Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds the Davidic Covenant and its place in God's plan for humankind.
[Prayer] Again, Father, we give Thee thanks for the privilege for the study of the Scriptures. We ask Thy blessing upon each of us as we seek to think through the things that are set forth in the word of God. Again, Lord, we ask for the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. We pray that Thou will motivate us in our study of the Scriptures. May we leave this auditorium tonight edified through the pondering of the word of God. We give Thee thanks for our Lord Jesus Christ of the seed of David according to the flesh but the Lord God according to the Spirit, the second person of the trinity. We thank Thee for his mediatorial work and the way in which he shall set and rule and reign upon David’s throne. We commit the hour to Thee.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] You’ll notice from the top of the outline that this particular subject, the Davidic covenant, I am dividing into parts. I had hoped to consider it in one night, but after thinking about it and even around noon today still thinking I might be able to do it, it finally dawned on me that there was really just too much to consider in one of our sessions together, and so we’re dividing it up into two sessions. Tonight, we will look at one part of the outline and then we will try to finish it up next week. You’ll notice if you have the outline that’s been handed out that it’s a two-page outline and on the second page there is a sort of a technical section giving the various texts of Acts 15:16. We will probably not quite get to that tonight but you might take this home and take a look at Acts 15:13 through 16 before we study in our next time together.
Tonight we are going to turn to 2 Samuel chapter 7, verse 1 through 17, for our first study together and, I think, that it would be proper for me to read through the account of the Davidic covenant that is given here. Generally speaking, the students of the Davidic covenant feel that this is the fundamental account. We will try to point out that there are three significant accounts of it, but since this is the one that is commonly thought of as the unfolding of the details of the Davidic covenant, we’ll read this for our Scripture reading. Beginning with verse 1 then of chapter 7 of 2 Samuel.
“And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies; that the king said unto Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.’ And Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee.’ And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan saying, ‘Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus saith the Lord, shalt thou build me a house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar? Now, therefore, so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, and as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.’ According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.”
I think I’ll read the next two verses because I do want to refer to verse 19, later on.
“Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?”
Now, you might have wondered about that last statement because it doesn’t seem to fit very well in the context of the Authorized Version of 2 Samuel 7:19, “And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” And the New American Standard Bible has, “And this is the custom,” and in the margin, “or a law of man, O Lord God?” Now, that happens to be a good bit better because the term that is translated in verse 19, “manner” and in the New American Standard Bible “custom” is really the word “torah,” which means law ordinarily. The New International Version makes this a question, “Is this your usual way of dealing with man O Sovereign Lord?” Now, the sentence makes sense so far as a sentence goes but it doesn’t seem to make very good sense as a translation of that sentence of verse 19, chapter 7 of 2 Samuel. And so many of the Bible students have contended that we really should give this a slightly sense and I’m going to give it for you. This is the sense, “And this is the charter for all mankind O Lord God.”
Now, of course, we could translate and this is the law for all mankind but since we are dealing with promises that have been given and David refers to the way in which God has made promises to him, the sense of charter may be an acceptable thing and more than one biblical student has thought that that’s probably true to the context. And the word “this” that refers to what is specifically said in 2 Samuel, chapter 7, as an addition to the promises that had been made up to this point. So we could paraphrase it, “And this new addition to the promised teaching or to the promises is the charter for all mankind O Lord God.
Now, if that is the meaning and we cannot be dogmatic about it what David is saying is simply that we are dealing with the promise and the promises of God and these promises are promises that set out the charter of the Lord God’s dealing with men. Or to be more specific what he is saying is here is an addition to the Abrahamic promise blessing. We, now, have promises made to David and these great promises are the promises according to which God deals with mankind. If that is what is meant here, it makes excellent sense. We only have to say we cannot be absolutely sure.
Now, I know, that’s discouraging for a lot of people to have a Bible teacher noted for dogmatism say here is something that we cannot be sure about but one must occasionally be honest and express just exactly what the text seems to say when you look at it. I’ve looked at this Hebrew text more than once for a long time, and it’s possible that it should be rendered in some of these other ways. But as I’ve thought about it and as I’ve read a number of critical comments concerning the text and some periodical articles devoted entirely to it, I feel that there is some reason for translating this and that is this new addition to the promise teaching is the charter for all mankind O Lord God. And what David is simply saying is here are some more promises that we should add to the Abrahamic promises and acknowledge that this is the way the Lord God is dealing with men.
Now, the Davidic Covenant and a few words by way of introduction. We have been saying that the basic biblical promises are those of the Abrahamic covenant. Now, you might say, “Well the basic biblical promises have to do with the cross of Jesus Christ.” Well, we will try to show that what Christ did on the cross is the outgrowth of the Abrahamic promises and the outgrowth of the Davidic promises as well. So we are contending that the basic broad promise of redemption is the Abrahamic covenantal promises. The story of the Bible, we have said, is the record of the path along which Israel moves toward the fulfillment of these great promises. And, I think, it’s in harmony with this that at the last of the whole of the Bible, that is, in Revelation chapter 22 in verse 16, the Lord Jesus’ connection with the Davidic covenant is again set forth and it’s the next to the last word that Jesus says. He says, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star,” and his final word is, “and surely I come quickly.”
Now, we when we looked at the Abrahamic covenant, which we looked at very briefly because I assumed that you understood a whole lot about that, we’ve talked about it so much in various ways. God promised Abraham a seed. That is, a people who would be related to him. He promised a land to Abraham and to his seed. And then after Genesis 12, a few chapters later on, he said to Abraham that kings would come out of him. So he promised him a royal line. So Abraham then was promised a seed, a land, a royal line. The Bible will unfold, of course, the fact that the ultimate fulfillment of the promise of the seed is in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the seed of Abraham, to whom the promises have been given. And it meets all of the conditions and by meeting all of the conditions make it possible for all whom he represents to enter into the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant.
Now, we made reference also to the Sinaitic covenant or the Mosaic covenant. We didn’t try to spell out the details of the Palestinian covenant, which some think is a separate covenant. It may be simply a repetition of the Mosaic covenant, but we did say with reference to the Mosaic covenant or the Sinaitic covenant that contrary to the Abrahamic covenant, which is an unconditional covenant promise of God — that covenant was conditional. We also tried to make the point that the Mosaic covenant or the Sinaitic covenant is a covenant that regulated Israel’s possession of the Promised Land not their title to the promise land but their possession of the land. In other words, as long as they were as a body obedient to the Mosaic covenant, then they would dwell in the land and they would enjoy the benefits of it, but God said in the Mosaic Law that if they disobeyed him as a nation, they would bring upon themselves disciplinary judgment. And the nation, ultimately, if they persisted in their disobedience, they would be subject to certain cycles of discipline. And the final and most severe of the cycle of discipline was the scattering to the four corners of the earth
Now, as history has unfolded various parts of those cycles of discipline were fulfilled. And, finally, when Israel reflected the Lord Jesus Christ and as Paul says in Romans 11, “was cast away,” they were scattered, ultimately, to the four corners of the earth and today Israel abides under the discipline of the worldwide dispersion. Now, the promises are still theirs but the possession of the land depends upon their obedience to the word of God.
Now, of course, when we say obedience, there is a measure in which God alone can tell us how much obedience. In fact, there was always some disobedience but a national obedience or national disobedience is related, evidently, to the national acceptance of the redemptive promises. And so since Israel today has nationally rejected the redemptive promises, they’ve been scattered to the four corners of the earth. Now, some Israelites have accepted them. As Paul says in Romans 11, there is a remnant according the election of grace. And we don’t have to deal with that we’ve said it a number of times but that is true and that that itself is an indication that God has not forgotten his ancient promises to the nation Israel.
Now, in this study we’re going to look at the second stage in the unfolding of the promises, the unconditional promises and so we’re looking at the Davidic covenant. It’s an extremely important covenant and it’s the foundation of the belief that there shall be an earthly kingdom of God. Now, in order to do this I’m going to do what we did last week as I remember. We’re going to read a good bit of the Scriptures. I will make a comment or two here and there and we’ll try to follow the outline that we have before us, but I want to do a good bit of reading. And I will also ask you if you’re interested in studying in more detail that you take the outline and you look up some of the passages that we do not time to read because, I think, you will be amazed how much in the Bible relates to the Davidic covenant, to its unfolding, and to its ultimate fulfillment.
The Abrahamic covenant is the root from which the other covenants grow and we’ve said that the Palestinian covenant centers attention upon the land because it had to with the conditions under which they enjoyed the promise and possession of the land. The Davidic covenant centers attention upon the kingdom. The New covenant centers attention upon the seed that are redeemed because if you have noticed in the Abrahamic covenant, particularly, there has been no setting forth of the means of redemption. That means of redemption is set out not even in the Davidic covenant but it’s set out in scattered promises through the Old Testament but, specifically, set out in the New covenant, which the Lord Jesus cites as he ratifies that covenant just before his death on the cross. There are three great unfoldings of the Davidic covenant and that ought to tell us immediately that this is a very important covenant.
Now, I’d just like to distinguish them by the use of illustration and we’ve read 2 Samuel, chapter 7. I’d like to think of this as a flood light on the teaching concerning the Davidic covenant because it not only sets forth the specifics of the seed that is to come, That is to rule upon David’s throne, but it also deals with disobedience. As you noticed in 2 Samuel, chapter 7, reference is made to the possibility of disobedience. Verse 14, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him.” So it’s clear from this as well as from the way in which history has unfolded that there were many who at one point in history in themselves held the potential for the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and the Davidic promises because at one particular time in history there has always been an heir to the Davidic throne.
Now, if an individual was disobedient according to this text he lost privilege to sit upon that throne as the eternal everlasting Davidic king; that, of course, is the history of all of the legal heirs down through the centuries until the Lord Jesus Christ came and sat and was the Davidic king called, of course, often in the New Testament son of David because he was the legal heir to the throne and in the divine intention, of course, the one to inherit the promises. But he is the only one of the Davidic kings who was sinless and fulfilled all of the conditions that are set forth in the Davidic covenant
Now, in this floodlight we have in a sense then a view of the whole seed from David on down Solomon on down to the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of these were relatively faithful but no one fully faithful. The Lord Jesus finally came as the only faithful son of David.
Now, in the promises you’ll notice that the same general things are stated that were found in the Abrahamic covenant. For example, David is promised a seed. In verse 12, we read, “I will set up thy seed after thee.” In verse 16, the term “house” is used, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.” So he’s promised a seed and then he is promised a throne.
Now, he is promised a permanent throne through Solomon. Solomon was not promised a perpetual seed but an enduring throne and kingdom. That’s a rather interesting thing that Solomon was not promised a perpetual seed, but he was promised an enduring throne and kingdom. That’s just an illustration of the infinite accuracy of the word of God. Israel had nine dynasties. Judah had one. Christ was the son of David via Nathan, but he received the throne from Joseph who was a descendant of David through Solomon who had the right to the throne. Thus, the throne not the seed came through Solomon. All of this, of course, is ultimately or related to the way to the requirement that the Lord Jesus ultimately be born of a virgin because later on, I’ll make reference to it in a moment, but later on it’s stated in the word of God that anyone who is born of Solomon’s line from a particular point on would come under the curse and could not sit upon the throne. So the Lord Jesus inherits the right to the throne from Solomon, but then he inherits his Davidic relationship to David through Nathan and through Mary. So through Mary he has his natural Davidic nature but through Joseph title to the throne, but he cannot be the seed of Joseph naturally because if he were he would come under the curse of Jeremiah chapter 22 in verse 30, where it is stated there and I may as well read the text right now since we’re talking about it.
It says this, “Thus saith the Lord, write ye this man.” This is of Jechoniah or Conaih as he is sometimes called in the Old Testament. “Thus saith the Lord, write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.” So because of the disobedience of Jechoniah everybody a natural descendant of Coniah or Jechoniah was prevented from sitting on the throne of David, but the legal right to the throne comes from Jechoniah. So it’s obvious that if our Lord is to possess the legal right he must be from Jechoniah but in order to escape the curse he must not be from Jechnoiah in any kind of natural sense. So he receives his nature as son of David through Mary and Nathan and his right to the throne through Solomon. So the word of God is infinitely accurate in the way in which the truth is set forth.
Now, in addition to the fact of a seed and a throne, a specific kingdom is referred to in verse 12, “I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.” Again in verse 16, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”
Now, this implies not only a reign but a realm also a kingdom to simply that he would just rule but he would have a realm over which he ruled. A great deal of discussion has raged over a meaning of the term “kingdom” and debates have taken place over whether the term kingdom in the Old Testament and in the New Testament refers primarily to a reign or to a realm. In other words, to the act of ruling or to the sphere in which the ruling takes place.
Now, it’s not necessary to go into this. It’s an interesting scholarly question to try to settle the question, but almost all who have studied it have come to the conclusion that both of these aspects are there. Men may differ over the emphasis of the word of God, but when we talk about kingdom, we are talking about a reigning and we’re talking about a realm. This kingdom then is not only a reign it’s a realm and it’s a worldwide realm. The principle of discipline is, in effect, with members of the line from Solomon on, but in verse 14 and verse 15, don’t forget this, “If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” In other words, disobedience does not cancel the promises of God.
Now, that tells us right at the beginning that this is an unconditional covenant that God made with David and with his seed. Discipline because of disobedience, yes. But ultimate fulfillment it must be ultimately fulfilled God’s truth and faithfulness to it is at stake.
Now, in 1 Chronicles chapter 17, verse 11 through verse 14, we have another account of this and I’m not going to read this passage just for the sake of time. To use our illustration, if in 2 Samuel chapter 7, we have a floodlight that looks over the whole of the giving of the promise and the fulfilling of it down through the centuries here we have what might be called a spotlight because no mention is made of disobedience in the unfolding of the Davidic covenant in 1 Chronicles chapter 17. So I like to think that this is a prophecy that centers upon the one who fulfills it, the Lord Jesus Christ. The prophecy in 2 Samuel chapter 7, could be called a typical prophecy, but this one which focuses upon the Messiah himself is a predictive prophecy concerned essentially with him. So the spotlight in 1 Chronicles 17, is placed on the Lord Jesus Christ, ultimately, the son of David who inherits the kingdom. The various generations of disobedience are passed over there and, attention is directed to the important thing that is the fulfillment.
There is one other account of it that is most interesting and, unfortunately, for Bible teachers it’s found in a lengthy passage but I’m not going to read it all. I had encouraged you to read it. It’s one of the great Psalms of the Old Testament. It’s Psalm 89.
Now, to use our figure of the lights again. If we have the floodlight and the spotlight and the others in this one, we have a searchlight because in this unfolding of the Davidic covenant, as you might expect because it’s a hymnic unfolding, it’s a Psalm. The great principles found in the giving of the covenant are set out here. This is both a confirmation and an exposition of the Davidic covenant in lyrical form. Just think of the occasion of it Rehoboam had apostatized and had been captured. Naturally, those who were in the southern kingdom might have wondered about the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. If Rehoboam has been captured, and if Rehoboam has become apostate, then what about the validity of the covenantal promises?
So Ethan, by the way Ethan’s name means perpetuity or strength, that very fact suggests that what we have here is something that is designed to encourage the people. There are two words that one finds over and over in Psalm 89. If you were to read through it you could pick them out if you, that is, if you thought about it as you read through it. But if you were thinking about how the Cowboys were in nineteen eighty-six as you read through it then you might miss this. But seven times we have the word checed, which in Hebrew means loving kindness. In fact, it’s a word associated with the covenant often and then the other words is the word amanah. Now, that comes from the Hebrew word aman, which means to believe. It is a term that means faithful or faithfulness in the case of amanah the noun. It too occurs seven times. Verses 1, 2, 14, 24, 28, 33, 49 we have checed. No need to put it down you can find it as you read through it and then amanah verses 1, 2, 5, 8, 24, 33, 49. Let’s just read two verses in the beginning and you will see how they relate to what he’s going to say. “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” So mercies, faithfulness, loving kindness, faithfulness. “For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.”
Now, the heart of the psalm is found in three sections. Let me just single it out because it would take us about five or ten minutes to read through this psalm. So just hit on a couple of the points. The person chosen is referred to in verses 19 through 23. Here we read.
“Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.”
So the Lord responds to the psalmist and he speaks of the typical king Now, the promises are set out in verse 24 through 29. Notice the familiar terms,
“But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.” This is a universal kingdom. “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. 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.”
So you can see we have here again a seed, a throne and a kingdom: a seed in verse 29, a throne in verse 29, and a kingdom in verse 25. And when we talk about the permanence of this covenant, listen to verses 30 through 37.
“If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven.”
Now, you can see that the same things that characterize 2 Samuel 7, here are the contingency of disobedience but the certainty of fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Now, verse 37, unfortunately, is rendered very poorly in the Authorized Version and, I hope, I didn’t bother to look this up in the New American Standard Bible but in verse 37, we read, “It shall be established for ever as the moon,” and then in the Hebrew text we have the expression, eduth shachaq emuwn, selah.
Now, that expression means, “and the witness in the sky is faithful.” Isn’t that striking, “and the witness in the sky is faithful.” That’s a reference, of course, to the Lord God and how he is faithful to his word. The witness in the sky is faithful. I consider that one of the great affirmations of the fact that God is going to fulfill the Davidic covenant.
Now, then let’s, for a few moments, think about a few theological observations. Some of these have already been made reference to and, first of all, its relation to the Abrahamic covenant. We’ve said that the Davidic covenant is an expansion of the Abrahamic covenant; a more specific unfolding of certain parts of it. That’s what you might expect because in the beginning it’s natural that you begin with the broadest unfolding of truth and then fill in details as time goes on. What God did then is not a new promise but an expansion of an ancient one. When one sees the comparison, when one looks at and compares the text that becomes clear. For example, in 2 Samuel chapter 7, a reference is made to David’s name, whereas, we know that’s one of the great promises that he gave to Abraham. That he would make his name great. We have reference to the land and Israel’s planting in the land in 2 Samuel chapter 7 in verse 10, and that’s precisely what God said to Abraham in Genesis 15 in verse 18. We have reference to the seed in both of these. That is, that there is to be a group of people who are descendents in some ways.
Later on Scripture will unfold that it’s not simply a natural descendency alone but spiritual also but the seed in chapter 7 in verse 12 of 2 Samuel and many places in Genesis, particularly, in the seventeenth chapter and finally the reference is made to the people of God in Genesis in 2 Samuel chapter 7, verse 23 and 24 and then in Genesis chapter 17, verses 7 and 8, and also in Genesis 28:21. These things are confirmed to Isaac and to Jacob. Notice also in verse 19 of 2 Samuel chapter 7, the name of God, “And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God.” The use of the divine Adonai Yahweh that’s the name that Abraham used when God spoke to Abraham about the promise of the seed in Genesis chapter 15. It’s almost as if the author of 2 Samuel wants to be sure or the Lord who is ultimately referred to wants David to make the connection with promises that had already been given. So the blessing of Abraham is continued in this blessing of David. “With thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever,” we read in 2 Samuel 7, verse 29 as the chapter concludes
Now, we’ve referred to verse 19, in that remarkable statement in which we read, “And this,” that is this new addition to the promise doctrine is the charter for all mankind, “O Lord God.” That seems to say that all of the blessing that God brings to men is ultimately related to the Abrahamic promises and the Davidic expansion of them.
I don’t know whether I mentioned this Sunday or not, but I was reading a book. In fact, I was reading a review of a book and it’s a book about Israel and it’s a book in which there is a discussion from both Christians and non Christians over the relation of Jews and Christians to one another and to the word of God. And one of the men who has written this particular book in a commentary that he has written, he has made the statement that if you’re going to receive any blessing from God you’ve got to get it through Abraham. That’s a very interesting comment because many people, particularly, if they’re a Gentiles they don’t like to be told that. If you’re going to get any blessing from God whatsoever, you’ve got to get it through Abraham, but really that’s what the Bible says. If you’re going to get any blessing from God you’ve got to get it through Abraham. The reason’s plain because Christ is the seed of Abraham, and he is the one in whom the promises find their fulfillment and so if you do get any blessing from God, you’ve got to get it from Abraham.
Now, I say we don’t like that, at least some of us. I rejoice in it but I imagine the first time I ever heard it I puzzled over it at least. But, at any rate, if we’re going to get any blessing at all, we’ve got to get it from Abraham and David. So there is a relationship between the people of God that is most intimate because it, ultimately, is sharing in Christ.
Now, we’ve talked about the unconditionality of the promises. You can see as you read these promises that what we have here is a blank check of unlimited validity. The use of the term forever suggests also unconditionality. The conditions that are set out are conditions with reference to certain individuals but in the promises there is the assurance that the Davidic promises are going to be fulfilled. If one should say what about the breaking of it, I repeat, the breaking of it has to do with individual and personal invalidation of the covenantal benefits, but it cannot affect God’s oath. In the same contexts with the warnings, he affirms the fidelity and perpetuity of the covenant.
Now, one final observation and this is just an observation, which I have listed here as capital C under roman II regarding authorial understanding. The question often rises among Bible students, particularly, in Bible colleges, Bible schools, theological seminaries, or religion departments in universities, how much did the people of the Old Testament understand concerning the promises that they were given. How much did David, for example, understand of the promises of God? It’s remarkable that people can get into disagreements over something like this that sometimes divide men from one another. Some like to say that the people of the Old Testament could not have had any other than simply a broad understanding of the promises from the Old Testament because the details that are set out in the New Testament are not set out in the Old Testament. And arguing from silence if they are not written in the Old Testament then we assume they didn’t know them. Well, others arguing, how is it possible for a person to really come into the experience of salvation and understand the grace of God who didn’t understand a whole lot about the redeemer to come? Well, it is true the Bible does not give us as much information about this as we would like. There are some indications in the New Testament that some of the men in the Old Testament, at least, understood a great deal about the things that were happening in their experience and about the promises that were given to them.
My own personal feeling, and I won’t divide over with anyone over this point, is that we shouldn’t ask the question what did people in general understand because my experience with people even in a church like Believers Chapel where we have the relatively pure word proclaimed, there is a lot of difference of Christian maturity among us, isn’t there? And there is a lot of difference between our understanding of the word of God. Some of us have listened for a long time and have been very responsive and have a high understanding of many things in the Bible. Some have been here for a long time and haven’t paid too much attention to what was said and their understanding is not very high. Yes, that’s true. That’s confession. And then there are some who’ve been here just a short while and as you might expect their level of understanding of the word of God is not extremely high. On the other hand, there are some that have been here a short time that remarkably are responsible to the word of God, and they have advanced by leaps and bounds. So I tend to think from my own experience with people, and this is not only at Believers Chapel but in theological seminary as well, and I’ve been in a number of theological seminaries, that what really is the truth is that there are a number of different levels of spiritual understanding. I think, for example, that David probably understood a great deal more than the average person in Israel in his day.
Now, we read in the New Testament that Peter when he was preaching on the day of Pentecost said, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore, being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Messiah to sit on his throne.” Well, now, David there is said by Peter to have understood that God was going to cause the Messiah to come from his body. But when the apostles were with the Lord Jesus Christ, Luke says when he was talking to them about how he was going to suffer and be crucified and be buried and rise again the third day, Luke says the apostles understood none of these things.
Now, that is an amazing statement. So there are different levels of understanding. Now, my own personal feeling is that David had a remarkable understanding. I think, that David understood a great deal about these promises that were given to him, but like so many of us who teach the word of God, he had the experience that all teachers have, he explained the promises that had been given to him and some probably understood them but others didn’t. Listen to what David said in his last words in 2 Samuel chapter 23.
“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, ‘And the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel said, ‘The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, ‘the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.’”
Now, notice this statement.
“Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.”
So David understood as he was dying that he was the recipient of the promises that his family was the recipient of the promises and he recognized that those promises had not yet been fulfilled at the present time. He makes it not to grow. He saw that he stood in the line but that the fulfillment was not for David to experience.
Now, let’s in our remaining few moments, let’s just look and read a few passages from the Old Testament. This is roman III in the outline the Davidic covenant in prophecy. We’ll just see how these prophecies and promises that were given to David begin to become a very important part of the word of God as the divine revelation continues to grow and as the history of salvation proceeds down through the centuries. Isaiah chapter 9, verse 6 and verse 7, here is the great prophecy, we know it as one we look at occasionally around Christmastime. And here Isaiah writes.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder (because he is going to have a kingdom): and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
And so we have the assurance of the fact that David’s seed is going to come. He’s going to sit on the throne. He’s going to be the mighty God the everlasting Father the Prince of Peace there shall be no end upon his government upon the throne of David and, further, it is sure to come because the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it.
Now, turn over just a few pages to Isaiah chapter 11. Read verse 1 through verse 10. Further details now in this great section of the prophecy of Isaiah, which has been called the Book of Emmanuel.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse (David’s father), and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”
No wonder he’s called the Prince of Peace in chapter 9.
“And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”
And may I read the eleventh verse also; for this verse states that the recovery of the people and their entrance into this kingdom is related to a second deliverance for the people of God.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
Now, notice that’s the second time. This is the same kind of recovery as the first time. That’s why he calls it the second time, but this one will be from the four corners of the earth and as a result of that these great prophecies shall be fulfilled.
Now, one final text, one that’s not often, in fact, at first I had another passage here, but since we don’t read Haggai often I thought it might be well to look at this little more obscure passage as our final one. Haggia chapter 2, verse 20 through 24.
“And again the word of the Lord came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, ‘Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah.’”
Now, he’s, of course, of the Davidic line.
“Saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.”
So again reference to the Davidic promises and of their fulfillment and a reference to Zerubbabel as the typical son of David in the day of Haggai. ]
Well, our time is up. We’ll have to stop.
Let’s close with a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for these magnificent promises of the word of God. [End of tape]