The Bible Key Lessons

The Promises to David

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 Christ to sit on his throne; (Acts 2:29-30)

The above passage records the words of the apostle Peter speaking to a large assembly of Jews gathered in Jerusalem from all parts of the world as it was known at that time, for the observance of Pentecost. The date was about A.D. 33 - just after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Peter used the opportunity to remind the Jews about a promise made to one of the most popular and well-known kings that had ever existed in their 2000 year history - King David.

This passage of scripture is highly significant. Why? It is a New Testament passage expounding upon an Old Testament occurrence that relates directly to the gospel message about the work and position of Jesus Christ. This reinforces the value of the Old Testament as it relates to our salvation.

Who was King David? To what was Peter referring? Where in the Old Testament did God make a promise to King David about Jesus Christ? What did it mean?

The purpose of this lesson is to provide answers to these questions and show the value of the Old Testament Davidic promises as one more KEY to the true understanding of the Divine plan as revealed in the Gospel message.

WHO WAS KING DAVID AND WHEN DID HE EXIST?

David was a descendant of Abraham. He was born about 600 years after the death of Abraham, and 370 years after the exodus of Israel from Egypt (approximately). He became the second king (succeeding King Saul) to reign over the nation of Israel. David ruled during a very fragile and volatile time in Israel's history, and succeeded in uniting the tribal factions into a relatively cohesive whole as one nation in the land of Palestine. David's was a troubled existence, but through it all he placed implicit reliance on God and was regarded by God as "a man after mine own heart" (Acts 13:22). The Kingdom of Israel, as it existed under King David's monarchy, was the first instance of the Kingdom of God on earth - a shadowy glimpse of the promised but yet future Kingdom of God on earth on a much grander and glorified scale.

THE RECORD OF THE PROMISE TO DAVID

There is only one recorded instance in scripture about God making a promise to King David, and it appears in 2 Samuel 7 as follows -

Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an 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 stablish 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." - 2 Sam 7:5-16

DETAILS AND FEATURES OF THE PROMISE

1) Israel to become a permanent and established nation upon the earth (Verse 10)

"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," - 2 Samuel 7:10

Never in the volatile history of the nation of Israel has this ever been the situation. This is a sign to students of the Bible that this promise is yet future. To confirm this fact, the prophet Ezekiel some 600 years later received similar assurances regarding the nation...

"And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid.

And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more." - Ezekiel 34:28,29

Indeed, this message of the restoration of Israel as an integral part of the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham and to David is a common theme throughout the prophets (see side-bar for examples).

2) Promised seed to be a descendant of David (Verse 12)

"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." - 2 Samuel 7:12

The question that naturally arises from this is, to whom does the term "thy seed" refer?

Was it Solomon, David's son? In many ways, Solomon fulfilled the requirements of the prophecy. He was David's son. He sat upon David's throne. He built a house of worship. Solomon regarded himself as the fulfillment of the promise -

"And the LORD hath performed his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel." - I Kings 8:20

His father David also referred to Solomon on occasion in the context as at least a preliminary fulfillment of the promise; e.g., -

"And also thus said the king (David), Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which hath given one (Solomon) to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it." - I Kings 1:48

It is characteristic for Divine predictions and promises to often have a preliminary fulfillment which acts as a microcosm of the ultimate and final application. To some extent, Solomon could be regarded in this context of a preliminary or incipient fulfillment.

However, there are several characteristics of Solomon and of Solomon's kingdom that do not fit all the parameters of the divine promise in the ultimate and fullest sense of its application.

The Spirit-guided writings of David point forward to a period when the divine promise to him would find its ultimate fulfillment in the rule of one who should rise upon the world like a morning without clouds; and when "all David's salvation and all his desire" would be accomplished in connection with that great event.

"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. 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." - 2 Sam 23:2-5

This predicted state of affairs did not occur in David's lifetime, nor was it expected to occur. The spirit-inspired words leave no doubt that David's house was not at that time in the position guaranteed by the promise: "Although my house BE NOT SO WITH GOD, yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant."

Solomon's reign was doubtless the meridian of Israel's glory; but it was not a morning without cloud - it was not the realization of the covenant.

God presented Solomon with a choice; he was given a wonderful opportunity to be a very powerful preliminary fulfillment of the promised "seed" -

"And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:" - 1 Kings 9:4-7

Solomon, however, did not choose wisely, and the Bible documents the sad consequences of that choice. He started well, gaining a reputation for great wisdom; but the final verdict of scripture is that Solomon sinned and led Israel astray, and ultimately dealt injustice to the nation. David's salvation was not in any sense secured in Solomon's achievements. Contrariwise, his crown was tarnished and his kingdom rent, through the perversion of a son who departed from God, multiplied wives, and turned aside to the worship of heathen gods. His very name was brought into abhorrence with the bulk of the nation, through the oppressions of one who falsified the expectations created by the commencement of his royal career as the wisest of men.

The words of the promise had reference, not to the time of Solomon, but to a time in the dim distance, far beyond the days of Solomon, the form of one whose name should endure for ever; who should descend like the gentle rain upon the new mown grass, diffusing life and fragrance, in whom men should be blest all the world over -

"He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed." - Psalm 72:6-17

The prophet Isaiah also refers to the qualities of the promised seed -

"Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken." - Isaiah 32:1-3

Study carefully the characteristics of the promised seed in the above passages. None of them can be applied to Solomon or any other king that reigned on that throne at that time.

But the most convincing testimony comes from the New Testament, which directly links Jesus Christ to the "seed" promised to King David -

"Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;" - Romans 1:3

"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 Christ to sit on his throne;" - Acts 2:29,30

Note that the last phrase of the above verse is a direct quote from Psalm 132:11 in the Old Testament, thereby emphasizing the linkage and application of the promise to David with the person of Jesus Christ...

"The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne." - Psalm 132:11

Finally, Jesus himself understood that HE was the "seed" who had the "right" to the throne of David...

"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world..." - John 18:36-37

3) Promised seed to build a "house for God's name" (Verse 13)

"He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever." - 2 Samuel 7:13

Again, we do not want to be confused about this. Firstly, we know that David's son Solomon did build a temple of worship. Solomon thought he was the one indicated in the promise to do this work -

"And, behold, I (Solomon) purpose to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an house unto my name." - I Kings 5:5

The question is - was Solomon's temple the "house" God was referring to in this part of the promise, or is it something yet future?

The Bible gives two applications to this term "house" and other related terms such as "temple", "building", etc.

a) A "spiritual" house - referring to the collection of individuals who choose to obey God and glorify His name...

But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." - Hebrews 3:6

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." - Ephesians 2:19-22

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." - 1 Peter 2:5

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. - 2 Corinthians 6:16

In no sense did Solomon build for God a "house" of worshippers to glorify His name. Rather, the Bible record narrates how he deviated from the Divine standard and led people away from God. Again, this feature of the promise - that of building a house of worship for the glorification of God's name - belongs to Jesus Christ.

b) A literal building - having reference to a physical grand structure yet to be erected, similar to nothing this world has ever yet seen...

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. - Isaiah 2:2,3

And he (Jesus) taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. - Mark 11:17

Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. - Zechariah 6:12,13

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. - Zechariah 14:16

The message of scripture is obvious; a literal building is to be established as the center of Divine administration AND worship. This has never been done in the history of this world as we know it. Therefore, it is yet future. Solomon's temple is currently in ruins as is David's throne. As with Abraham, David rests in the grave, awaiting the fulfillment of the promise God made to him.

4) The seed to be David's, but God to be his Father (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:" - 2 Samuel 7:14

There can be no doubt as to the meaning of this part of the promise. At no time was Solomon ever referred to as the son of God. The Bible establishes beyond doubt that this refers to none other than Jesus Christ. While Joseph was the "official" father of record, and the "seed" connection to David was provided through his mother Mary, the REAL father of Jesus was God...

"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." - Isaiah 7:14

"Then the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and 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. Then Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I do not know a man? And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." - Luke 1:30-35 (NKJ)

"And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." - Matt 3:17

"Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." - John 1:49

5) David's seed to remain in God's favour (Verse 15)

"But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee." - 2 Samuel 7:15

"My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him." - Psalm 89:28-33

"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 for ever." - Isaiah 9:7

The covenant made with David expressly guarantees the perpetual continuance of David's throne and kingdom, under that son of his who was to be the firstborn of God. The words of the prophets are unequivocal:

"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD." - Jeremiah 31:27,28

The angel that spoke to Mary confirmed this application of the promise, and indicated that her yet unborn son, Jesus Christ, was to be the specific person indicated in the Old Testament prophecies:

"And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God...And he (Jesus) shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." - Luke 1:30,33

Jesus must return at some future time, and reestablish the kingdom of David, and preside therein for God, as David did. Even Christ's disciples finally understood his mission, after he had been resurrected. Their question was not IF, WHERE, WHAT or WHOM. They knew that. The only question in their minds was WHEN...

"When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? - Acts 1:6

When Jesus Christ returns and reestablishes the throne of David in the earth, it will be secure and unassailable by the greed and corruption and selfishness of human nature, which has been the root cause of the fall of every monarchy and empire documented in history. It is to be righteous in its foundation and righteous in its administration and will not end until its mission is accomplished and is phased into the next order of things -

"Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. -1 Cor 15:24-28

6) All features of the promise are to be accomplished in David's presence ! (Verse 16)

He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. - 2 Samuel 7:13,16

We come now to what may be regarded as the most significant part of the promise. God said that all these features of the promise were to be accomplished in David's presence! We saw in the previous lesson that the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham required the resurrection of Abraham; likewise the fulfillment of the promises to David require the resurrection of David. Therefore, the doctrine of the resurrection is clearly established and taught in the Old Testament! The writers of the New Testament recognized this fact and commented upon it in several passages:

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...David is not ascended into the heavens... - Acts 2:29,34

What applied to Abraham also applies to David and all the faithful...

These all died in faith, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them - Hebrews 11:13

The Bible invites everyone to share in this wonderful Divine plan by allowing its message to transform natural self-centered characters into reflections of the Divine character, and thereby become eligible candidates for resurrection along with all the faithful worthies of old, such as Abraham and David -

"And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" - Hebrews 11:39-12:1 (NAS)


Questions

  1. What is it about the words and meaning of Acts 2:29-30 that makes it a highly significant passage of scripture?
  2. What comment did God make regarding David that tells us much about David's relationship with God?
  3. What passage of scripture contains the full narrative of God's promise to David?
  4. What are the six features of God's promise to David?
  5. What is the theme of the prophets?
  6. How do we know that the seed promised to David was Christ, and not his son Solomon?
  7. What are the 2 applications that the Bible gives to the term "house" as it occurs in 2 Samuel 7:13?
  8. What does the covenant made with David guarantee concerning the existence of Israel as a nation?
  9. What does the promises to David tell us regarding the mission of Christ in the future?
  10. After the resurrection of Christ, what was the only question in the disciples' minds about this mission?
  11. What does the Bible say about the current status of David's existence?
  12. How do the promises to David preach to us about the gospel (good news) of the resurrection?
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