Saturday, December 5, 2015

Covenants Defined Part V - The Kings Covenant

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So far covenants have come to those who have faith, for the purposes of increasing their faith. It’s between the heads of families, the men who lead the tribe or nation, and although a covenant is in general an alliance, God has been using them as a vehicle for revelation about the one who would rescue us from our sins.
Once again the pattern repeated, this time with David king of Israel in the final years of his reign (2 Sam 7:1). After resting from conflict on every side, David swears to build a house for the Lord, but upon hearing it God denies him permission and instead tells him He would build David a house (Ps 132:1-5, 2 Sam 7:11).


The Davidic Covenant

Historic Preamble: 2 Sam 7:6-11
The Heads: God on one side, and David (and his Seed) on the other (see also Ps 132:12)
God’s Promise: After you die your Seed will set up my House, He will be My Son, and I will establish His kingdom forever (2 Sam 7:12-13).
Note that David understood this to be a Messianic prophecy, that his Seed would be an everlasting king who brings salvation from sin (2 Sam 23:5).
Optional Clauses of Blessings, Disobedience, Definitions: If your children fail to keep My covenant that I teach them, then they shall not sit on the throne forever (Ps 132:2).
The kings were not to presume on their bloodline that God would bless them (2 Chron 13:5), but were to act justly because of their faith in God. This was tested by Solomon and resulted in God taking the kingdom apart; see 1 Kings 11:11 or 1 Chron 7:18-19. Nonetheless, even when the kings disobeyed, God would not destroy their line utterly because of the covenant He made with David.
Optional Sign: None
Optional Sacrifice: None
Optional Mediator: Nathan the Prophet (2 Sam 7:4)
What else we learn about covenants from this: The structure of this story may lend itself to the conclusion that covenants can be made in the Bible even though the word isn’t used itself given that there’s no explicit mention of the word covenant in 2 Samuel. However this is somewhat of a weak argument since the word covenant is used elsewhere in Scripture.

The rest is not new, we’re given confirmation on the model, with a particular emphasis on how a background element, or historic preamble of Gods goodness is given before a covenant is made. We also confirm the idea that covenants are by faith, for faith, since the real focus here, written in big unmissable neon letters, is the promise of Christ. Jesus is the one of whom God speaks when He says in Psalm 89:18-28 “I will beat down His foes before His face, and plague them that hate Him. My faithfulness and mercy shall be with Him, and in My name shall His horn be exalted. I will make Him My firstborn, higher than the kings of the Earth. My mercy I will keep for Him forever, and My covenant shall stand fast with Him.”


Integration with the Other Covenants

How do we fit this new covenant into the plan of salvation? How does the Davidic covenant relate to the other covenants? Does it sit on top of Sinai? Does it fit entirely within Sinai? Are the two totally separate? The total integration seems out of the question since Romans 9:4 and Eph 2:12 speak of covenants, plural, which would mean that neither can contain the other. But yet they can’t all be entirely separate either since David completes the gaps that Deut 17 left open and the land and Seed element in the Abrahamic covenant is also here (2 Sam 7:12, 23). So in some way this covenant has to be connected to both Abraham and Moses.
I suspect the commonality is that the Jewish element is shared across every covenant, but the promises of Christ are distinct in each one. Each covenant teaches us something new about Christ, they shed new light on our growing in faith in Him, they are unique in giving us a better understanding of Him, but by extension each one also teaches us about the people He’s coming through. There’s a shadow of Him in each, with appropriate typology. So with Abraham we learn He will bless the world, but because He’s a physical descendent it means His people share in this blessing. That’s why Abraham is to circumcise everyone in his house, not just the line of Isaac. With David we learn the Messiah is a King, but this covenant also sets up the kingship in general and teaches us what a kingdom looks like.


The Corollary

The covenant with David is also a turning point in the Biblical narrative. After this the good kings of Juda occasionally covenant with God, act as father figures, and lead the people in righteous obedience to Gods law.

  • Asa in his fifteenth year as king covenanted with God that they would seek Him with their whole heart (1 Chr 15:12).
  • Hezekiah lead the people to covenant with God to be obedient to the covenant given through Moses (2 Chr 29:10).
  • When the people covenanted to anoint Joash their king (2 Chron 23:3) they also covenanted to be the Lord’s obedient people (2 Chron 23:16).
  • Most famously, young Josiah covenanted with God that he (and the people under him) would obey everything written in the book of the Covenant (2 Kings 23:2-3, 2 Chr 34:30-32).

And with that, let’s continue on to some other odd mentions of the word and see if anything is of help in building either our definition or our understanding.

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