. The Real Christ...
David, like Abraham and many other recipients of God’s promises, did not have an easy life. He grew up as the youngest son in a large family which, in the Israel of 1000 B.C., meant looking after the sheep and running errands for his older brothers (1 Sam. 15-17). During this time he learnt a level of faith in God which few men have since approached.
The day came when Israel were faced with the ultimate challenge from their aggressive neighbours, the Philistines; they were challenged to let one of their men fight the giant Goliath, the Philistine champion, on the understanding that whoever won that fight would rule over the losers. With God’s help David defeated Goliath by using a sling, which earned him even greater popularity than their king (Saul). “Jealousy is cruel as the grave” (Song 8:6), words which were proved true by Saul’s persecution of David chasing him around the wilderness of southern Israel.
Eventually David became king, and to show his appreciation of God’s love toward him during the wilderness of his life, he decided to build God a temple. The reply from God was that David’s son, Solomon, would build the temple and that God wanted to build David a house (2 Sam. 7:4-13). Then followed a detailed promise which repeats much of what was told Abraham, and which also filled in some other details.
“And when your days are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your descendant after you, which shall proceed out of your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever. 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 you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you: your throne shall be established forever” (v.12-16).
From our previous studies we would expect the “descendant” to be Jesus. His description as the Son of God (2 Sam. 7:14) confirms this, as do many other references in other parts of the Bible.
- “I am the...offspring of David”, Jesus said (Rev. 22:16).
- “(Jesus), made of the family [AV “seed”] of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3).
- “Of this man’s descendants (David’s) has God, according to His promise, raised unto Israel a saviour, Jesus” (Acts 13:23).
- The angel told the virgin Mary concerning her son, Jesus: “The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father (ancestor) David...and of his Kingdom there shall be no end” (Lk. 1:32,33). This is applying the promise of David’s descendant, in 2 Sam. 7:13, to Jesus.
With the descendant firmly identified as Jesus, a number of details now become significant.
1. The descendant
“Your descendant...which shall proceed out of your body...I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” “...of the fruit of your body will I set upon your throne” (2 Sam. 7:12,14; Ps. 132:10,11). Jesus, the descendant, was to be a literal, bodily descendant of David, and yet have God as his Father. This could only be achieved by the virgin birth as described in the New Testament; Jesus’ mother was Mary, a descendant of David (Lk. 1:32), but he had no human father. God acted miraculously upon Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit in order to make her conceive Jesus, and so the Angel commented: “Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35). The “virgin birth” was the only way in which this promise to David could be properly fulfilled.
2. The house
“He shall build an house for my name” (2 Sam. 7:13) shows that Jesus will build a temple for God. God’s “house” is where He is willing to live, and Is. 66:1,2 tells us that He will come to live in the hearts of men who are humble to His word. Jesus is therefore building a spiritual temple for God to dwell in, made up of the true believers. Descriptions of Jesus as the foundation stone of God’s temple (1 Pet. 2:4-8) and of Christians as the temple stones (1 Pet. 2:5) now slot into place.
3. The throne
“I will stablish the throne of his (Christ’s) kingdom for ever... your (David’s) house and your kingdom... your throne shall be established for ever” (2 Sam. 7:13,16 cf. Is. 9:6,7). Christ’s kingdom will therefore be based on David’s kingdom of Israel; this means that the coming kingdom of God will be a re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel - see Study 5.3 for more on this. To fulfil this promise, Christ must reign on David’s “throne”, or place of rulership. This was literally in Jerusalem. This is another proof that the kingdom must be established here on earth in order to fulfil these promises.
4. The kingdom
“Your house and your kingdom shall be established for ever before you” (2 Sam. 7:16) suggests that David would witness the establishment of Christ’s eternal kingdom. This was therefore an indirect promise that he would be resurrected at Christ’s return so that he could see with his own eyes the kingdom being set up world-wide, with Jesus reigning from Jerusalem.
These things which were promised to David are absolutely vital to understand. David joyfully spoke of these things as “an everlasting covenant... this is all my salvation and all my desire” (2 Sam. 23:5). These things relate to our salvation too; rejoicing in them should likewise be all our desire. As with the promises to Abraham, if we are in Christ, all that is true of the promised descendant of David is in some way true of us if we are in Christ (Is. 55:3 cf. Acts 13:34). So again the point is made that these doctrines are so important. It is a tragedy that parts of Christendom have adopted doctrines which flatly contradict these marvellous truths.
- If Jesus physically “pre-existed”, i.e. he existed as a person before he was born, then this makes nonsense of these promises that Jesus would be David’s descendant.
- If the kingdom of God will be in heaven, then Jesus cannot re-establish David’s kingdom of Israel, nor can he reign from David’s “throne” or place of rulership. These things were literally on the earth, and so their re-establishment must be in the same place.
Fulfilment In Solomon?
David’s son, Solomon, fulfilled some part of the promises to David. He built a temple for God (1 Kings 5-8), and he had a very prosperous kingdom. Nations from all around sent representatives to pay respect to Solomon (1 Kings 10), and there was great spiritual blessing from the use of the temple. Solomon’s reign therefore pointed forward to the much greater fulfilment of the promises to David which will be seen in the kingdom of Christ.
Some have claimed that the promises to David were completely fulfilled in Solomon, but this is disallowed by the following.
- Abundant New Testament evidence shows that the “descendant” was Christ, not Solomon.
- David seems to have connected the promises God made to him with those to Abraham (1 Chron. 17:27 = Gen. 22:17,18).
- The kingdom of the “descendant” was to be everlasting - which Solomon’s was not.
- David recognised that the promises were concerning eternal life, which precluded any reference to his immediate family: “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant” (2 Sam. 23:5).
- The descendant of David is the Messiah, the Saviour from sin (Is. 9:6,7; 22:22; Jer. 33:5,6,15; Jn. 7:42). But Solomon later turned away from God (1 Kings 11:1-13; Neh. 13:26) due to his marriage with those outside the hope of Israel.
As a footnote, it's interesting that the genealogy of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 1 frames Him as the product of 42 generations, divided into three groups of 14. The numerical value of 'David' is 14 [D = 4; w = 6; d = 4]. The emphasis is therefore on the fact that Jesus was so very intrinsically a descendant of David- and not, therefore, a pre-existent being.
Duncan Heaster has written over 20 books, some of which contain material relevant to The Real Christ. And there is a host of other relevant material...