Two aspects of God’s covenant with David stand out: its endurance and its basis. Throughout history, human empires have risen…and fallen, without fail. A few centuries is considered a good run. No doubt God’s last promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 was no less surprising three millennia ago than it would be today:
“And your house and kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).”
The promise comes after a warning: God will bring discipline upon sons who commit iniquity. If we peek ahead in the Story of Everything, we see the discipline of the Lord worked out through Israel’s history following various failures of its kings. The kingdom splits under Solomon’s son Rehoboam. The Northern Kingdom goes through several dynasties before succumbing to exile at the hand of the Assyrians in 722 BC. The Southern Kingdom of Judah lasts a little longer, but also suffers exile – in their case under Babylon in 587 BC. What was Israel to make of the Lord’s promise of an everlasting kingdom? This is the question of Psalm 89, as the psalmist reiterates God’s promise, yet struggles with his present reality.
‘Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness —
and I will not lie to David—
that his line will continue forever
and his throne endure before me like the sun;
it will be established forever like the moon,
the faithful witness in the sky.’
But you have rejected, you have spurned,
you have been very angry with your anointed one.
You have renounced the covenant with your servant
and have defiled his crown in the dust….
How long, O LORD?Will you hide yourself forevervv 35-39, 46
To the psalmist it appeared as though the Lord had turned away from his covenantal promises.
But God had not renounced the covenant. Through the prophet Jeremiah, who lived during the period of the last Davidic kings, his people heard that fulfillment would indeed come through a faithful, righteous Son whom the Lord would send in the last days.
‘Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: The LORD is our righteousness (Jer. 33:14-16)’
Through the fulfillment we have in Christ we see evidence of the basis for God’s eternal promise – his steadfast love.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”