The Davidic Covenant

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The Davidic Covenant

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David, though he made mistakes, was a deeply converted man who followed God with his whole heart. So God told him he would make him a “house” (2 Samuel 7:11 2 Samuel 7:11And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that he will make you an house.
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)—that is, a royal dynasty. It was to be an enduring dynasty through his son Solomon: “And I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:13 2 Samuel 7:13He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
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). If Solomon disobeyed God, he would be punished (2 Samuel 7:14 2 Samuel 7:14I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
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). “But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:15-16 2 Samuel 7:15-16 15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established for ever before you: your throne shall be established for ever.
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; 2 Samuel 23:1 2 Samuel 23:1Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,
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, 2 Samuel 23:5 2 Samuel 23:5Although my house be not so with God; yet he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.
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; 1 Chronicles 22:9-10 1 Chronicles 22:9-10 9 Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his days. 10 He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.
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; 1 Chronicles 28:4-5 1 Chronicles 28:4-5 4 However, the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he has chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel: 5 And of all my sons, (for the LORD has given me many sons,) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.
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).

Yet this requires some clarification, particularly the statement about Solomon’s dynasty enduring forever. The Hebrew word translated “forever” here, olam , does not always carry this meaning. Occasionally it means unending as long as certain conditions apply (compare Exodus 21:6 Exodus 21:6Then his master shall bring him to the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or to the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.
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; Jonah 2:6 Jonah 2:6I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet have you brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.
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). Recorded elsewhere, there were definite conditions attached to the endurance of Solomon’s throne. Notice 1 Chronicles 28: “Moreover, I will establish his kingdom forever, if he is steadfast to observe My commandments and judgments” (1 Chronicles 28:7 1 Chronicles 28:7Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day.
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). God later reiterated this condition to Solomon himself (2 Chronicles 7:17-18 2 Chronicles 7:17-18 17 And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and shall observe my statutes and my judgments; 18 Then will I establish the throne of your kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David your father, saying, There shall not fail you a man to be ruler in Israel.
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; compare (2 Chronicles 7:19-22 2 Chronicles 7:19-22 19 But if you turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; 20 Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations. 21 And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passes by it; so that he shall say, Why has the LORD done thus to this land, and to this house? 22 And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore has he brought all this evil on them.
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).

So if he lived in disobedience to God, the promise of an unending Solomonic dynasty would be rendered null and void. Sadly, this would come to pass, as Solomon’s heart was eventually turned to following other gods (see 1 Kings 11:4 1 Kings 11:4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
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).

What, then, of 2 Samuel 7:14-15 2 Samuel 7:14-15 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: 15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you.
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, where God said he wouldn’t remove His mercy from Solomon as He did with Saul? It must simply have meant that, in the event of Solomon’s disobedience, God would not bring about his death to end his reign, as happened with Saul. Instead, Solomon would be allowed to live out his days with his kingdom intact for the sake of David—and indeed this is what happened (compare 1 Kings 11:12 1 Kings 11:12Notwithstanding in your days I will not do it for David your father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of your son.
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). Nevertheless, Solomon violated the conditions that would have guaranteed him a perpetual dynasty. So while nothing forbade his descendants from reigning until well into the future, God was not obligated to ensure their continuance upon the throne.

On the other hand, God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:15-16 2 Samuel 7:15-16 15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established for ever before you: your throne shall be established for ever.
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—that David’s own kingdom and throne would be established forever—still stands. For God did obligate Himself to this course no matter what Solomon did. Notice His confirmation of this tremendous pledge in the book of Psalms: “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations’” (Psalms 89:3-4 Psalms 89:3-4 3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn to David my servant, 4 Your seed will I establish for ever, and build up your throne to all generations. Selah.
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). So from then on, David would have a descendant sitting on a continuing throne in every generation!

God further proclaimed: “Also I will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My mercy I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall stand firm with him. His seed also I will make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven … My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky” (Psalms 89:27-29 Psalms 89:27-29 27 Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. 28 My mercy will I keep for him for ever more, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. 29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
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; Psalms 89:34-37 Psalms 89:34-37 34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. 35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie to David. 36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. 37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.
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).

And in Jeremiah 33:19 Jeremiah 33:19And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying,
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: “Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son [that is, a descendant] to reign on his throne.’”

Here, then, was an unbreakable promise of an unbreakable dynasty—a dynasty preeminent above all others! But what happened to that dynasty? And where is it today?