The Davidic Covenant in the Prophets
2 Samuel 7:8–17; 1 Chronicles 17:11–14
Samuel Lesson #163
February 26, 2019
“Father, we are thankful we can come together this evening. We’re thankful everybody’s here safely. We pray those who were out on the road were kept safe. Father, we pray that for our time together that we can focus our attention upon You and put aside the distractions of life.
“Father we pray for our nation. We pray for peace in our nation toward Christians, that we may be able to not only freely study and teach the Word inside of our churches, but outside of our churches, and that Christian employees can live out their Christian lives in their place of employment, or their own business without fear of government harassment.
“Father, we pray for Coach Kennedy, for his case, for First Liberty, and we pray for all the different things that are involved in these cases. We pray that you’d give them wisdom and skill in the courtroom. We pray that, in his case, it would be heard by the Supreme Court, and that you would find in his favor and strengthen the understanding and application of the First Amendment in our nation.
“Father we pray for us tonight that we can focus on your Word and that You will strengthen (a) our confidence in Your Word, and (b) You will strengthen our understanding of the Davidic Covenant and its significance, and why it is so important to understand it as a basic concept of biblical study. We pray that this, in turn, will produce (c) a confidence that we have in You and Your faithfulness to Your promises. And we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to begin with to 2 Samuel 23. What we’re going to focus on this evening is looking at how the Davidic Covenant works itself out afterward. Last time, we concluded by looking at the relationship and the connections between the Davidic Covenant and the Abrahamic Covenant.
I’ll review those very quickly tonight, but after God gave this covenant to David, there are a number of times subsequent to this where it is foundational in understanding a number of different passages of prophecies related to the Messiah.
So, we’re looking at the Davidic Covenant in relation to the prophets. In our study of Samuel, we’re in this section in 2 Samuel 7 where the Covenant is given.
We talked about it last time in terms of the exegetical context—just what is said in 2 Samuel 7:8–17—what the basic stipulations are that God made the promises He made to David. Then we looked at the Davidic Covenant and its relation to the Abrahamic Covenant.
There are two more things we need to do. The third thing, which we did not get to last time, is to look at how the Davidic Covenant is referred to and is used in the Prophets in the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets subsequent to the time of David.
Then last, we’re going to see how this promise of the Seed is developed.
It’s really interesting. This is some most fascinating material, and as I’ve been going back and looking at this of course—you know because you heard me teach a number of things related to Messianic prophecies over the last several years—what’s interesting was as I was digging through stuff today, and I was looking up footnotes and finding other books that I have on the bookshelf that go in even more detail on a number of these things, it’s just so fascinating to see all of the interconnections that are played out with Messianic prophecies and with the Davidic Covenant.
I really needed about 24 more hours to study to prepare tonight. We’re not going to get that far anyway, so it just means we’ll be studying this for a few more weeks.
What you’ll see, and I’ll reference it tonight, is one of the more obscure prophecies in the Old Testament: Those that are in the four oracles of Balaam, the four prophecies of Balaam. And in the fourth prophecy, the one that many people are more familiar with, he prophesies the star and the scepter, and both refer to the to the Messiah. There are some problems with how some of it is translated due to some glitches in the Masoretic Text.
One of the things we’ve learned and studied, as I pointed out in the past, is the Masoretic Text had a very overt prejudice against Messianic prophecies, and so often—we’ll see one situation tonight—they would just change the vowels in a word, and it would change it to another word and in some cases, it would make a verse completely meaningless and other places, it wiped out the allusions to previous Messianic prophecies.
What’s interesting is some of the keywords that you find back in Balaam’s [oracles] in Numbers 24 get picked up in these later prophecies. So, if you know what the Hebrew says in earlier prophecies, you recognize that what is said in these prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Amos, that they just use the same vocabulary. They expect their readers to be knowledgeable about what they said.
You read the word, and go, “Oh yeah, that’s the same word that’s over here.” They’re connecting the dots, and the dots are the words. So, what we’ll do is we’ll end up with the promise of the Seed, and in two sections, where we deal with the prophecy in Amos 9 and a prophecy in Acts 15 that quotes Amos 9 we’ll then go to Galatians 3:16 where Paul connects the promise of the Seed (singular) to Jesus as the Seed of David.
This goes back to some interesting things in the Abrahamic Covenant, which sort of connects all of them together. So, that’s going to be fun when we get to the end and see how all these different promises connect. What that does for us is to give us greater confidence in the divine origin of the Word of God and in the prophecies related to the Messiah.
When I sit and I study and I see these things and start learning these things, I’m just amazed. The Bible is a pretty wonderful book to begin with, but then you start seeing these that deep down in the details of the language in the original languages there are these little interconnections that really flesh things out for us; it’s just amazing. It is fun to get into these things.
So, this is where we are and our basic outline. We looked at what the Bible teaches about covenants and the main thing to remember about a covenant is it’s a legal document.
There were legal documents in the time that the Bible was written in the time of Moses, at the time of Abraham, and later, and so these covenants that were these basic legal forms of the contracts come into play to help us understand the structure of what is going on in the biblical text. You can understand the biblical text without it; people did for years, but knowing that just gives us a little frosting on the cake and helps us to understand a few more things about what is going on.
As I pointed out here, the word “covenants” is not used in the Davidic Covenant passage in 2 Samuel 7, but it is used in 2 Samuel 23:5. That is a key verse that we’ll be looking at tonight.
The structure of the covenants, the key idea is that these are promises; they are promissory covenants. That’s another technical term that is used in the discussion of promises, and as a promissory covenant, that relates to unconditional covenants. They are promises that are made that haven’t yet been fulfilled, but will be fulfilled because they’re part of an unconditional contract that God has promised alone to fulfill apart from a commitment from the recipient.
As I pointed out last time, Abraham sleeps through the whole covenant-cutting ceremony with God, and God is symbolized by a smoking torch going between the animals that have been cut in half and that symbolizes that God alone binds Himself to fulfill that covenant, making it a an unconditional and eternal covenant.
As we see, that’s the foundational covenant for the Old Testament. It also is a foundational covenant for understanding all of future human history all the way to the end of the Millennial Kingdom. And it’s broken down and developed in terms of three covenants: the Land Covenant, which is not fulfilled until Israel comes into the land, and the Davidic Covenant, which is not fulfilled until the greater son of David, Jesus Christ returns to the earth and establishes His kingdom, and that’s when the New Covenant is sworn to, that’s what begins a covenant.
There are many covenants in the Bible where there is no sacrifice. It’s not the sacrifice that starts the covenant. Jesus’ sacrifice was the foundation for the covenant on the Cross, but it doesn’t begin the covenant.
The covenant begins when an oath is taken and that is taken place will look at that later on sometime in Ezekiel when the Lord returns, and there’s a judgment that takes place, and He swears an oath of loyalty to Israel. That initiates or inaugurates the New Covenant, which means that most of the Christians you know think they’re living in the New Covenant now, and they’re going around talking about doing things for the kingdom, and all kinds of other nonsense because they don’t have a dispensationally correct understanding of these things. So, that brought us to what the Bible teaches about the Davidic Covenant.
If you go to talk to a lot of people, they’ll say, “Why do I need to know this?” Well, when you get below the surface of the Bible, and you decide there’s a little bit more than just talking about the love of Jesus, you realize that that we have to understand that God has legally bound Himself to do certain things in human history through these covenants.
Tom McComiskey, who used to be a professor of New Testament and theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, at least back in the 1980s and 1990s, states in his book on The Covenants of Promise, “One cannot deny the monumental—listen to his language here—the monumental importance of 2 Samuel 7 in the historical outworking of the promise.”
What he says here and the whole paragraph this is taken from states that you can’t underestimate the significance of the Davidic Covenant in terms of the Old Testament. He goes on to say, “It rivals in grandeur, the first majestic statement of the promise to Abraham. Where’s that found? In Genesis 12:1–3. It rivals in grandeur the first majestic statement of the promise to Abraham as well as the impassioned messianic predictions of the prophets. It is a mountain peak in redemptive history.”
I would bet that if you phrase this in such a way, where people didn’t know what it was and said, “To which covenant does this refer?”, they would either guess the Abrahamic Covenant or the New Covenant, but they wouldn’t guess the Davidic Covenant.
But, if you look at the Scriptures, you see so many times to through the Old Testament that there are allusions and references to the Davidic Covenant. Why? Because it focuses on the promise of the Seed, and the promise of the Seed is the promise of the Messiah. So almost every Messianic prophecy is an allusion to the Davidic Covenant, and we’re not going to look at all of them, but we’re going to look at a number of them.
So, we looked at the Abrahamic Covenant and we saw that the key terms in the Abrahamic Covenant were land, seed and blessing. God promised a specific piece of real estate to Israel in perpetuity. It’s conditioned in the Mosaic Covenant on obedience, and He will make them obedient in the New Covenant, so the land is promised.
This seed—it’s an interesting word because it’s a collective noun. A collective noun is a word like “deer”; you can have one deer or you can have a thousand, deer—it’s a collective noun, so you really have to look at context to determine whether the noun is talking about one person, one descendant, or whether it’s talking about many descendants. That’s what we’ll get to when we come to the end.
We’ll talk about the Galatians 3:16 passage, and it is through that Seed that the whole world is going to be blessed, and each of those three elements is then developed in subsequent covenants. The Land Covenant. Deuteronomy 29, the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7, and then the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31.
Someone asked me last week, who knows that on Friday mornings we’ve got a group of pastors—and we have around 20 to 25 who join in every week. We’ve been studying two recent books on the New Covenant. Both are by dispensationalists, and some of the issues on the application of the New Covenant, or the relation of the New Covenant to the Church Age are extremely controversial.
If you get a room of 30 dispensational scholars together, you’ll probably have ten, ten, and ten: Ten will hold one view, ten will hold the second view, and ten will hold the third view. It is probably the one view in dispensational theology that has the most disagreement.
So, we’ve been working our way through it having different professors and scholars come in and present their papers to us on Friday mornings, and somebody said, are you going to summarize all that for us in class? I said no. It’s going to take me another 18 months to sift through what I worked through the last nine months. I feel like now that we’re at the end of this extremely granular study, I think I know what the issues are, and I have to go back and reread everything to figure out what they were actually saying. So, it’s a lot of fun. That’s what Bible study is all about.
The Davidic Covenant expands on the seed promise; it’s given to David in 2 Samuel 7:12–16, the promise of an eternal house. That’s an important word to watch as we go through the language of the subsequent prophecies, an eternal kingdom, and an eternal throne. All three have to come together at the same time, so I’m just going to run through these very quickly because of time. Last time, we saw that there is an overlap or expansion between the Abrahamic and the Davidic covenants in a lot of ways.
God promises to both David and Abraham that He will make their names great. God promises to both Abraham and David that certain security for the nation for their presence in the land. God promised David offspring that would culminate in an eternal ruler. God promised innumerable descendants to Abraham, so there are references to their descendants.
God promised to Abraham that there would be royal descendants, that some of his descendants would be kings. And God promised to David that there would be royal descendants, and one would rule forever. God promised to bless both David and Abraham. God declared Himself to be the God of Israel in both covenants and that He would be their God, and they would be His people.
Then both covenants are said to be eternal covenants—never-ending unconditional covenants.
God says in Psalm 89 as sort of an introduction to the basic idea of eternality, Psalm 89:34–37, “My covenant I will not break nor alter the word that is gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness;—See, he’s not. It’s not a mutual swearing, and what He says—I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; It shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky.”
I pointed out last time that Psalm 89 is not written by David. Psalm 89 is written after the return of the Jews under Zerubbabel, and later maybe under Ezra or Nehemiah, somewhere in that period. It is designed to reflect upon how faithful God is to Israel because they have been so unfaithful. They have apostatized; they have been idolatrous; their false worship in the fertility cults has just been vile; they have sacrificed their children on the in the fires of Moloch—all of these things.
Yet, God continues to be faithful, and He doesn’t vacate the covenant. He continues to work it out, and so, this is part of the meditation of Psalm 89:34, that God is faithful and will continue to provide for us. We see that this is an unconditional and eternal covenant and that the promise of God will endure no matter what failures come and that is the same for us.
That is one of the takeaways that we have from this is that God is faithful to His promise. No matter how much we fail, no matter how much sin we get into, no matter how long we’re in carnality, God is faithful. He will forgive us; He will cleanse us because Christ paid the penalty for every single sin we’ll ever commit in human history. God’s omniscience knew every one of them. He didn’t forget one; He didn’t pour out all the sins of the world and some years later, say, “Oops, I forgot one.” Christ paid for every single sin, and so God’s promise of salvation is unconditional.
Three other passages emphasize this eternality: 2 Samuel 23:5—We’ll come back to this in detail in a little bit; this is David writing. He says—“Although my house is not so with God. Yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire; Will He not make it increase?” And really this should be translated, “Will He not make it branch?” or “Will He not make it fruitful?” We’ll see why I say it that way in just a minute.
Ezekiel 37:25, “Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant.” “Then” is talking about after they returned to the land, not the return to the land that occurred in 536 BC and the subsequent years. There were several waves of the returnees, but they weren’t large waves. This wasn’t a huge group of people even at the time of Christ. The Jewish population in the area of the promised land was probably less than a few hundred thousand and maybe a million, but it certainly did not incorporate but may be 25 or 30% of all the Jews in the world at that time. Whereas today, we have a little over 49% of Jews worldwide that are in Israel. That’s remarkable. God is definitely doing something.
Then the third verse is Isaiah 55:3. “Incline your ear, and come to Me.—This is God’s invitation through Isaiah—Hear, and your soul shall live;” See, that’s another example of when God says listen, He doesn’t just mean let your auditory nerves be stimulated. When He says, “Do you hear Me? He doesn’t just mean did you hear the words I spoke? He means, “Did you obey Me? Did you do what I said to do? So, “Hear—in other words, hear and respond in belief—and your soul shall live. And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.” He’s already made the covenant, but He is talking about bringing it to fulfillment. This is Isaiah 55:3.
As we look at all of this, one of the things that we need to understand and that we went through already is this connection between the Davidic and the Abrahamic Covenants. God’s commission for Abraham to move out of Ur of the Chaldees and to go to a land that God would show him is referenced many other times in the Old Testament, but it is referenced in the prophets in a way that, as you will see, is connected by different words and language—the Abrahamic Covenant is connected to the Davidic Covenant, and I want to pull some of these things together for you as we go forward.
In Isaiah 29:22, God is affirming and reminding them about the eternality of the Abrahamic Covenant, despite Israel’s sin. So, we probably ought to look at each of these passages in context a little bit, which means it will take us a little longer. The passage starts off with a message of condemnation to Jerusalem called Ariel, like the term Ariel Ministries, the lion of God. [Isaiah 29:1] “Woe to Ariel, to Ariel the city where David dwelt!” What does that call to mind?
At the very beginning here, the focus is on David. As you go through this chapter in Isaiah 29 and there are various judgments that are brought out and mentioned, then there is a connection at the end of the chapter to Abraham, so this chapter connects these two covenants together. Isaiah 29:22, “Therefore, thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:” And what is said here? It reinforces the eternality of the Abrahamic Covenant to the city of David and the people of David. [Isaiah 29:22–24] “Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham—I underlined the words for the patriarchs here—redeemed Abraham concerning the house of Jacob. ‘Jacob shall not now be ashamed nor shall his face grow pale; But when he sees his children, the work of My hands in his midst, they will hallow— or sanctify, set apart—My name and hallow the Holy One of Jacob, and fear the God of Israel. These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine.’ ” So, this is just a reminder of the eternality of the Abrahamic Covenant, and as such, it is still in effect, and as such, it still will apply to the Seed of David.
Then we look at another passage in the midst of a judgment section, and this is Isaiah 41. Isaiah 41:10 is a verse that many of us have memorized, but probably few of us have taken the time to go back to examine. In this verse, we have reference to Israel. For example, in Isaiah 41:8, “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob,” and if you look at the New King James, it says, “Jacob, whom I chose.” But remember, we’ve had our study in Ephesians 1 and the best way to translate bachar here, as Moshe Weinfeld says, in covenant context, it should be “appointed.” [Isaiah 41:8–10]
“Jacob, whom I have appointed—for a reminder of the mission,—the descendants of Abraham, My friend. You whom I’ve taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions,—this is talking about a time in the future when they’re restored from the Babylonian captivity—and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have appointed you and have not cast you away: Fear not, I for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ ” This is a promise that is given to Israel in the midst of their disobedience.
Remember, Isaiah writes around 750 BC. Let’s just use that as a benchmark date. He is a little bit later than Jonah. Their lives may have overlapped, and we don’t know that much about Jonah; John [Williamson] has been teaching on Jonah. So they’re contemporaries. Hosea is a contemporary. Amos is a contemporary. All of these prophets were at the same time, and Isaiah is announcing judgment on both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. He is primarily a prophet to the Southern Kingdom. So, this is this is important, but they are reaffirming the fact that God is true to His promise in the Abrahamic Covenant, and it’s the basis for their confidence in God’s continued faithfulness to Israel, no matter what they do, no matter how much they fail.
Then in Hosea 1:10–11, you see another connection that comes along says, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be—this is still talking the future—as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass, in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’ ” So, this is talk about a future time when God has turned his back on Israel.
Now they are being restored and there will be a time in the future where their population is without number. “Like the sand of the sea,” where is that language derived? It comes out of the Abrahamic Covenant.
So these kinds of allusions are designed to bring that into our thinking.“ [Hosea 1:11] “Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; And they shall come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel!” Who’s the one-head going to be? David.
So, we see how these things are going to be tied together and connected for us. Again and again, as we go through these prophets, we’ll be reminded of the promises to Abraham and David, and they won’t be nullified by God.
In the Davidic Covenant, we have the Seed promise that keeps cropping up. It’s the fulfillment of that Seed in Galatians 3:16. Remember, that’s eventually where we’ll end up. In Galatians 3:16, Paul makes the point that God promised to Abraham’s Seed, and not seeds, not plural, and so because it’s singular, that refers to the Messiah. That’s who that passage is talking about, its Jesus and this connects the dot.
If “seed” is singular, it’s referring to someone singular coming out of the Abrahamic Covenant, and is expanded on in the Davidic Covenant and then it’s the basis for the Messianic prophecies. Then after Jesus, Paul comes along and says that Seed refers to Jesus; he ties a bow around everything and shows how all of the Bible is interdependent and interconnected.
As we look at this, one of the other passages among the major prophets that develops this eternality idea is in Jeremiah 33:20–22. We’re going to look at various things that are happening in Jeremiah 33; we’re going to look sort in the middle of the section, and then we’ll go back and look at what precedes it and what comes what comes after it. In Jeremiah 33, there is an emphasis on the permanence of God’s covenant.
In Jeremiah 33:19–21, we read, “And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, thus says Yahweh: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night—in other words, if you’re going to change the order of day and night, if you’re going to change the length of day and night, if you’re going to change all of the physical laws that lead to day and night, if you can break My covenant with the day and with the night—so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant.”
See, these other passages are all designed to bring us to a point where we understand that this language that is used is the language of eternality, of for ever and ever, that if you can’t change day and night, you can’t change the covenant with David My servant, [Jeremiah 33:21] “so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne.” That’s the “core” part of the of the promise; it will be an eternal house or an eternal dynasty so there will always be a son of David, to reign on the throne.
But notice the next part deals with the Levites. I bet you if you’re reading through your Bible and you read this if you weren’t falling asleep it caused you to ask a question, [Jeremiah 33:21b–22] “and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers—see there’s a covenant there—as the host of heaven cannot be numbered or the sand of the sea measured—where does that language come from? That comes out of the Abrahamic Covenant—so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.”
That doesn’t come out and spell it out, but that’s a hint of foreshadowing that there are going to be Levitical priests functioning in the kingdom. They don’t function according to the laws and the sacrifices of Leviticus. Some of those are not restated in Ezekiel 40 to 48, but there will be a restoration of a sacrificial system because people will need to be ritually cleansed, even though they’re saved, just as people were saved in the Old Testament, even though that’s paid for.
It is a training aid; that doesn’t mean that they have to give sacrifices to be truly cleansed. They can confess sin anywhere in the world, but if they’re going to come into the presence of God, there has to be this reinforcement of the ritual cleansing just as in the Old Testament. I thought this was interesting because it talks about the term eternality of the covenant, the eternality of the covenant with David, it connects it to the Abrahamic Covenant and the promise that God will multiply the seed of David, [Jeremiah 33:22] “… My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.”
I want you to look back just a few verses. Like I said, we’re going to go right into the middle of the passage and back up to get a look at what comes before it. We’ll go back to verse 14—the slide goes to 15, but I’ll start at 14. “Jeremiah 33:14, “Behold, the days are coming”—Whenever you see that phrase and you see that language, you have to think in terms of the end times. This is talking about the end times.
Remember, there are the end times for Israel and there are the end times for the church. There are the latter days for Israel and the latter days for the church, so we have to keep those separate, keep those distinct.
Here, he’s talking about the latter days of Israel. He says, [Jeremiah 33:14] “ ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.’ ” And those promises are fulfilled—remember, the chart of promises made in the Old Testament and then they’re fulfilled—when Jesus returns and establishes the kingdom.
Then he says in Jeremiah 33:15, “In those days and at that time …” Usually you will find the phrase “in those days,” or you’ll see the phrase “at that time,” both of which normally indicate, unless there’s some contextual reason otherwise, something is going to happen at the end times.
Here you have both of those phrases, so that’s an emphasis. [Jeremiah 33:15] “In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness;—This is talking about the characteristic of this branch, it is a righteous branch. What will He do? He’s going to rule a certain way; that’s the next stanza.—He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.”
He will be a righteous branch; he’s from David. He will be a righteous ruler who will rule in righteousness and have righteous judgments in the earth. And then He says, [Jeremiah 33:16] “In those days,—that is, at that time when this righteous branch appears,—Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely.” So, there’s a parallelism there because Jerusalem technically, it’s on the border and sort of overlaps and is in between Benjamin and Judah, but primarily, it’s viewed as being in Judah.
Jerusalem often is used in parallelism to Judah. [Jeremiah 33:16b], “And this is the name by which she will be called: Yahweh our righteousness.” So, God, the righteous God, the righteous covenant God of Israel, Yahweh, will rule over Israel at this time. Yahweh Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness. So that’s Jeremiah 33:15 and 16, which introduce us to David and to this Davidic descendant called “the Branch.” We’re going to have to investigate that term a little bit.
Then, in Jeremiah 33:17 we read, “For thus says the Lord: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel’ ”. We already saw that He restates that when we get down into verse 21, so He’s repetitive here to make sure people get the point. This is the Abrahamic Covenant; you will have an eternal dynasty. David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel. So this means he’s going to have a never-ending succession of sons, or he’s going to end in a son which is eternal.
There’s a hint here of the fact that this is an eternal son, and eternality is a characteristic of deity. Then it also states, [Jeremiah 33:18] “ ‘nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ ” Remember that burnt offerings were offerings given to indicate one’s total commitment to God. Everything is burned up in the sacrifice, everything goes to God.
Grain offerings were fellowship offerings to express fellowship with God. So, neither of these are atonement type—substitutionary death type—sacrifices. Here, Jeremiah connects David, the Davidic Covenant, to the Branch and to the future establishment of the kingdom.
So as we look at this, we’ve been introduced to this concept of the Branch. Before we get into that, I want to introduce another question that we need to be thinking about as we go forward. When we think about any of the covenants, but since we’re talking about the Davidic Covenant, we’re targeting that, how we should interpret this covenant.
There’s debate, and has been throughout the centuries, on how to interpret the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the New Covenant, because those who hold to some form of Replacement Theology think that when Israel rejected the Messiah, that God cut them off, nullified the covenants, transferred the blessings to the church and said to hell with the Jews, I’m going to work through the Gentiles. And that became a justification for Christian anti-Semitism throughout the Middle Ages and on to the present, and that is complete garbage. That is not biblical whatsoever. God made these as eternal covenants, and they should be interpreted literally and not allegorically. But that’s how many people do.
Go to Israel sometime, and if we go down to Bethlehem, and we meet some of the Palestinian Christians down there, just get into a discussion with them as to whether the land belongs to the Jews—that God promised it to them and it still belongs to them—and you’ll get a good lesson in allegorical hermeneutics very quickly in a very passionate, intense debate.
So, we have to understand this question and think about this question: How does the Bible use the Abrahamic Covenant? Use the Bible for the standard of how we interpret the Scripture. Does the Bible use and interpret the Davidic Covenant allegorically or does it interpret it literally?
We’re going to see as we go through all of these different passages that the covenant with David was understood in a literal fashion. He’s going to have eternal descendants, he’s going to have an eternal throne, he’s going to have an eternal kingdom. That is what we’ll see as we go through all of these Old Testament passages. It’s always a literal interpretation.
Then, when we get into the New Testament, we will also find literal interpretation and application of the passage. In the New Testament, you’ll discover that there are over 59 references to David. David is taken literally. You can talk to a lot of minimalist archeologists and scholars, the liberal scholars over in Israel, and the liberal scholars in America, and they question whether David ever existed. He’s just some sort of an idealized king, but oops, a few years ago, they discovered on a stele, a reference to the house of David, so that made them sit back a little bit, and say, well maybe there was.
Now, they’re discovering the old palace of David in the old City of David. That too is causing them to rethink a little bit. There’s not only a debate about that, but there’s huge debate about whether Moses wrote the Pentateuch or not. It may surprise you that over 80 or 90 percent of scholars worldwide reject Mosaic authorship of the Torah. They think, “Moses couldn’t have written it; he didn’t even know how to write.” They reject the whole idea that he was brought up and educated in the house of Pharaoh.
They question whether he would have existed or not; they’re not sure David did—they’ve got a little archeological evidence now that possibly he did, but anything before David, of course, is just all legend and myth, and it’s all been made up.
In the next couple of weeks, right after the Chafer Conference, Veritas University, that’s founded by Norm Geisler, some of you are very familiar with Stormin’ Norman, he’s about 87 or 88 now, wrote 60 or 70 books, and he’s just a premier apologist. He founded Veritas University, and they have produced what looks like a quality film documentary, and I recognized, it has on their webpage—I sent out a link to it—we need to send that email out two or three more times before that comes up so you can get tickets, but—it’s going to show on the Thursday night after the Chafer Conference when you’re just braindead and exhausted. I encourage everybody to go to it. You’ll know what’s going on. Randy Price is mentioned in the film. For people who hear this in five or ten years, it will probably be on DVD by then; it’s called, “Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy.”
Returning to David and the Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 23 is a psalm that David writes at the end of his life to praise God for how God has blessed him. It’s interesting. He says in 2 Samuel 23:5, “Although my house—Why is that term significant? It refers to his dynasty; key in on that term “house”—is not so with God—we’ll pick up the context in just a minute—He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire; Will He not make it increase?” That’s what it says in the New King James; it should really be translated, “Will He not make it branch” or “fruitful? To be contextual here, go back to the first verse.
In 2 Samuel 23:1, the writer says, “Now these are the last words of David.” So, he writes this at the end of his life. Then, if you look at the text as it’s translated before you in the Masoretic Text, there are five things that are said about him.
[2 Samuel 23:1]
- He’s David;
- “the son of Jesse;”
- “Thus says the man raised up on high”;
- “the anointed of the God of Jacob,” and
- “the sweet psalmist of Israel”.
Notice, both Jacob and Israel are used here, and Judah is not. David’s from the tribe of Judah, so by using Jacob and Israel, he’s including all the tribes of Israel. These are the five things said about David: his name, David; his father’s name, Jesse—and that will be important because some of the passages will talk about the branch, and are talking about a stump, the root of Jesse, and out of that springs a branch. It’s talking about his patrilineal heritage.
The man raised on high, anointed by the God of Jacob who is the sweet psalmist of Israel. I won’t address all of these because they’re not that significant, but “the man raised on high” seems to make sense. He’s elevated to a position of the throne of God, but there are some problems here.
[Viewing the slide] The word “on” is a translation of this Hebrew word “‘al” here. This first letter is a glottal stop, it’s just usually translated as an apostrophe. Then the second consonant is the lamedh or “l.” Hebrew did not have vowel points. A vowel point is what you see as a little horizontal line under the second letter, but if you notice over here, it has the same word, but it has what looks like a “tau” or small “t” under the first letter—one’s a long “a”; the other’s a short “a.”
There were not any vowel points when this was written. There weren’t vowel points until the Masoretes came along several centuries into the Christian era. The Masoretes had an anti-Messianic bias, so where they could, they would change a vowel point, and it would change the meaning of a word so that it would minimize the Messianic emphasis of the text.
So, all you have are the same consonants, so you have to decide is this is a long or a short vowel point meant here. The first one here is not the word that is found in the Masoretic Text, but it would be translated, “with regard to” or “concerning.” That would mean, [2 Samuel 23:1] “Thus says David, the son of Jesse; Thus says the man concerning the anointed of the God of Jacob.” This is a very clear statement that David recognized he was a prophet, and that he wrote his psalms and they were prophecies of the Messiah. If you change the vowel point to a qamatz, you have “al” and that would simply mean “on high.”
That still makes sense in the text but you have now changed it from being Messianic to being non-Messianic. Isn’t that interesting? So, “anointed” now refers to David instead of the Messiah. I love finding out little things like this. That’s how it begins. [2 Samuel 23:1–2] “Thus says the man concerning the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel: The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me and His word was on my tongue,”—So he’s claiming it’s not his words but words of God the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the interesting thing: you have Elohim, the God of Jacob mentioned, and then you have the Spirit of the Lord mentioned, so how many divine persons do you have here? You’ve got two: you’ve got the God of Jacob, and then you’ve got the Spirit of the Lord, and then you have the anointed. So, you’ve got a reference to the Trinity here, all three. “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue.”
During the inter-testamental period, the word dabar that would be translated over into an Aramaic word that became part of a doctrine where they developed this whole scenario over the Word, so that when you see these phrases like, “His word was on my tongue,” it’s referring to another Person of the Trinity, the Divine Messenger, and that would apply to John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.”
[2 Samuel 23:2–4] “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue, the God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me—the Rock of Israel, the God of Israel, God of Jacob, are all the same Person—‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, ...’—What image comes to mind there? The image of something shooting up, just the imagery there.
[2 Samuel 23:5] “Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire;—then he questions—Will He not make it increase?” Literally, that would be translated, Will God not make it “branch” or “shoot up”? This word is not used in that previous verse. But I put this down here [indicating slide] tzamach is the verb that is used here. It’s in the hiphil, which means, “Will He not cause it ‘to sprout’ or ‘to grow’ or ‘to branch?’ ” Note how it’s spelled; you just change your vowel points a little, and it’s tzemach; it’s the same word, the same consonants, and that becomes the title for Messiah in the Prophets, “the Branch.”
“The Branch” comes right out of David’s psalm about the covenant that God has made with him. That’s your connection; you’ve got this word popping up over in the Prophets, and you have four key places where it’s used. It refers to the Branch of the Lord in Isaiah 4:2. It refers to the Branch of David in Jeremiah 23:5–6. It refers to My Servant the Branch in Zechariah 3:8, and the Man whose name is the Branch in Zechariah 6:12. So, this is significant for understanding the Davidic Covenant and showing how Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah all connect back to the Davidic Covenant through the vocabulary where they’re using this word, Branch.
Isaiah 4:2 is the first one we’re going to look at: “In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious;—In that day would refer to the day of the kingdom—And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped.”
This is really an interesting verse. I didn’t break it down in parallelism, but in that day the “Branch of the Lord,”—“Branch of the Lord” is parallel to “the fruit of the earth.” “Excellent and appealing” are parallel to “beautiful and glorious.” Then we’re told, “for those of Israel who have escaped.” From where did they escape? They escaped the wrath of the Lord in the Tribulation. So, this is talking about the Branch of the Lord will be revealed in all of His beauty and glory as He rules as that time, and He will be ruling over those who escaped the Tribulation.
The phrase “fruit of the land” is another interesting phrase. It is translated “fruit of the earth” but guess what? Earth is the Hebrew word ge. What do you think of when you hear the word “earth”? You think of the world or maybe the soil. Well, if you translate it “the fruit of the land,” all of a sudden, it takes on a different connotation. He’s the fruit of the land. Why would I say that? I would say that because this same phrase is used in Numbers 13:26 when the 12 spies have gone into the land, and they come back and give their report, [Numbers 13:26b] “[and] they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed to them the fruit of the land.”
It’s that which the land produces. Deuteronomy 1:25, “They also took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us.” So that’s where you have that phrase. It refers to that which is produced by the land.
Guess what? You also have this phrase in the New Testament. You have it in Hebrews 7:14, “For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah,—that phrase, “arose from Judah” in the Greek means, “is produced out of Judah.” So, the Greek word has the idea of sprouting up or growing out of something. It’s the Greek word ANATELLO, which means “to grow up,” “to spring up as a plant out of the soil.” So, it is evident that our Lord sprang up from Judah.
This is talking about His humanity, that He came from the tribe of Judah and so the language in Isaiah 4:2 is talking about the humanity of the Lord. But there’s something else that’s going on here, because if you look at the context leading up to Isaiah 4:2, you’d look at Isaiah 2:5–4:1, and it is a condemnation of Israel.
Starting in Isaiah 2:5, you have this warning of the Day of the Lord, and warning about judgment coming, and you find this condemnation, regarding how God has turned His back on His people, on Jacob, because they are filled with Eastern ways; they bought into all the Eastern religions. They are filled with soothsayers like the Philistines, they’re pleased with the children of foreigners, the land is full of silver and gold—they’re all about materialism—all these various things.
There’s a warning that comes all through that period, that describes all the horrors of idolatry and how corrupted the people are. This continues on into Isaiah 3; it talks about the future judgment of Judah and Jerusalem, and is a warning of that until it comes down to Isaiah 4:1, and there he says, “In that day—In what day? In the day of this coming judgment. In that day—seven women will take hold of one man, and they will say, ‘We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel’—In other words, you don’t have to be our meal ticket; we’ll take care of ourselves. We just want to be called by your name—to take away our reproach.” They are reproached because they don’t have a husband. Their reproach is also because of their sin, which they’ve been a part of that’s spelled out in the previous two chapters.
So, it sets the stage for the fact that there needs to be a cleansing of the reproach of sin, and that’s where you get this prophecy, [Isaiah 4:4] “In that day—the day when there needs to be a cleansing of sin, and—the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious.” He will bring cleansing of sin into the nation. Well, who can cleanse from sin? Only God can forgive sin, so this brings out the divine aspect of the Branch. So, we have a human aspect, and we have a divine aspect that are part of this imagery, and the way it is applied by Isaiah in Isaiah 4:2.
This just begins to get us into Isaiah, and we’re going to see how the Davidic Covenant is the background for understanding the prophecy of the virgin birth in Isaiah 14, and also in Isaiah 9:6–7. We have the background of the Davidic Covenant, and we’ll go through a few others and then get into Amos, Acts, Galatians 3:16, and Genesis next time.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to look at Your Word, to see these wonderful prophecies—how they’re interwoven, interconnected, interdependent—and how You have tied them together with the words that are used, so we can have great confidence in our understanding of the Davidic Covenant as literal and as eternal, and it will be fulfilled in the personage Who is a descendant of David, a son of David, Who will rule over Your people Israel. Father, help us to be strengthened spiritually by understanding these things that our confidence in You may continue to expand, in Christ’s name. Amen.”