Davidic Covenant: The Branch
2 Samuel 7:8–17; 1 Chronicles 17:11–14
Samuel Lesson #168
April 23, 2019
“Father, we are thankful that we have forgiveness of sin because of Jesus Christ. Too often we forget the importance of that, as we have been believers for so many years and understand grace. Your grace is beyond anything that we can imagine. It’s easy for us to just relax in it, not to realize what a tremendous privilege it is that You have so freely given a salvation to us that pays the penalty for all sin and requires nothing of us, because nothing we could contribute would help at all.
“Father, we’re thankful that, on this basis, we can continue to have an intimate relationship with You and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Father, we’re thankful we can come together to study Your Word, to see how all of the pieces of Your Word constantly fit together, complement one another, and develop one another so that all of it fits together in one perfect harmony. Help us as we study today to understand all of the different nuances and aspects of the Davidic Covenant that we uncover and how all of this fits together.
“Father, we pray for our nation. We pray for the protection of our President, for those leaders who truly do seek to maintain the rule of law, the rule of constitutional law, who do understand what that means.
“Father, restrain the forces of evil that seek to destroy this free nation—a nation that supports Israel, a nation that freely proclaims the gospel and sends missionaries out throughout the world. There are so many in government who hate this, who just despise Christianity and the rule of law, which comes from a Judeo-Christian foundation, and they seek to sabotage this at every possible moment.
“We pray that You would prevent them from doing so, and that You would raise up more and more people who want to know the truth and want to implement the truth, whose eyes will be open to the evil that is going on around us. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Isaiah 11. This is lesson 168 in our series on Samuel—1st Samuel and now into 2nd Samuel. It seems like we’ve been studying about the Davidic Covenant for a long time. Actually, it’s been a little over 2-1/2 months. We started with lesson 160. Lessons 160 and 161 talked about the content of the covenant itself.
Then, with lesson 162, I began to take us through its relation to prior Scripture. Lesson 162 was about its relationship to the Abrahamic Covenant. From lesson 163 to the present lesson, we have been looking at how it is developed in subsequent Scripture. This is important.
Tonight, we’re going to look at the next phase in this, which really develops out of the idea of the Davidic Covenant and the references to the Messiah as the Branch. As I pointed out from 2 Samuel 23, at the beginning when we related this to Isaiah 4, this term “the Branch” comes out of a statement of David’s in 2 Samuel 23. It’s developed in many different ways through different passages.
That’s what we’re doing. We started with Isaiah. We looked at some really significant passages in Isaiah 7, 8, and 9 in the last two lessons. Isaiah 7:14 talks about this Messianic Seed from the house of David. A sign regarding His birth would be a virgin conception and birth. This is further developed in Isaiah 7, 8, and then ending in 9. That part in Isaiah 9:6—we’ll look at this in just a minute—talks about the various titles for Immanuel, indicating that He is both fully God and fully man.
Slides 3 and 4
We have been studying about the Davidic Covenant as an outgrowth of the Abrahamic Covenant, which emphasizes three aspects: land, seed, and blessing.
- The land is expanded in a land covenant in Deuteronomy 29.
- “Seed” means descendants. We’ll see this at the end of the message (I hope I get there tonight): seed is a term that has a collective sense, so it can refer to a plural and would be translated “descendants” in that sense. Or, it can refer to an individual, in which case it would refer to a singular descendant.
The English word that captures both elements—both the collective sense and the singular sense—would be the word “offspring.” Offspring can refer to many, or it can refer to one. In the Davidic Covenant, God promises that it is the offspring of David that will fulfill this role, and the Messiah will come through David.
- The last element of the Abrahamic Covenant is the New Covenant—the blessing to all men. That is described in Jeremiah 31.
The Davidic Covenant, as we have seen, has three elements. God promises an eternal house or dynasty. David wanted to build a house for God, and God said, “Not so fast. I’m going to build a house for you.” That play on words indicates that God is building a dynasty for David that will culminate in Someone Who is eternal.
There’s the eternal kingdom that He will rule, and He will reign from an eternal throne, which is the throne of David. Literally, it will be in the Millennial Kingdom—the first phase. It will be a literal, geopolitical kingdom centered in Jerusalem.
Again, from the vocabulary that I have introduced you to, this is a diachronic study. Diachronic is a word that means “through time.” We started off with this going back into Genesis with the Abrahamic Covenant, and then we started working through the prophets chronologically—the latter prophets, actually.
It’s intertextual, which describes how later passages will use vocabulary and terms that go back to a previous statement, so that you see the dots connect.
This is such a tremendous testimony to the ultimate unity of Scripture, even though it’s written by over 40 authors over a period of over 2,000 years. Nevertheless, there is a unity in the Scripture that goes beyond some human manipulation.
In the chronology here, the early prophets are the writers of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. The latter prophets are the big books—the major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Then come the twelve minor prophets.
If you put them up chronologically, Joel and Obadiah were probably 9th–8th century—no passages there. As for the key passages that we’re looking at related to this, we’ve looked at Hosea already. We’ve looked at Amos already—Amos 9. We’ve begun Isaiah. We’ll finish Isaiah tonight.
We’re not looking at all of the passages, just key ones. Also, we’ll look at the one passage in Micah 5 tonight. Then we’ll go to Jeremiah, look at a couple passages there, next Ezekiel, and then wrap up with Zechariah.
Many of these passages are talking about the same thing, giving us the same information. So, we don’t have to do a tremendous amount of drilldown there.
We finished up last time looking at Isaiah 7, 8, and 9. This chart gives us the summary of the structure of Isaiah 7–11. Isaiah 7:1-16 gives us the sign of Immanuel’s birth, followed by a judgment that is announced by God—divine judgment on Judah, Damascus, and Samaria.
God always disciplines nations for their failure. It involves two things. First of all, in terms of God’s divine institutions, there are built-in consequences for failing to uphold those divine institutions.
We as a nation are experiencing that, because there is a full-bore attack on all of the divine institutions in this nation right now. Everything from the border to gender identity—all these things are attacking every aspect of divine establishment. If something doesn’t change, our whole society and culture will implode, just as Israel’s did in the Old Testament.
God announces the judgment on Judah, Damascus, and Samaria in Isaiah 7:17 through Isaiah 8:22. Then there’s the sign of the divine nature. The only solution to human culture, the only solution to human history and the chaos of human government is a divine, perfect king and that will never be accomplished apart from the Messiah.
This is what you have in these utopic concepts that we find. Progressivism, Marxism, and socialism are all predicated on—first of all, they reject God, ultimately. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people who are Christians there, but those philosophical systems all reject God. They reject the sinfulness of man. They believe that man is perfectible; therefore, society is perfectible and man can bring in a utopia on his own.
Socialism has never even improved a situation, and it never will. Marxism will not. They all end up in some kind of totalitarian control, because the only way that you can ultimately produce what they intend to produce is to control everybody. It’s totally anti-freedom.
Isaiah 9:1–7 tells us that the ultimate, perfect government comes when the Perfect King comes: Immanuel. That’s followed in Isaiah 9:8 through Isaiah 10:34—this is where we are tonight—judgment is announced on the Northern Kingdom and on Assyria.
We’ll just look at the last part of Isaiah 10, as we set the context for the Messianic Branch of the Lord. The introduction of that is in Isaiah 11:1–9.
In 2 Samuel 23:5 (this is a passage I referred to a minute ago), David says, “Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire. …”
It is translated in the New King James, “… will He not make it increase?” Literally, in the Hebrew, the verb tzamach is used in the hifil, which is the causative stem. That indicates that the verb has a causative sense. “Will He not cause it to sprout?” or to branch out.
Then we see that one of the words used for “branch”—there are several Hebrew words used that are translated “branch”—is the noun tzemach. This, then, comes into play in our understanding of these passages.
We saw it introduced in Isaiah 4:2, “the Branch of the Lord.” Then we will also look tonight at Jeremiah 23:5–6, “the Branch of David.” The branch is referred to as “My Servant the Branch” in Zechariah 3:8. If I were really drilling down on this, that term there that connects the Branch with My Servant would mean that we can go back into Isaiah and all of the passages in Isaiah—the Messianic prophecies that don’t have overt connections to the Davidic Covenant—that refer to the Messiah as My Servant. That connects it, because of the usage here—My Servant is the Branch.
Therefore, all of those references to My Servant in Isaiah and Jeremiah are ultimately an allusion to the figure of the Davidic King.
That’s how it all connects. Let’s look at the context. Open your Bibles to Isaiah 11. This comes, as I pointed out in the chart, at the end of this section that started in Isaiah 7.
In Isaiah 10, there is a judgment announced as to what is coming in the future, and it moves very subtly from the near future, which is the Assyrian invasion that will destroy the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC and all but destroy the Southern Kingdom in the subsequent invasion into the south.
As we look at Isaiah 11, this is what we see. We’ve seen already in this section that the house of David is given the sign of a virgin conception and birth, affirming God’s promise to David that He will protect his house and put an eternal descendant on the throne, that that descendant will be called Immanuel, and that Immanuel will come during a time of oppression in Israel. That is the whole passage there that talks about eating curds and honey.
We got a good question that came in: “How does that differ from milk and honey?” “Milk and honey” is a phrase that’s used by Moses in the Pentateuch to talk about the potential prosperity of the Promised Land.
Isaiah is in the mid-700s, so this is 700 years after Moses wrote. When you’re doing word studies, phrase studies, and idioms, you recognize that words and idioms change their meaning. Even from author to author, terms differ.
So, we’re talking about something that is 700 years after Moses. It’s not the exact same phrase. It’s curds and honey. This is defined in context in the latter part of Isaiah 7: eating curds and honey is a sign of the oppression that will come to the Northern Kingdom when the Assyrians conquer them. Their fields will be destroyed. All that will be left is their livestock, which will provide dairy. They will have curds, and then honey from the bees. It’s a limitation.
You find this in different places in Scripture, where you have a word that is used in a book by a particular author and, in context, it’s defined one way. Then you find it used by another author 700 or 1,000 years later in a different context, and it has a different sense. You can’t read one meaning from one year in one context into the meaning seven or eight centuries later in another context, especially when a phrase is used so closely together as this one is.
All of this section gives a prediction of the Messiah Who will come, and He is the only One Who ultimately will resolve it. In Isaiah 10, it moves almost seamlessly from talking about the Assyrian invasion and what that’s going to look like, how God will protect the Southern Kingdom from being destroyed, into the ultimate fulfillment—the protection and establishment of the Kingdom. It slips from talking about this near issue of the Assyrian invasion into the future provision of a perfect Kingdom.
In Isaiah 10:24–28, we see this comfort from the Lord. “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: ‘O My people, who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian. He shall strike you with a rod and lift up his staff against you, in the manner of Egypt.’ ”
Obviously, they’re going to be hit, and they’re going to be hit hard. This imagery of a rod is the imagery of a strong, harsh ruler. We’ll come back to that, because that word is one of the words that is used to translate Branch or rod.
Isaiah 10:25, “ ‘For yet a very little while and the indignation will cease, as will My anger in their destruction.’ And the LORD of hosts will stir up a scourge for him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; as His rod was on the sea, so will He lift it up in the manner of Egypt.”
Twice now He has alluded to a period of judgment in the time of the Exodus, and this one in the time of Gideon in the Book of Judges as they slaughtered all of the armies of Midian under Zeeb and Oreb, who were the two generals.
It says in Isaiah 10:27, “It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.”
In other words, the yoke that the Assyrian wants to put on you will be taken away. But then he traces the movement, and you have all these place names. “He has come to Aiath, he has passed Migron; at Michmash he has attended to his equipment.” If you follow all that, trace it on a map, this is tracing the progress of the army of Assyria coming down from the north. They’ll come down to Judah and all but destroy Jerusalem.
That’s the whole story of Sennacherib being outside of Jerusalem, surrounding Jerusalem, and then at night the Angel of the LORD came and killed everybody in the army except for Sennacherib and a few of his major advisors. They got up the next morning—the armies did—and they had to flee back to Assyria. God had protected Israel.
Then at the end we read in Isaiah10:33, “Behold the Lord, the LORD of hosts, will lop off the bough with terror; ...”
That’s what happens. He lops off the army. The army is represented as these trees, as a forest. He wipes out the forest.
“… [He] will lop off the bough with terror; those of high stature will be hewn down, and the haughty will be humbled.”
Sennacherib had to flee back home to Assyria, and his sons conspired against him and assassinated him. So, he did not end well. That’s the context.
Then there’s this transition from God cutting down the trees of Assyria—what happens when you cut down the trees? You’re left with stumps. He transitions from the stumps of the Assyrian army to the stump of Jesse.
He says [in Isaiah 11:1], “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, ...”
That should be from the stump of Jesse. This is the New King James translation.
“… and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
That’s where we see the introduction of this title, again, for Jesus—for the Messiah—as the Branch of David.
Isaiah 11:2 describes the unique way in which God the Holy Spirit will completely and totally fill His ministry, “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”
What we see here are some key words.
Isaiah 11:1, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, …”
The word here for “Rod” is choter, which means a twig, or a stem, or a branch. It’s rather inauspicious. The picture is that, by this time, the house of David has been reduced to a stump. You see a stump and you look at it and go, “Well, it’s going to die. It’s no longer productive. It’s on the way out. There’s nothing there that is significant, because the tree’s cut down.”
What this shows is that, in the future, the house of David is going to be reduced to a stump. It’s going to be a shadow of its former self. It’s not pictured as a tall, beautiful tree that shelters all of the people under it and produces fruit and prosperity for all. It’s been destroyed, and now it just appears to be an insignificant, apparently dead stump.
Then something happens to rejuvenate the tree, and what we see is that this Rod, this stem, comes out from the stump of Jesse. The second word there is the word geza‘, which is interesting because the noun means a stalk, or a stem, or a stump. It’s related to the word for Gezer, which is a city on the border with Ephraim. It just means something that is cut back.
It has various nuances the way it is used. Here it’s related to something that keeps coming up in this prophetic literature related to the branch that comes out. This is the word netzer, translated “Branch” in this particular passage.
The point in all of this is that the house of David will be returned to obscurity. This fits the same imagery that we saw in the prophecy of Amos 9:11 that referred to the house of David as the tabernacle of David.
The house of David refers to something majestic. It’s a house. It’s permanent. It has a magnificent structure to it. But then the house of David is reduced to a tent. It’s just a nomadic tent. It has no permanence. It’s moved around. It loses its power, its majesty, and its significance.
The next thing that we see is that this Branch comes out of the stump of Jesse. It doesn’t say the stump of David. And who is Jesse? Jesse is David’s father.
We find at the end of the Book of Ruth a genealogy that ends with David. It goes back further than [what appears on the slide]. I didn’t put the whole genealogy here.
Ruth 4:21–22 talks about Salmon, who is the father of Boaz. Boaz becomes the husband of Ruth, and they have a son named Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse, so Jesse is Ruth’s grandson. Jesse, then, is the father of David. David is the youngest of Jesse’s sons. So, it traces the line of David, and Jesse is his father.
What do we know about Jesse? Jesse was rather obscure. He was a farmer or rancher in an area of a vary small rural village at this time that was called Bethlehem. It’s Bethlehem Ephrathah, which means Bethlehem of Ephratah. Ephratah was a forerunner who settled in that area at the time of the conquest.
So, this small village is named Bethlehem, which means “The House of Bread.” Jesse’s a sheep farmer, and may have done other things as well. His youngest son David, whom he didn’t think much of, had the responsibility of the sheep.
The emphasis here is on the stump. Mentioning Jesse is to emphasize the total obscurity from which David came. One of the things that we need to recognize is God is always in the business of taking people from obscurity and using them in tremendous ways that impact the church.
This last Sunday was Resurrection Day. It was also what? April 21st. San Jacinto Day. There is another significant event that happened on April 21. It was the anniversary of the salvation of a unique and distinctive individual in Massachusetts.
He was a young man who, in the beginning, didn’t look like he would ever amount to much. His parents died when he was rather young—just entering into his teenaged years. He was rather poorly educated; he never got past the 10th grade. He didn’t speak well. He was ill-behaved. He had no manners, he was brash, he was uncouth, he was crude. He loved playing pranks on people, which just irritated them so much. One time he pulled a prank on an Italian shoe salesman who chased him down the street with a knife, fully intent on killing him.
So, this was not a young man who anybody thought would ever amount to much. He was originally from Northfield, Massachusetts, and he moved to Boston to work in his uncle’s shoe store. It was the only way he could make any kind of a living, and he was just a teenager.
The condition set by his uncle was that he had to go to church every Sunday. So, he went to church every Sunday, and he was in a Sunday School class that was taught by a man named Edward Kimball. Anybody here ever heard of Edward Kimball? Talk about obscurity. This was a man that nobody ever hears of, but his role in church history is phenomenal. Many of us might be of Edward Kimball. We just don’t know the impact of whatever ministry we might have. Especially if you’re a Sunday School teacher, you don’t know the impact you have on your students.
Edward Kimball encouraged him to keep coming to Sunday School and to read his Bible. He would pick him up, he would go visit him during the week, and he encouraged him in his Bible reading, though he could barely read, had really bad grammar, and couldn’t spell.
Kimball said that he had never seen a more hopeless case than this young man. On April 21st of 1855, Kimball made it a point to go visit him at the shoe store where he worked. There he again explained the gospel to him and challenged this young man to trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior. On that day he did.
Soon after, when he was applying to join the church and become a member of the church, he was asked the question, “What has Jesus Christ done for you?” He paused a few minutes, and he thought, “Well, I can’t think of anything special that Jesus ever did for me.” He was a very slow learner.
Eventually this young man, whose name was Dwight Lyman Moody, came to clearly not only understand the gospel, but he led (it is estimated) over a million people to the Lord through his various evangelistic crusades. One of them (you may not know this) was General Ulysses S. Grant, during one of the many revivals that occurred in the Union Army during the War between the States.
Moody not only came out of obscurity and God used him in a tremendous way, but he founded Moody Bible Institute. Through him, millions and millions of people have heard the gospel through graduates of Moody Bible Institute, and tens of thousands have been educated to be pastors and missionaries.
He also founded the Northfield Massachusetts Bible Conference and influenced innumerable pastors and Bible teachers like C. I. Scofield and Lewis Sperry Chafer, among many others. God is in the business of using obscure people—people who don’t look like much at the beginning—in order to transform their lives and use them to transform the lives of millions.
That is exactly what God is doing with Jesse, who was just a nobody, and David appeared to be just a nobody, just an obscure shepherd at the very beginning. God eventually moved the house of Jesse from the backwoods, as it were, of Bethlehem to royalty in Jerusalem and through them the blessing of the Messiah.
So, this is an important lesson to learn. It is picked up in the New Testament. In Acts 13:22, there is an allusion to this.
“And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king …”
This is Paul talking.
“… to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus— ...”
So, the intertextual connections go into the New Testament.
Then we look at Isaiah 11:2, “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him …”
Then we have six characteristics, in addition to the Spirit of the LORD, fully filling Him: the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the LORD.
This is alluded to in John 3:34, where John writes, “For He whom God has sent—that is a reference to Jesus—speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit …”
In the New King James, it’s “by measure.” It should be translated “without measure.” In other words, you and I—according to 1 Corinthians 12–14—are given the gifts of the Spirit—some a little, some a little more—by measure. But not Christ. He has unrestricted ministry of God the Holy Spirit in His life.
Slide 20 [skipped]
If we look at the subsequent verses in Isaiah 11, “His delight is in the fear of the LORD and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes.” In other words, it’s an emphasis on the righteousness of the reign of the Messiah and His objectivity.
Isaiah 11:4, “But with righteousness He shall judge the poor and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.”
That is those who are truly humble—not those who are doormats. Moses was the meekest man in the Old Testament, according to the Old Testament, and he was not a man that was a doormat. He was a very strong leader.
“He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth.”
This is another very strong statement. The “rod of His mouth” there is an allusion to Psalm 2:9.
Psalm 2:9 indicates His control over the nations.
“And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.”
I just want to skip down—we won’t cover everything in there—we skip down to Isaiah 11:10.
“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse …”
This is talking about a future time when that Kingdom is established.
“… who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”
This is not talking about when you die and go to rest at some cemetery. This is talking about when He takes His position, after fighting and defeating the enemies of God. He will rest from His battles.
“It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time …”
A very important verse.
“… to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea.”
“Islands of the sea” was a term that alluded to the islands at the end of the Mediterranean and beyond. Basically, “islands of the sea” becomes an idiom for the rest of the world.
When did God recover all of His people to the land of Israel after their dispersion? When did He do that the first time? Many people will say, “Oh, that’s what He did at the end of the Babylonian captivity.”
But not that many Jews came back to the land. In the first return under Zerubbabel, it was right around 40,000. It’s not much more than that in the subsequent returns under Ezra and under Nehemiah.
Even at the time of Jesus, you still don’t have a full 50 percent of the Jews on the earth living back in the land. They haven’t been brought back. What we see today is that they are coming back from all over the world. We’re just about at that 50 percent point.
More Jews are living in the land of Israel today than have ever lived in the land of Israel in history. And it’s increasing. The number of Jews who are leaving England, France, Germany, and Ukraine—all the other places in the world where it’s becoming increasingly a hostile environment due to the increase of antisemitism. This is just going to increase. And Israelis are having more babies. So, the demographics are increasing every year. It won’t be long before the majority of Jews in the world live in Israel.
In Isaiah 12:2, there is a praise to God. At the beginning, we read, “Behold, God is my salvation …”
This is a praise for the giving of the Branch.
“… I will trust and not be afraid; ‘for YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ ”
This is a reference to the fact that the Branch is the One Who provides this salvation.
That completes what I want to go through in terms of Isaiah. But one of his contemporaries was the prophet Micah. So, I want to turn to Micah 5.
We’ve covered Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, and now we go to Micah. This will complete the 9th–8th century prophets. Micah is very similar, in the things that he says, to Isaiah. In these chapters, he emphasizes the birth of the Messiah.
Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah …”
See, just the very mention of Bethlehem tells you this is a connection to the family of David.
“… though you are little among the thousands of Judah …”
You’re insignificant. You’re just a small, backwater village—a rural town.
“… yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel …”
This is related to being a descendant of David. He will come forth to be the Ruler in Israel, tying it to the kingship that is part of the Davidic Covenant.
“… Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
On the one hand, He’s going to be born in Bethlehem, which tells you He is human. He’s a descendant of David, which tells you He is human. But He has a beginning that goes back into eternity past. He has no beginning. He is eternal.
“[His] goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
Then in Micah 5:3, a verse we don’t usually go to, he says, “Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth …”
What this is talking about is that Israel will be under discipline until “she who is in labor has given birth.” This is an allusion to Isaiah 7:14 and the virgin birth.
Only after that birth of the Messiah will the remnant of Israel be reunited as a nation. First, there is going to be the birth of this Messiah. “… then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel.”
This covers thousands of years. You look at it and you think, “Well, this is all going to happen right away.” But it takes thousands of years. That’s the framework. The fulfillment of that—in terms of the intertextual connection—is seen in Luke 2:4–7, where we’re told that after the census of Augustus, Joseph has to go to his hometown.
[He] goes “… up from Galilee—that’s elevation—out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem ...”
There’s our connection.
“… because he was of the house and lineage of David …”
That’s why this is important. It ties it right in to all these Davidic Covenant passages.
“… to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Here we see this connection. Isaiah and Micah tie this together for us, and this is a fulfillment of that Davidic promise and the Davidic Covenant.
Now we’ll come to Jeremiah. Jeremiah is a century or more after Isaiah. He comes at the end of the 7th century in the period starting around 605 BC, and his life will overlap the exile. He will be alive in Jerusalem—ministering in Jerusalem—when Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem and destroys the temple. He will end up being taken down to Egypt.
The context of Jeremiah 23:5 is God scattering the flock. Then He will gather the remnant out of all the countries where He has driven them. In the midst of this, Jeremiah says, “ ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness ... ’ ”
Because we did our homework, and we looked at Isaiah 4:2, Isaiah 11, and these other passages, we understand this connection. Isaiah 11 talks about the Branch from the stump of Jesse, and then it describes His reign, in Isaiah 11:3–5, as a reign of righteousness.
This is summarized here. “… David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.” That’s a summary of Isaiah 11:3–5.
“In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” So, this is a fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.
Let’s skip ahead to Jeremiah 30. We continue to have the same broad context we have all through Jeremiah: the future return of Israel and Judah to the land. But in this context, Jeremiah talks about the fact that that future return is going to be preceded by a time of incredible distress for Israel and Judah.
Since Israel went out under the fifth cycle of discipline in 722 BC, that indicates that this is all something in the future, because at the time Jeremiah is writing, they’re not relevant because they’ve been scattered. But his address here in these chapters, especially in Jeremiah 30:4–7, emphasizes this return.
In Jeremiah 30:3, we read, “ ‘For behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the LORD. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’ ” This indicates a full possession that did not occur in the intertestamental period or in any of the Second Temple period, basically.
Then we get down to Jeremiah 30:8–9. “ ‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from your neck …’ ”
Let me look at Jeremiah 30:7b. It tells us about all this horror there.
“… and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble …”
That’s the Tribulation.
“… but he shall be saved out of it.”
“ ‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will break his yoke from your neck—that’s the yoke of the Antichrist—and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.’ ”
This time when they are restored to the land is a time when God will raise up [David]—so this is talking about the resurrection of David—and he will reign over them.
Then, if we turn forward a couple of chapters to Jeremiah 33:14, we also see this same emphasis on forgiveness and return throughout that chapter.
In Jeremiah 33:14 we read, “ ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah …’ ”
What is the promise? The promise here is the Davidic Covenant. We know that because in the next verse (Jeremiah 33:15) He says, “ ‘In those days and at that time, I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness ….’ ”
This is that word tzemach. That’s the same word that I pointed out in 2 Samuel 23:5, where David uses the verb to talk about the increase or the sprouting that God will bring.
“ ‘… He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.’ ” That’s Isaiah 11:3–5 again.
Then in Jeremiah 33:16, “ ‘In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: YHWH—Tsidkenu—THE Lord OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ ” That also goes back to Jeremiah 23:5–8.
“For thus says the LORD: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel …’ ”
Again, there is the announcement that in the future it’s going to come together. David will be resurrected, David will reign over Israel, and the Messiah—the greater Son of David—will reign over all of the earth.
The next passage I want to look at is in Ezekiel 21:26.
“… thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Remove the turban and take off the crown; nothing shall remain the same. Exalt the humble and humble the exalted.’ ”
Then in Ezekiel 21:27, ‘A ruin, a ruin, a ruin …’
The New King James reads, ‘Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown!’
What’s the “it?” What is “it” that is ruined? It’s the house of David. What we’ve seen in all of these prophecies going back to Amos—Amos told us that the magnificence of the house of David was going to be reduced to a tabernacle.
This is also stated in the whole imagery of the stump of Jesse. It’s ruined. There’s going to be a defeat to the house of David. It’s going to look like that’s the end. The house of David is no more.
That’s what happens in the defeat of Judah in 586 BC. It looks like it’s all over with. And yet there will be a time when that stump that appears to be dead is going to sprout forth a branch. Ezekiel is saying this same thing. The house of David is going to be ruined. It’s going to be overthrown. It will be no more “until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him."
I’m not going to go through the details on this, but part of the terminology in the Hebrew there for this phrase “until He comes whose right it is” is “Shiloh.” Shiloh is a prophecy that goes back to Genesis 49, and it’s taken as a name for the Messiah. That’s how it is normally interpreted. But Shiloh doesn’t mean that the scepter will not depart from the house of Judah until He whose right it is comes.
It’s not “until Shiloh comes.” It is “until He whose right it is comes,” based on the comparison of the Hebrew with Ezekiel 21:27. The house of David seems to be devastated until He whose right it is comes, the Lion of Judah.
Then we go to Ezekiel 34:23. This is the second-to-the-last passage we’re going to look at. This is simply a statement that God promises.
“I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.”
This is talking about a literal David. This is not an allusion to Jesus the Messiah. It’s referring to David, who will rule over Israel as a vice-regent of Jesus the Messiah, who rules over all of the world.
Ezekiel 34:24, “And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken.”
One last verse I want to look at connects a lot of these dots. The word that we keep seeing again and again and again is the word “zera,” which means “seed.” It can refer to all the descendants or some descendants. Seed is a key word in the Abrahamic Covenant, but it’s also a key word in the Davidic Covenant.
I want us, as we wrap up, to understand something in Galatians 3:16. I don’t think I brought this out, or understood this when I taught Galatians twenty years ago. This is a verse that is often cited in defense of inerrancy—in defense of the fact that every jot and tittle, every ending, every grammar form, everything is inspired by God.
Paul is arguing, in this chapter, for the Abrahamic blessing and that the Messiah will come from Abraham. He says, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds—plural—,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed—singular—,’ who is Christ.”
He is making the point that the text that he’s referring to is referring to the “seed” in the singular. What did I tell you? The word “seed” is one of those collective nouns that can either refer to a group or it can refer to an individual.
So, how does Paul get this word to be a specific singular? That’s the fun part of Bible study.
In Genesis 22:17, God is talking to Abraham. It’s after the sacrifice of the ram, in substitution for Isaac. He is reaffirming the covenant with Abraham.
He said, “… blessing I will bless you …”
[or] “… I will certainly bless you and I will certainly multiply your descendants …”
There you have the same word. But it’s clearly, from context, referring to many and not one.
“… I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants …”
Here it shifts. This is very interesting, because it is never translated correctly. There is not a single English translation that translates it correctly. Not one.
“… your descendants …”
It should be “… your seed …” [singular]
This is what Paul is referring to. The reason he can say that that word, as a collective noun, is being used as a singular is because he says, “… your descendant shall possess the gate of …” And it’s always translated “their enemies.”
But the Hebrew has a masculine, singular ending: “… his enemy.”
It is not “their enemies” in the Hebrew text at all. That’s where Paul gets this. He says, it’s “his enemy.” It’s “seed,” singular, here because this pronoun is a singular pronoun.
How is that for an obscure, sophisticated argument? That’s why we have to know the original languages. That’s why we have to study the text over and over again. And that’s how we have to keep growing. These little things are there.
I’m not saying, “Don’t read your English [translations] because you’ll get misled.” But you can’t rely fully on a translation in anything.
One of the quotes I frequently use when I’m teaching Bible Study Methods and why it’s important to know the original languages is a quote from a somewhat liberal Hebrew scholar—an Old Testament scholar a couple of generations back.
He said, “No one who is serious about the study of French literature would ever take courses on French literature from someone who had never read French literature in the original. Yet we have people every Sunday who sit in congregations and listen to pastors who can’t read the original languages.”
That’s a convicting statement. I’ve used that in front of a lot of pastors who don’t know the original languages to try to motivate them. We need to know the original languages.
But this is just great. It goes back to the fact that there is this one descendant—this one descendant, this one Offspring, this one Seed—who is the focal point of the Abrahamic Covenant and the Davidic Covenant. Only He will bring in a reign of righteousness and justice, and bring prosperity to the world.
That wraps up this study of the Davidic Covenant. Next time we’ll come back to see how David is just blown away by God’s grace in giving him this covenant. 2 Samuel 7 goes directly into David’s response and his psalm of praise and thanks to God.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word and to see how all these connections fit and how everything focuses on only one possible Person: Jesus of Nazareth, Who is the eternal Son of God.
“Thank You for helping us understand these things, and for the confidence it brings us in the truthfulness and accuracy of Your Word. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”