Renewals of The Covenant


22 The Throne of David

by Hubert F/ Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013

And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. 2 Samuel 7:16

God gave the covenant to David and Solomon with marvelous promises. David made mistakes but never lost his faith in God. God gave Solomon wisdom, but Solomon was not a righteous king. His many pagan wives led him deep into idolatry. His son, Rehoboam, divided the kingdom and broke the covenant of David.

During the next four hundred years, Judah had six righteous kings, who instituted revival and renewed the covenant with God. However, Judah also had twenty-three wicked kings, who led the people deeper and deeper into idolatry. Finally, God had to allow Judah to go into captivity, and the throne of David became vacant. For the rest of history, there were no more kings on David’s throne.

Many believe that the promises for the temporal reign of Judah still apply today and that they are essential to the doctrines and politics of today. There are others who look at history and understand that all the promises of God are contingent on human willingness to obey.


The “Forever” Throne of David

Early in its history Israel was a theocracy ruled directly by God through priests and prophets. While Samuel was high priest, the people demanded a king. The first king, Saul, was a disappointment. Of the next king, David, God said, he is “a man after mine own heart” (Acts 13:22). Yet, David was a man of war and a sinner, though he was quick to turn to God, quick to repent, and quick to praise God. When David was king, it was the golden age for Israel. All subsequent kings of Judah sat on the “throne of David.” The family line of David culminated in the Messiah, the “priest-king” after the order of Melchizedek.

David, as king and representing God, made a covenant “in the presence of the Lord” with the elders who came to make him king in Hebron. The following verses describe David’s faith in God and are in keeping with God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham.1

Even when Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel in battle. The Lord your God said to you, “You will be the shepherd for my people Israel. You will be their leader.” So all the [elders] of Israel came to King David at Hebron. He made an agreement [covenant] with them in Hebron in the presence of the Lord. Then they poured oil on David to make him king over Israel. The Lord had promised through Samuel that this would happen (1 Chron. 11:2, 3, NCV).

God made a covenant with David that He would establish David’s throne forever (2 Sam. 7:8-16; 23:3-5; Jer. 33:17, 18). When Solomon came to the throne, God gave him the same promises (1 Chron. 22:10, 17; 28:6-8), which were contingent on obedience. Because of apostasy, Judah went into captivity for seventy years. The throne of David became vacant and remained vacant even after the restoration (1 Chron. 17:11-14; 2 Chron. 6:16). The people looked to the coming Messiah to restore the throne of David and the former glory of Israel. However, Jesus came to establish the kingdom of grace and to prepare a people for eternal life in the new earth. Only in the new earth will Jesus take the throne of David and reign over His kingdom forever.

And thine [David’s] house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever (2 Sam. 7:16).

And I will settle him [Solomon] in mine house and in my kingdom forever: and his throne shall be established for evermore (1 Chron. 17:14).

“Now Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, “˜You shall never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.’ “ (2 Chron. 6:16, NIV)

“Forever” does not always mean eternally, especially in human situations. In Samuel’s case, he went to the sanctuary as a child “lent to the Lord” for as long as he lived (1 Sam. 1:22, 28). In that situation “forever” meant for the length of his lifetime. Other prophecies speak of the Messiah as the shepherd, who will sit on David’s throne.2 These prophecies point to Jesus on the throne of David in the new earth.


Was This a Failed Prophecy?

Does the cessation of the throne of David at the time of the captivity mean that this was a failed prophecy? One must realize that God does not change. A number of the prophecies in the Bible are conditional. Fulfillment of such prophecy depends on the response of the people. In Deuteronomy, the blessings of the covenant depended on their obedience.3 At the same time, curses were pronounced in case of apostasy.4 Why would one expect Israel to be unconditionally blessed when the conditions of blessing are so plainly revealed?

Under David, the kingdom of Israel expanded to its greatest extent, taking in all the neighboring kingdoms that had been their enemies in the past. From these kingdoms, as well as from kingdoms that remained friendly, David and Solomon amassed gifts of silver, gold, cedar trees, horses, chariots, and spices (1 Kings 10:27; 2 Chron. 1:15).

Solomon was given unparalleled wisdom that impressed all the surrounding nations. His reign promised to be even more magnificent than that of David. It was under Solomon that the Temple was built. However, he “loved many strange women.” To satisfy his foreign wives, Solomon built temples and groves for pagan practices, and he, himself, took part in their rituals (1 Kings 11:1-13). God warned him that the kingdom would be divided because of his apostasy (1 Kings 9:4-7). The division began during his reign as local revolts began to undermine the kingdom of David (1 Kings 11:14-35).

When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king, the kingdom was divided, the ten northern tribes allied with Jeroboam, and Judah and Benjamin remained with Rehoboam. Because of Israel’s unfaithfulness and continued apostasy in the face of repeated warnings from the prophets, God finally had to allow first Israel and then Judah to go into captivity. The Jewish leaders believed that the Messiah would restore the throne of David and that there would always be a king to sit upon it (Jer. 33:17-18). This led to the people’s failure to recognize Jesus when He came and to their rejection and crucifixion of Him after His three and a half years of ministry.


Covenant Renewed With Solomon

God gave the covenant to David, and renewed it with Solomon, including the conditions for success. Those conditions must also have applied to the covenant God made with David.

And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people. (1 Kings 9:4-7)

“Now, Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, “˜You shall never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.’ “ (2 Chron. 6:16, NIV)


The Kings of Judah

When Solomon became king, God fulfilled his request for a “wise and understanding heart” (1 Kings 3:12). In addition, Solomon received riches, fame, and national security. The righteous kings that followed Solomon each renewed the covenant.

After Rehoboam and Abijah came Asa, who began as a good king. He put idolatry away and  reinstituted worship of the true God. Large numbers of people from the northern kingdom came into Judah, because “God was with him.” In his fifteenth year, at a great gathering in Jerusalem, they renewed the covenant with God. “And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; “| and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about” (2 Chron. 15:12, 15).

Jehoshaphat was an excellent king, but not perfect. When threatened by Moab, Ammon, and Edom, he proclaimed a fast “to seek help of the Lord.” God promised Jehoshaphat, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chron. 20:17). Jehoshaphat set singers before the army and stood still and watched while their enemies in sudden fear slaughtered each other.

Jehoshaphat was followed by corrupt rulers: Jehoram and Ahaziah and the wicked queen Athaliah, who killed all the king’s sons except for Joash. After six years, Jehoiada organized the Temple guard and staged a coup against Athaliah. “And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord’s people; between the king also and the people” (2 Kings 11:17). However, this revival lasted only until Jehoiada himself died.

Judah went downhill with Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz. Hezekiah followed these kings. He immediately repaired the Temple and reestablished temple worship. “Now, it is in mine heart, to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us” (2 Chron. 29:10).

Hezekiah restored the worship of the true God. He removed the altars, idols, and the priests of heathenism. He called for all those in Judah and the remnant in the northern kingdom to come to Jerusalem for the Passover, repentance, and cleansing. It had been years since they had attended a Passover. Hezekiah assigned priests and Levites to educate the people in the proper way to conduct the rituals. Hezekiah prayed that the Passover would be a success and would call the people back to the worship of the living God. Idolatry was overthrown, and the sanctuary services were renewed. “And the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah and healed the people” (2 Chron. 30:20).

With the apostate kings Manasseh and Amon, idolatry deepened. Josiah, the last righteous king, in his eighteenth year, repaired the Temple and established temple services. Hilkiah, the high priest, found the book of the law and gave it to Josiah. When the book was read to him, the king rent his clothes. Their apostasy had deepened far more than he thought. He called the people and read it to them.

And the king [Josiah] stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant. (2 Kings 23:3)

Following Josiah, there came in close succession Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. All were wicked, and all refused to listen to the prophets. Judah’s time had run out. The everlasting covenant was forgotten, broken, and abandoned by the people and their kings. “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chron. 36:16).

Jeremiah desperately tried to influence Zedekiah, the king of Judah, to repent. Jeremiah advised him to cooperate with the king of Babylon. If he would listen to the messages from God and cooperate with the king of Babylon, the throne of David would be preserved. If not, the throne of David would become desolate (Jer. 22:4, 5), and the name of God would be dishonored.

And many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbour, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them (Jer. 22:8, 9).

In this history, we see God patiently working with Israel at every opportunity, continually trying to bring the people back to Him and back into the everlasting covenant. When there was no response to the efforts of love and grace, God could do nothing more. The armies of Egypt and Babylon in turn invaded Judah. Nebuchadnezzar took many captives to Babylon, and the captivity had begun.


The Throne of David

The phrase, “the throne of David,” has come to apply to all the kings that followed in the line of David. This came to an end with the captivity of Judah to Babylon. After the restoration, a series of larger nations governed Judah, and the Davidic line of kings was not restored. Prophecy foretold that the Messiah would take the throne of David. Since Jesus did not do this, the governing bodies of Judah rejected Him.

Here is an intriguing thought: What might Jesus have done if the leaders had accepted Him? Had Jesus taken the throne of David, His government would have been vastly different from what many expected.

Many people today look at the covenant and promises to David as being “unconditional” and still awaiting fulfillment. Such thinking does not take into consideration the blessings and the curses that were the conditions of fulfillment. There is no doubt but that the purposes of God cannot be frustrated. Even so, the people’s response often causes their delay or necessitates that they be fulfilled through another agent. Now we must look to Jesus’ second coming when He will “set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” and which “shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Dan. 2:44; 7:27).5


Endnotes

1. David’s covenant with God was “forever” (Ps. 89:3, 4; 31-37; 132:11-18).

2. For the Messiah sitting on the throne of David, see Isaiah 9:7 and Luke 1:31, 32. For the Messiah being the shepherd of God’s flock, see Isaiah 40:11; John 10:14-16; and Ezekiel 37:24.

3. Wonderful blessings were in store for Israel if they continued in obedience (Deut. 7:1-26; 8:1-10; 11:10-15; 28:1-14).

4. If they should go into apostasy or idolatry, they would be cursed (Deut. 28:15-68; 29:18-29). God applied the blessings and curses to the throne of David (Jer. 17:24, 25; 22:3-5; 36:30).

5. The final endless messianic fulfillment will occur when Jesus comes again (Isa. 9:6, 7; Luke 1:32, 33; Heb. 1:5-9).