David’s Covenant

Though the nation of Israel produced many kings, there was never a king quite like David. David was the original renaissance man: master warrior, premier strategist, musical virtuoso, leading administrator, etc. However, it was during one of his most altruistic of moments in devotion unto God that God in return poured out His blessings upon David.

God brought David into a season of Sabbath rest. The book of 2 Samuel tells us, “Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies…” (2 Samuel 7:1 ESV). The Lord had been his strong tower and refuge, as we read throughout the psalms. David knew that this was from the grace of God alone. As was his character, David’s reflexive response to the mercies of God was praise. But this praise was shifting from the realm of verbal acclamation to the work of his hands. David desired to build God a house.

God made this promise to David, “I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.” (2 Samuel 7:9 ESV) It is important for us to note that David was not seeking this out. He was not praising God so that He could get something in return. Worshiping God is a sufficient end in itself, and not a means for selfish gain. God saw David’s heart. God knew Him. God freely chose to bless him in this way.

How did He bless David? God established this perpetual covenant; what is ordinarily called, “The Davidic Covenant”. He promised to make David’s name great. He promised to appoint a place for His people; to plant them forever in security; to give David perpetual rest; to provide a son for David who would take up his father’s throne; to build a house for God; to establish David’s son on the throne forever and that He would be His heavenly father. He also warned of discipline, and the unshakeable promise of God’s steadfast love. Such a dynasty like this would be “established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16)

If we simply look at David’s son Solomon, we will find many of these promises fulfilled, but only in part. How can we say that? Eventually, the kingdom of Israel would be split in two because of Solomon’s sins. The northern kingdom would eventually be consumed by the Assyrians because of sin. The southern kingdom of Judah would also be devoured by the Babylonians, yet mercifully preserved by God primarily to secure the line of David.

Though sin was rampant, the promise of God persisted. Centuries after King David’s death we are told that God was preparing another David. This latter-day David, or eschatological David is promised to be sent from God to redeem Israel and build a new house for God even as the ruins of the first temple laid scattered in the days when this promise was delivered.

Israel may have forgotten God, as we find in the death of the nation, but God had not forgotten His promise. “And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.” (Ezek. 34:23; see also Hosea 3:4 and Amos 9:11)

We see the fruits of this covenant blossom in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why: 1) the very first verse of the New Testament brings together both God’s covenant with Abraham and God’s covenant with David; 2) Matthew’s genealogy traces the line of David to Christ; 3) so many of those in need called to Christ saying, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” (cf. Matt. 9:27; 20:30; 21:15 etc). This title “Son of David” was synonymous with the king of Israel. Even the angels make the implicit explicit when they proclaimed to his mother, Mary, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33 ESV)

Jesus is David’s greater son. His house is greater than Solomon’s because it is eternally established in His glorified body, both in heaven, and on earth. His legacy is everlasting because He has conquered Death. And though he was sinless, He took upon Himself the “rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men” to save us, His people. Revelation teaches us that He bears forever “the key of David,” that He is Himself, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” and most simply he is “the descendant of David”. (Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16)

Scripture couldn’t be any clearer. David wanted to build God a house that inevitably would have been destroyed, but the house God built David lasts into eternity, and if you are a Christian, you are part of that very house. This is the love, mercy, and wisdom of our God. Praise Him, that we have been grafted into such a Temple ourselves in our union with Christ.