Great David and Great David' Greater Son

by Joseph Hunting

Although three thousand years have passed since David ruled as God's anointed king over Israel, his emblem, the Star of David, is a constant reminder of Israel's most celebrated monarch as it flutters on the national flag. David was chosen by God to be Israel's future king when he was but a youth tending his father's flock.

Tremendous contrasts highlight his life. On the one hand he soared to great spiritual heights; he was a born natural leader of men; he was gentle and merciful; he was paid the highest tribute in Scripture: he was according to the Lord "a man after his own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14).

Yet he also callously plotted the murder of Urijah in order to take his wife, and it wasn't until his prayer of penitence from a stricken heart that he found forgiveness in God's sight. "For you do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it ... the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart-these, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:16,17).

There are several events in the life of King David that have remarkable similarity to those of his descendant, the Messiah, David's greater Son.

Absalom's Treachery

One of the greatest dramas in the life of King David occurred when Absalom his son plotted to overthrow the kingdom in order to take it for himself. We may read the account in Second Samuel chapters 15 to 19.

Absalom enlisted the aid of Ahithophel, the king's companion and counselor, in his bid to take the kingdom. "Then Absalom sent for Ahithophel, David's counselor, from his city, namely from Giloh ... and the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number."

David later wrote of Ahithophel: "Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me" (Psalm 41:9). No one can fail to wonder at the audacity and deception employed by Absalom to seize the throne from his father.

And in order to win the allegiance of the people he deliberately sought favour in the eyes of those who had grievances. When David realized that the hearts of the people had been swayed by Absalom he departed from Jerusalem, across the Kidron Valley, and "up by the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up ... and all the country wept with a loud voice."

It is not without significance that among those who chose to follow King David into exile were a considerable number of Gentiles who swore allegiance to him "Then all his servants passed before him; and all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had followed him from Gath, passed before the king."

Ahithophel's Death

Ahithophel's treachery later laid a snare for his own feet. Just as he had previously won the heart and confidence of David, so he likewise captivated Absalom. "And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had enquired at the oracles of God. So was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

"Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, 'Now let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and weak, and make him afraid. And all the people who are with him will flee, and I will strike only the king.'"

It seems incredible that this man who had won the love and confidence of King David could stoop so low. "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me," wrote David, "then I could have borne it ... but it was you, a man my equal, my companion and my acquaintence. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in the throng" (Psalm 55:12-14).

When Ahithophel realized that all his scheming was to no avail, and that his counsel was not followed, "he saddled his donkey and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his house in order, and hanged himself, and died."

"Why do you Say Nothing About Bringing the King Back?"

Following the death of Ahithophel Absalom led an army against King David. "So the people went out into the field of battle against Israel. And the battle was in the woods of Ephraim. The people of Israel were overthrown before the servants of David ..."

In spite of David's command that no harm was to befall Absalom in battle, that young man was caught by the thick hair of his head in the boughs of a great tree and was stabbed to death by Joab, the leader of David's army.

After Absalom's death, "all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, 'The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom.

'But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?'"

It is strange that the people closest to him failed to acknowledge David as their God-appointed king. "Then King David sent to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, 'Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, "Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, even to his house? ... You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?"'

'So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: 'Return, you and all your servants!'"

David returned to Jerusalem amid scenes of tremendous rejoicing. The sin of the people in rejecting him was forgiven and he was restored to his kingdom in power and great glory to be anointed once again the king of God's choice.

David's Greater Son

During the twenty-four hours that preceded the death of King David's great descendant the Messiah Yeshua, fifteen Messianic prophecies were fulfilled, and several of these promises bear striking resemblance to events recorded in the life of David.

  • Parallel 1. Just as Absalom corrupted the hearts of the people to reject David as their king, so the rulers incited the people to reject Yeshua as the King of Israel. "Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Yeshua who is called the Messiah?' For he knew that because of envy they had delivered him" (Matthew 27:17,18).
  • Parallel 2. As Absalom enlisted the services of Ahithophel to betray David, so the rulers enlisted Judas Iscariot, the close associate and disciple of the Messiah, to betray Him. "Now the Feast of Unleavened bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill him, for they feared the people.
  • "Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.
  • "Then he promised and sought opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of the multitude" (Luke 22:1-6).
  • Parallel 3. As Ahithophel plotted to lead a company of soldiers under cover of night to come upon David while he was weary, so Judas led a company of soldiers under cover of darkness to take Yeshua when He "began to be sorrowful and very heavy" in the garden of Gethsemane.
  • Parallel 4. Ahithophel hanged himself following his treacherous plot to capture King David, and Judas in like manner hanged himself after he had betrayed the Messiah. "Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that he had been condemned ... departed and went and hanged himself" (Matthew 27:3,5)
  • Parallel 5. During his period in exile, King David was accompanied by a great company of Gentiles as well as his own kinsmen. In like manner, many Gentiles as well as many Jewish believers have sworn allegiance to Yeshua during the period of His rejection as Israel's Messiah.
  • Parallel 6. Israel desired the return of King David from exile with the word: "Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?" When King David learned of the change of attitude towards him, he sent a message to the elders of Judah: "Why are you the last to bring back the king to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, even to his house?
  • "You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?"
  • Even so, the Messiah will not return to Israel until they acknowledge Him, for He said, "You shall see me no more till you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!'" (Matthew 23:39).
  • Hosea also foretold that Israel will acknowledge their rejection of Him and seek the Lord. "I will return again to my place till they acknowledge their offence. Then they will seek my face; in their affliction they will diligently seek me" (5:15).
  • Parallel 7. Finally, just as God declared King David to be "a man after his own heart" so too He said of Messiah Jesus: "You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22).

Unlike David who had sinned and needed atonement, Messiah Yeshua was without sin. It is this one aspect above all others which makes Him great David's greater Son -- He bore our sin. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).