Israel's Unconditional Covenants Part 3

by Joseph H Hunting

The Davidic Covenant

"My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of My lips. I have sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in Heaven." (Psalm 89:34-37)

In the Biblical Hall of Fame there are two men who are given titles that make them unique even among such spiritual giants as Job, Daniel, Moses and a host of others too many to mention. Their titles are "the friend of God" given to Abraham, and "a man after God's own heart" given to David. And both were also unique in that God made unconditional covenants with them.

David was chosen and set apart by God from his boyhood when Samuel chose him to be the future king of Israel. Who hasn't been stirred by the victory David wrought over the Philistines when he slew the giant Goliath? David's response to Goliath's curses reveals the deep faith he had in the God of Israel. "When the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him ... And the Philistine cursed David by his gods ... Then said David to the Philistine, You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to you in the name of the LORD (YHVH) of hosts" (1 Samuel 17:42-45).

David's life spanned a mere seventy years. He was in his prime when he was crowned the king of Israel at Hebron when he was thirty years old. Seven years later he made Jerusalem his capital.

In many ways, judged by our standards, he was a man who rose to great spiritual heights as revealed by his psalms. And yet those same psalms reveal depths of despair and deep physical suffering. Perhaps the greatest enigma in David's life is his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the coldblooded murder of her husband. Yet when he was confronted by Nathan the prophet David blazed the trail back to God's forgiveness with the words: "You desire not sacrifice, else would I give it ... The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:16-17). David knew that there was no provision for his willful deliberate sin in the offering of an animal sacrifice. The only way back to God was the offering of a broken spirit and a contrite heart in true repentance.

In order to fully appreciate the honour God bestowed upon David by making an unconditional covenant with him concerning his kingdom it is necessary to remember that at the very outset of Israel's redemption from Egypt God commanded the construction of the Mishkan or Tabernacle which housed the Ark of the Covenant with its blood-sprinkled Mercy Seat overshadowed by the two cherubim.

During their wilderness wanderings for forty years the Shekinah glory of God continuously abode over the Tabernacle. Later the Tabernacle was reared up in Shiloh, and the Ark, after having been captured by the Philistines, was returned to Jerusalem by David.

The covenant is confirmed in the Psalms.

Although it was David's desire to build the Temple for God in Jerusalem, the Lord did not give David his wish. Instead God made an unconditional covenant with him which is recorded in II Samuel chapter seven. This covenant is repeated a number of times in Scripture. And an important feature of the Davidic covenant is the emphasis God places upon its being an everlasting covenant. Psalm 89 confirms this viewpoint: "I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him ... My mercy will I keep with him for evermore, and My covenant shall stand fast with him.

"My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of My lips. I have sworn by My holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven."

Of all the great men whose lives are laid out before us in the Scriptures none soar to such spiritual heights or plunge to such depths as David. Apart from his great sin with Bathsheba, he was deliberately disobedient to God when he took a census of the twelve tribes and seventy-five thousand Israelites died as a result! Yet, in spite of his failures, countless millions have been comforted in times of their deepest need by David's psalms. Or when one feels the need to find adequate words to praise God, his 'hallelujah' psalms (146 to 150) point the way.

Again, Psalm 132 gives added proof of God's unconditional covenant with David: "The LORD has sworn in truth unto David; He will not turn from it; of the fruit of your body will I set upon your throne. If your children will keep My covenant and My testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon your throne for evermore" (132:11-12).

Note that whilst the covenant made with David is unconditional, it is conditional where his descendants are concerned. The little word 'if' of verse 12 completely changes the terms of the covenant to all the kings who followed David until the last king of the Davidic dynasty, Jeconiah, was taken captive to Babylon. And according to Jeremiah 22 verses 28 to 30 no descendant of Jeconiah would ever again sit on the throne of David. We may ask, "How can God fulfil his unconditional and everlasting covenant to David in the light of the curse put upon Jeconiah and his descendants? There is light thrown on this vital question when we turn to the promise given to Miriam by Gabriel as recorded in the New Testament.

Gabriel confirms the covenant with Abraham

Some 2,500 years have run their course and no king has reigned on David's throne in Jerusalem. God has kept his promise concerning Jeconiah's descendants.

It is interesting to note that it was the angel Gabriel who gave Daniel the prophetic timetable of events from Daniel's day right through to the Millennial reign of the Messiah. In doing so he accurately foretold the time of the Messiah's first advent (see THE VISIONS OF THE PROPHET DANIEL, Part 3, THE VINEYARD July 1990). In the New Testament record Gabriel also appeared to Miriam, the espoused wife of Joseph and referred to the throne of David and his kingdom again being established. This statement is so important as to quote it in full.

"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Miriam.

"And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, you who are highly favoured, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women. And when she saw him she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Miriam: for you have found favour with God.

"And, behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son and shall call his name Yeshua (Jesus) . He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end " (Luke 1:26-33).

A vital observation regarding Gabriel's announcement to Miriam is the fact that Miriam's genealogy is traced back to David through his son Nathan, thus bypassing Jeconiah, (see Luke 3:23-31) whereas Joseph's genealogy is traced back to David through Solomon VIA Jeconiah (see Matthew 1:6-16).

Thus, had Joseph been the father of Yeshua He would be disqualified to fulfil Gabriel's prophecy. On the other hand Gabriel announced: "He shall be great, AND SHALL BE CALLED THE SON OF THE HIGHEST".

And so the great unconditional covenant God made with David still awaits its ultimate fulfilment. With only a few exceptions all David's descendants who reigned as kings of Judah were disqualified because of idolatry until Jeconiah ended the dynasty by going into captivity in Babylon. But in the fullness of time great David's greater Son, the Messiah Yeshua, will fulfil the promise made to Miriam when "the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever ..." !

In the 33rd chapter of Jeremiah there is a magnificent description of the Messiah's reign of righteousness during the Millennium: "In those days, and at that time, will I cause the BRANCH of righteousness to grow up unto David; and He shall execute judgement and righteousness in the land … Thus says the LORD; if you can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also My covenant also be broken with David My servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne ..." (33:20-21). Just as day follows night so will God's covenant stand with David!