The Davidic Covenant

The Hebrew Prophet Nathan had just advised King David (2 Samuel 7:3) that God would be with him concerning his desire to build a house (temple) for the Holy Ark. But later that night, the Lord corrected the prophet, telling him to revise his words to the king.

Yet as the Lord had Nathan tell David it would not be him, but his son (Solomon) who would build the temple, He also announced an astounding expansion of the king’s legacy. It was a role that had eternal significance, greatly surpassing the construction of the Holy Temple.

In 2 Samuel 7:16, God promised King David, “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” This is the key Scripture establishing the Davidic Covenant.

We know God esteemed David, despite his overt sin and human frailty, as quoted in Acts 13:22 (based on 1 Samuel 13:14), “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart.” But this covenant exceeded the personality and character of the man - it was really about God’s relationship with Israel.
In fact, David realized that, even as he prayed immediately following the prophet’s pronouncement. In 2 Samuel 7:26, David humbly proclaimed, “So let Your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel.’ And let the house of Your servant David be established before You.”

Unlike the Mosaic Covenant which was dependant on the obedience and activity of the children of Israel, God’s covenant with David was unconditional. Basically, He said this is what I’m going to do, so be it. While also physical in nature, as in royal lineage, the promise for the throne of David had even greater spiritual implications. We know the lineage was interrupted in ancient days when the Babylonians conquered Israel, deposing King Zedekiah and killing all his sons.

Nevertheless, although it may be hard to intellectually comprehend, the eternal nature of the covenant guarantees the spiritual reality of the throne remains in tact. It’s kind of like a throne in waiting.

The Jewish religion of course recognizes the Davidic Covenant, although for many it is just a concept. Jewish children learn the song, “David Melech Yisrael, chai v’kayam - David, King of Israel, may he live forever.”  

For the more devout, however, there is an expectation that a future Messiah (not Yeshua) will ascend to David’s throne. Indeed, the Hebrew Scriptures contain a number of references to David’s “forever” throne. We believe those same scriptures point to Jesus. Here’s just a few of them.

Typically used to prophesy Yeshua’s birth, Isaiah 9:6 & 7 say, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. . . Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.”

Jeremiah 30:9 ,“But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” Obviously, David was long gone in Jeremiah’s day, so this has to be about someone later. Jeremiah 33:25 & 26,“Thus says the Lord: ‘If My covenant is not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his descendants to be rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 

The New Testament continues the Davidic Covenant references. In Luke 1:32 & 33, when God’s plan for Mary to bear His son is revealed by the angel, he referenced the covenant: “The Lord God will give 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.”

As Jesus made His way into Jerusalem riding on a donkey just before Passover near the end of His ministry, the Jewish crowds identified Him through the covenant. In Matthew 21:9 they cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Even the blind men who were healed by Yeshua believed He was the heir to David’s throne. In several passages in the Gospels, when He drew near to them they cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

There is significant interpretive disagreement about how and when Jesus will/did fulfill the Davidic Covenant. Some believe He has already accomplished the requirements, others postulate that His second coming and thousand year reign will be the ultimate fulfillment, and even others hold out for the timing to be the eternity after the earth is destroyed.

Perhaps the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant helps shed some light. This covenant is also unconditional in that God told Abraham here’s how I’m blessing you and your descendants. In Genesis 12:3, at the end of His promise, the Lord told Abraham (he was actually still Abram at the time), “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

That blessing is Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Son of David who, I believe, sits on King David’s throne in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.