Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!
May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!
For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.
Long may he live;
may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all the day!
May there be abundance of grain in the land;
on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field!
May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen!
The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
I want to single out one verse from Psalm 72 – verse 8, “may he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.” It is the motto of Canada, “from sea to sea” in the Latin Bible as a mari usque ad mare, and it appears on the Canadian coat of arms we see on our passports and we used to see on all of our paper money.
Now this is an interesting story. That verse of the psalm, "may he have dominion from sea to sea," is one of the inspirations for calling the new Canadian confederation a dominion. This was apparently the idea of Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley, representing New Brunswick at the Charlottetown conference on confederation. The verse began to be used in reference to Canada by Rev. George Monro Grant, who was quite a character.
He was born in Stellarton in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, and became a Presbyterian minister, serving at St. Matthew’s in downtown Halifax, which is now a United Church congregation. He was very involved in the coming together of four Presbyterian denominations to become the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Most of those congregations later entered our United Church of Canada. And he was elected Moderator of that new Canadian Presbyterian church. He was in favour of Nova Scotia joining Canada, and played a major role in overcoming opposition to confederation in that province. For 25 years he was principal of Queen’s University, which was a Presbyterian college at the time. I graduated from Queen’s in Grant Hall, which is named after him. He was secretary to his friend Sir Sandford Fleming, who came up with the idea of the time zones that are now used around the world. So we have Sandford Fleming to thank for those announcements on CBC that your show will be on at 7 PM Eastern, 8:30 in Newfoundland.
In 1872 George Grant traveled with Sandford Fleming across Canada, from Atlantic to Pacific, to survey the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Grant began using the verse from Psalm 72, from sea to sea, in his sermons and in a book he published, called Ocean to Ocean, as he made the case for a Canadian nation that would indeed span the continent from sea to sea. Years later the verse in Latin was engraved onto the mace of the new Saskatchewan legislature. When Canada’s coat of arms was redesigned in 1921, a mari usque ad mare was chosen as the national motto.
So that’s quite a story – a Canadian story. From sea to sea. In the psalm these words are meant to show that the king of Israel governs the entire Middle East, and for us they mean that Canada extends, as the song says, from Bonavista to Vancouver Island, from the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes waters.
We desire a better country, from sea to sea. We desire a country that has the peace, order, and good government our constitution speaks of, a country that, as the constitution also says, recognizes the supremacy of God and the rule of law, a country where everyone has freedom of belief and religion, a country where the common good is foremost. We desire a country where we act to share the wealth with which God has blessed us, a country where we take the gifts God has given us out into the world, a country where we are servants to God’s world and God’s people.
In the Letter to the Hebrews the author sums up the Abraham and Sarah story in the book of Genesis that we talked about last week. The letter says that these great characters of the Bible were “strangers and exiles on the earth” – and they were, they were nomads, they came from a far country, just as our ancestors came to Canada from elsewhere. Sarah and Abraham were strangers in a strange land. But they never went back, just as our ancestors stayed here and never moved back to the United States or Britain or Holland or Germany.
But these words apply to more than our ancestors. They apply to us. We speak today of our attachment to Canada, and it’s a real one, one we can feel, one which inspires pride in us, but as followers of Jesus we remember what it says in the letter to the Philippians: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” We are not detached from our lives here; we do not fail in our duties as citizens of Canada and the world; but our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, not on earth. We desire a better country of Canada, but our desire doesn’t stop there – as Hebrews says, we desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one, our final homeland, prepared by God for us, and from there our saviour Jesus will come.