God’s covenant with David
The Davidic Covenant- The Covenant God made with King David.
The original Background and the future development of the Davidic covenant in the Old Testament.
The Covenant God made with David are specifically described in three passages in the Bible although there are several other passages that refer or point to this covenant. These three main passages are 2 Samuel 7:12-16, 1 Chronicles 17:11-15. It’s good to read the whole 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17 to understand the background of this covenant.
You see, David had to wait 15 years to actually become the king after he was anointed by Prophet. Then it took about 7 more years to be anointed as king of all Israel. Therefore a total of more than 20 years he had to wait to see the fulfillment of the promise of God. This is, of course, a good lesson for us today about waiting on the Lord. After he became king over Israel, and the first thing he accomplished was to bring the Ark of God. The ark of the covenant was in Kiriath Jearim for about half a century in Abinadab’s house. Now, God destroyed the enemies of David and his kingdom is settled. The King had a royal luxurious palace where he lived. David being settled as the king by the Lord and living in his royal luxurious palace, he understood the contrast between his own palace where he lives and that of the Lord is stark because the ark of the covenant remains in an ordinary tent. He presumed it is unfitting for the worship of God to happen in a tent when he lives in a palace. Therefore, the king David said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.” (2 Samuel 7:2-3). But the Word of the Lord came to Nathan during that night instructed to deliver a message back to David.
Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth. I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’”
The elements of God’s covenant with David were:
a. The Lord will build a house for David
b. When David’s days are complete and he lie down with his father, God will raise up his descendant who will come from him
c. God will establish his kingdom.
d. His descendant shall build a house for God’s name
e. God will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
f. David’s house and his kingdom shall endure before God forever
g. David’s throne shall be established forever.
The summary of the message can be reinstated like this. David will not build a house for God, His son will build a temple for the Lord, David’s throne will be continued forever and would not be taken away. Finally, the throne of David would be forever. The building of the temple by his son was fulfilled in his son Solomon. However, the establishment of David’s throne forever goes beyond his son Solomon. This idea of the fulfillment of the prophecy going beyond his immediate son further down through his genealogy can be understood in David’s own statement in the subsequent verses of the same chapter. David says to God, “And yet this was insignificant in Your eyes, O Lord God, for You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future.”
This covenant God made with David, that gives the promise of an everlasting throne coming out of the offspring of David is described in 1 Chronicles 17 as well. Please refer the whole chapter 17 and specifically the verses 11-14.
You see, the Davidic covenant is a continuation of the Abrahamic covenant. Abrahamic covenant promised land, a nation and future kings that would come out of Abraham. This is reported in Genesis 17:6, “I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you, I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you”. Abraham had several sons but this covenant is promised and narrowed down through the line of Isaac, Jacob as we have seen in the previous article Covenant with Abraham. Down on the road in Genesis 49:10, this line of promised offspring is narrowed down to one of the twelve tribes of Jacob, Judah. The prophecy there said, “the scepter shall not depart from Judah…”. This indicates the rulership of the kingdom comes from the line of Judah.
Now the line becomes a little bit more clear when God’s promised the throne to the descendant of David in 2 Samuel 7. If we look at verse 10 First, God reaffirms the promise of the land that He made in the first two covenants with Israel (the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants). This promise is seen in 2 Samuel 7:10, we can see the land promise is given again before the everlasting throne promise. It says “I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore.”
In addition, there are several Old Testament portions in the Bible that reiterate the future literal fulfillment of this promise. Psalm 89 God reiterates and assures the future fulfillment of God’s covenant with David. It says, ““I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever, And build up your throne to all generations.” Psalm 89:27-29- The Lord declares about David, ““I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth. “My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever, And My covenant shall be confirmed to him. “So I will establish his descendants forever, And his throne as the days of heaven.” The seriousness of this covenant backed by the faithfulness of God is assured by God again in Psalm 89:34-37, “My covenant I will not violate, Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
“Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David.
“His [y]descendants shall endure forever, And his throne as the sun before Me. “It shall be established forever like the moon,
And the witness in the sky is faithful.”
From these passages, it’s clear what God meant by His covenant with David. This is an unconditional covenant. It will not fail by any human failures. God said and He will faithfully bring this to pass. This doesn’t depend on the faithfulness of the descendants of David. It’s backed one percent by the faithfulness of the Lord Himself.
We know that the rulership in Israel and Judah didn’t last for a long time. Due to the rebelliousness of Israel and Judah, they went into captivity and the days of kings temporarily ended. Israel went to Assyrian and Judah to Babylonian captivities. However, the prophets continued the assurance of the future literal fulfillment of the covenant with David in the books of prophecies in the Bible. We will see some of their statements regarding the future fulfillment of Davidic covenant.
Amos says in Amos 9:11, “I will restore David’s fallen shelter—
I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins—
and will rebuild it as it used to be..” God says He will restore David’s fallen shelter and restore its ruins. Acts 15:14-18 James pronounced this fact by saying, ” Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: “‘After this, I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent, Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it”. James was talking about the fulfillment of this prophecy in Christ by agreeing the fact that the Gentiles are accepted in Christ and they are part of the whole purpose of salvation and there is not much burden of the Old Testament Law must be placed on these new believers in Christ. “After this, I will return” is referring to the acceptance of Gentiles in and through Christ the Messiah and after the completion of the number of Gentiles, Christ will come back to establish his everlasting kingdom fulfilling the Davidic covenant. This means the Davidic covenant will be fulfilled only after the conversion and acceptance of Christ in the newly formed Church and at the time of the second coming of Christ.
The second coming of Christ when His feet touch the Mount Olives and the established of the kingdom all over the earth is predicted in Zechariah 14. Zechariah 14:4 says, “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south”. Then verse 9 of the same chapter proclaims, “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.”. Another somewhat clear passage regarding the Davidic covenant future fulfillment is provided in Hosea 3:4-5, “For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward, the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.” This passage clearly says Israel won’t have a king for a period of time and then they will seek the Lord their God and David their king. Davidic covenant will be fulfilled at that time as an everlasting and eternal kingdom established on the earth.
Listen carefully what Ezekiel says, “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.”
Here in this passage both the land promise and the throne promise comes together. It says they will in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived. They will live there forever. Then comes the everlasting throne promise -David my servant will be their prince forever.
By this time we know David has already died and his grave was there but the reference is to the offspring of David who will establish the throne as an everlasting throne.
God declares in Jeremiah 33:14-17, “The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.”
The passage talks about a righteous branch that sprout from David’s line. He will do what is just and right in the land.
When Jesus was in this world, why people called him ‘Son of David’? They called Jesus the ‘son of David’ because of the expectation that He is offspring of David who would ultimately fulfill the Davidic covenant. He was indeed the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. However, they forgot or ignore the two coming of the Lord Jesus Christ which was prophecies in the old testament. The first advent as the ransom or sacrifice for humanity’s sins and the second advent to establish the literal everlasting kingdom. Both are prophecied in the old testament literature, but they failed to see or recognize the two advents of Christ. Isaiah 61:1-2 describes the first advent of the Messiah and verses 3-4 describes the second advent of Messiah. But both are stated in one section as of it was one incident. But remember Jesus when He entered the synagogue and they gave Him the scroll to read, He opened the book of Isaiah 61 and read only the first two verses and said, “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The rest of the verses 3-4 describes the future fulfillment up to the establishment of the eternal kingdom by Jesus Christ on this earth. The purpose and nature of the first advent of Christ are beautifully illustrated in Isaiah 53 as a suffering servant of the Lord who will give His life as a ransom for many. Isaiah 7:14 and Micah 5:2 shows the first advent of the Lord Jesus Christ while Isaiah 9:6 shows the first advent and 9:7 gives us the picture of the second coming of the Christ when He will establish the eternal kingdom that will last forever. Therefore the old testament affirms there are two advents of the Messiah. The first advent of Messiah is to pay for our sins- as a sacrifice for humanity’s sin problem. The second advent is for ruling with righteousness and peace for 1000 years. The Jews failed to see this dichotomy or two parts of coming of the Messiah and their expectation was Messiah will establish the eternal kingdom in fulfillment of the promises to David on His first advent.
Isaiah says in 9:6-7, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.”
The passage above clearly states a son is given to us. This means the eternal son of God is given to us and the government will be upon his shoulders. It says he is the wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting father and prince of peace. It continues to say his government and peace will see no end and He will reign on David’s throne. Then an assurance is given by God- “The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” How is the mighty God, everlasting father portrayed as a child born and son given to us? This is what happened at the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the eternal son of God and He is the everlasting father. He is the one who will reign on the throne of David as the ultimate fulfillment of Davidic covenant.
The development of the Davidic Covenant in the New Testament.
Matthew, the first Gospel writer, in the New Testament called Jesus the Son of David in the first sentence of his Gospel. It says in Matthew 1:1, ” the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham”. Matthew proves Christ’s genealogy and confirms accurately His legal right to the everlasting throne through the line of His legal but not physical father Joseph. He connects the physical father of Christ to David through Jaconiah and ultimately to Abraham. However, Luke 3:23, Luke traces Christ’s physical mother Mary’s genealogy to David through another son of David – Nathan. Therefore the ‘legal right’ to the throne comes through Joseph, Christ’s physical father and the ‘blood right’ comes through Mary, Christ’s physical mother. However, the virgin birth promised in Isaiah 7:14 (Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”) was absolutely important not only to assure the sinless nature of Christ but also to fulfill the Davidic covenant. The virgin birth guarantees that one of David’s descendants will sit on David’s throne and rule forever. Jesus Christ literally fulfilled the virgin birth and Immanuel prophecy found in Isaiah 7:14 (Compare with Matthew 1:21-23).
Now not only the Gospel writer Matthew but also other people called Jesus ‘Son of David’.
Jesus was called ‘Son of David’ by two blind men in Matthew 20:30. They called Him, ” And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” (Matthew 20:30).
A Canaanite woman who wanted her daughter healed used this title of Jesus. This is reported in Matthew 15:22, “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed”
Another occasion was the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday. Matthew 21:9, “The crowds going ahead of him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!”
Matthew 2:1-2, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east and have come to worship him”. Jesus was born in Bethlehem and this was the city of David.
Matthew 22:42-46, “What do you think about the Christ Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him Lord? For he says, “The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions”. Jesus Himself proved He is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant by asking the above questions. The disciples understood Jesus as the Son of David.
After Jesus performed a miraculous healing the crowd wondered if Jesus could be David’s son.
Davidic covenant promised one of his offspring would rule forever. The prophets looked in future for the literal fulfillment of this prophecy. The people in Christ’s time called him the Son of David and He is truly the descendant who will fulfill the eternal throne and rulership prophecy. Luke 1:30-33, the angel who announced the virgin birth to Mary said this, “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Of course, the promise given to Mary was a physical throne on which her son will sit and reign forever. This was her expectation- a literal physical rulership forever. Jesus promised his disciples in Matthew 19:28, “Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”. Jesus affirmed He would sit on His glorious throne and the discipleship would also sit on twelve thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel.
When is the final fulfillment of the Davidic covenant?
There is a common agreement among Christians that Christ is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. This is supported by many facts including the angel’s announcement to Mary in Luke 1:31-33 where it says, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David”. Several ordinary people and disciples called Jesus the name ‘son of David’ because of their confidence that Christ is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant.
But the question remained in the hearts and minds of the disciples was when Christ fulfills the covenant in its entirety. When will he establish the eternal kingdom as promised in Davidic covenant? There are two groups of thoughts regarding this matter. The school makes it more of a spiritual fulfillment by saying Christ fulfilled the promise when he ascended into heaven and sat down at the right side of God the father. This is the group that doesn’t believe in a literal one thousand year future reign of the kingdom on this earth. The second school believes Christ will fulfill literally the covenant when He returns to earth to establish millennium. Those who don’t believe in the millennium rule of Christ on earth in future spiritualize the Davidic covenant. However, when disciples asked the question in Acts 1:6, the disciples were anticipating a literal kingdom that would be restored by Christ. The question was, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”. The answer of Christ implied a future date and time of establishing the kingdom in verse 7. The answer Jesus gave was, ““It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This answer of Jesus indicates a delay in restoring the kingdom and meanwhile, during this bracket time of His first advent and second advent, they were to be His witness in the world. In other words, they were given a task of evangelization of the world during the interval period.
The still yet future fulfillment of the restoration of a literal kingdom is supported by decree of the Jerusalem council as well in Acts 15:15-18. This is the section where early church recognized God is calling Gentiles into the church and there should be no distinction between Jews and Gentiles because Christ cleanses the hearts of both when they put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It says, “The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: “‘After this, I will return
and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’—things known from long ago.”
The passage says, after this, I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. The meaning of David’s fallen tent has to the nation Israel. After what, I will return? After the full number of Gentiles has come into the church. Refer Romans 11:25. Gentiles are part of God’s plan of salvation and they can come to the heirs of God’s inheritance during this time of interval between the first and second coming of Christ. Apostle Paul says in Romans 11:25, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way[a] all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
The passage above talks about the experience of partial hardening of the heart of Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in the church. See the next verse says, then the deliverer will come from Zion and will establish the covenant with them.
Acts 14:22 says, “They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions”. This anticipates a future fulfillment of a kingdom not yet realized. If the kingdom was already realized in a spiritual sense, there is no need for a further expectation of a literal fulfillment as this passage anticipates.
The structure of the book of Revelation is chapters 1-3 is the period of the church age, chapters 4-5 describes what happens after the present age which is the rapture of the church (refer Revelation 4:1) and the presence of the church in heaven (chapter 5). The Revelation chapters 6-18 describes the great tribulation period (7 years of tribulation on this earth while the church is in heaven). No mention of the church in these chapters from 6-18 shows the absence of church on earth and the presence of the church in heaven. Revelation 11:15 says, “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign forever and ever.” This announcement during the great tribulation clearly anticipates the future but the soon fulfillment of the Davidic covenant in Jesus Christ. It says the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and He will reign forever and ever.
Then finally Revelation 19 describes the second coming of the Christ with the bridegroom (church) into the earth. Revelation chapter 20 shows what is going to happen after the second coming of the Christ to this earth along with the church. Revelation 20:3 says the devil was bound for thousand years by an angel of God until the thousand years are completed. This thousand year is the millennium when the Davidic covenant will be literally fulfilled on the face of the earth. Christ will rule the whole world and there will be peace and righteousness on the world. Until the second coming of Christ and establishment of the kingdom in fulfillment of the Davidic covenant, there will not be peace and righteousness in this world. This is the time Christ will fulfill the Davidic covenant in its entirety.
The Bible prophecies inform us the eternal kingdom will be established after the regathering of Israel from all over the world to their ancient land. This is the restoration of the land promise followed by the eternal reign prophecy.
The Book of Revelation in chapter 20 informs at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, He will rule for 1000 years. Isaiah 2:2 describes this future reign of Christ from Jerusalem
-In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the Lord”.
There will not any need of war. The verse 4 says, they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. No war between nations nor there would be training for war. The Lord will be judge among nations and righteousness of the Lord will be on this earth.