Davidic Covenant

By Sean Finnegan

God promised David that his dynasty and throne would endure forever.  Nevertheless, after approximately four centuries of rule, God ejected his people from the land, ending the reign of Davidic kings.  Does this mean God’s promise to David has failed?  Surely, our covenant-making God will fulfill what He said.

1. Saul’s Failure

1 Samuel 13.13-14 Saul’s disobedience resulted in God seeking someone else through whom he would establish a kingdom in Israel forever.

2. Davidic Covenant

2 Samuel 7.1-3 The fact that God lived in a tent while David enjoyed a cedar palace bothered him.  He told Nathan he wanted to build Yahweh a proper temple.

2 Samuel 7.4-7 God hasn’t complained, though He’s been “living” in a tent for centuries.  He doesn’t need David or anyone else to build Him anything.

2 Samuel 7.8-11 God makes three main promises to David: (1) to make his name great, (2) to appoint a place for His people, and (3) to give them rest from enemy attacks.

2 Samuel 7.12-17 Saul failed to pass the kingdom on to his sons.  God would make sure that David’s descendants inherit his kingdom.  Even if they stray from David’s example, God will work with them as a father disciplines his children.

1 Chronicles 22.5-10 David’s son Solomon fulfilled David’s intention to build Yahweh a magnificent temple.  Both in 2 Samuel 7.14 and 1 Chronicles 22.10 God says that David’s descendant will be his son.

Psalm 89.20-29; 2.6-9 To be God’s son is to rule on God’s behalf.  It is a royal title common in the ancient Near East.[1]

3. David’s Dismal Descendants

Although Solomon did really well (at least until the end of his life), most of the kings thereafter broke God’s covenant with Israel.  Rather than embodying God’s way of life (Deut 17.18-20), the kings worshiped idols, distrusted Yahweh’s protection, and failed to uphold justice in the land.  After nearly four centuries, God ejected His people from
the land.

Psalm 89.34-49 What did this mean for the Davidic covenant?  Had God broken
His promise?

4. Glimmers of Hope

Jeremiah 23.5-6; Ezekiel 34.22-24 We see glimmers of hope during Judah’s darkest days, but it is not at all clear when or how God will bring back the Davidic throne.

By the time we arrive at the New Testament, it had been about six centuries since a descendant of David had ruled.  Even so, all hope was not lost.  We know from the scrolls found at a cave in Qumran that Israelites clung to the hope that God’s promise to David was still intact.

“Moreover the LORD decl[ares] to you that he will make you a house,” and that “I will raise up your offspring after you, and establish the throne of his kingdom [fore]ver.  I will be a father to him, and he will be my son.”  This passage refers to the Shoot of David, who is to arise with the Interpreter of the Law, and who will [arise] in Zi[on in the La]st Days, as it is written, “And I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen.”  This passage describes the fallen Branch of David, [w]hom he shall raise up to deliver Israel.

So, it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility when God sent His messenger to a Jewish peasant girl to break the silence and bring about the resurrection of His promise to David. (Luke 1.31-33)

The thrilling moment when this son of David was born caused even heaven itself to burst forth in joy (Luke 2.9-11) even while malevolent forces stirred to murder the boy (Mat 2.16).  What will he do?  How will he fulfill his role as THE descendant of David to
rule forever?

[1] For specific examples of Egyptian, Aramean, Canaanite, and Ugaritic kings see Kingdom through Covenant, 2nd ed., pp. 450-454.

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