God's Covenant With
King David

God’s Promise to King David

God gave this promise to King David, “Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me, your throne shall be established for ever.” (2 Samuel 7:16).

We could very well ask at this point, “Why should God be interested in establishing the throne of David for ever?” The answer becomes clear when we discover that God has determined that just one person should reign for ever. One psalmist wrote, “‘The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: ‘One of your own descendants I will place on your throne.’” (Psalm 132:11).
There is a very clear link between King David and Jesus Christ. Jesus is seen as the fulfilment of God's covenant promise to David that he would put one of his descendants upon the throne. Speaking of David, we read from the book of Acts, “But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.” (Acts 2:30). As we look closely at Scripture, we discover that the life of the descendant (Jesus), is very similar to the life of King David himself. The divine purpose in this is to show for a certainty that Jesus is the fulfilment of the covenant promise to David.

1. King David was born in Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16:18). Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7).
2. David was appointed king by God (1 Sam. 16:1). Jesus; born king, was sent by God the Father (Matt. 2:2, Acts 2:34-36).
3. David was rejected by his own brothers (1 Sam. 16:11). Jesus was rejected by his own people (John 1:11, Isaiah 53:3).
4. David was a shepherd and became king (1 Sam. 16:11). Jesus came as both King and Shepherd (John 10:11).
5. David starts overthrow of enemy by defeating the chief of the enemy forces; Goliath (1 Sam. 17:37, 51). Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry, starts overthrow of the kingdom of darkness by doing spiritual battle with the chief of the enemy forces; Satan (Matthew 4:1).
6. King Saul seeks to kill David (1 Sam. 19:1-2). The Scribes and the Pharisees seek to kill Jesus (John 11:53).
7. David refuses to be made king before God's time. (1 Sam. 24:4-7, 18, 26:8-9). Jesus refuses to reign as king before God's time (John 6:15).
8. David is victorious over all of his enemies (2 Sam. 8:6, 14). Jesus is victorious over all of his enemies, sin, Satan and death (Eph. 1:19-23).
9. David and his army lost their families and possessions to the enemy, but David fought and brought everything back. Nothing was lost (1 Samuel 30: 1-19). Jesus rescues all that the Father gives to him, not one is lost (John 6:37-39).
10. David brought peace and security to physical Israel (2 Sam. 8:6, 14, 1 Chron. 8:6). Jesus bought peace and security to spiritual Israel (Rom. 5:1, Eph. 2:14-15).
11. David is a king with whom God is well pleased (1 Sam. 13:14). Jesus is the king with whom God is well pleased (Matt. 13:17).
12. David gathered the low and despised into his kingdom (1 Sam. 22:1-2). Jesus gathers the low and despised into his kingdom (1 Cor. 1:27-28).
13. David's own son Absalom rebels against David, Absalom flees and is hanged in a tree (2 Sam. 18:9). A familiar friend of Jesus, Judas; betrays Jesus, and later hangs himself (Matt. 26:48-50).
14: When the enemy pursues David, few of his people follow him (2 Sam. 15:14). When Jesus is taken, his friends scatter (Matt. 26:56).
15. David had to bear the cursings of Shimei. He forbids his followers to take revenge (2 Sam. 16:5-10). Jesus forbade his followers to take revenge. (Matt. 26:50-52).
16. David is 30 years old when he became king (2 Sam. 5:4). Jesus began his public ministry at 30 years of age (Luke 2:23).
17. David reigned from Jerusalem over all Israel for 33 years (2 Sam. 5:5). Jesus was king from birth (Matt. 2:2), and lived for 33 years.
18. David overthrew the impostor to his throne and all rebellion (2 Sam. 18:7, 14-15, 20:1-3, 22). Jesus will overthrow the anti-Christ and all who rebel against him (2 Thess. 2:8, Rev. 17:14, 19:11-16).

There are three things which stand out in the life of David in foreshadowing the work of Christ. Those three things being:

  1. The battle he fought with Goliath.
  2. His work as priest and king.
  3. The foundation material he prepared for the temple.

The Battle
David is the conquering king, the saviour king, saving the people from all their enemies. The first battle which David fought was against Goliath, the chief of the enemy forces. Goliath said at that time of the person who was to fight him, “If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” (1 Sam. 17:9).
This is true of the battle between Christ and Satan. Satan in like manner is the chief of the enemy forces. If Christ had lost the battle, God’s people would have become the servants of Satan. Christ in fact won the battle on behalf of all of his people, releasing them from slavery to Satan.
It is interesting to note that Goliath challenged the people of Israel for forty days before the battle took place (1 Sam. 17:16). It was for forty days and nights that Christ fasted before doing spiritual battle with Satan.
After David killed Goliath, “David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem...” (1 Sam. 17:54). We read of Jesus, “Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull.” (John 19:17). According to Hebrew tradition, it was called “the place of the skull” because the skull of Goliath was buried there. It is significant that Jesus finally and completely dealt with Satan on the very same hill.

The Continuing Fight
When David defeated Goliath, the battle against the Philistines was won (1 Sam. 17:9). David won the battle and the men of Israel continued the fight against the defeated enemy (1 Sam. 17:51-52). This is true of Christ, he has won the battle, the Christian continues the fight against a defeated enemy, “... Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).

David As Priest and King
In 2 Samuel chapter twenty-four, we see that King David is commanded by God to take on the role of a priest, in addition to his role as king. A role normally forbidden to all, except the sons of Aaron (Num. 3:10). The kingship was taken from Saul because he took on the role of a priest (1 Sam. 13:8-14). King Uzziah was struck with leprosy for taking upon himself the role (2 Chron. 26:16-21).
David; in his work as priest and king, is pointing to the far greater priest and king; the Lord Jesus Christ. The parallels which we should note between the type, (David) and the antitype, (Jesus) are as follows.

(a) David's role as priest is necessary because of the sin of the people of Israel. “‘Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and count Israel and Judah.’” (2 Samuel 24:1).
It was because of the sin of all mankind that Jesus had to come as priest and king to offer up himself as an atoning sacrifice in order that spiritual Israel, (the invisible Church) might be saved.

(b) David is obedient to the command of God to build an altar and offer sacrifices (24:18-19).
It was in obedience to his heavenly Father that Jesus came into the world to die as the sacrificial lamb for sinners (John 3:16).

(c) Through the sacrifices which David offered as priest and king, the people of Israel are saved. “David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.” (2 Sam. 24:25).
It is through the sacrificial work of Christ as priest and king that sinners are saved from the just judgement of God to come. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:13). See also Heb. 9:11-14.

(d) The foundation for the temple was established through the sacrifices by King David as both priest and king. David was commanded by God to build the altar for the sacrifices at a particular location. “‘On that day Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’” (2 Sam. 24:18). The Temple was later built on that very spot. ‘Gad’ was a prophet.

The Foundation Laid
David gathered the material for the temple, he said, “‘...‘the house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands; I will therefore make preparation for it.’ So David provided materials in great quantity before his death.’” (1 Chronicles 22:5). See also 29:2-3. David provided Solomon with a written plan of the temple, a plan which was inspired by God (1 Chron. 28:19).
Jesus laid down a foundation for the temple of God (the Church) through the shedding of his blood (his life), “Christ Jesus himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole structure, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;” (Eph. 2:20-21). See also 1 Cor. 3:11.

The Descendant of David
God told David that he would put one of his descendants upon the throne, and that he would reign forever. He not only told David of this plan, he told the people of Israel also through the prophets. This information is not given for the benefit of satisfying idle curiosity, it is given to reassure the people that God will one day place a king on the throne over his people who will be in the likeness of King David, i.e. He will never know defeat. In regard to the covenant promise, the psalmist says, “‘You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, I will establish your line for ever and make your throne firm through all generations’” (Psalm 89:3-4).
The promise that there would be only one dynasty in Judah - the line of David - is humanly speaking, all the more remarkable when it is remembered that the northern kingdom had nineteen kings and no less than nine dynasties. The royal line of David was under threat on several occasions. On one occasion, all of the royal seed except Joash were killed (2 Kings 11:22).
The Holy Spirit revealed to the prophet Isaiah the fact that “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse: from his roots a Branch will bear fruit...” (11:1-5). At the time of this prophecy, c.700 B.C., the kingly line of David was very much alive and strong; like a large tree. Isaiah tells of a time when the line of kings will be dead. The picture which is given is not that of a tree with the top lopped off; nor is it of a tree with all of the branches cut off. A more hopeless picture is given; that of a stump.
The last of the kings from the line of David was Zedekiah who finished his reign in 586 B.C. With the coming of the Roman empire to Israel in 63 B.C. it was clear to everyone, that humanly speaking, there was no hope of a king from the line of David arising to bring God’s people peace and security. However; it was precisely at this time that God sent the King of kings into the world, a shoot arising up out of a hopelessly dead stump. Speaking of the glorious reign of this king, the prophet Isaiah said, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders ... Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom...” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

The Covenant Promise Fulfilled
The fulfilment of the covenant promise is found in the person of Jesus Christ. The priest Zechariah speaking of this fulfilment and the saving work which was about to commence said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” (Luke 1:68-69).
The angel in his message to Mary said of Jesus, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32-33).
There are many passages of Scripture which tell us that although Jesus came from heaven, his human ancestry is of the line of David:

Romans 1:3 “regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David.”
The New Testament begins and ends with the declaration that Jesus Christ is the son of David.
Matthew 1:1 “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David...” Revelation 22:16 “...I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Some of the people at the time of Jesus understood that he was the special son of David and called out to him for healing. “A Canaanite woman ... came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!...” (Matt. 15:22). See also Matt. 20:30.
Coming as the special son of David implies kingship. In the crucifixion of Jesus a clear testimony was given to his kingship. “Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (Matt. 27:37). When the people of Jerusalem witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Peter explained that the outpouring was evidence of the resurrection and rule of Jesus Christ. A rule which had been promised to the descendant of King David. “God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.” (Acts 2:30). Peter further explains, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36). See also Acts 13:32-38.

The Greater David
King David was a type of the messiah to come, he foreshadows Jesus Christ so closely that Ezekiel uses the name David when prophesying of Christ coming as the conquering messiah and bringing peace. “My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes ... and David my servant shall be their prince forever.” (Ezekiel 37:25). Naturally, only Jesus can be king of the Jews forever (Matt. 27:37).
This is not the only case in Scripture where one person’s name is used in place of another. For instance, the name ‘Elijah’ is used to foretell the coming of an important person at a future date. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.” (Malachi 4:5). The fulfilment of that prophecy is given to us in Matthew 11:11-15 “...there has risen no-one greater than John the Baptist; ... For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” The meaning of this being that John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah. See also Hosea 3:5.
The prophet Amos also pointed to the greater David. He said, “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be,” (Amos 9:11). This promise of the future restoration of David’s fallen tent is fulfilled with Christ taking up the throne of David and bringing Gentiles as well as Jews into his kingdom. James proved this to be the case by quoting the Amos passage, he says “‘After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’” (Acts 15:16-17).

David's Sin
There are two accounts of the life of David in the Bible. 1 & 2 Samuel and that of 1 Chronicles. It is interesting to note that 1 Chronicles omits any mention of the sins of David - a necessary omission if we are to have a clear picture of David as being a type of the messiah. Jesus came as the messiah and completed his mission without sin.
In 2 Samuel we see that David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered Uriah. This sin occupied a small time in his life, however, it is important that the sin be recorded for it shows that David was a sinner, and a vile sinner at that. If the full weight of the law had been carried out, he would have received the death penalty. So we see David in one account as a saviour of Israel, a type of the messiah; in the other account, we see him at one stage as being typical of the worst of sinners, one who plots, schemes, commits adultery and murder. He is a type of the messiah who comes as both God and man. The important difference is that Jesus himself did not sin. Jesus took the sins of his Church upon himself, and paid the penalty. David repented of his sins. Likewise, Jesus repented. He repented; not for his own sins, but for the sins of his people. He repented through the baptism of repentance at the hands of John the Baptist in order to fulfil all righteousness (Matthew 3:15).

Looking for the King of Kings
Ever since the period of King David, the Jews have longed for another king like David. One who will conquer the enemy and give their land peace, but they look in vain because the king they need has already come. Jesus, by his righteous life and death has conquered man’s worst enemies; bondage to sin, Satan and death. He has also given those who put their trust in him inner peace. The exploits of King David were great, he was a legend in his own time, but even the great King David bows the knee to Jesus and calls him Lord (Acts 2:34-35).

God’s Man for the Battle
King Saul, when faced by the threats of his strong enemy knew that he had to choose the correct man for the battle. His natural instinct told him to choose the most seasoned warrior from amongst his best soldiers. God however, had already chosen a man for the fight. Saul at first despised David, “...you are only a boy...” (1 Sam. 17:33). Saul heard evidence from David that God had been with him in past battles so that he was able to kill both a lion and a bear (1 Sam. 17:34-37). Saul now places his faith in David, saying "... Go, and the Lord be with you.” (v.37).
Saul chose correctly, he chose God's choice for the battle. We too must be careful to choose correctly the man to fight for us. We dare not choose a weak man to release us from the power of sin and the judgment to come. We dare not choose ourselves. There is only one person that we can trust for the battle; that person is God’s choice, Jesus Christ. “...Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed...” (Rev. 5:5).

The True King is Victorious
Absalom tried to take over the kingdom of his father. Many people turned their allegiance to Absalom because he told them what they wanted to hear instead of what they needed to hear. They were also impressed by his fine appearance (2 Sam. 14:25-26, 15:1-6). They quickly forgot that it was King David who had fought so bravely for them in many battles to establish the kingdom which they now enjoyed, so they put their trust in an impostor. The situation is similar today, there are many who prefer to put their trust in a message which flatters them, even when they are in terrible danger. They feel that they are secure, because those who have joined with them are far larger in number than those who have joined with the true king.
In attacking King David, Absalom and his men confidently followed the advice of Hushai who said, “... Let all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba - as numerous as the sand on the seashore - be gathered to you, with you yourself leading them into battle. Then we will attack him wherever he may be found, and we will fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Neither he nor any of his men will be left alive.” (2 Samuel 17:11-12).
Instead of placing their trust in God's anointed, they placed their trust in the one who flattered them, and in a numerically superior force. When the day of battle came, it was David's army which won a convincing victory. “There the army of Israel was defeated by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great - twenty thousand men.” (2 Sam. 18:7). All additional rebellion was also thoroughly put down (2 Sam. 20:1-2, 21-22).
Jesus Christ will also be victorious, all rebellion will be overthrown even when the number of those who rebel is very large (Revelation 17:14). The Bible says of Jesus, “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:16).
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“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse: from his roots a Branch will bear fruit...” (Isaiah 11:1-5).
Jesus is the shoot from the stump of Jesse.
Photo by David Holden, taken in northern New South Wales, Australia.

Copyright © 1985, 2006
David Holden

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