Way back in December, I started a shorter series trying to consider whether or not Jesus is presently seated on David’s throne. It was based upon this question, as posted on a theological discussion site I frequent known as Theologica:
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?
That’s the question, or questions, I’m trying to specifically consider within this series, which I believe will end out after a couple more posts following this one.
Up to this point, I have written two articles on the topic at hand:
- The first article mainly presents the backdrop to this particular discussion, while also considering some Old Testament background with the connection of all of this to the Messiah’s arrival onto the scene.
- The second article looks at what I consider one of the, if not the, central passage to show that Jesus is currently seated on the Davidic-Messianic throne. That passage is found in Peter’s Pentecost message, specifically Acts 2:22-36. In this sermon, Peter shows the connection between God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 and the Messianic-prophetic psalm of Psalm 16, showing the fulfilment of both of these passages in the resurrection (and subsequent enthronement) of Jesus, the Messiah.
For me, as you can easily ascertain, I’m already convinced that Jesus is presently seated on David’s throne. He is Messiah and since He is presently reigning over all of heaven and earth, then He must also be seated on the Davidic-Messianic throne reigning over His Messianic people. Of course, not every knee has bowed, nor has every tongue confessed. But that will never negate who is the sovereignly seated Messiah and Lord over all.
But let’s look at another important passage in regards to this question. It’s found in the early chapters of Matthew’s Gospel:
And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel. (Matthew 2:6)
Now, in the first century, the New Testament writers would have usually been quoting from the Septuagint, that being the Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures. That had become the standard text for Jews, especially for those scattered abroad.
But, interestingly enough, the Greek-Septuagint translation is a little different from the Hebrew Scriptures. Here is our English translation of the Hebrew, originally found in Micah’s oracles:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days. (Micah 5:2)
But, as Matthew quoted the Greek, we see an interesting emphasis in the passage. It’s found in the second half of Matthew 2:6: for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.
An interesting way to word it.
What’s so interesting? Well, I believe there is a great flow and connection between these two words: ruler and shepherd.
Of course! Think about the Old Testament rulers or kings. Think about David.
As king, David ruled the people of Israel. And, as king, David shepherded the people of Israel. Matter of fact, every single leader in Scripture is given the role of shepherd. They are called to oversee, lead and care for the people, the sheep. Thus, there is a huge connection between ruler and shepherd.
Are you starting to see the connection with Jesus, the Messiah?
When we turn to the life of Jesus, guess what? He comes as the good shepherd. And He spends a lot of time in John 10 telling how He is the good shepherd.
Look how another Old Testament prophet says it:
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. (Ezekiel 34:23)
Jesus is the Son of David who came as the one Shepherd. I wonder if this Shepherd would happen to be seated on David’s throne as well? But let’s continue.
Not only that, but it’s also quite easy to establish Jesus as the ruling King. He is the one enthroned at the Father’s right hand ruling over all heaven and earth (see Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 1:20-23). This is what Peter emphasises in his first sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2, specifically in vs22-36. He concludes with these words: Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.
And Ezekiel would go on to also connect the Messiah’s shepherding role with His kingly rule:
My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. (Ezekiel 37:24)
Here is the promise of the one shepherd and Davidic-king. And Jesus comes with the obvious fulfilment as the one shepherd and the Davidic-ruling king.
So I wonder whose throne Jesus is really seated on?
Yet, the question might come: what does showing Jesus is both shepherd and ruling king prove about whether He is currently seated on the Davidic-Messainic throne? I’m fine to see this as something future, but I just cannot concede this is the current situation.
Well, for one thing, I said from the beginning that it’s not as easy as turning to a passage in Paul and saying, ‘There it is. A proof-text that Jesus is seated on David’s throne.’ No text explicitly states such, at least for our modern, twenty-first century mind. Yet, I believe it would be pretty clear to a first-century Jew what the New Testament taught about Jesus and whose throne He was seated on. I think the thread is woven through the New Testament.
But let’s also go back to Matthew 2:6. Who does it say Jesus will rule over and shepherd?
It says, ‘My people Israel.’
Interesting that the specific group of people that Messiah has come to rule over and shepherd is Israel.
Of course, I know the objections that will come. Jesus is currently seated at the Father’s right hand and ruling over all heaven and earth, as the Scriptures adamantly show. But, of course, this means nothing in regards to His role with Israel.
Well, I think there is a major problem with this approach. I don’t believe we are to somehow disconnect what Jesus is presently involved in at the Father’s right hand from His role with the promised Davidic-Messianic throne.
If Jesus is currently reigning over all heaven and earth, is He not also reigning over all Israel, whoever we believe Israel to be?
Is the One who proclaims Himself as the great shepherd, presently, not shepherding [His] people Israel?
Of course, for many out there, I understand that they would see a split between Israel and the church. They see two differing peoples here. And of course, it’s easy to guess I don’t fall into that camp. I see one people of faith in Christ. I see one group of sheep under the Shepherd’s care. I see one group of subjects being ruled by their benevolent King. And I’ll share some more why I believe this in the next article.
But, in quoting Micah, Matthew says that Jesus had come to shepherd and rule ‘my people Israel’. Is He not doing so? I don’t know how we could answer in the negative. It is quite clear that Jesus is the Messianic-Shepherd-Ruler, just as David was. Jesus is presently fulfilling the Davidic role to the T! And as such, He is seated on the promised Davidic throne that belongs to Him and Him alone.
Yes. I do believe the fulfilment of the initial promise in 2 Samuel 7 has been fulfilled in a greater way than first expected and understood, since it is also connected to the throne at the Father’s right hand. But I think that is how our God seems to regularly work. You know, He’s able to do far more than we could ask or think (see Ephesians 3:20).
So, to close, I admit as I have a few times already: there is no one verse to turn to that states something to this effect: Jesus is now seated on David’s throne. It’s not that simple, just as one cannot turn to one specific verse that says God is Trinity. But, what we can do is take the full scope of the teaching of Scripture, particularly focusing in on the New Testament in both cases, and we come to a healthy conclusion. There is a Triune God as Father, Son and Spirit. Jesus is seated on the Davidic-Messianic throne.
Peter preached Jesus was reigning of David’s throne by pointing to the fulfilment of two Old Testament passages. Matthew showed that the fulfilment had come upon us, relating it back to Micah’s words. It’s there because the new covenant Messianic age had been inaugurated in the birth, life, death, resurrection and enthronement of the Messianic-Shepherd-King.
There is only one throne for Jesus to sit on, the Davidic-Messianic throne. But, from an Old Testament perspective, we didn’t realise it was also at His Father’s right hand. But it is. And He is truly shepherding and ruling over His people, Israel.