Biblical Covenants Part 6

Can a nation have a kingdom without a king?

Israel was not without a king, because God is its King (cf. 1 Samuel 8:5-8), but Israel insisted on having a king like the human kings of all the surrounding nations, someone with a human nature. What happened then?

After Saul’s disobedience, God used the prophet Samuel to anoint David as king. After an extended period of time, David became the king of both Judah and Israel and the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem. David then expressed a desire to build God a temple and one of the theological highlights of the Old Testament follows (cf. Grisanti 1999:233): God established an unconditional covenant with David.

With reference to 2 Samuel 7:8-16 and 1 Chronicles 17:10b-14, Fruchtenbaum (2005:33-34) describes the following seven provisions of the Davidic covenant:

  1. David was promised an eternal kingdom, which implied that the house of David would continue to exist eternally (2 Samuel 7:11b, 16; 1 Chronicles 17:10b).
  2. One of David’s sons, Solomon, would sit on David’s throne after David (2 Samuel 7:12).
  3. Solomon would build the Temple (2 Samuel 7:13a).
  4. David’s throne would remain steadfast eternally (2 Samuel 7:13, 16).
  5. God previously withdrew His lovingkindness from king Saul owing to Saul’s disobedience, but even though Solomon was punished for his disobedience, God would not withdraw His lovingkindness from Solomon (2 Samuel 7:14-15). The Davidic covenant is unconditional.
  6. Christ, the Messiah, would be born of the seed of David (1 Chronicles 17:11). In 2 Samuel 7, the emphasis is on Solomon, but in 1 Chronicles 17, it is directed at the promised Messiah.
  7. The Messiah and His throne, house and kingdom, will remain steadfast eternally (1 Chronicles 17:12-15). In this section, it is the Person Himself who will be established on the throne of David for ever, not only the throne. In 1 Chronicles 17 the emphasis is clearly on Christ Jesus and not on Solomon.

To summarise the Davidic covenant: God promised His servant David four eternal things: an everlasting house or dynasty, an eternal throne, an eternal kingdom and an eternal Descendant (or Seed). The eternal nature of the house, throne and kingdom is guaranteed because the seed of David reached a climax in One who Himself is eternal – the Messianic God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A number of Psalms presuppose the Davidic covenant and are based on a Messianic-royal motif, namely Psalms 2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 89, 101, 110 and 144 (Grisanti 1999:244). These Psalms focus on a descendant of David who, as God’s Son, lives in Zion and rules over people from the throne of David. These Psalms ultimately speak of the Lord Jesus Christ, the final Son of David (cf. Psalm 110; Matthew 22:41-46).

What will Jesus’ government look like when He rules over Israel and all the nations of the earth from the throne of David in Jerusalem in the Millennium Kingdom in terms of the Davidic Covenant (cf. Zechariah 14:4-21)? Christ’s reign will be characterised by right and justness and there will be infinite peace – even in the animal kingdom (Isaiah 9:6; 11:3-5). The Lord Jesus Christ will judge all the nations and administer justice to all nations. There will no more be war (Isaiah 2:4). Briefly: truth, holiness and justness will characterise the Messianic Kingdom.

What will government structures look like during the Messianic Kingdom? The Lord Jesus Christ will very clearly rule as King of the whole earth (Psalm 2:6-8; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Luke 1:30-33). Under the Lord Jesus Christ there will be two governing branches: one for Israel and another for all the non-Jewish nations:

  • As far as the government of Israel is concerned, David is to be appointed under the Lord Jesus Christ to govern the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hosea 3:5) while the twelve apostles will rule the twelve tribes (Matthew 19:28). There will also be princes in Israel (Isaiah 32:1; Ezekiel 45:8; Haggai 2:20-23).
  • As far as the non-Jewish nations are concerned, kings will be appointed over them (Psalm 72; Revelation 2:26-27; 20:4) and nations will be required to visit Jerusalem annually in order to worship the King, the LORD of hosts and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16-21).

A nation cannot have a kingdom without a king. The Messianic kingdom will be established for Israel and the King of the Jews will rule in terms of the Davidic covenant. The Lord Jesus Christ will rule not over Israel only, but over all the nations of the earth (Psalm 2:8).

In Part 7 of the series, we will discuss the New covenant.

Sources consulted:

Grisanti, M.A., 1999, ‘The Davidic Covenant’, The Master’s Seminary Journal 10(2), 233-250.

Fruchtenbaum, A.G., 2005, ‘The eight covenants of the Bible’, Ariel Ministries, Tustin.

Woods, A. 2011. The prophetic significance of the Davidic line and covenant.

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