Is Christ currently occupying the throne of David in fulfillment of the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7)? If not, in what sense does Christ reign now?
The Differing Sides
The question usually has two answers, as do most: Yes or No. Those from a more covenantal understanding of Scripture would usually argue in the affirmative that Christ is presently seated on David’s throne reigning over the kingdom, while those of a maybe more dispensational view would typically dispute that claim, saying that this is still a future event to take place in the impending millenial reign of Christ.
Of course there are varying views within each group, but as a whole those are rather accurate summaries of the two sides.
The Passage Up For Discussion
The Old Testament passage of 2 Samuel 7 specifically refers to God’s covenant promises to David. In this covenant, we see the central promise of a descendant, a son of David, who would be raised up and that two things would happen through this descendant:
- God would establish the throne of this descendant’s kingdom forever.
- This son would build a house for Yahweh’s name.
These promises specifically come in vs12-13:
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.
Later on, in the Prophets, we read of prophecies that are connected to these original covenant words spoken to David. We even begin to read from some that David himself would once again rule over the people of Israel:
5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken. (Ezekiel 34:23-24; see also Ezekiel 37:24)
Thus, one can see, there is an expectation that not only David’s son would have a kingdom over God’s people, but that this son would be closely connected to David, almost as if David himself would once again rule over God’s people. David had once occupied his throne in Jerusalem and that throne was to one day be taken up by a future messianic-Davidic- kingly-like figure. That was the hope of Israel.
Some Old Testament Background
Most of us will know the story: Starting in Genesis 12, God particularly began to form a people for Himself through Abraham (at that time known as Abram). It had always been God’s desire to have a people for Himself, a people submitted to his rule and committed to filling the earth with God’s rule and purposes (Genesis 1:26-28). So God had definitely been at work in establishing this pre-Genesis 12. But here we find God initiating such a covenant with Abraham. Yeah, God was the initiator as He’s always been.
It was through this covenant with Abraham that we even see God’s heart for a people from the whole world (specifically Genesis 12:3). Though such would commence with Abraham and his descendants, this covenant was to have an affect on all peoples of the earth. The covenant relationship was not formally established until chs. 15 and 17 of Genesis, but the courting had already begun, with the promises even coming in 13:14-18 of both a people and a land.
In spite of an attempt to see the promise of God fulfilled through the flesh (by having Ishmael through Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid), Abraham was graciously given a son of promise, Isaac, to carry on the covenant line. And we know the all-familiar story of the covenant line being continued in Isaac’s son, Jacob. Afterwards, Jacob (who would later be named Israel) would father 12 sons from which the people of Israel would come.
Following the great exodus and redemption of Israel from Egypt, God initiated His covenant relationship with them at the foot of Mt Sinai. Well, again, as with Abraham, something was already going on between Yahweh and the people of Israel (you would at least think such from reading the first 18 chapters of Exodus). But Mt Sinai was the official ratification of the covenant.
This covenant, given by God through Moses, did not negate that which was established with Abraham, as Paul clarifies in Galatians 3:17. But it was rather a necessary unfolding of the redemptive revelation of our God that would one day be summed up in Christ.
Finally, we move to the great culmination in the covenant revelation of God from the perspective of the Old Testament era. This was the covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7, which I referred to above.
Now, I have already noted two of the major characteristics of the Davidic covenant – mainly 1) a son whose kingdom would never end and 2) that this son would build a house for God. Of course, this would have been initially fulfilled in the life and work of Solomon. But all definitely recognise that this prophecy stretches further into the life of the great Messiah to come.
Speaking of Messiah, that is an important word here in the Davidic context. It means ‘anointed one’. Of course we speak of Jesus as the Messiah, the great anointed one. And that He is. But what we don’t usually realise is that David was the messiah of his day as well. Just because Christ was THE Messiah should not make us think that such a statement about David is somewhat heretical or false. Rather, it simply recognises that David was God’s anointed one in his day.
And, rightly so, since he had been anointed to rule over God’s people. But he was only a type of the great anointed one to come, a foreshadowing of another that would rule over God’s people. He was truly anointed, but another anointed one would come. That was the great expectation.
Also worthy of noting is that, in David’s day, his throne was established in the city of Jerusalem (see 2 Samuel 5) and it was from there that He would rule over God’s people Israel. God was King of His people, but that rule would be established through the rule of His Davidic anointed one. Not only that, but the ark of the covenant would also be brought into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6) and would later be housed in the temple that would be constructed by Solomon.
Thus, Jerusalem became the centre for God’s people. God ruled from there via His anointed (messianic) king and God’s house was to be situated there as well. Jerusalem became the stamped and sealed place for God’s rule to become a reality amongst His people.
I will revisit Jerusalem’s importance in my next article, but that should be a sufficient summary of some of the major covenant activities of God in the Old Testament.
The Messiah Finally Arrives
Almost 1,000 years following God’s covenant with David, Jesus, the Messiah, arrives on the scene. We don’t usually like to read the genealogies (I admit I don’t usually like them – think Numbers and 1 Chronicles), but Matthew begins His gospel with these words:
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1)
Here we read three important pointers from this verse: 1) Jesus was the anointed one (Christ), 2) Jesus was that descendant of David, and 3) Jesus was also a descendant of Abraham. Matthew is most likely writing to Jews and, so, it is important to note that these are three incredibly significant statements for a Jew in the first century AD. These three statements have huge ramifications for Jesus.
As English speakers, we usually refer to Jesus as Jesus Christ, and that rightly so. The words Christ and Messiah are synonymous, both meaning anointed one. Christ comes from the Greek, Messiah comes from the Hebrew. So Matthew is reminding his readers (and us) that Jesus is the great anointed one that was to come.
But He was also the son of both David and Abraham. That means He was here to fulfil all things promised to both David and Abraham. A Jew would expect nothing less. Or, let me say it this way, a Jew who had good handle and grasp of the promises of God would expect nothing less. The expectation of the Messianic Son of David and Son of Abraham would be that He would faithfully receive and fulfil all the promises given to those two great patriarchs.
But the question remains as first presented: Is Christ currently occupying the throne of David?
No doubt Christ is currently seated at the right hand of God. Such language is given to point to Christ’s reign – see passages like Acts 2:33-35; Acts 5:31; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20-23; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:8.
Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). I don’t think one can dispute His reign. Of course not every knee has bowed or every tongue confessed. We await that day! We await the final declaration of righteousness on the justified and condemnation for the wicked, that day being when all is finally and fully made new. But Christ is reigning now, even over all heaven and earth.
But again, how does this relate to David’s throne? Jesus is seated on the throne at the Father’s right hand, but what about the Messianic-Davidic throne that David once occupied in the city of Jerusalem? Does Jesus sit upon that now or is that throne to be occupied in Jerusalem during a future millenial reign?
Of course, you probably can guess that I would affirm that Jesus is currently seated on David’s throne. But how do I get there?
I’m headed there in the next article. Thanks for sticking with me as I lay out what I believe will be important groundwork in establishing the claim that Jesus occupies David’s throne. In the next article I will look to mainly address three points:
- Assess what I believe is a central passage to the discussion – Acts 2:22-36.
- This will then lead on to show why I believe Jesus is currently reigning over all Jerusalem and Israel, as well as all nations.
- Why this all matters, or what it practically means.