Praying That Our Leaders Care for the Poor and the Oppressed
He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
and he will rescue them.
He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
for their lives are precious to him.
Psalm 72 is a prayer for the king of Israel. Though most of us in today’s world do not live under the rule of a political sovereign, this psalm can guide us as we pray for the leaders of our government.
This psalm asks God to give the king many crucial gifts, including: a love of justice, righteousness, good judgment, long life, divine blessing, and blessing for all nations. Special attention is given to the king’s active concern for the poor and oppressed: “He feels pity for the weak and needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him” (72:13-14).
Psalm 72 does not specify how exactly the king will demonstrate his care for the needy and victims of violence. The point of the Psalm is not to lay out the king’s social and military program. Rather, it underscores the fact that godly leaders will be guided by hearts that reflect God’s own care for victims of poverty and injustice.
Christians differ widely when it comes to our views of how government should address the problems of poverty and oppression. But, no matter our partisan perspectives, we should all be united in praying that our leaders “feel pity for the weak and needy” and seek to “redeem them from oppression and violence.” Moreover, when we have been given authority, whether in government, business, church, or other contexts, we can pray in the same way for ourselves. May we use the power God has given us to advance the values and purposes of his kingdom.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you pray for your leaders, what do you ask of the Lord? Why do you think Psalm 72 mentions the poor and oppressed so specifically, and more than once (72:4, 12-14)? In your own life, how are you advancing the cause of God’s justice?
I ask that you give all of these leaders compassion for the weak and needy. Show them how best to translate this compassion into political policy. Where they have the opportunity to redeem people from oppression and violence, guide them by your wisdom.
In this vein, I pray especially for President Obama and those who advise him. In a world filled with oppression and violence, they must decide in what ways to use the power of the United States, including our military forces. Help them to be good stewards of the power you have entrusted to them.
All praise be to you, King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.
P.S. Obviously, this prayer reflects my own situation as a resident of the City of Boerne in Kendall County, Texas, USA. I invite you to pray in light of your location.
Here’s how . . . .
This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.