From: Heaven on Earth
The crown passes to David, (1000–962 BC), God’s choice to be ruler over Israel, (1 Samuel 16:12-13), who establishes Jerusalem as his new capital city and moves the ark of the covenant there. Jerusalem becomes the city of God, where God’s presence dwells among his people. Despite moral lapses, David is a model king. He seeks to do God’s will for the nation.
Because of David’s faithfulness, God establishes a covenant with him in which he promises to build a Davidic dynasty through his son Solomon, (2 Samuel 7:8-17). God vows, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever,” (vv.12, 16).
The covenants that God ratifies with Abraham and David are similar in several ways.
- Both are established through night visions.
- Both look into the distant future.
- Both alter the trajectory of history.
- God promises Abraham an everlasting posterity, and he promises David an endless dynasty.
- God promises to raise up kings from Abraham’s descendants, (Genesis 17:6), and they show up in the Davidic line.
- Both are linked by the phrase, “from your body.” That phrase is used in Genesis 15:4 (NKJV) and 2 Samuel 7:12, but nowhere in between.
We might say that rather than being two separate covenants, the covenant established with the patriarchs is renewed and fulfilled in David.
This assurance of God’s everlasting and universal rule through the house of David will later become the basis for the messianic hope. Until that day, God uses his kingly envoys to move redemptive history toward his desired goal. Each king was considered God’s anointed agent, mediating his rule on Earth. David understood this principle:
Why do the nations conspire,
and the people plot in vain?
The kings of the Earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.”
Later in the same passage David describes himself not only as king but also as God’s son:
I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the Earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
As God’s anointed son, the king is God’s authorized representative to rule on God’s behalf. Because of his unique relationship with Yahweh, who is the real power behind his throne, the king’s authority extends over the entire Earth.
In Psalm 45:1, 6-7, the king himself is actually addressed as God. This means he stands in God’s stead as his anointed ambassador.
My heart overflows with a goodly theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe….
Your throne, O God [the king], endures forever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;
you love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.
The word, “God,” is used three times in this passage. Its first use applies to King David. The psalmist calls him God because he rules on Earth for God. The second and third use refers to the eternal God in Heaven, who is the King of the king.
Centuries later, New Testament writers will interpret this psalm and others from a Christological perspective, identifying Jesus as the son of David, (Matthew 1:1), the king of the Jews, (2:2), and the ruler and shepherd of Israel, (2:6). Likewise, the angel Gabriel will tell Mary, “You will name him 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 ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end,” (Luke 1:31-33). Jesus is variously called Messiah [or Christ], the Lord, (Luke 2:110, and the anointed one, (Acts 10:38). In identifying Jesus as God’s final envoy, Hebrews 1:6-8 quotes Psalm 45. There is little debate that the New Testament authors saw Jesus as David’s successor, through whom God establishes his eschatological (end-time) rule over Earth. God’s promises to set up his kingdom over the nations through the seed of Abraham and David will find their fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth.