Has this covenant been fulfilled in Christ? If so, does this mean Israel does not have a right to exist as a Jewish state, as some Christians believe?
As noted in every article about biblical covenants, here is a working definition of covenant:
Out of his great love for his highest creation–people–God unilaterally reaches out to them and initiates an unalterable legal agreement, in which he stipulates the terms that reveal how he relates to people, and they to him.
A covenant is an unalterable legal agreement, in which God stipulates the terms that reveal how he relates to people, and they to him.
The main points are that he takes the initiative and spells out the terms of the agreement. We cannot strut up to God and demand that he relates to us in our way. That’s arrogant and presumptuous because our strutting and demanding fail to understand that he is the one in charge of his creation. He imposes the agreement on his highest creation, humankind.
This covenant we study is called the Davidic Covenant or the Covenant of David.
Since all covenants have component parts, so does this one, as follows:
1.. God’s initiative
God scanned the hearts of all of Israel and found David to be his man. God initiated David’s anointing (1 Sam. 16:1-13). 2 Sam. 7:5-16 shows God initiating this covenant.
On his deathbed, David said God is the one who made the covenant with him (2 Sam. 23:5).
God chose David to be king; David did not choose himself to be king or beg God to make him king.
This act of reaching out to a human is God’s loving grace. Humans do not dictate the terms, but God sets them out.
2.. Type of covenant
It is the Royal Grant Covenant. In 2 Sam. 7:10 God promised David that he would carve out a parcel of land and plant his people in it, over which his king was to rule. In 1 Kings 4:20-21 and 5:3-4 shows that in David’s descendant Solomon, the people were at rest in the land.
3.. Parties involved
The parties were the Lord as the ruler of heaven and earth, and David, the Lord’s servant.
4.. Stipulations and obligations and promises
This aspect of the covenant could also be called requirements or conditions, if the covenant is like that.
This covenant is unconditional.
Ps. 89:20-37 says in the context of God’s love and commitment to David that he has anointed him with sacred oil (v. 20); his hand and arm will sustain him (v. 21); the enemy will not get the better of him and not get victory over him (vv. 22-23); God’s love will go so deeply that that God’s love and commitment will sustain him forever (vv. 25-28). God will establish his lineage forever, and his throne will endure as long as the heavens endure (vv. 28-29). This commitment and love for his specially chosen will last forever, even if his sons and descendants should forsake God’s law and violate his decrees, so God would have to punish their sin with flogging and the rod (vv. 30-33). Still, even in those cases, God will not take his love for him and not violate his covenant with his anointed one. His line will continue forever (vv. 34-37).
So God promised to establish and maintain the Davidic dynasty on the throne of Israel and provide her with a godly king like David and through his descendants bring her to rest in the promised land.
It is mentioned to Solomon (1 Kings 2:2-4) and celebrated by him (1 Kings 8:22-26); it is mentioned to King Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:34-36) and reaffirmed during his reign (2 Kings 8:19); it was celebrated by the psalmists (Ps. 89:3; 132:1-12); it was reaffirmed by Isaiah (Is. 9:6-7) and by Ezekiel (Ezek. 37:24-25).
So, as noted, this covenant is unconditional and promises an everlasting throne.
But does this mean that Jews have a right to live in the Holy Land today, or is the covenant fulfilled in Christ, so the land element has been set aside?
See the fulfilment section below for suggestions.
God himself ratified the covenant. The covenant was promised to David after his anointing—or the details of the covenant were not revealed to the boy David or to the old prophet Samuel, but one could say that God ratified it during the anointing (1 Sam. 17:12-13). Or at least it was launched then.
In any case, recall that Ps. 89:34-35 says that God will not violate or break his covenant, so David’s throne will endure before God.
6.. Fulfillment of the covenant
Jesus fulfilled and is fulfilling and always shall fulfill the Davidic covenant, for he is the righteous ruler for whom Israel had been looking or should have been looking.
Luke 1:32 says that Gabriel himself announced that the Lord God will give the Messiah Jesus the throne of David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; “his kingdom will never end.”
Matt. 1:1 and Rom. 1:3 says that Jesus was the son of David.
John 18:33-37 says that in a dialogue with Pilate Jesus affirmed that his kingdom is not of this world, so his fulfillment of David’s covenant would take place in heaven—for now.
In Acts 13:22-23, 34 Paul preached that Jesus fulfilled the Davidic covenant.
Paul also says that Jesus will hand over his kingdom to his Father when he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power (1 Cor. 15:24-25).
Jesus is called THE KING OF KINGS (Rev. 19:16).
Now let’s discuss the right of Jews to live in the Holy Land (no. 4, above).
Recall that the covenant with David is a royal land grant, and it is unconditional. However, Jesus fulfills this covenant. So does this mean the land element of the covenant has been set aside because now Jesus is in the process of reaching the whole globe with the gospel of the kingdom? Does this mean that Israel should not live in the Holy Land by God’s right and gift?
Christians and others who answer in the negative seems churlish and ungenerous. These over-thinking Christians remind me of a foolish husband who simply cannot believe that his wife is pregnant until the baby is placed in his arms, and even then he does not believe it. He must stop his denying or lightly dismissing the fait accompli. He appears foolish to everyone who celebrates his baby.
So too these churlish Christians need to stop appearing foolish. Israel as a Jewish state is a done deal. Surely God had something to do with it. Yes, God worked through Jewish patriots, atheists or believers, but he is the one who established this nation against all human odds—a miracle, in my view of things. Why nitpick and fault-find reality?
So the best interpretation of Scripture on the Davidic covenant is that the land grant to David is unconditional, until the entire earth and sun and universe is set aside (2 Pet. 3:10-13). Until that final wrap up, God still sees the need for Israel to exist by his divine right at this time in history.
So how does this post help me grow in my knowledge of God?
Jesus sits on the throne of David now and will remain there forever, whatever happens to the sun and earth. David will never co-rule on this throne, as if David and Jesus would sit side by side. In heaven David will announce that the KING OF KINGS is the best and most qualified king to sit there, infinitely better than he is (or so I poetically imagine this to happen).
Before the end, however, Jesus sits on the throne of David in heaven and is watching out for Israel. We would do well not to spit on this nation. No, we don’t have to agree with every little thing that every Israeli politician does or says, but the fact of this nation’s existence means we should respect its right to thrive as a Jewish state.
Personally, I would not want to fight against reality that is a done deal, even if I were to believe (hypothetically) that Jesus fulfilled the royal land grant element. It is clear enough that God still supports this nation geographically. He still has a plan for them (Rom. 11:1-5; 11-12, 28-32).
And the best way to support this nation is to preach their true Messiah to them. Never believe that because the land grant is unconditional, they do not need their Messiah. He is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant in the way of salvation—he transcends this covenant through the gospel. Everyone is saved the same way: through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
Written by James Malcolm