Redemptive-Historical Survey: 9 | The Monarchy & Davidic Covenant (LDBC Recap 4/3/16 Pt. 1)

 Explanation

logo-lake-drive-baptist-churchOn Sunday, January 24th, 2016, I began a Core Seminar on Redemptive History & Biblical Theology at my church, Lake Drive Baptist Church. During the course of this series I’ll be sending out emails recapping lessons and directing recipients to resources for further study.

Rather than just share these recaps with my church family, I’ve decided to share them here on the blog for anyone else who might be interested. I will be posting them occasionally over the next couple of months on a weekly basis or so.

See previous posts:

Recap/review

This week we looked at two stages in redemptive history: first, the monarchy and the covenant God made with David and his descendants; and, secondly, the wisdom literature and the psalms.

We begin the first installment of this week’s recap by surveying the role of the monarchy and Davidic covenant in redemptive history.

Overview of Biblical material

1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles.

  • Israel rebelliously demands a king (1 Sam 8). God appoints Saul.
  • Saul disqualifies himself from kingship by disobedience.
  • David is appointed king and rules successfully, conquering much of the unconquered portions of the Promised Land and settling Israel securely in the land.
  • God makes the Davidic Covenant with David.
  • After David, Solomon becomes king. He oversees the building of the temple in Jerusalem.
  • After Solomon (David’s son), the kingdom is divided (1 Kgs 12:1-20).
    • The Northern Kingdom, known as “Israel,” composed of the 10 Northern tribes.
    • The Southern Kingdom, known as “Judah.”
  • During this period, these two divided kingdoms persist in rebellion and idolatry until eventually God punishes them both with exile. The kings, as leaders of the people, exemplify the evil behavior of the nation.
  • Whereas the Northern Kingdom sees much instability with regards to her kings (e.g., assassinations, regime changes, etc.), David’s dynasty remains unbroken in the Southern Kingdom.

Role within redemptive history

With the overview of the material in play, we now ask, how does this stage—specifically God’s promises in the Davidic Covenant—fit into redemptive history? How does God’s promises about a king relate to his purposes to bring about his new-creational kingdom?

We can summarize the role of this stage of redemptive history as follows: Through covenant-bound promises to David, God specifies how he will exercise his new-creational kingdom intent of reigning over as well as through his people: he will reign especially through kings from David’s line.

However, due to disbelieving disobedience, as exemplified in the splitting of the kingdom, God’s people continue to fail to experience the full extent of God’s new creational kingdom.

As always, we’ll break this down into bit size pieces.

But, first, we do well to read the primary text which presents to us God’s making of his covenant with David.

2 Samuel 7:8-16

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, … “… I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house [i.e., dynasty]. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’

As we survey this text, we notice the various things that God promises to David: (1) a great name for David (notice: the same promise as in the Abrahamic covenant in Gen 12:2), (2) God’s people dwelling peacefully in a special place, and (3) an eternal dynasty for David.

What this indicates to us is that…

  • The aim of the covenant, as with all of these other convents, is God’s new-creational kingdom, specially the “God’s rule” (or “dominion”) element of God’s rule being exercised over and through his people in this new-creational kingdom.

As we noted in our review above, “Through covenant-bound promises to David, God specifies how he will exercise his new-creational kingdom intent of reigning over as well as through his people: he will reign especially through kings from David’s line.”

This line of David-kings will both be those who are (1) to exemplify most fully the role of God’s people as those who are to exercise God’s rule on his behalf. But, furthermore, (2) they are also to be those through whom God’s rule over his people is mediated, ones through whom God will exercise his rule over God’s people. In so doing, they are intended to fill-out one of the key dimensions of the new-creational kingdom pattern–God’s rule over as well as through his people, in this case, God’s “over his people” by means of the king and God’s rule “through his people,” typified by the king.

We see further evidence of this role of the Davidic kings as we notice the concept of these kings being considered and referred to as “Sons of God”–the idea of the divine Sonship of the Davidic kings.

Now, as we said, normally when we think of divine sonship (e.g., Son of God) language, we think of Jesus who is God’s Son; and what we mean by that is this: that Jesus is God. When we speak of Jesus as the “Son of God,” we do not mean that Jesus was somehow created through procreation by God, that Jesus is a literal biological son of God the Father. Rather, when we speak of Jesus as “Son of God,” we typically mean to communicate that Jesus shares the same nature as God the Father. In other words, he is God. When a human father has a son, that son is, understandably and expectably, a human, not, say, a horse. Humans beget humans. The son bears the same nature as the father. Similarly, when we say Jesus is “Son of God,” we mean to communicate that he is of the same nature (=Godness) as God. That is, he is God.

However, what seems to be the more common use of “Son of God” language in scripture is a functional use–that “sons of God” are said to be sons in the sense that they image, reflect, or share the same characteristic (at least to some degree) as that of God. For example, Jesus says that peacemakers are blessed in Matthew 5 because they will be called sons of God. God is a peacemaker. And so peacemakers are called sons of God in the sense that they share his characteristic of peacemaking. Or likewise, Jesus calls certain Jewish religious leaders sons of the devil. Is that because the devil literally procreated them? Of course not. No, what Jesus means is that they are like the devil such that he can call them sons of the devil.

Much of this use of “son” language seems to stem from an older cultural reality that is now foreign to us today. For example, my dad owns an office supply store. But I do not. Today, that is not seen as abnormal. However, in earlier times, sons almost always took on the profession of their fathers such that to refer to someone as a carpenter’s meant “a carpenter.” Or, a “son of a fisherman” simply meant, “fisherman.” Thus, there existed this idiomatic functional use of “son” that communicated the idea that the “son” in view shared the trait or function of the father.

Thus, it’s very natural, as we will see, for the Old Testament (and the New Testament) to refer to the kings of Israel as “God’s son” or “Sons of God.” Why? Because these kings were to image, reflect, or exercise God’s rule. God mediated or administered his rule of his people through them. The “sons” (Davidic kings) shared the function of “ruling” that their father (God) possessed.

So we see this language used with regards to the kings of Israel:

2 Samuel 7:14 – I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.

Ps 2:6-7

“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you [=enthronement].

And this “sonship” idea picks up on creational-kingdom themes: For example, we recall that Adam is appointed as God’s image-bearer, a very similar, essentially parallel, concept to this idea of the kings as “sons.” Adam was given the mandate to image or reflect God’s rule over creation. Thus, Luke will actually call Adam a son of God (Lk 3:38) since he was to share in that ruling function.

Later we see that Israel is referred to as God’s son or God’s firstborn (cf. “Out of Egypt I have called my son” [Hosea 11:1]). The idea seems to be that Israel functions as a corporate Adam-like figure who is now to mediate God’s rule and God’s way of life to the nations (cf. Israel’s intended role as a royal-priesthood = same idea). As God’s son, Israel is to be like God. She is to be holy as God is holy.

Now, we come to the Davidic kings who are called God’s sons. And, as we said, this is because they are appointed to serve as the highest example of the ones called to reflect God’s rule. They are the pinnacle expression of this in the midst of the nation of Israel in its calling as God’s corporate son. These son-of-God-kings are to lead the son-of-God-nation to live out that calling as God’s corporate son.

But, we know that both Israel and the Davidic kings will fail. And, so, in so doing, they anticipate Christ, the one who will ultimately and perfectly fill out this role as God’s son (remember: “Son of God” is being used here in a functional sense). In the New Testament, Jesus is said to be appointed Son of God in this functional sense as the one through whom God the Father mediates or exercises his rule (see Rom 1:4; Heb 1:3-5). In other words, when Jesus “appointed Son of God” in Rom 1:4 or given the name “Son of God” in Heb 1:3-5, this simply means that he has been enthroned as God’s ultimate king from David’s line.

My point in this whole “son of God” excursus is to point out the role of the Davidic kings as those through whom God will mediate his rule. They are the sons of God in the sense that they reflect God’s rule. Thus, the Davidic covenant, with its promise of this line of kings, aims at God’s new-creational kingdom, specially the “God’s rule” element of that new-creational kingdom pattern (see the chart above). It is now specified that God will exercises his rule over his people through these kings. But, furthermore, it becomes clear that the task of God’s people imaging God’s rule will now be lead by these human kings… Well, at least that’s the intention.

And, so, as with the other covenants, we see a continual progress in the specificity of what’s promised in the covenants. Here we see that God’s new-creational kingdom will involve a special individual through whom God’s rule is mediated.

Moving forward, we want to note the nature of the Davidic covenant.

  • The nature of the Davidic covenant: conditional but guaranteed.

On the one hand, the Davidic covenant is ultimately unconditional, irrevocable, eternal, and based on God’s grace (2 Sam 7:14-15, 21; 23:5; 2 Kgs 8:19; Ps 89:3, 28; 2 Chon 13:5; 21:7; Jer 33:14-26). As such, its eventual fulfillment is guaranteed.

2 Samuel 7:15-16 – 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.

However, at the same time, God demands obedience from these Davidic kings for the realization of its blessings, for the experience of its blessings in history (1 Kgs 6:12; 8:24-25; 9:4-9; 2 Chron 6:16; 7:17-22; 28:5-6; Ps 132:12).

2 Samuel 7:14 – When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men.

1 Kings 2:3-4 – [David speaking to Solomon] …Keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.

We recall our summary of this section: “However, due to disbelieving disobedience, as exemplified in the splitting of the kingdom, God’s people continue to fail to experience the full extent of God’s new creational kingdom.”

In fact, the failure and sin of the kings eventually leads Israel to oppression, destruction, and eventually exile–the experience of God’s covenant curses.

The failure of the historical kings postpones the realization of the new-creational kingdom hopes. The full realization of the new-creational kingdom is never realized. However, because the covenant is ultimately guaranteed, we anticipate its ultimate fulfillment in the future. At this point in the story, though, we are left in a tension because these earthy kings are repeatedly found to be failing and sinful. Thus, we begin to anticipate an ultimate, fully-obedient Davidic king.

  • The failed kings and kingdom anticipates an ultimate future fulfillment.

Originally the words of 2 Samuel 7, which spell out the Davidic covenant, refer to David’s immediate offspring, e.g., Solomon. We see this in the fact that God says, “He [i.e., David’s offspring] shall build a house [i.e., temple] for my name,” which is referring to the construction of the temple, which of course, we know, David’s son Solomon built. Furthermore, God says, “When he [David’s sons] commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men” (v.14). Thus, although we probably naturally see this text–2 Samuel 7–as referring to Christ (which it does in the sense of creating a pattern that Christ fills out), in its immediate context it actually refers to David’s immediate descendants, such as Solomon.

However, as just said, the covenant is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. We notice, for example, the promise, “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (v.13). Now, this could mean either (a) perpetual offspring who replace the Davidic kings who die, or (b) an eternal king such as a God-man king like Jesus. When we come to the New Testament, it becomes explicit that Jesus, as an heir of David, fulfills these hopes to the max.

And within the OT itself, the OT begins to anticipate a tremendously grand Davidic king. After the Davidic Covenant, we begin to see the anticipation of an ultimate Davidic king, one in David’s line who surpasses David’s greatness and brings to fruition all that the David covenant anticipated… and more.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.

Daniel 7:13-14
13 
“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.

Christ, of course, fulfills this Davidic kingship pattern/typology (see Mt 28:18; Lk 1:33; Acts 2:29-36; 13:32-33).

Thus, we conclude with the summary with which we began:

Through covenant-bound promises to David, God specifies how he will exercise his new-creational kingdom intent of reigning over as well as through his people: he will reign especially through kings from David’s line.

However, due to disbelieving disobedience, as exemplified in the splitting of the kingdom, God’s people continue to fail to experience the full extent of God’s new creational kingdom.

Advertisements