What do we learn from the Davidic Covenant?
1. The FOUNDATION of the Covenant of Grace: We learn what is the only basis of our hope
We mentioned that there are both temporal and eternal components in God's covenant with David. It's always been this way.1 All the manifestations of the Covenant of Grace are about Christ and the gospel—but they're wrapped with an outer husk. Eternal truths are wrapped with a temporal shell. In the Noahic Covenant, God delivered Noah and his family from the waters of the flood. But the temporal salvation that Noah and his household found in the ark was always meant to point us forward to the eternal salvation God would provide in and through Jesus Christ. In the Abrahamic Covenant, God made promises to Abraham of a land, a seed, and blessing. But though at first glance these were only temporal things, we learned that ultimately these promises had to do with Christ. In His Covenant with Israel at Sinai, God gave His people all kinds of instructions about the tabernacle, the priesthood, certain feasts, and animal sacrifices. On the surface these things were only temporal and earthly; but they were always meant to teach us eternal truths—to point us to Jesus and the gospel.
We're going to see the same thing in God's covenant with David. The Lord makes several wonderful promises to David here in 2 Samuel 7, and we're going to see that each one of them is ultimately and most fully accomplished in Jesus. God's covenant promises to David are about Christ and the gospel. But they're also wrapped in an outer shell of the temporal and earthly. Let's take them one by one:
A) PREEMINENCE (2 Samuel 7:8-9): In 2 Samuel 7, the prophet Nathan comes to David with a message from the Lord. In verses 8-9, Nathan, speaking for God, declares: “Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.” There are a few different elements we can see here, which are in turn expanded upon in other places of Scripture. In these two verses, the Lord rehearses His dealings with David and makes promises to him concerning his rule, his enemies, and his name.
1) David's RULE has been established: We see this in verse 8 in particular. The Lord tells David: “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel.” We see the same truth expanded upon in Psalm 89:19-21, which says: “Once You spoke in vision to Your godly ones, and said, 'I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David My servant; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand will be established; My arm also will strengthen him.” The Lord had chosen David, and established his rule.
2) David's ENEMIES are subdued: We see this in verse 9: “I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you. . .” The Lord also tells David in verse 11, “I will give you rest from all your enemies.” Again, there is a parallel passage as we continue to read in Psalm 89:22-23: “The enemy will not deceive him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him. But I shall crush his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him.” God will subdue David's enemies.
3) David's NAME shall be enlarged: God tells David later in verse 9: “. . .and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.” Again, we're told in Psalm 89:24, “My faithfulness and My lovingkindness will be with him, and in My name his horn will be exalted.”
All these things the Lord did for David. But in these declarations and promises, we're also pointed to the Greater David; the One who would come forth from David; of whom David was but a type. It's ultimately in Christ that these things find their greatest fulfillment: David's rule had been established, but only as a picture of the future rule of the Son of David: The author of Hebrews tells us just this when he quotes Psalm 45:7: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above your companions.” (1:9). Here, he cites a passage that uses the same kind of language as in Psalm 89:20-21—but he tells us explicitly that it's speaking of the rule of Christ (1:8). Further, David's enemies were subdued in order to teach us that the same will be true for the enemies of Christ: The Royal Psalms are filled with the imagery of the Messiah ruling over His enemies (Psalm 2:9; 21:8-12; 45:5; 110:1-2); and Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:25 that Christ “must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.” Lastly, David's name would be enlarged to a degree, but this promise would find its greatest fulfillment in Jesus: Solomon couldn't have been speaking of any other, lesser king, when he invoked this blessing in Psalm 72:17: “May his name endure forever; may his name increase as long as the sun shines; and let men bless themselves by him; let all nations call him blessed.” And Paul tells us that Christ has been given “the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow. . .and. . .every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:9-11). David's preeminence is meant to point us to the preeminence of Jesus: “He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.” (Colossians 1:18, ESV):2
B) SHELTER (2 Samuel 7:10-11a): After the declarations and promises about David, the Lord goes on to make some promises about His people Israel in 2 Samuel 7:10-11. In these verses we read: “I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. . .” In these two verses, we see three promises in particular: The Lord will place His people; He will plant them; and give them peace.3
1) PLACEMENT: We see this in verse 10, where the Lord tells David: “I will also appoint a place for My people Israel. . .” The place the Lord was referring to was Canaan in general, and Jerusalem in particular. And since God himself also had His dwelling in Jerusalem, as represented by the ark, we see that the place God had appointed for Israel was the same place He himself would dwell. This wasn't by accident! The Lord's desire was to dwell with His people. As Psalm 132:13-16 says: “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. 'This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her needy with bread. Her priests also I will clothe with salvation, and her godly ones will sing aloud for joy.'”4
2) PLANTING: We see this as we continue with verse 10: “I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again. . .” Back in Exodus 15:17, Moses had prophesied that God would do this very thing for Israel: “You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, the place, O Lord, which you have made for Your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.” And later, Scripture tells us in Psalm 80:8, “You removed a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it.” Even before David's reign, Israel had been dwelling in the land; but they still had to move about at times when they were put to flight by outside forces.5 In a way they were like potted plants, staying in one place for a time but never putting down roots. Now, God would plant His people under David.6
3) PEACE: We read in verses 10-11: “. . .nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. . .” In the past, Israel hadn't just been unsettled; they had been oppressed and afflicted. The Lord was saying that would change now under David. And, in a very real sense, it would change now because of David. Protecting God's people from their oppressors was a major part of what Israel's king was called upon to do. Solomon realized this; and so he prayed in Psalm 72:1-4: “Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king's son. May he judge Your people with righteousness and Your afflicted with justice. Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he vindicate the afflicted of the people, save the children of the needy and crush the oppressor.”7
All these things the Lord did for His people, and especially during the reigns of David and Solomon. But just as we saw in the preceding verses, the promises of verses 10-11 have their greatest fulfillment in gospel realities. Ultimately, all these things point us forward to what God would do for His people in Christ. The prophets picked up these same promises and applied them to what the Lord would do for His people in the new covenant. God spoke through Ezekiel: “I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever.” (37:26). And in describing the result of Jesus' earthly ministry, Isaiah tells us that God's people “will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3). Similarly, the Lord says through Jeremiah: “I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.” (Jeremiah 32:41). And again, Ezekiel prophesied saying: “They will no longer be a prey to the nations. . .but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore.” (34:28-29). So, God would do these things to a degree for Israel in a physical and temporal sense, but only as a picture of what He would do for His Church in a lasting and eternal sense. In Christ, we have eternal security. Jesus did say, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted” (Matthew 15:13), but it's also true that no plant which has been planted by Him shall ever be removed. God's people are like His garden, and He says: “I, the Lord, am its keeper; I water it every moment. So that no one will damage it, I guard it night and day.” (Isaiah 27:3). The Lord knows how to keep His people. When He brings us into His kingdom, He plants us there forever. Israel was planted in the earthly Jerusalem. But in Christ, we have come to “the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22), to “receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken” (12:28). Israel was planted in the Jerusalem below. But the Lord did this in order to help us understand that, in Christ, we have been planted in a lasting and eternal city, the Jerusalem above.8
C) DYNASTY (2 Samuel 7:11c-12): The whole context of the word that Nathan has been speaking to David was the desire that David had earlier expressed to Nathan. We're told in 2 Samuel 7:1-2: “Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, 'See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains.'” This didn't feel right to David. Why should he live in a palace while God dwelt in a tent? He felt it only fitting to build a more permanent dwelling place for the Lord. That's where Nathan's next words to David come in. We read in 2 Samuel 7:11: “The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you.” There is a play-on-words here. David had wanted to build a house for God. But the Lord comes back to David through Nathan and tells him it's going to be the other way around: God is going to build a house for him. In these verses, the same word is being used, but in different ways. David lived in a house (meaning palace). And he wanted to build a house for God (meaning temple). But in response to that, the Lord declares that He is going to instead build a house for David (meaning dynasty). David had expressed the desire to build a temple for the Lord. The Lord comes back promising instead to build a dynasty for David.9
But what did it mean exactly that the Lord would build a dynasty for David? What would that look like? The Lord himself goes on to clarify and explain. We read in 2 Samuel 7:12, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.” There are primarily two promises here in verse 12. God is promising: 1) to raise up for David a particular heir; and 2) establish his kingdom.
1) HEIR: This is the first promise: “I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you. . .” (verse 12). Who is this heir that the Lord would raise up from David, whose kingdom the Lord would establish in such a remarkable way? Well, at first glance, Solomon seems to be the easy answer. David had lots of sons, but we know that Solomon was the one who would reign in the place of his father. And the Lord established his kingdom in a powerful way. Scripture describes the grandeur of his reign in the book of 1 Kings: “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. . .Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. . .” (4:20-21). And again: “King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. . .The king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamore trees that are in the lowland.” (10:23,27). Further, the passage goes on to tell us that this same descendant would be the one to build the house of the Lord (verse 13). And we know that though David had desired to build a house for God, it was Solomon who would build the temple. Besides, Scripture tells us plainly that Solomon was indeed the heir being spoken of here. In 1 Chronicles 22:7-10, David says to his son Solomon, “My son, I had intended to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying. . .'you shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me. Behold, a son will be born to you. . .and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon. . .He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.”
So, in 2 Samuel 7:12, the Lord was speaking of Solomon. But what we find out elsewhere is that He was never speaking only of Solomon. In fact, a great number of Scriptures force us to conclude that the Lord was speaking primarily of someone else. We get our first hint of this in David's subsequent prayer. As he recalls the promises God had just made to him, he responds in prayer, saying: “You have spoken also of the house of Your servant concerning the distant future.” (7:19). The question arises: Was the time of Solomon really what we would call the distant future? Well, distant or not, Solomon's reign came; he ascended the throne and built the temple. But soon he too was replaced and others sat on the throne. And yet, the astonishing thing is that hundreds of years after Solomon had lived and died, the prophets continued to speak of the mighty reign of this particular descendant of David as an event still yet to come. Even 200 years after Solomon's time, Isaiah was still looking to the future as he wrote: “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. . .The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him. . .and He will not judge by what His eyes see. . .But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth. . .” (11:1-4). Jeremiah prophesied, saying: “'Behold, the days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.'” (23:5; cf. 30:9; 33:14-16). And Zechariah prophesied, saying: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne.'” (6:12-13). The prophets had used the imagery of a branch. Psalm 132:17 uses different language: “I will cause the horn of David to spring forth. . .” The horn of an animal denoted its strength; the imagery is different but the truth is the same: Scripture's telling us that Solomon was just the beginning of the fulfillment; his life was meant to serve as a picture or type of another and Greater Son of David who was still yet to come.10
When Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, had learned that the Lord was sending to Israel the long-awaited Messiah, he spoke of Jesus' birth in this way: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant. . .” (Luke 1:68-69). Jesus is the horn. In Revelation 22:16, we read: “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David. . .” Jesus is the branch. And Matthew's gospel begins in this way: “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David.” Jesus is David's true son. All this is confirmed by what Scripture tells us in Acts 2:25-36. Taking his stand on the day of Pentecost, Peter referred back to this same verse—2 Samuel 7:12—and this is what he said about it: “because [David] was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ. . .” (vv30-31). According to Peter, 2 Samuel 7:12 is ultimately about Christ. So, this promise was partially fulfilled in Solomon; but fully realized only in Jesus, the Greater Solomon, and true branch, horn, and Son of David.11
2) KINGDOM: This is the second promise in 2 Samuel 7:12: “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.” Again, at first glance, this is speaking of Solomon's kingdom. We saw above that God had established Solomon's kingdom in a powerful way. But we mentioned even earlier, if you remember, the fuller significance of what God was planning to do in and through Israel's throne.12 When the ark had come to Jerusalem, the Lord wasn't just associating His presence with a particular place; He was associating His presence with a particular kingship. God was binding together His reign with David's reign; His rule with David's rule; His kingdom with David's kingdom. And it's for this reason that when Solomon ascends to the throne, 1 Chronicles 29:23 tells us: “Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father. . .” The throne of David had become the throne of God himself. God wouldn't just bless Solomon's throne; His own reign would actually be administered in and through Solomon's throne. God had set His king upon His own throne. Solomon no longer represented only Jerusalem; He now represented God. When he spoke, he no longer spoke only for Jerusalem; He spoke for God. When he exercised authority, he no longer did so as the king appointed by Israel—but as the king who had been appointed by God. And when his enemies rose up against him, they were rising up against God himself. To reject his authority was to reject God's; to refuse His word was to refuse God's; to make yourself his enemy was to make yourself the enemy of God; to rebel against his rule was to rebel against the rule of God.13
And of course, all this was always meant to point us to the rule and reign of the Greater Solomon that was yet to come. It's in Jesus that these things find their true and ultimate fulfillment. For when the angel Gabriel came to Mary, he told her: “behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. . .and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.” (Luke 1:31-33). It's Christ who would sit on the throne of David. It's true that Solomon would reign as God's king for a time; but Jesus is the one that God has appointed to reign as His king over the house of Jacob forever. It's the reign of Jesus that the Father is speaking of when He declares in Psalm 2:6, “But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.” And it's to the Christ that God the Father says in Psalm 110:1, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” We're told in Acts that David himself knew that the promise to seat one of his descendants on his throne (in 2 Samuel 7:12) was referring to “the resurrection of the Christ” (2:30-31). And it's Jesus who “has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2). So, it's the kingdom of Christ that God had promised to establish. What this also means, of course, is that our position before God is totally contingent on our posture towards Jesus: To submit to Him is to submit to the rule and reign of God. But to rebel against His authority is to rebel against God's; to refuse His word is to refuse God's; to reject His rule is to reject the rule of God. There's a vital question here: Have you submitted your life to Jesus?14
D) HOUSE (2 Samuel 7:13): Having promised to raise up a descendant of David and establish His kingdom, the Lord continues His word to David in 2 Samuel 7:13: “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” The second part of this verse is largely a repetition of the promise we just dealt with in verse 12.15 But what about the first part? What is the Lord referring to when He says of David's heir “He shall build a house for My name”? Well, just as we've seen with everything else in this passage, this promise has both a near and partial fulfillment as well as a distant and ultimate fulfillment. In one sense, this was fulfilled in Solomon, since he was the one who built the temple of the Lord. Indeed, Solomon recalls this very promise as he dedicates the temple in 1 Kings 8:17-20: “Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, 'Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who will be born to you, he will build the house for My name.' Now the Lord has fulfilled His word which He spoke; for I have risen in place of my father David and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.” Clearly from this passage, this promise was fulfilled when Solomon built the temple.
But only partially. The New Testament clarifies that this promise of David's heir building a house for the Lord finds its greatest fulfillment in Christ's building of the Church. Paul tells us that the Church is the temple of God. He says in Ephesians 2:19-22: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” And Peter tells us the same thing when he writes to Gentile believers: “And coming to Him as to a living stone. . .you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house. . .” (1 Peter 2:4-5). The author of Hebrews draws out this truth as well, when he says: “Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope until the end.” (Hebrews 3:6). And Jesus himself uses this language when He tells Peter, “I will build My church. . .” (Matthew 16:18). So, while the promise of 2 Samuel 7:13 has a partial fulfillment in Solomon's building of the temple, the greatest fulfillment of the promise of David's heir building a house for God is realized in Christ's building of His Church.16
E) FATHER (2 Samuel 7:14a): After the Lord had promised that David's heir would be the one to build a house for His name, the Lord continues to speak of this heir in 2 Samuel 7:14, saying, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me. . .” What God is saying here is quite remarkable: Not only would this special heir be the son of David—he would be the son of God. The heir who would build the house of the Lord and whose kingdom God would establish—he would be known both as David's son and as God's son. He would have David for his father—but he would also have God for his father. The Lord is telling us here that this particular son of David would also be the son of God. Again, the partial fulfillment is in Solomon. We know this because David himself later recounts what the Lord had said to him, recalling in 1 Chronicles 28:6: “[God] said to me, 'Your son Solomon is the one who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be a son to Me, and I will be a father to him.” According to this passage, the one whom God was speaking about was Solomon.
But other Scriptures clarify that this promise of sonship in 2 Samuel 7:14 has its greatest and ultimate fulfillment in Christ. The first hint of this is the corollary passage in Psalm 89. In verses 26-27, we see a similar promise. Here, the Lord declares: “He will cry to Me, 'You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.' I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” But these verses in Psalm 89 are speaking of David. In 2 Samuel 7:14, Solomon was the one who would have God as his father; but in Psalm 89, it's David. How do we reconcile these two passages? Psalm 89 is interpreting 2 Samuel 7, and helping us to understand that this promise would find it's greatest fulfillment, not in Solomon himself, but in another who would come as the Greater David and the Greater Solomon. When the angel Gabriel was sent to the virgin Mary, he had this to say about the child she would conceive in her womb: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. . .” (Luke 1:32). So, this promise of divine sonship is most fully realized in Christ. We see the same truth in Psalm 2. Here, in verses 7-9, the Messiah recounts the commission that God had given him in this way: “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. . .'” The Psalm ends by saying: “Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” And significantly, the author of Hebrews quotes both 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 2, telling us explicitly that both these Scriptures are referring to Jesus: “For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You'? And again, 'I will be a Father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me'?” (1:5). So, the New Testament clarifies even further that these Scriptures are speaking of Christ. It's Jesus that was born as “a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. . .” (Romans 1:3-4). Solomon fulfilled these things in part. But he was only meant to point us to the Greater Solomon who was yet to come. This promise finds its full realization only in Jesus Christ, the son of David who is the Son of God.17
F) DISCIPLINE (2 Samuel 7:14b-15): In 2 Samuel 7:14b, the Lord continues His word to David, saying, “. . .when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” Here in the context of verses 12-14, it's clear that the Lord is speaking of Solomon in particular.18 But what exactly is He saying? Essentially, the Lord is promising to extend His lovingkindness and His faithfulness not only to David, but also to his son, Solomon. Now, that's not what it seems like at first. When we read verse 14b, it sounds pretty bad: God is going to chasten him with a rod and strokes? But when we consider what the Lord is saying in the whole of verses 14-15, we get the full picture: The rod and strokes wouldn't be sent as punishment—but for correction. The whole point is that God wouldn't take away His lovingkindness from Solomon, as He had taken it away from Saul (verse 15). Saul went astray; and it seems one of the reasons he did so was that the Lord never corrected him. When Saul forsook the right path, God allowed him to go astray. But it would be different with Solomon. The Lord would never take away His lovingkindness from David's treasured son. And one way He would demonstrate that lovingkindness would be through discipline. When Saul went astray, the Lord did nothing; but if Solomon would ever start going down the same path, the Lord would stand in his way. God will correct him with “the rod of men” and the “strokes of the sons of men. . .” In other words, just as a loving earthly father corrects his beloved son, so the Lord would deal with Solomon. He will not deal with him as a judge deals with a guilty criminal—but rather as a father deals with his cherished son. In the first part of verse 14, God had promised to be a father to Solomon. Well, here in the second part of verse 14, He's promising to be a good father. A good father will discipline his son, and that's exactly what God is promising to do here for Solomon.19
And the Lord was faithful to do what He said. Solomon started out great, but it wasn't long before he began wandering away from the Lord. And when he did, God was right there to chasten him, just as He promised (1 Kings 11:14ff). The Lord loved him too much to do otherwise. So, 2 Samuel 7:14 recounts for us God's promise to do this for Solomon in particular. But whereas this passage focuses on a single individual, the corollary passage in Psalm 89 gives this promise a wider application. We read in Psalm 89:30-33: “If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgements, if they violate My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.” So then, in 2 Samuel 7, the promise of loving correction was for David's son; but here it's extended to David's sons. In the first passage, the promise is made to Solomon alone; but in the Psalm, it's extended to all of David's descendants. Why the change? What is Scripture trying to teach us? It seems the lesson is this: The way God dealt with Solomon is the way He will deal with us in the Covenant of Grace. Just as with Solomon, the Lord will chasten us, correct us, discipline us; and He will do it just as a father does for his son. The Lord will deal with all the true sons of David in the same way He dealt with Solomon. And isn't this the very thing we read in Hebrews 12:7-10? “God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. . .”20
G) PERPETUITY (2 Samuel 7:16): The Lord closes with these final words in 2 Samuel 7:16: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” Earlier, the Lord had declared a similar truth. In verse 13, the Lord had said of David's heir: “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” And we read in Psalm 89:4, “I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations.” What's being emphasized in these passages is the perpetuity of God's promises. That is, God isn't just promising to do these things for David. He's not just promising to establish David's kingdom and throne; He's promising to establish them forever.
David's dynasty is unparalleled in ancient history. After Solomon's reign, the tribes in northern Israel revolted against the Davidic kingdom, and they began appointing their own kings. But the kings who reigned in Israel never had any significant lines of natural succession. The longest successive dynasty for any of the kings in Israel was a few generations at most. David's royal line obviously far outlasted these kings. But how did it compare to other dynasties? What about the great dynasties of Egypt? The average length of royal succession in Egypt during their prime was about 100 years. The longest successive Egyptian dynasty was the famed eighteenth dynasty; it lasted for an incredible 250 years. But the succession of David's royal line endured for over 400 years. David's dynasty ruled far longer than even the greatest of Egyptian dynasties. There's no comparison: “there has never been a longer reign of a single dynasty in any land in the history of the world than David's 400 year dynastic reign.”21
Never was there another dynasty like David's dynasty. But we're still left with unanswered questions: Didn't God promise that his kingdom would last forever? Clearly, 400 years is impressive. But 400 years isn't the same thing as forever. When the Babylonians came up against Jerusalem in 586 B.C, the temple was burned with fire, the people were exiled from their land, and the Davidic king, whom God had promised would reign forever, was deposed from his throne, made to watch the death of his own sons, blinded, and then cast away into prison in a foreign land. It was a living nightmare. God's people were completely and utterly broken. But the most painful part wasn't being exiled from their land or losing loved ones. It was the implication of what this all meant: Did God break His promise?
The answer is No. And the reason God didn't break His promise is that the promise itself was never ultimately about an earthly, temporal kingdom. The promises God made to David were never really fulfilled in Solomon; they were never primarily about Jerusalem; and they were never fully realized in the establishment of David's earthly royal throne. These were the husk; the shell. But the kernel of God's promises in 2 Samuel 7 looked past these things. It's true: David's earthly reign wouldn't last. But the perpetuity God was promising would be realized in another way. Look again at our passage: God tells David in verse 16: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever. . .” But back in verse 13, it was of David's heir that God had said: “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” Whose kingdom is it that the Lord will establish forever? Is it the kingdom of David or the kingdom of his heir? It's both, in this way: God would establish the kingdom of David forever. But how would He do it? He would establish David's kingdom in and through the kingdom of his heir.22
These promises all find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. He alone is the true son of David; and He alone is the eternal Son of God. It is He who would build the Church, which is the temple of the Living God. And it's His kingdom and throne that God would establish forever. Isaiah lived long after David and long before Jesus. But as he reflected on the promises God had made to David in 2 Samuel 7, he looked forward and spoke of the Messiah: “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” (9:7). David's kingdom would be established forever because the Messiah would ever live to sit on his throne.23 Just as Luke 1:32-33 says: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” The earthly dynasty would come to a close. But the promise would be realized in the eternal Davidic rule of Jesus Christ.
1 On the Noahic Covenant: “the story of [Noah] and his waters or flood, and God's covenant with him. . .though in the letter the semblance they bear was but of the temporal salvation and deliverance from the flood, yet in the mystery thereof they were. . .intended as figures of God's eternal covenant and mercies unto his elect church, which were to come out of Noah's and his sons loins” (Goodwin, Works, V9, p43). On the Abrahamic Covenant: “The covenant with Abraham. . .had a double side, one that had in view temporal benefits—like the promise of the land of Canaan, numerous descendants, protection against earthly enemies—and one that had in view spiritual benefits. Nevertheless, this is to be so understood that the earthly and temporal were not for their own sake, but rather so that they would provide a type of the spiritual and heavenly. . .” (Vos, V2, p128). On the Mosaic Covenant: “Jesus Christ was the very principal scope and soul of the Law, or Sinai Covenant, in all the doctrines, commands, and promises thereof. . .so that in this whole Sinai Covenant Jesus Christ was primarily intended. . .Christ was the true ark, having the covenant and Law of God fully in his heart and bowels; Christ was the true mercy-seat, covering the curse of the Law; Christ was the true sacrifice, purging away sin, and making atonement by his own blood; Christ was the true table of show-bread, whereon all his Israel are daily presented as acceptable before the Lord. Christ was the true veil, by which, rent, we have open entrance made into the Holy of Holies, heaven itself. . .” (Roberts, pp765,67).
2 “[I] This promise of subduing all David's enemies had reference, Immediately and literally to the enemies of David and his seed in the Kingdom of Israel; Mediately, typically and spiritually to the enemies of Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of his Church . . .[and so] this mercy promised was performed and accomplished two ways: 1) Literally and immediately to David himself. . . 2) Spiritually, mystically and mediately. . .to Jesus Christ the true David, typified by David. . .[II] This promised establishment and strengthening [of David's rule] had its accomplishment also: 1) In David himself. . . 2) In Jesus Christ the primary seed of David. . .” [III] God's increasing and enlargement of David's glory. . .had its accomplishment, much in David, more in Solomon, most of all in Jesus Christ, the chief Son of David. . .who is. . .Lord of Lord's, and King of Kings, and shall reign forevermore.” (Roberts, pp1016-20). A.W. Pink, writing on the promises of Psalm 89:19 and following, which were directed to David, even declares: “one has only to weigh the things here said to perceive that they go far beyond the typical David; yea, some of them could scarcely apply to him at all, but receive their fulfillment in Christ and His spiritual seed.” (Pink, p245).
3 As Roberts notes: “This blessing has in it many branches. For herein God promises touching his people Israel; 1) To appoint (or ordain) a place for them. . . 2) To plant Israel, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more. . . 3) Finally, that the children of wickedness should not afflict them (or waste them) any more, as before-time. . .” (pp1048-50).
4 Roberts says of Psalm 132: “God promised His presence and residence there, not for any merit or worthiness in Zion; but of His own mere election, grace and affection to Zion. God fetches all arguments and motives from himself, for his favors to his Church. He will dwell in her, because He loves her; and he loves her, because he has chosen her and set his love upon her [Deuteronomy 7:7-8].” (p1046). He also deals with an objection: “But had not God done this already, promising Canaan to Abraham and his seed. . .and giving them possession thereof in the days of Joshua [Joshua 15:1, etc]? But here. . .God promises more plentiful influences of heaven, and more ample blessings, both in regard of the fruitfulness of the fields and firmness of the kingdom, then formerly. So that the words are to be taken comparatively; not absolutely. Besides, till David's days Canaan was not in the complete possession of Israel, for till then the Jebusites possessed the fort or castle of Zion, which David took, and called it the city of David; but afterwards they should have the complete possession of it.” (pp1048-1049).
5 This happened often in the days of the judges as well as in Saul's reign. See for instance Judges 6:1-2 and 1 Samuel 13:6.
6 As Roberts notes: “This metaphor of planting them, imports their firm and secure settlement in Canaan. What is planted (says Peter Martyr) is not easily plucked up by the roots. . .Israel in Egypt were in a strange land, none of their own; and in the wilderness they were in their pilgrimage, not in their heritage; and in Canaan itself they were scarce yet throughly rooted, being often disturbed with many sorts of enemies; but they should now take deeper roots, and move no more.” (Roberts, p1049).
7 As Roberts says: “By children of wickedness understand the pagan idolaters and persecutors, who lived without God in the world, in all wickedness, as Egyptians, Idulmeans, Philistines, Amalekites, etc. These should no more afflict and waste them in their persons and States, as formerly from the beginning: As Egyptians afflicted them in Egypt, as the Amalekites, Edomites, Amorites, Moabites, etc afflicted them in their journey towards Canaan; as the Canaanites, Philistines, and other enemies wasted them in time of the Judges, and under the reign of King Saul. God had now given rest to David from all his enemies, and in comparison of former times, his subjects Israel should not be under any more such afflictions.” (Roberts, p1050).
8 For the language of Jerusalem below and above, see Galatians 4:25-26. The truth of this section might be more particularly divided into two aspects: the Lord promises His people eternal security here on earth, as well as an eternal home with Him in the new heavens and the new earth. Life in the Jerusalem above begins here; but it continues forever in the new heavens and the new earth. Indeed, though we have complete eternal security in this life, yet, we still are afflicted and oppressed. It seems, then, that this promise will have its fullest and grandest fulfillment in glory. It's this latter truth that seems to be emphasized in other Scriptures: Isaiah 25:6-8 says: “The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain. . .He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.” And Isaiah 60:20-21 says: “Your sun will no longer set, nor will your moon wane; for you will have the Lord for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over. Then all your people will be righteous; they will possess the land forever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.” And Isaiah 65:17-19 says: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying.” Psalm 37:9-11, 29 says: “For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. . .The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” Roberts again deals with a similar objection at this point: “But how did they move no more, when after this the ten tribes were carried away captive into Assyria, and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were often times grievously shaken by sundry enemies, and at last shamefully carried captive into Babylon?. .The phrase being taken absolutely and simply, as without condition, so this promise was fulfilled: Literally, in the days of David and Solomon, the two chief royal types of Christ; for, in their days Israel moved no more out of Canaan their inheritance. [Also]: Mystically, this promise had and has its chief accomplishment in the everlasting kingdom of Jesus Christ, who shall reign upon the throne of his father David over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end, it shall never be destroyed, removed or shaken [Luke 1:32-33]. Whereupon the Apostle styles it, 'An unshaken Kingdom, an unmoved kingdom' [Hebrews 12:28].” (p1049). And the Westminster Annotations say of 2 Samuel 7:10: “These promises, though in part fulfilled in David's and Solomon's reign, yet were to have their full accomplishment in the spiritual Kingdom of the Messiah.”
9 Roberts notes: “David but purposed to build God's house. . .God promised to build David's house.” (Roberts, p1014). And again: “When David had it in his heart to build God a house, God returned him this covenant promise. . .As if God had said, David will thou build me a house? Nay rather, I will build thee a house.” (p1025). Robertson writes: “God inverts the pattern of thought: 'Yahweh makes known to you that he, the Lord himself, will make for you a house'. . .David shall not build God's 'house,' but God shall build David's 'house.' The inversion of phrases interchanges 'dwelling'-place' with 'dynasty.' In both cases, perpetuity is the point of emphasis. David wishes to establish for God a permanent dwelling-place in Israel. God declares that he shall establish the perpetual dynasty of David.” (Christ of the Covenants, p232). And Duncan says: “David had begun this passage by saying, that he wanted to build a house for the Lord. Of course, by that, he meant a temple. Now as you know, the word for house, means palace. And the word for temple, or house, means temple, and the word for dynasty are all the same word in Hebrew. And so there is a play on words going on here. David says 'Lord, I want to build you a house,' meaning a temple, 'because it is not right for me to be in a house,' meaning a palace, 'and You dwell in a tent.' And God comes back and He says, 'David, will you build Me a house,' meaning a temple? 'No. I will build you a house,' meaning a dynasty. The Lord was not speaking of building David a house of cedar. He was speaking of building David a dynasty.”
10 The Jews understood this, which is why “son of David” was a common name for the Messiah in Jesus' day (Mark 12:35ff; Matthew 12:23; 21:9). In Zechariah 6:12-13, Joshua the high priest is the one being crowned (verse 11); but—like Solomon—it is only as a type of the Messiah yet to come. As Calvin says: “The vision is now explained. . .God here shows that what he has commanded to be done to Joshua does not belong to him, but has reference to another. . .we clearly conclude, that the minds of the people were transferred to Christ who was to come, that they might not fix their attention on Joshua, who was then but a typical priest.” The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible further elaborates on Zechariah 6:12-13: “Zechariah had earlier stated that Joshua and company were symbols of things to come later (3:8); that is, that their actions were at best the initiations of blessings and judgments that would take place with the coming of the great son of David. Thus it is not surprising that the term [“Branch”] refers to the Messiah as well (see 3:8). Isaiah used it (4:2), as did Jeremiah (23:5-6; 33:15-16), as a title for the Davidic descendant who would rule on David's throne. Early Jewish interpreters also saw the word “Branch” as a Messianic title. The work of Joshua (as well as that of Zerubbabel) foreshadowed the work of Christ, our High Priest. . .and our King.”