The Davidic Covenant-Part 1

By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©2002
Although God did not allow David to build the Temple, he did establish a significant covenant with him. This month Dr. Showers begins an examination of this covenant, found in 2 Samuel 7:8-16.

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The Content Of The Covenant

After David had become firmly established as king over the entire nation of Israel (2 Samuel 7:1), he expressed the desire to build a permanent house of worship for God in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7:2-3). Through Nathan the prophet God revealed that it would be Solomon, David’s son, and not David himself who would build the house of worship (2 Samuel 7:4-7, 12-13). Although God did not allow David to build the Temple, He did estab­lish a significant covenant with him. Because God made this covenant with David, theolo­gians have called it the Davidic Covenant. This covenant has special significance concern­ing the future Kingdom of God foretold in the Bible.

The content of the Davidic Covenant is recorded in 2 Samuel 7:8-16. Although this passage does not call God’s promises to David a covenant, other passages clearly indicate that God was establishing a covenant with His servant (2 Samuel 23:5; 2 Chronicles 7:18; 21:7; Psalm 89:3-4, 28-29 34-37; Jeremiah 33:19-26). For example, in Psalm 89:28-29 God declared concerning David, “My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my cov­enant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.”

In the Davidic Covenant God made promises concerning the nation of Israel (vv. 10-11), Solomon (vv. 12-15), and David (v. 16). The promises of most importance to this study are the ones concerning David. God made three major promises with regard to David.

First, God promised, “thine house… shall be established forever before thee” (v. 16). The term translated house referred to David’s biological line of descent. Thus, God was promising that David’s line of descent would endure forever. In line with this divine pledge, in Psalm 89 God declared, “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David, my servant: Thy seed will I establish forever” (vv. 3-4). Again He said, “His seed shall endure forever” (v. 36). Even when David’s descendant, Jehoram, did evil as the king of Judah, “the LORD would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David” (2 Chronicles 21:7).

The second major promise God made to David was, “thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee” (v. 16). God thereby pledged that David’s kingdom would never pass away permanently, even though it might not function at all times. It is a fact of history that David’s kingdom has not functioned at all times since God made this solemn promise, but this divine pledge was a guarantee that David’s kingdom would always have the potential of being restored to full function.

Because of this guarantee of the Davidic Covenant, Jews who lived centuries after David’s kingdom had ceased to function clung to the hope of that kingdom’s restoration. Thus, when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, throngs of Jews cried out, “Blessed be the kingdom of our father, David, that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mark 11:10), and when Jesus was ready to ascend to heaven after His death, burial, and resurrection, His disciples asked if He would restore the kingdom again at that time (Acts 1:6).

The third Davidic Covenant promise concerning David was, “thy throne shall be estab­lished forever” (v. 16). Other statements concerning David’s throne prompt the conclusion that this is a reference to the ruling authority that David exercised. For example, in 2 Samuel 3:10 Abner threatened “To translate the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba.” In addition, in 1 Kings 1:37 Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, said, “As the LORD hath been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David.”

Thus, God pledged that the ruling authority which David exercised as king would never pass away permanently, even though it might not be exercised at all times. Once again it is a fact of history that David’s ruling authority has not been exercised at all times since God made this solemn promise, but this divine pledge was a guarantee that David’s ruling authority would always have the potential of being restored to full exercise. To express this another way, it was a guarantee that a royal descendant of David would always be avail­able to exercise that authority when circumstances would so permit. This is indicated by God’s statement to Solomon, “I have covenanted with David, thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel” (2 Chronicles 7:18). God also declared that He had sworn to build up David’s throne “to all generations” (Psalm 89:3-4).

Because of this guarantee of the Davidic Covenant, several centuries after David’s ruling authority stopped being exercised in Judah the angel Gabriel could declare concerning David’s descendant, Jesus, “the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever” (Luke 1:32-33). The very fact that Gabriel could make such a promise clearly indicates that, even though David’s ruling authority had been inactive for several centuries, it had not passed away permanently.

It should be noted that God stated no conditions in the content of the Davidic Covenant when He established it with David. This signifies that the Davidic Covenant is unconditional in nature. The fulfillment of its promises depends totally upon the faithfulness of God to His word. Nothing that David or any of his biological descendants would do could ever nullify the Davidic Covenant’s guarantee that a royal descendant of David would always be avail­able to exercise his ruling authority when circumstances would so permit.

For a comparison of Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology obtain the follow­ing book: Renald E. Showers, There Really Is A Difference! (The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Telephone: 800-257-7843. Mailing address: P.O. Box 908, Bellmawr, NJ 08099).

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