The Lord will Give to Him the Throne of His Father David
The holy angel who appeared to Mary told her that the Son she was privileged to bear would be great and would be called the Son of the Most High. And he added, “The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:32-33).
Jesus, Son of DavidThat Jesus was descended from David is a point that is frequently emphasized in Scripture and seems to have been widely known, or at least widely suspected by his contemporaries. Some in his day had no hesitation in hailing him as “the Son of David.” Matthew tells us that on one occasion, “two blind men followed him, crying aloud, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David’” (Matt. 9:27). Even a Canaanite woman, a Gentile, “came out and was crying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David’” (Matt. 15:22). The crowd that accompanied him during his Triumphal Entry shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 21:9). Others, apparently not yet convinced, at least wondered as they saw his miracles. “Can this be the Son of David?” they asked (Matt. 12:23). Here they mean not just any son of David, but the Son of David, the Messiah.
God’s Promises to David
It was believed, and rightly so, that Messiah would come from the line of David. The genesis of this belief is found in the promise the Lord made to David in 2 Samuel 7:1-17. David wished to build the Lord a “house,” that is, a temple. It was not right, he thought, that he should dwell in a royal palace while the ark of God dwelled in a tent. However, the Lord told him through the prophet Nathan that he was not the man to build him a house. And in a striking turn, the prophet said, “Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.” Did you catch it? David wished to make a house (a temple) for the Lord, but the Lord said, “No, I will make you a house.” Although it’s the same word in Hebrew, the context makes clear that in this instance it means dynasty. We often speak of the members of a royal family as belonging to a particular “house.” Queen Elizabeth II, for instance, is a member of the House of Windsor. The Lord promised to make David an enduring dynasty. “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me” (2 Sam. 7:16). This promise was celebrated by the Psalmist Ethan.
You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
‘I will establish your offspring forever,
and build your throne for all generations.’”
- Psalm 89:3-4
Although many of the kings descending from David proved to be unfaithful, and the Lord severely disciplined them “with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men,” he never allowed his steadfast love to depart from David’s house as he had taken it away from Saul. Instead, he preserved the line of David through the Babylonian captivity, through the time of the Persian Empire, through the period of Greek domination, and through the time of the Roman conquest and occupation of Judea. He preserved the line, even though no one from David’s house ruled as king for 600 years, from the time Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians to Jesus’ day.
The House of David in Prophecy
Nevertheless, God had promised to restore the throne of David, and to do so in the person of Israel’s Messiah. Isaiah, for example, envisioned a time when the line of David, previously like a fruitful tree, would be reduced to nothing more than a stump. “Even so,” he says,
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And 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 the fear of the Lord.
- Isaiah 11:1-2
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. (Jeremiah 23:5)
These prophecies, and others like them, including Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks, indicating the timeframe of Messiah’s appearance (Dan. 9:24-27), shaped the expectation of the Jewish people in Jesus’ day. The anticipation of Messiah’s appearance was so strong and so well-known that even the Roman historian Tacitus referred to it (see his Histories 5.13).
Another prophecy in Daniel, this one in chapter 2, was given to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream that Daniel interpreted. The dream was of a great image of a man. “The head of this image was [made] of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, and its feet partly of iron and partly of clay” (Dan. 2:32-33). The dream came from God, and he inspired Daniel to understand its meaning. It was a prophecy of four successive empires. The first was the one that then existed, the Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar himself. The second was the Persian empire, the third the Greek empire of Alexander and his successors, and the fourth was the Roman Empire. And in the dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw that “a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image” (Dan. 2:34) and it was broken in pieces and became like chaff that the wind carried away so that not a trace of its elements could be found. “But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Dan. 2:35). Daniel explains this by saying, “In the days of those kings [the kings of the fourth empire] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed... It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44).
Now, what kingdom did the God of heaven set up in the days of the Roman Empire? It was the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. He came into the world as heir to the throne of David. He was the one to whom the divine promises given to David ultimately referred. But we must understand that the throne of David was only a type and shadow of the universal throne of Jesus. Just like the temple and the sacrifices and the priesthood and the divine services of the sanctuary were pictures of larger, eternal realities to come, so the kingdom of David foreshadowed a larger, eternal reality. David ruled a small kingdom at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Jesus rules the whole world. David himself said of him,
The LORD says to my Lord:“Sit at my right hand,until I make your enemies your footstool.”
- Psalm 110:1
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,and the ends of the earth your possession.You shall break them with a rod of ironand dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel
- Psalm 2:8-9