For the past few weeks of this series we’ve been walking through each of the covenants God made with His people in what we call the Old Testament. And today we come to the Covenant with David.
But before we can jump into the story of David and consider the covenant God made with him, we need to go back and pick up the story where we left off last week, when we talked about the covenant with Israel.
And what we saw last week was that God’s covenant with Israel that He made through Moses, with all of its incredible blessings and terrifying curses, didn’t fix the real problem with the world, which is our sinful hearts. Our hearts that want other things instead of God, and want to do our own thing instead of follow God.And so in spite of all of God’s grace and mercy to His people, they continued to break His covenant over and over again, which is why God punished them by making them wander around in the desert for 40 yers.
But when they finally do arrive in the promised land, they have a good season. We read this in the book of Joshua—how Joshua led them to be faithful to the Lord, and under his leadership things were good for a time. And it’s in that season that we see God fulfilling many of His promises to them as they take possession of the land.
And when we turn over to the book of Judges, we read this in chapter 2 verse 7: “And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel.”
But then Joshua and the rest of his generation died. And so we read in verse 10, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth” (Judges 2:10-13)
And having read Deuteronomy 28, and knowing what the covenant curses are, we are not surprised to read what happens next: “So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the Lord was against them for harm, as the Lord had warned, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress” (Judges 2:14-15).
And so begins the book of Judges, which tells us about a long period in Israel’s history where they would turn aside from God, and they would suffer the covenant curses, and then they would repent and turn back to the Lord, and He would forgive and deliver them, like He promised in Deuteronomy chapter 30. And then they would follow Him and receive His covenant blessings for a time, but before long they’d turn aside and the cycle would start again. And it just goes around and around and around.
And as the book of judges wears on, you kind of get sick and tired of this. And you’re hoping there’s going to be a way out. And it’s toward the end of the book that the author begins to suggest a part of the reason why Israel is stuck in these cycles, and begins to point to a possible solution. And it comes in these words: “In those days there was no king is Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 16:6). And this kind of phrase comes up three more times in the book. In fact, it’s how the whole book concludes. The very last verse just says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
And so the book of Judges suggests to us that if there was a king in Israel, then perhaps things would be different. Maybe a king would lead people do follow the Lord instead of just doing whatever was right in their own eyes. Maybe a king is the way off of this merry-go-round.
The Demand for a King
And so with all of that in mind we turn over to the book of 1 Samuel, where the story continues. And as it begins, Israel is being oppressed by a new enemy, the Philistines. And God raises up the prophet Samuel to lead Israel for a time, and under Samuel’s leadership the Philistines are subdued and Israel has peace (1 Samuel 7:13-14).
But Samuel gets old and it becomes clear that he is going to die, and Israel realizes they will need a new leader. And it’s at this point that they decide they don’t want just another humble judge like Samuel. They want to be just like the nations around them. They want a king (1 Sam. 8:19).
Now maybe you’re thinking “Great! That’s just what they need!” But not so fast. Because as you read that chapter it’s very clear that Israel’s reasons for wanting a king were all messed up. They didn’t want a king to help them follow God. They wanted a king instead of God (1 Samuel 8:7-8). Their reasons were totally wrong.
But God is going to use their evil desire for a good purpose. Just like when Joseph’s brothers sold him into Egypt, what they mean for evil, God means for good. And so He says to Samuel in 1 Sam 8:22, “Obey their voice and make them a king.”
So we read in chapter 10 that Samuel anointed Saul to become the first king of Israel. And things go well for a time. But the success and the power seem to get to Saul’s head, like they have for so many people throughout history. And it’s not long until Saul is acting just like the other Israelites, doing whatever he wanted instead of what God wanted.
And so the Lord rejects Saul as king (1 Sam 15:26). And this is so important, because it shows that even though Israel wanted a king for all the wrong reasons, God is going to make sure they get the good king they need instead of the bad king they deserve.
And so He says to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons” (1 Samuel 16:1).
So Samuel goes on a stealth mission to Bethlehem, and there he anoints David, the youngest son of Jesse, as the next king.
And so begins David’s long journey to the throne. Along the way we watch him kill Goliath, fight for two different kings, and rule over a band of outlaws in the wilderness as he ran away from Saul. It would be twenty years from the time he was first anointed by Samuel until he began to rule over all of Israel in Jerusalem.
But it’s in those twenty years that David proved that he was a man after God’s own heart, just like God had said (1 Samuel 13:14). David is the king that Israel needed.
God’s Covenant with David
And so we come to the heart of this morning’s message. Because it’s not long after David begins to reign in Jerusalem that we read, in 2 Samuel chapter 7 verse 1,
“Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ And Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you’” (2 Samuel 7:1–3).
We see David’s heart for God shine through here. He’s bothered by the fact that he’s living in a nice house while the ark of the covenant, where God’s presence was manifested, was still in a tent. And so he wants to build a real temple for the Lord.
And initially Nathan the prophet said, “Go for it.”
But that night, things change. Verse 4: “But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’”
This passage doesn’t explain right away why God doesn’t want David to build Him a house. We do find that out later. But that’s not the real point. The real point is everything God unexpectedly says to David after this point, beginning in verse 8, which we read already this morning.
And it’s in these verses that God makes a series of promises to David which Scripture later refers to as his covenant with David ( 2 Samuel 23:5).
Rest From Your Enemies
So let’s think about these promises that God makes to David in this covenant. The first main promise is that God will use David to give safety and security to Israel. We see that in verse 10 & 11:
“And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies” (2 Samuel 7:10–11).
Now don’t forget that having safety and protection from your enemies was one of the blessings of the covenant God made with Israel. We saw that last week in Deuteronomy 28. And so if we read this passage in the context of this bigger story, we realize that God is going to use David to fulfill His covenant promises to Israel.
David is going to do what the book of Judges prepared us for: he is going to lead Israel to follow the Lord and be faithful to His covenant. And so they will receive the covenant blessings of rest and peace.
Building You a House
The second thing that God promises is that instead David building Him a house, God will build David a house. That’s at the end of verse 11: “Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house” (2 Samuel 7:11).
There’s a play on words going on here, because the word “house” is being used in two different ways. David wanted to build God a physical house. But God promises to build David a different kind of house—a dynasty. Which means a family line of rulers.
So, for example, the royal family in England is called the “House of Windsor.” Same thing with the “House of Saud” in Saudi Arabia. When the king or queen dies, one of their offspring inherits the throne.
And that’s what God means by “house” in verse 11 here. God is going to give David a dynasty, establishing his family line as the perpetual rulers over Israel. But this is not just going to be any ordinary dynasty. God goes on to make promises to David about this dynasty that are nothing short of mind-blowing.
In verse 12, God promises to raise up David’s offspring and establish his kingdom. There’s that word “offspring” again, which has been so important in the storyline of the Bible. Then, in verse 13, God promises that this offspring will build a house for His name. David’s son will build the temple instead of David.
Next, also in verse 13, God promises that He will establish the throne of this son forever. That word “forever” comes up two more times in verse 16. “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).
Just think about this. God is promising to David not just a long dynasty, but an eternal dynasty. David’s kingship is not just a blip on the radar screen of history. David’s dynasty is going to be a permanent fixture in the plans of God for planet earth from that point on. This is massive.
Father and Son
And then, in verse 14-15, God promises that He is going to have a special father-son relationship with David’s offspring. “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” (2 Samuel 7:14–15).
Now this is a really important idea that we need to think about for a few minutes. I suspect that for many of us, when we hear the words or phrase “son of God,” we immediately think of Jesus, who is God’s only begotten son.
But we need to be careful that we don’t jump to that conclusion too soon. We need to ask, “how would the original readers of this passage have understood this truth?” And what we find when we do some research is that this idea of God being a father to the king was not a totally strange idea in David’s moment in history.
It was actually very common idea in the ancient Near East for people to understand the king of a nation as being the son of the god of that nation. They didn’t really think that they were the physical offspring of that god. It just meant that they were like that god in some way and had a special relationship with him or her.
Now related to this is their belief that there were all of these different gods who ruled over different countries and groups of people. Each god had their territory. And so if someone was a son of that particular god, then they had the right to rule over that part of the world as the god’s representative. So in other words, there was a real connection between being a son of a god and being a king over that god’s turf (KtC, 550-551).
And this was a very common idea in the world in David’s day. And it’s against this backdrop that God tells David that he will be a father to his royal offspring.
And David knows that God, Yahweh, is not just the God over the tiny patch of land that Israel lived on. In the Exodus, God had proved that He was the Lord of the entire earth (Exodus 19:5). And so the implication is that if God takes someone to be his son, then that person gets to be king over all of God’s territory, which is the entire world.
And this explains David’s words in verse 19 when he is praying in response to God, and he says, “You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD!” (2 Samuel 7:19). David understands that this father-son relationship between God and his offspring is not just for Israel, but for all of mankind.
And we know we’re on the right track because when we turn over to the Psalms, we see all kinds of statements about the son of David being king of the entire world.
In Psalm 2:8, God speaks to the Davidic king and says, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”
Psalm 72 opens with these words: “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!” (Psalm 72:1). And then it goes on to say, in verses 8-11, “May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust! May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!” (Psalm 72:8–11).
So don’t miss this point: when God says that He will be a father to David’s son, that means that he will be the king over the whole world.
Connecting With the Big Story
Now does any of this sound familiar to you at all? A king who rules over the whole world as God’s representative? Doesn’t that sound like Adam? And doesn’t it remind us of the promises made to Abraham and then to Israel?
And the picture gets even clearer when we remember that David, Israel’s king, was also a prophet (2 Samuel 23:2). And then think about how Psalm 110:4 speaks about David’s son as being a Priest in the Order of Melchizidek.
And so you put those pieces together and you have the idea of prophet, priest and king, ruling over the whole world as God’s representative.
And then we remember this really important word “offspring” that God used with David, and how that connects us up to the offspring He promised to Abraham who would be the one to bless the whole world, and how that is the same person as the offspring God promised would come from Eve and crush the serpent.
And so it sounds like the Son of David that God is promising is the one we’ve been waiting for.
And this gets confirmed for us when we go back to Psalm 72, which I just read from. Because describing the son of David ruling over the whole world, it says this in verse 17: “May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!” (Psalm 72:17).
That is a direct reference to God’s promises to Abraham: “and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18).
And if we put this all together, we see how the whole storyline of the Bible has now converged and come together in this one person. And all of God’s previous covenants—with Adam and Noah and Abraham and Israel—all come to a focal point and narrow down to this one person, this offspring of David, who is also the offspring of Abraham and the offspring of Eve, a king and priest and prophet, who will bring blessing to all nations as he rules the world as God’s representative.
What this means is that the son of David is the main character of the whole story of the Bible. He is the one we’ve been waiting for all along.
Who Is This Son?
So… who is this offspring of David? Well if we are reading the story for the first time, and kept reading through the rest of 2 Samuel and into the book of kings, we’d probably think that all of this was talking about David’s son Solomon. Because God did establish Solomon’s kingdom. Solomon finally expanded the Israelite empire out to the area that God had originally promised to Abraham (1 Kings 4:20-21).
And Solomon did build the temple, in fulfillment of these promises (1 Kings 5:5), and God’s glory fills the temple just like the tabernacle in Moses’ day. And we read about the Queen of Sheba coming to Solomon and his reach expanding further and further and the incredible Eden-like peace and prosperity that Israel enjoyed under his reign.
And if you were reading all of this for the first time, you’d be tempted to think that Solomon is the promised one we’ve been looking for.
But then we’d get the kick in the gut. Because 1 Kings 11 tells us how Solomon turned aside from the Lord and began to worship other gods. And the covenant curses start to come into effect as enemies start rising up against him.
And then we step back and realize that Solomon, even at the peak of his power, was not king of the whole world. And after he died God took away most of the kingdom from his son, and the house of David never recovered again.
So Solomon failed us, just like Adam did, just like Noah did, just like Israel did. He gave us a taste of the kind of king we’re looking for, but nothing more than that. And then his dynasty came to an end. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, and David’s throne sat empty. And the people longed for the promised Son of David to finally come and rule the world like God had promised.
And that’s really where we’re going to pick up next week when we talk about the exile and hear how the prophets spoke about these things during that time.
And so in some ways we end this morning with a big “to be continued.” But in terms of what we can take home this week, without giving away the whole rest of the series, I want us to see ourselves in this story, and realize how much we need a king.
See, so much of the time when we hear the story of David, it’s all about how we can be David. We can kill our giants by God’s help. And some of that may be true.
But it’s more accurate to recognize that our place in the story is just the people of Israel. We need a king. Left to ourselves, we will do whatever seems right in our own eyes, and it won’t be pretty. We need someone to lead us and to help us follow the Lord and to rescue us from enemies that are too big for us.
We need a king. We need the Son of David.
And I don’t want to give away the rest of the series here, but I don’t think it will be too big of a surprise to you when I say that we know who the real son of David is, and it’s Jesus. And He is the king. He is reigning right now, and He will reign one day on this earth from the New Jerusalem, and all of God’s promises are and will be fulfilled in Him.
Now we’re going to come back to this truth on December 16 and go at it in depth, but I want to ask you this morning—have you bowed your knee to the son of David? Is Jesus your king? Are you submitting your whole life to His word, or are you still living by whatever seems right in your own eyes?
We’re going to end by singing “Jesus Shall Reign.” The Son of David will be recognized as king over this whole world just like God promised.
But this is only good news if you’ve bowed your knee to Him and asked Him to forgive your sins and make you His child. And you can do that today if you’ve never done this before.