Key To The Understanding Of The Scriptures


(13) The Promise Made to King David

Israel Demands a Visible King.

Previous studies have briefly covered the early history recorded in the Bible. It includes:

This brings us to the two books of Samuel, in which is recorded how that a visible monarchy was established over Israel.

This was made necessary to correct the anarchy that developed during the period of theJudges. The Judges were heads of tribes set up in authority during times of emergency. They were neither hereditary governors, nor rulers chosen by the people. They were established in their positions by God, and therefore were His deputies.

Whilst they ruled, the people prospered, but in their absence, the nation declined and suffered, for authority was relaxed, and the people did as they pleased. The record states:

"There was no king in Israel; every man did what was right In his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).

This pin-points the cause of failure, for there should have been a King in Israel. Men should have recognised the royal status and authority of God, and submitted to His rule (cp. Judges 8:23). They failed to do so, however, and thus periods of anarchy were common.

The last judge appointed over Israel, and the most successful of them all, was Samuel. He united the whole nation, and brought it under complete control. God's law was elevated, and under his wise administration, the nation prospered (1 Samuel 7:15-17). Men of discernment began to dread the time when his control would be relaxed, and when his death would bring an end to a regime that had proved so successful in every way.

They saw that his sons did not manifest the virtues of their father, and recognised the need of some form of permanent authority to maintain the unity of the nation, and guide it for its good.

The solution, they believed, was in an hereditary king, a visible monarch to symbolise authority and to exercise it as did Samuel.

They made request for this to Samuel, a request that deeply disappointed him. He could only view it as lack of confidence in the system he had established over the nation. He took the matter in prayer to God, and it was revealed to him that the fault was even more deep-seated and serious than he had realised. The demand for a King expressed dissatisfaction with God's rule.

"They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me," God told Samuel (1 Samuel 8:1-9).

Nevertheless, because experience is the greatest teacher, God granted the people their request, after solemnly warning them of the oppressions that could result from such a king (1 Samuel 8:10-17). Representatives of the nation were gathered together, and Saul of Benjamin was anointed as first king of Israel.

Saul was accepted by popular acclaim of the people. He had all the external qualities to commend his appointment. He was well-built, of striking appearance, with a commanding aspect that earned the respect of those under him (1 Sam. 9:2; 10:23- 24).

But he lacked the essential qualities for rulership in a theocracy: the virtues of faith and obedience. In a Kingdom where God was the real, if invisible, King, the absence of such qualities was fatal.

Saul commenced well, but his failure to carry out the will of God, proved that he was unsuited to the position, and he was deposed (1 Sam. 13:13-14; 15:11. Though of Israel, he had revealed himself to be a man of the flesh, a seed of the serpent, a progeny of Cain. He revealed this by his deadly determination to destroy his God appointed successor: David, the man after God's own heart. Saul's reason was swamped by anger and jealousy, and he became dominated by a murderous intent towards David, such as Cain had shown towards Abel.

But for the protection that God afforded David, he would have been destroyed by Saul. It was the enmity of the two seeds manifested once again (Gen. 3:15).

David Selected By God To Replace Saul.

The aged Samuel was given the sad task of telling Saul that he had proved a failure, and that God was about to replace him with a better man (1 Sam. 15:28). He was then sent to anoint the shepherd boy David, as king over Israel (1 Sam. 16:11-13; Psalm 78:70-72).

David's appointment was made secretly in order to protect him from the anger of Saul, and at first was not recognised by the people. His victory over the giant, Goliath, brought him into prominence before the people (1 Sam. 17, 18), and gradually it became known that he was the appointed successor to Saul.

This aroused the bitter antagonism of Saul who set out to destroy his rival. David was driven into exile, and was forced to live in constant jeopardy of his life throughout the remainder of Saul's life.

On the death of Saul, however, David was accepted by his own tribe of Judah, and, seven years later, was proclaimed king over all the twelve tribes (cp. 2 Sam. 2:11 with 5:3). His skill in war won for him victories in every direction, and soon his kingdom had extended into an empire, with the surrounding nations made subject unto him.

In all this, David typed the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Israel eagerly acclaimed Saul and only reluctantly accepted David (who proved by far to be the better king), so men readily put their confidence in the arm of flesh rather than in God. They will acclaim an Alexander, an Augustus, a Napoleon, but not the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest leader of all time.

As Saul, the man of flesh, sought to slay David, so the Jewish people, as men of flesh, did slay the Lord Jesus.

As David was not at first accepted as king by Israel, so the natural seed of Israel continues to reject Christ to this present moment of time.

As David was first accepted by his own followers in exile, then by his own tribe when he came to power, afterwards by the rest of Israel, and finally by surrounding nations, so Christ is today accepted by his followers, will be first acknowledged as king by the Jews in the land at his return (Zech. 12:7), will be afterwards accepted by the rest of Israel who will then be restored to the land (Ezekiel 39-25-27; 37:22), and will finally extend his power over all nations (Zechariah 14:9; Isaiah 60:12).

By such incidents has God dramatised his future purpose to be worked out by the Lord Jesus at his coming.

David sinned, as all men sin, but despite his failings, he was pre-eminently a man of faith, always seeking to obey God's will. His great ambition was to attain unto the future Kingdom of God when the promised Redeemer and Messiah of Israel shall rule over a regenerated world at peace. He declared:

"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His Temple" (Psalm 27:4).

"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (v. 13).

Many of the Psalms which he composed breathe forth his ardent hopes for the future. In common with Abraham and other worthies of faith, he looked forward to a resurrection from the dead unto life eternal. Here is a typical expression, revealing his hope to that end:

"Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side" (Psalm 71:20-21).

David was Israel's greatest king. Despite his weaknesses, he was a man of superb faith and courage who inspired men both then and since. He constantly sought God's help: as a youth when he was called upon to protect his flock from ravaging lions and bears; as a young man when he battled with Goliath in single-handed combat; as an exile when he fled from Saul in jeopardy of his life; as king when he sought Divine wisdom and guidance to rule the people.

His strength and his weakness are both faithfully recorded in the Bible. In a merely human document, the sins of Israel's most illustrious king would be carefully edited down in the national records, but the Bible being what it claims to be -- the Inspired Word of God -- depicts the character of David with ruthless frankness. We can thereby learn from his mistakes as well as by his example of faith, courage and love of God.

God's Promise To David.

After David had been established in power, and all his enemies had been subdued under him, he desired to express his gratitude to God by building a permanent Temple at which Israelites might assemble for worship.

The existing place of worship was the Tabernacle. It was but a temporary building, described as "a tent," and therefore was a contrast to the palace which David had built for himself.

The king felt that it was incongrous that be should dwell in such splendour, whereas the symbol of God's "dwelling place in Israel," should be so humble.

But God refused the request of David, on the grounds that be had been a man of war, and had shed much blood in battle (1 Chron. 28:3). The building of the Temple was reserved for a man of peace, who would foreshadow the ultimate peace of Messiah's reign. This was fulfilled when Solomon, the son of David, built the first Temple in Jerusalem.

David's request is recorded in 2 Samuel 7. Though God rejected it, He did appreciate the motives that moved him to make it; and in response thereto made promises to David of farreaching significance. The king was told:

"I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and MOVE NO MORE; neither shall the children of wickedness AFFLICT THEM ANY MORE" (v. 10).

"The Lord will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom" (v. 12).

"He shall build an house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom FOR EVER" (v. 13).

"I will be his Father, and he shall be My son" (v. 14).

"Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever BEFORE THEE: thy throne shall be established FOR EVER" (v. 16).

The promise to David thus incorporates:

  1. -- The re-establishment of Israel in the Land of Promise, never again to be removed nor afflicted (v. 10).
  2. -- The setting up of a King upon the throne of David FOREVER, who will be both Son of God and son of David (vv. 12-14).
  3. -- The building of a House or Temple for God by this king (v. 13).
  4. -- The manifestation of a faithful "house" or posterity in the line of David (vv. 11-12).
  5. -- The death of David (v. 12) after which the seed would come, and his resurrection to life eternal so that he might see these things established forever "before him" (v. 16).

This promise follows in natural sequence the other two great covenants of promise made in Eden and to Abraham.

The son promised to David was the Lord Jesus Christ. This is established beyond all doubt by the words that Gabriel uttered to Mary before the birth of her son. She was told:

"Thou shalt conceive, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name 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 1:31-33).

The fulfilment of these words demands the return of the Lord Jesus to this earth, to raise David and all like him, from the dead to life eternal; to restore Israel in its fulness; and to reign from Jerusalem as King.

David recognised that God had spoken "of Thy servant's house for a great while to come" (2 Sam. 7:19); he viewed the solemn promise of God as an "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure" (2 Sam. 23:5).

The fulfilment of the promise to David became the great theme of the prophets, and is referred to in many passages of the Bible in relation to the future purpose of God. The following is a typical example:

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice IN THE EARTH. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called: The Lord our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:5-6. See also Jer. 33:150-17; Isa. 9:7; Amos 9:11).

The same covenant of promise is set forth in the New Testament as epitomising the mission of Jesus (Luke 1:31-33; 68-70; Mark 11:10; Acts 2:30). It was taught by the Apostles as a foundation doctrine of the Gospel (Acts 2:29-31). James declared:

"Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, Who doeth all these things" (Acts 15:14-17).

Notice the principles involved in this declaration of the Gospel.

First, as to personal responsibility:

Visitation -- God visited the Gentiles by arranging for the Apostles to preach the Word.

Invitation -- The design was to take, or call to Him a people.

Separation -- Those responding were to be taken "out of" the Gentiles.

Dedication -- The purpose of their call was to constitute them a people for "His name" or character and purpose.

Second, as to His purpose:

The present call -- To bring a people unto Himself.

The return of Christ -- "I will return . . ."

The restoration of Israel -- "will build again the tabernacle of David..."

The world-wide extension of Christ's rule -- That "the residue (rest) of men might seek after the Lord."

David To Witness The Fulfilment.

There are two significant features in the declaration made to David that are of profound importance.

First, he was told that he would die before the covenant was fulfilled: "Thy days shall be fulfilled . . ." (2 Sam. 7:12). Second, he was told he would see the ultimate fulfilment: "Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever BEFORE THEE" - - or in your sight.

How are those two apparently contradictory statements to be reconciled? Certainly not by teaching that David ascended into heaven, because Peter was specific that "DAVID IS NOT ASCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS" (Acts 2:29,34), and as we have seen, the theory of an immortal soul is false.

No, David's confidence was in a resurrection from the dead, as we have already shown. He declared: "God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave" (Ps. 49:15).

Like the Edenic and the Abrahamic covenants, the one made to David, is not limited to him, but is open to all who accept Christ in the way appointed. In fact, God invites us to associate with that covenant. He declares:

"Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David" (Isaiah 55:3).

This everlasting covenant is open to all who accept Christ through knowledge and baptism (Ephesians 2:11-13). Those who embrace it can anticipate a time of glory upon the earth when they shall be clothed upon with immortality, and shall enjoy the authority that was promised David. They will be able to sing the song of the Redeemed:

"Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:9-10).

The Developing Purpose Of God.

Now notice the gradual development of God's purpose through the three great covenants of promise.

The Edenic Covenant -- Promised man redemption from sin and death, and set before him that which he had lost, namely the hope of life eternal through the coming of One who would triumph over sin and death and open the way to redemption for mortal man.

The Abrahamic Covenant -- channelled the work of redemption through Abraham and his seed (Gal. 3:28). It showed that the Redeemer would be a son of Abraham; that he would (after the type of Isaac) be also a Son of God; that he would be put to death, would be raised therefrom, and would open the way for a resurrection to life eternal to the true seed of Abraham, and bring blessings to all mankind through his rule. It promised to Abraham and his seed an earthly inheritance for ever; a place where the life promised in Eden could be lived, and granted Abraham for an eternal inheritance that which he gave up when be left Ur to obey God.

The Davidic Covenant -- Offered everlasting earthly authority to David and his seed over the inheritance granted by the promise to Abraham. By this means the seed of Abraham will reign upon the earth, bringing the blessings of a divine administration to all peoples.

(See 2 Sam. 7:10-25)
"When thy days be fulfilled" (v. 12) After the death of David. A long while after, see Luke 1:32-33.
"I will set up thy seed ..." God will provide a righteous descendant from David. Jesus was the Son of David (Matt. 1:1)
"I will be his Father, he shall be my son" (v. 14) The birth of this Son would be by Divine intervention. Jesus is Son of God as well as Son of David (Luke 1:35; Heb. 1:5)
"If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men" (v. 14) This has been rendered better (see Adam Clarke): "In suffering for iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes due to the children of Adam." Though Christ did not sin, He inherited the effects of sin by coming in the mortal nature of all mankind. In this sense, he was chastened with the stripes due to the children of Adam, who first brought sin into the world (see Gen. 3:17-19; Isa. 53:3-12; Heb. 2:14; 4:15; 5:8).
"He will build an house for my name." David wished to build a temple, but was not permitted to do so; the promised son would accomplish this. Christ will complete a Spiritual Temple of living stones, made up of the resurrected and glorified faithful (1 Pet. 2:5-9), and will, at his second advent, cause to be erected in Jerusalem, a house of prayer to which men will turn, and which will become a spiritual rallying point for all nations (Zech. 6:12; Isa. 56:7; Isa. 2:2-4)
"I will establish the throne of his Kingdom forever." The present state of David's kingdom shows that this has not yet been fulfilled. Both Old (Dan. 2:44; Zech. 14:9; Psa. 22:28) and New Testaments (1 Cor. 15:23-28; Mat. 25:31-33; Rev. 11:15) speak of the coming Kingdom of God upon the earth.
"It shall be established forever before thee" (v. 16) Established in the sight of David for ever. By the resurrection of David from the grave, and the bestowal of immortality (Titus 1:2-3) at the return of Christ (2 Tim. 4:1,8)
"I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, and they shall dwell in their place, and shall be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more (v. 10 cf. also 1 Chron. 17:9) This statement anticipated the scattering of Israel and their ultimate regathering to the land again. The beginnings of this today, show that the time is at hand for the vindication of the Davidic promise. Israel will be established as the head of the mortal nations, over which will be established Christ and his immortal associates (Isa. 32:1; Jer. 30:3, 24; Ezek. 37:21-22; Amos 9:11-15 etc.)


  1. Whom did Israel fail to recognise as their king when they demanded Saul to be king over them?
  2. Who was the last judge over Israel when they demanded a visible king?
  3. Who was anointed as successor of Saul, and became the greatest king of Israel.
  4. Give Scriptural proof that king David believed in the future resurrection of the dead.
  5. Give 5 significant facets of the promise God made to king David according to 2 Samuel, Chapter 7.
  6. Where do we read in the Bible that Jesus Christ is the "son" promised to king David, and the ruler who shall sit upon the throne of David "forever"?
  7. For what purpose is God calling out a people from among the nations?
  8. What are the "sure mercies of David", mentioned by Isaiah (Ch. 55:3)?


The Lord Jesus will return to the earth visibly and personally:

"This same Jesus ... shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11. See also Acts 3:19-20; Rev. 1:7).

The resurrection will take place, and the faithful will be granted eternal life, They will be associated with the Lord Jesus to reign with him over the mortal populations of the globe.

"Many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life . . ." (Daniel 12:2). "To him that overcometh will I give power over the nations" (Rev. 2:26. See also Isaiah 26: 19; 1 Cor. 15:21-23, 53-54; Rev. 11:18).

The complete restoration of Israel will take place, and the nation (mortal subjects under immortal rulers) will form the first dominion in the world-wide empire of Christ.

"I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all" (Ezek. 37:21-22. See also Micah 4:8; Romans 11:26-27).

All nations will be disciplined, educated in divine principles, and brought under Christ's control.

"All nations shall call him blessed" (Ps. 72:17. See also 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Micah 4:1-4; Isa. 61:11; Rev. 11:15; Isa. 60:12).

Jerusalem will become the throne-city of the Lord.

"Jerusalem, the city of the great king" (Matt. 5:35. See also Jeremiah 3:17; Isaiah 2:2-4; 32:1).

A glorious Temple (a centre of universal worship) will be erected in Jerusalem to which mankind will make periodical pilgrimage.

"It shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship" (Zech. 14:16. See also Zech. 6:13; Haggai 2:9; Isa. 56:7; Mark 11:17; Isa. 60:10-11).

Christ's millenial reign will embrace all nations.

"The Lord shall be king over all the earth" (Zech. 14:9. See also Psalm 72; Dan. 2:44; 7:27).

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