for which this world has been yearning for thousands of years. He will be compassionate and committed to meeting the needs of every burdened soul. And when he comes to establish his messianic rule and demonstrate that kind of leadership as our great Shepherd of the sheep, all on earth will bow before him and acknowledge that he is King of kings and Lord of lords.