The Davidic Covenant

THE DAVIDIC COVENANT

 

Introduction

The history of Israel is a rich history indeed. From the time Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead the people known as Hebrews, later to be called Jews, have experienced Godís many blessings and promises. In Genesis 12 God made the second of four unconditional covenants. This covenant was with Abraham, known as the Abrahamic Covenant. Later, God made a promise to King David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. "David was truly blessed by God and was a Ďman after Godís own heartí (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). Indeed, he was important in many respects -- as a great leader, administrator, warrior, musician, and so on. However, he is remembered in the Scriptures for his faithful heart and especially for his status as Godís chosen one, Godís anointed, to whom God gave the great promises about an eternal dynsasty." It is this covenant that this paper will focus on. What is it? What elements are included within it? What is its relation to the Abrahamic Covenant?

The Davidic Covenant was a promise given to David after he had decided to undertake the task of building a Temple for the Ark of God. Godís prophet Nathan did not seek the Lordís coucil when David asked him if he should build a temple. God later told David that he was not to build it because he was a man of war and had shed much blood. Instead, his son Solomon would build the Temple. David accepted this, but God continued on in what He told David. God gave him a promise -- a promise known as the Davidic Covenant.

 

 

 

 

Examining 2 Samuel 7:12-16

Verse 12 is God telling David that when he (David) dies God will raise up a descendant after him to take his place on the throne as king of Israel. The son will come from David, be his own flesh and blood, and God will establish his kingdom. Verse 13 tells David that this son of his will be the one who will build the Temple. David had sought to do it himself, but God tells him here that his own son will actually build it. This is due to the fact that David has been a man throughout his life who has shed much blood. God apparently did not want "bloody hands" building His Temple which was to be holy in every way. Whereas verse 12 had said that God would just establish the son of Davidís kingdom, verse 13 plainly states that the kingdom would also be established forever. Verse 14 says that God will be a father to Davidís son and that man will be a son to God. God makes it clear that when this man sins he will be punished by God through the rods of men. Verse 15 is a fascinating verse, and it must have been comforting and reassuring to David, because it qualifies what God had said in verse 14. Even though God would punish the sins of the the son of David He would not withdraw His love from him as He had from Saul. David had seen how God had withdrawn from Saul due to his own disobedience, but God is saying here that He will not do the same to Davidís descendant when he disobeys. Finally, verse 16 says that Davidís house and throne shall endure forever. David was the king over all Israel at this point, and God is telling him that his throne will not disappear from Israel. It will be an everlasting throne without end.

In summary, this passage, which is the Davidic Covenant, has five facets: 1) David is to have a child who shall establish his throne forever, 2) this son was to build the temple, 3) the throne of his kingdom shall last forever, 4) the throne will not be taken away from this son even though his sins abound, 5) and Davidís throne, house, and kingdom will be established forever.

Though Walter Kaiser only sees four elements in the Davidic Covenant (house for David, seed for David, kingdom for David, and a son from David) his view of the covenant does not differ greatly. This covenant was unconditional. It was a "royal grant" so to speak whereby the Sovereign bestows benefits upon the underling. This is an eternal covenant as stated in 2 Samuel 7:13, 16, 24-26, 29. Later it is affirmed once again in 23:5. The only condition on this covenant was the fact that God would punish iniquity with the rods of men and with the stripes of the sons of men. God knew that these people would fall away from Him and that He was going to punish them for it. The covenant would not be null and void when that occurred.

So what does all this mean, and has it been fulfilled just as God said it would? Well, David did have son, and his name was Solomon. He was king over Israel, he built the Temple, he sinned greatly without God overthrowing His promise to David, the Davidic dynasty lasted until the nation went into exile (over 300 years), and the promised Messiah who will reign forever came through the line of David.

The covenant did not guarantee uninterrupted rule by Davidís family (because the Babylonian exile did interupt it), but it did promise that the right to rule would always remain with Davidís dynasty. Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of these promises (Luke 1:31-33). Although Christ is not ruling at the present time from the throne of David (Hebrews 12:2), at His second coming he will assume the throne.

Charles Ryrie notes that Jehoiachin, king of Judah, who was taken into Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzar had a curse pronounced on him by the prophet Jeremiah. Now it must be considered here that this man is from the line of David and part of the covenant. This curse claimed that none of his descendants would prosper on the throne of Israel. If this be so then how could the promised Messiah, who was to come through the line of David, lay any claim to the throne? As Ryrie notes, "Had our Lord been the natural son of Joseph, He could not have been sucessful on the throne of David because of this curse. But since He came thourhg Maryís lineage, He was not affected by this curse."

 

Relation to the Abrahamic Covenant

Davidís and his seed had the unconditional promise of an eteranal kingdom. This promise is connected to the more ancient Abrahamic covenant that the patriarchs would be the fathers of kings (Genesis 17:6, 16, 35:11). Abrahamís great grandson Judah was given the promise that a ruler would come from him (Genesis 49:10). When the prophet/judge Samuel anointed David, who was from the tribe of Judah, as king over Israel the Lord said, "He is the one" (1 Samuel 16:12). It is evident from what David recorded in the Psalms that he was aware of his election by God and of the theological significance of that election as part of the messianic line that would result in a divine Descendant and King (Pss. 2:6-7; 110; cf. Ethanís words in Psalm 89:3-4). But it is the prophets who give the greatest attestation to the significance of the Davidic Covenant as it relates to Abraham (Isaiah 9:1-7; 11:1-5; Jeremiah 30:4-11; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Amos 9:11-15).

"In many ways, the Davidic Covenant stands in a direct line with the Abrahamic Covenant, another unconditional covenant. In it, God promised to provide Abraham with descendants like the stars in the heavens and the sands of the sea and to provide for the blessing of all the nations of the earth through his seed. It was through Abrahamís line -- specificall the Judahite-Davidic strand -- that this blessing was accomplished." Furthermore, note Matthewís geneology: "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham" (1:1). "From the beginning Jesus is placed in His proper perspective as the fulfillment of the great promises of blessing for the wolrd that were given to and through Abraham and David.

 

Literal Interpretation of the Covenant

Peters, in his argument for literal interpretation of the Davidic Covenant, says, "It is incredible that God should in the most important matters, affecting the interest and the happiness of man and nearly toughcin His own veracity, clothe them in words, which, if not true in their obvious and common sense, would deceive the pious and God-fearing of many ages..." He goes on to give five justifications for taking it literally: First, the words and sentences in their plain grammatical acceptation teach their belief. Second, the covenant is distinctively associated with the Jewish nation and none other. Third, it is called a perpetual covenant; one that will endure forever. Fourth, it was confirmed by oath (Psalm 132:11 & 89:3-4, 33). Finally, in Psalm 89:34 God forcibly presents His determination: "My covenant will I not break , nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips."

Dr. John Walvoord gives evidence for literal interpretation from the New Testament in regard to the Davidic Covenant when he writes, "The New Testament is totally lacing in positive teaching that the throne of the Father in heaven is to be identified with the Davidic throne. The inference is plain that Christ is seated on the Fatherís throne, but that this is not at all the same as being seated on the throne of David."

 

Eschatological Implications of the Davidic Covenant

There are certain facts that are presented due to the anticipated literal future fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. Dr. J.D. Pentecost notes five implications: First, all of Israel must be preserved as a nation. With the promised throne to last forever, obviously the nation must be preserved throughout time. Today the nation continues to exist. Even though all of the peoples around that tiny nation have disappeared -- Israel continues to thrive. This fact must remain because without a nation, along with her restoration, it is impossible to restore the Davidic Kingdom. Every Jew that exists today, though they will not verbally agree with it, their mere existence attests to the fact that the Messiah will yet someday reign gloriously on Davidís throne and over his Kingdom, from which to extend a world-wide dominion. Second, Israel must have a national existence and dwell in the land of her inheritance. When David reigned he had certain geographical boundries within his kingdom, and those boundries were made a feature of the promise to David concerning his sonís reign. This being said, the land must be given to this nation as the site of their national homeland. Third, the Lord Jesus Christ, Davidís son, has to return to the earth a second time in bodily form and in a literal fashion in order to reign over Davidís promised kingdom. The allegation that Christ is seated on the Fatherís throne reigning over a spiritual kiingdom, the church, simply does not fulfill the promises of the covenant. Fourth, the literal Kingdom on the earth must be implemented in order for the Messiah, upon His second advent, to rule. The fulfillment of this implies a visible, external Kingdom; not a spiritual one. It will, however, possess spiritual characteristics. Its visibility, and a corresponding adknowledgement of the same, is a feature inseparable from the language of the promse. Finally, this Kingdom must become an eternal Kingdom. Since the "throne," "house," and "kingdom" were all promised to David in perpetuity, there must be no end to Messiahís reighn over Davidís kingdom from Davidís throne.

 

Conclusion

The Davidic Covenant is of utmost importance in Bible Doctrine. It expounds on the promises made to Abraham. It shows that God is working out His sovereign plan even today just as He did during the days of old. It shows how God uses His own words, preserved for us in the Bible, literally to reveal Himself and His will to us. It is also a pivotal doctrine for understanding prophecy. A proper understanding of the covenant answers questions like, Will there be a literal millennium? Is the church the Kingdom? What is Godís Kingdom? What is Christís Kingdom? Will the nation of Israel be re-gathered and restored under her Messiah? Is the kingdom present or future? These, as well as many other issues, are answered only by a correct interpretation of the Davidic Covenant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORKS CITED

Kaiser, W. 1989. Toward an Old Testament Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, pp. 149-152.

Howard, D., 1993. An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books. Chicago: Moody, pages 160-61.

Merrill, E., 1985. The Bible Knowledge Commentary. USA, Canada, England: Victor Books, page 464.

Pentecost, J.D., 1958. Things To Come. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. pp. 100-115.

Peters G., 1952. The Theocratic Kingdom. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, pp. 315-16.

Ryrie, C.C. The Ryrie Study Bible. Notes from Matthew 1:11.

Ryrie, C.C. The Ryrie Study Bible. Notes from 2 Samuel 7:12-16.

Walvoord, John F., "Millennial Series," Bibliotheca Sacra, 110:98-99, April, 1953.

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