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The Davidic Covenant

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Prior to the establishment of the Davidic covenant, David desired to build a temple to honour the Lord. ‘That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.’ (2 Sam. 7:2) Even though David was denied the privilege which was given to his son Solomon ‘He received far, far more than he ever could have hoped to give, and any disappointment at having to allow someone else the privilege of building the temple was far outweighed by the assurance of blessing that extended into eternity.’ (Baldwin p217)

The Davidic covenant is also unconditional and everlasting because David was promised that his throne would be established forever. (2 Sam. 7:16) and that his son, Solomon’s throne would be established forever too (2 Sam. 7:13; 1 Chron. 17:14). So David’s kingdom would be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16) and the royal line would continue forever(2 Sam. 7:13; 1Chron17:12) with the promise that ‘I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men: But my mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. (2 Sam. 7:14-15) Therefore the throne, king and kingdom was assured but if Solomon transgressed the statutes and commandments he would be disciplined for it.

In connection with the above, the theme of Psalm 89 is remembering the covenant with David but also sorrow for the lost blessings. Concerning the Davidic covenant, the Psalmist writes ‘My mercy will I keep for him forevermore and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven (28-29). The covenant cannot be nullified but there is a penalty for disobedience. ‘If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.’(31-32)

The promise of the royal line through Judah from which the Messiah would emerge was prophesied in (Gen. 49:10)’ The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. The line was narrowed down through David according to (Isaiah 11:1) ‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of its roots:’

It is noteworthy that Matthews Gospel commences ‘The book of the generation of Jesus (Messiah), the Son Of David’ (Matt. 1:1) Also Paul begins his letter to the Romans ‘concerning his son Jesus (Messiah) our lord which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.’(Romans1:3)

Furthermore Jewish thought anticipated that the Messiah would set up his kingdom on earth. The mother of James and John requested ‘Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on the right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.’(Matt. 20:21) Jesus didn’t rebuke false doctrine but he did rebuke the inappropriateness and magnitude of what was being asked. Prominent cabinet positions were being requested for the millennial kingdom which was expected immediately. Supporting the above statement when Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a colt many they ‘cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.’ (Mark 11:9-10)

Barclay writes ‘ The oldest and the most popular idea of Messiah was that God would send to his people, a king such as David had been, a king who would deliver his people, a king who would restore the greatness of Israel, and lead them to a glory such as they had never known before.’(p38)

Although the previous paragraph would point toward the latter view, it is now necessary to determine the following. Is the promised kingdom of the Davidic covenant being fulfilled spiritually now by Jesus who is at the right hand of the Father in heaven, or is the Kingdom a future event involving a literal one thousand year millennial reign on earth?

In their favour, the Amilliennialist may argue that it has almost been two thousand years since the ascension of Jesus and perhaps a literal fulfilment isn’t the correct interpretation in this instance. However a delay in proceedings doesn’t alter the certainty of events of an unconditional covenant. It is true though that Solomon anticipated an earthly kingdom when he built the temple. ’Now therefore, O lord, God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel; yet so that thy children take heed to their way to walk in my law, as thou hast walked before me.’

Another important question is whether there are any conditions or obligations regarding the promises of the Davidic covenant? Scofield contends ‘And this fourfold covenant has but one condition: disobedience in the Davidic family is to visited with chastisement; but not to the abrogation of the covenant.’

Jeremiah also prophesied concerning the Messiah as a descendant and root of David that would restore order and reign on the earth. ‘Behold the days come, saith the Lord that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth.’(Jer. 23:5)

Today, ‘we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, (Heb. 4:14) He is certainly not reigning on earth with a rod of iron and Satan has not been bound and we are not currently enjoying the peace and prosperity of the millennial kingdom!

Dwight Pentecost adds ‘God later entered into an eternal, unconditional covenant with David, establishing the Davidic dynasty as the sole rightful occupant of His earthly throne. Through David a kingdom of peace and righteousness would be established over the covenant people in the land that God had previously promised to them.’(p156)

Amos prophesied of Israel’s fortunes being restored. ‘’In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: (Amos 9:11)” It is not surprising that before His ascension, his disciples asked Him the question ‘Lord wilt though at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ (Acts 1:6) Again, similar to the instance where the Mother of James and John requested seats of honour for her sons Jesus responded. ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the father hath put in his own power.’(Acts 1:8)