A covenant between God and David, connecting his story to that of the whole Bible.
This morning we’re returning to the life of David. We’ve spent a total of 4 weeks so far looking at the narrative of his life, and it’s going to take a couple more weeks to wrap the story up. If you missed any of the previous messages and you want to catch up, they are all available online.
Let’s dive back in, and I’ll start with a quick Recap of what we’ve covered so far. We haven’t unpacked every detail of course, that would take a year, but tried to hit just the major events and themes.
To set the story up, we began in the book of Samuel, after having covered Samuel’s story, with the preface of 3 themes found towards the very beginning of the book, in a poetic prayer by Samuel’s mother, Hannah.
These 3 points are not the only lessons found throughout the book, but they are major themes that I’ve found to be a helpful framework in understanding the point of the story, in all its many pieces, and as a whole.
We then looked at David’s anointing, being chosen by God to replace Saul as king over Israel, even though he was the last person anyone would have expected God to use.
Then we read about how David, with pure motives, defeated the giant Goliath, against impossible odds, because Yahweh was on his side, and David knew that, believed it, and gave credit to God for the victory.
So we saw David’s great faith and humility, even as he continued to be incredibly successful, and married the king’s daughter, and he became famous and loved throughout Israel. He stayed humble and respectful even as Saul turned against him, tried to kill him, and descended into madness and self-destruction.
Ultimately, Saul’s decline led to a violent end for him. But instead of celebrating, David mourned the death of his king, and even wrote a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, and commanded that everyone learn the song in honor of them.
So then David became king, and two weeks ago Mike brought us through the story in chapter 6 of 2 Samuel of how David ultimately brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. That was extremely significant because it meant God’s presence would abide with them, and it was cause for great joy and celebration.
So, that’s where we left off in chapter 6, and we’re going to pick the story back up in chapter 7 (turn there). This is a very significant chapter, because it describes what we call the “Davidic Covenant.” A covenant between God and David. We’re going to take more of a look into what that means in a minute, but first let’s read through the beginning of this chapter together, starting in verse 1:
1 When King David was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, 2 the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!”
3 Nathan replied to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you.”
4 But that same night the LORD said to Nathan,
5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in? 6 I have never lived in a house, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until this very day. I have always moved from one place to another with a tent and a Tabernacle as my dwelling. 7 Yet no matter where I have gone with the Israelites, I have never once complained to Israel’s tribal leaders, the shepherds of my people Israel. I have never asked them, “Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar house?” ’
8 “Now go and say to my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I took you from tending sheep in the pasture and selected you to be the leader of my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before your eyes. Now I will make your name as famous as anyone who has ever lived on the earth! 10 And I will provide a homeland for my people Israel, planting them in a secure place where they will never be disturbed. Evil nations won’t oppress them as they’ve done in the past, 11 starting from the time I appointed judges to rule my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.“
‘Furthermore, the LORD declares that he will make a house for you—a dynasty of kings! 12 For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. 13 He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. 15 But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. 16 Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’ ”
17 So Nathan went back to David and told him everything the LORD had said in this vision.
So, this all starts off with David saying “hey, there’s something wrong with this picture. I’m living in a palace made of cedar, while God’s still in a lousy tent. This is again a glimpse into David’s humble heart, and his desire to put God before himself, and for God to have more honor than himself. That’s a very good motive, and I think this desire came from a noble place in David’s heart.
David expressed this to Nathan, a prophet, who then just says “Ok yeah, that sounds good, do it, God is with you! Yahweh is with you!” So, he essentially was speaking on God’s behalf even though as far as we can tell he didn’t bother to consult with God before saying that.
And it becomes clear in the next verse that he didn’t, because God speaks to Nathan, who is certainly quick to correct himself, I’ll give him that, he didn’t hesitate to then essentially give David the message of “Thanks, but, no thanks, I never asked for that.” Which I’m sure came as a surprise to both Nathan and David.
Eventually God will allow a more permanent temple to be built, but we’ll get to that.
For now, we’re going to shift our focus to the next eight verses, 8—16. This is the section we refer to as the covenant, the Davidic Covenant.
But before we unpack this covenant, I do want to take a quick step back and talk about this idea of covenants.
A covenant is a promise, a commitment, and a partnership. We don’t use this term very often in our day to day outside of references to the Bible, except for maybe when referring to the covenant of marriage. A marriage is a promise…we say vows…and it’s a commitment and a partnership. So marriage I think is a helpful way to understand the significance of a covenant, and God often refers to his people as being in a marriage covenant with him, using the analogy of a bride and groom to describe his covenant relationship to his people.
Now, the Davidic covenant is not the first covenant we’ve seen in God’s story, is it? We’ve seen a few others, so let’s just review that quickly.
Some would say that God had a covenant with Adam and Eve in the garden, which they violated, fracturing their partnership with God. And that’s very true, though an official “covenant” is not actually spelled out, it’s more implied. So other than Adam & Eve, what, or with whom is considered the first divine covenant between God and humans?
The first one is found in the story of Noah. So, we call that the Noaic Covenant. It was a promise God made to Noah, but really to all of humanity, that he would never again wipe out the whole earth like he did in Noah’s day. And this was an unconditional promise, requiring nothing from humans in return. Meaning, no matter how much humans messed up, God would keep this promise. In fact, he essentially said “because mankind is so wicked, and always will be, I’m promising not to hit the reset button again.”
The next covenant we’ve talked quite a bit about, and that was God’s covenant with Abraham, or the Abrahamic Covenant. This was a promise to make Abraham’s name great, and to bless the whole world through his family, his descendants. Now, this covenant didn’t require a whole lot on Abraham’s part to make it happen, though we do see throughout the story that God did require Abraham to have faith, and trust God to lead him. Ultimately, Abraham did pass that test of faith, though he messed up in other ways, and failed to trust God at times, God still considered Abraham’s faith as enough to uphold his end of the partnership.
Many generations of Abraham’s family go by, and they do become a large people group, and eventually we find the third covenant in the story of Moses, so we call that the Mosaic covenant. (So it’s the Mosaic Covenant because of Moses, nothing to do with arranging small colored tiles to make a picture). And it’s really a covenant with all the people of Israel, Abraham’s descendants.
And this covenant actually comes with a very specific set of laws, which God asks the people to follow. They’re guidelines for living in a relationship with God and with each other…as a healthy and loving community, centered around their faith and worship of Yahweh and his presence and leadership among them.
The people of Israel of course agreed to follow those guidelines, and thereby enter into a partnership with God. In this partnership, God would bless them and protect them, and they would become a people who represent God to the rest of humanity. Of course, as we all know, they did not do a great job of following God’s law.
That brings us finally to the last divine covenant of the Old Testament, back to God’s covenant with King David. Let me read it again:
8 “Now go and say to my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I took you from tending sheep in the pasture and selected you to be the leader of my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before your eyes. Now I will make your name as famous as anyone who has ever lived on the earth! 10 And I will provide a homeland for my people Israel, planting them in a secure place where they will never be disturbed. Evil nations won’t oppress them as they’ve done in the past, 11 starting from the time I appointed judges to rule my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.
“ ‘Furthermore, the LORD declares that he will make a house for you—a dynasty of kings! 12 For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. 13 He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. 15 But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. 16 Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’ ”
Now, there are elements to this which are not at all dependent on David’s or Israel’s cooperation. It’s just going to happen. But, we also see, throughout the rest of the story, that God is really asking to partner with David, and his descendants, to lead Israel in obeying the laws and becoming a kingdom that is representative of God in truth, and love, and justice, and beauty.
Here’s the thing, and I’m going to get ahead of the story a little bit here. Israel did not turn out to be a good partner, and they repeatedly break the covenant they agreed to with Moses. They worship other God’s, they allow horrible injustice, and they end up losing their land, and get forced into exile. They lose the right to participate in God’s blessings.
It was during that time when prophets of God started to talk about a time when God would somehow restore these covenants, despite Israel’s failures. This idea, or this hope, became known as the hope for a “new covenant” … something to fix the mess of all the broken ones.
They didn’t know exactly how that would be possible or what it would look like, but it was attached to the promise of a Messiah a chosen one, who would become king, and unite Israel, making them great again under this so-called “new covenant.”
Around Christmas time we looked at a few of the messianic prophesies in the Old Testament, and we talked about how when Jesus is introduced, it’s as someone who fulfills all those prophesies.
And because of that, he also fulfills all these covenants, though not quite in the way Israel was expecting.
He is from the family of Abraham, so carried with that the Abrahamic covenant, but he came to fully realize that covenant by extending the blessings of Abraham’s family to the whole world. That was part of the original promise.
He was the first and only faithful Israelite to faithfully and perfectly obey the law given through Moses.
AND he claimed to be the king promised from the line of David.
So, there are a few layers to God’s covenant with King David. This is common for prophetic statements in the Bible...it applies to some things in the short term and the long term, simultaneously.
Did you notice that God brings back up the topic of building him a house? In verses 12 and 13, he says that after David dies, one of his descendants would build a temple for God’s name.
Well, David’s son Solomon would build a physical temple eventually. And there are other physical, immediate ways in which God blessed Israel during the time of David & Solomon, but none of them lasted forever. And yet, we see that word forever multiple times throughout this covenant!
It’s not until Christ that we find out the true long-term meaning of this covenant. When Jesus came and tabernacled among us, as a living, moving temple, capable of worshipping the Father with every breath, a beacon of light and truth, he himself literally embodying the very presence of God in human form.
Jesus is the king from the line of David who is the ultimate fulfillment of this covenant. He has secured the throne of God’s kingdom, forever. And he has invited all of us to be a part of that kingdom. And thankfully, because he took on the role of both God and Humans to fulfill all these covenants, we are able to be restored into relationship and partnership with God simply by trusting that Jesus did it for us because we, just like the Israelites couldn’t, we cannot do it for ourselves.
Going back to 2 Samuel, we’ve seen a lot of God exalting the humble while opposing the proud, and we can see him moving his mission forward despite the mistakes humans make…we’ll see more of that next week.
But chapter 7 is really a gem, because it connects this story to the story of the whole Bible. It builds on preexisting hope, while spelling out a promise that is the foundation for so much to come.
Last week, because I gave him the challenge of sharing 12 things he learned in Zambia, Mike of course had to get me back by saying I would share 30? things to learn from the Davidic covenant. I think he was joking, but just in case I went ahead and came up with 30 things. Ready?
The moment when Jesus was crucified, in what most people would have considered the lowest, most humiliating experience you could have, was the very means of his triumph over our enemies and exultation to the throne of God.
In a few minutes, we’ll have the opportunity to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice and what it means to us, participating as a family in the symbolic practice of communion.
But before we do that, I want to leave you with one more passage. If you’d like to read along, you can turn to the book of Isaiah, chapter 55. This is an invitation to join in the blessings of God’s covenant with David.
I’m just going to read the first 5 verses, though I would encourage you to meditate on the whole passage during your quiet time this week, and even the preceding chapters as well. Actually all 4 of the covenants come up in these chapters. But read with me, or just listen to Isaiah chapter 55, verses 1—5
“Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink—
even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
it’s all free!
2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
3 “Come to me with your ears wide open.
Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.
4 See how I used him to display my power among the peoples.
I made him a leader among the nations.
5 You also will command nations you do not know,
and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey,
because I, the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”
So I close just with that thought, that God is inviting you to him, to participate in all his infinite generosity. He wants to make you rich. And glorious. But not after the manner of kingdoms of men, rather in the pleasure of knowing Him, and in the power of His spirit.