Genesis: The Book of God’s Kingdom – 19 (“David: The Covenant of the Kingdom”)
John Piper said the following about the covenants in the Word of God:
“The reason we study the covenants is because in them we see the Biblical proof that God’s job description does include the responsibility to withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly, and to work for those who wait for Him, and to turn every strep throat and stripped clutch and stinging put-down for our eternal good. That’s what I would offer as the definition of God’s covenants: when God makes a covenant, He reveals His own job description and signs it. In almost every case He comes to the covenant partner, lays His job description out and says, ‘This is how I will work for you with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength IF you will love me as I am, cleave to me, and trust me to keep My Word.”
The fifth and second last covenant was a covenant between God and King David, in which David and his descendants were established as the royal heirs to the throne of the nation of Israel (2 Sam.7:12-13).
This covenantal agreement reached its fulfilment when Jesus, a descendant of the line of David, was born in Bethlehem. The Gospel of Matthew starts off by showing Christ was “the Son of David” (Matt.1:1), and thus He had the right to rule over God’s people. Peter preached that Jesus Christ was a fulfilment of God’s promise to David (Acts 2:19-36).
2. SCRIPTURE READING:
2 Sam.7:1-17 (ESV) ~ “Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ 3 And Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.’ 4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, 5 ‘Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. 7 In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ 17 In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.”
3. THE COVENANT OF THE KINGDOM:
The Davidic Covenant (a.k.a. the Covenant of the Kingdom) refers to God’s promises to David through Nathan the prophet and is found in 2 Sam.7 and later summarized in 1 Chron.17:11-14 and 2 Chron.6:16. This is an unconditional (unilateral) covenant made between God and David through which God promises David and Israel that the Messiah (Jesus Christ) would come from the lineage of David and the tribe of Judah and would establish a Kingdom that would endure forever. The Davidic Covenant is unconditional because God does not place any conditions of obedience upon its fulfilment (unilateral). The surety of the promises made, rests solely on God’s faithfulness and does not depend on David or Israel’s obedience.
The Davidic Covenant centres on several key promises that are made to David. 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 Sam.7:10 ~ “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.” God then promises that David’s son will succeed him as king of Israel and that this son (Solomon) would build the temple.
But then the promise continues and expands ~ “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (vs.13), and ~ “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (vs.16). What began as a promise that David’s son Solomon would be blessed and build the temple turns into something different – the promise of an everlasting kingdom. Another Son of David would rule forever and build a lasting House. This is a reference to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, called the Son of David in Matt.21:9.
The promise that David’s “house,” “kingdom,” and “throne” will be established forever is significant because it shows that the Messiah will come from the lineage of David and that He will establish a kingdom from which He will reign. The covenant is summarized by the words “house,” promising a dynasty in the lineage of David; “kingdom,” referring to a people who are governed by a king; “throne,” emphasizing the authority of the king’s rule; and “forever,” emphasizing the eternal and unconditional nature of this promise to David and Israel.
In the Davidic Covenant, God’s purposes to redeem a people to Himself reach their climactic stage of realisation so far as the Old Testament is concerned. Under David the kingdom arrives. God formally establishes the manner by which He shall rule among His people.
Prior to this point, God certainly had manifested Himself as the Lord of the covenant. But now God openly situates His throne in a single locality. Rather than ruling from a mobile sanctuary (the Tabernacle), God now reigns from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. In a certain sense, we can say that under David, the kingdom has come. Not only has the kingdom come. The king has come. The ark is brought triumphantly to Jerusalem. God Himself associates His kingship with the throne of David. Rejecting the tribe of Ephraim, God delights in designating the tribe of Judah and the house of David as His chosen instrument for sovereignty (Ps.78:60-72).
Historical Preceding’s: In our Scripture reading (2 Sam.7) we see the formal establishment of the Davidic Covenant. God had anointed David as king over all Israel, but the formal inauguration of the Covenant of the Kingdom had to await certain other developments – certain events had to take place before the formal establishment or inauguration of the Davidic Covenant could take place:
o The Centre of the Throne: First, David had to take Jerusalem from the Jebusites and establish the permanent centre of his throne (2 Sam.5). He had ruled for over seven years from Hebron in the centre of the territory belonging to David’s tribe (Judah), but now he moves to capture Jerusalem which was more in the middle of the whole of the nation.
o The Throne of God: Secondly, David had to bring the Ark of God to Jerusalem (2 Sam.6). In so doing, he publicly displayed his desire to see his own rule in Israel related to the throne of God. This was the first reflection of a theocracy (Afrikaans: “teokrasie – heerskappy in die naam van God Drie-Enig”).
o Rest from the Enemy: Thirdly, God gave David rest from all his enemies (2 Sam.7:1). In other words, He secured the throne in Israel to a degree that never had been experienced previously.
Essence of the Covenant: Now that the context for the covenant was secured, we must look at the essence of the covenant (Afrikaans: “die wese of aard”).
o The Immanuel Principle: We read in vs.6 of 2 Sam.7 ~ “I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.” From the beginning of Israel’s existence, God was in the midst of the nation – He travelled with them through the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt ~ “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people” (Ex.13:21-22). God’s glory housed itself in a tent, even as Israel lived in tents. We read in 1 Chron.17:5-6 ~ “For I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up Israel to this day, but I have gone from tent to tent and from dwelling to dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’” God indeed identified Himself with His children – as is the case today.
Even in the case of David himself, this essence of the covenant was present ~ “And Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you” (2 Sam.7:3).
We therefore see, that at the heart of the Covenant of the Kingdom, is the “Immanuel principle” ~ “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (Matt.1:23). God is with His people!
o God’s Kingdom/David’s Kingdom: It is clear from our passage for today, that David shall not build God’s “house” first, but God shall build David’s “house” – He shall establish David’s dynasty, and then David will establish God’s permanent dwelling place (vs.13). David’s rule will therefore be bound to God’s rule and “vice versa.” God shall maintain His permanent dwelling-place as king in Israel through the kingship of the Davidic line.
o God’s Son/David’s Son: We also see a close connection between David’s son and God’s Son. David and his seed are being established in their regal capacity (Afrikaans: “koninklike hoedangheid”) by this covenant. God affirms that the descendants of David shall sit in Israel’s throne forever. At the same time, the Davidic king of Israel shall maintain a special relationship to God. God shall be his Father, and he shall be God’s son (2 Sam.7:14). The consummation of this “son of David” and “son of God” relationship will find its eventual consummation in the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ – as Son of David, Jesus is also Son of God (Rom.1:3-4). We find a complete summary of the fulfilment of this covenant in the book of Kings.
Then, ultimately, we see the promises to David, fulfilled in Luke 1:31-33 when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said ~ “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 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.” Therefore, beyond any shadow of a doubt the Bible teaches that the promise to David that his descendent would rule forever is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. As the Son of David and the Lord of David, Jesus now reigns as King in heaven over the true house of Israel.
4. RELEVANCE FOR US:
The question that we must raise is: What does this Covenant of the Kingdom have to do with us Gentiles? Isn’t the covenant with David only relevant for the nation of Israel? Isn’t the fulfilment of that promise simply Christ’s millennial reign over the redeemed nation of Israel? The answer of the Old- and the New Testament is a resounding NO!
The reign of Jesus as Davidic King has a direct relevance for us Gentiles today. We see this in Acts 15:14-18 where Peter testified before the Jerusalem Council about how the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit just as the Jewish believers and Paul and Barnabas told the meeting of their success amongst the Gentiles and finally Simeon (Peter) quoted the prophecy in Amos 9:11-12 ~ “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this.” After this, the Jerusalem Council declared that the Covenant with David has indeed relevance for the Gentiles – for us and therefore, the Gospel is for both Jew and Gentile – for me and you ~ “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” (Is.55:1-3).
In Rev.22:16-17 the Lord Jesus Himself says ~ “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”
5. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION:
The Mosaic Covenant is obligatory, bilateral, and conditional. The Davidic Covenant is promissory, unilateral, and ultimately unconditional. The Mosaic Covenant is like a treaty (Afrikaans: “’n verdrag of ooreenkoms”) while the Davidic Covenant is comparable to a grant (Afrikaans: “’n ooreenoms om te gee”). Under the Mosaic Covenant, the failure by the Israelites to live in conformity to the covenant stipulations could result in a covenant curse and the loss of covenant favour, including tenure (Afrikaans: “opheffing van verblyfreg”) in the land of promise. However, according to the Davidic Covenant, the treacherous conduct (Afrikaans: “ontroue optrede”) of any one or series of Davidic rulers does not hazard the ultimate realisation of its provisions.
The provisions of the Davidic Covenant represent part of the plan God has for His creation. As God set forth the various Biblical covenants, each one represented a step forward in the revelation of God’s intentions for the world. Rather than operating in distinct orbits or realms, each covenant builds on the preceding covenant or covenants. Each covenant introduces new elements to God’s revelation of His plan and those elements become part of the multi-faceted tapestry of Biblical covenants.
As part of God’s revelation of His plan for His chosen people, the Davidic Covenant has both immediate and far-reaching implications. In addition to establishing David’s dynasty, this covenant looks forward to a descendant of David who would bring peace and justice to God’s people through His reign. The conditions that accompany this covenant only determine who will function in this capacity, not whether or not a Davidite will rule in this way.
With this Covenant of the Kingdom or the Davidic Covenant, the stage is set for the final Covenant – Christ and the Covenant of Consummation.