The Promise of David's Enduring Throne
The Bible states that David’s throne shall exist for ever:
"…David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel."(JEREMIAH 33:17).
"…and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever."(2 SAMUEL 7:13b). Find out who sits on David's throne today...
The Bible states that David’s throne shall exist for ever:
"…David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel." (JEREMIAH 33:17).
"…and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever." (2 SAMUEL 7:13b). David’s throne can be found today in Great Britain (see Figure 1). As surprising as it might seem, Queen Elizabeth is the direct descendant of King David. For further study see “Studies on British Israel” (see also Figure 2).
Figure 1. Throne of the Coronation, with the Stone of Destiny (Stone of Scone, Lia Fail) under the seat, on which all Hebrew, Irish, Scottish and English monarchy, including Queen Elizabeth II, were crowned (Taken from 'As Birds Flying' by J.M. Stears - Covenant Books).
Figure 2. The royal line of David, including the branch from Zedekiah to King George VI and his descendant Queen Elizabeth II.
Sceptics claim that the promise of David’s everlasting throne has been fulfilled in Christ. They further claim that the promise was conditional on the ‘good behaviour’ of Israel’s kings, the literal descendants of David. As they didn’t meet the conditions, their right to the throne was forfeited. Jesus is therefore, according to this interpretation, the one who sits on David’s throne.
1 KINGS 2:1-4; PSALM 132:11; 1 KINGS 8:25; 2 CHRONICLES 6:16; 1 KINGS 6:11-12; 1 KINGS 9:2-7; 1 CHRONICLES 28:6.
We would like to bring up a few points regarding the topic of the “Unconditional Promises” given by God to King David. The following objections and questions have been posed to us (which we are going to quote word for word) and to allow a better overview, we would like to start off with a brief summary of our answers to each point followed by a more in depth scriptural discussion of the topic.
3. The promise of a literal descendent always being on the throne seems to have been conditional (1 KINGS 2:1-4; PSALM 132:11; 1 KINGS 8:25; 2 CHRONICLES 6:16; 1 KINGS 6:11; 1 KINGS 9:2-7; 1 CHRONICLES 28:6).
5. To preach that the Bible states there MUST still be a literal descendant of David, sitting on the throne in this day and age over a literal Israel, is, to my reading, a very biased exegesis of scripture. Indeed, in the light of biblical testimony, it may even be ‘unscriptural’ to assert that the Queen sits on David’s Throne.
1. “It seems perhaps that you may have confused the promises relating to the eternal ‘office’ of Kingship over Israel with that of a specific individual ‘sitting’ on the throne”.
When the LORD made a covenant with David (2 SAMUEL 7), the Divine promise of David’s enduring kingdom and throne was definitely related to David’s descendants. None of the prophecies say that David’s line would be “cut off” and the fulfilment postponed till Christ returns. The scriptures clearly show that David’s throne will finally be “given over” to Jesus Christ (LUKE 1:32) at one point in time and that Christ will reign from David’s throne (ISAIAH 9:7). There is no confusion of these different aspects related to David’s throne (see scriptural evidence below, after point 5).
2. “The eternal throne was unconditional and is fulfilled in Christ (ACTS 2:29-30, HEBREWS 1:8, etc). Christ, of course, was descended from David who will also ‘endure forever’ ”.
The unconditional promise of the eternal throne is not yet fulfilled in Christ (this will occur with REVELATION 11:15). The Bible shows that David’s throne will continue to be occupied by David’s descendants UNTIL Jesus Christ comes to assume His reign on this earth (GENESIS 49:10) (see scriptural evidence below, after point 5).
3. “The promise of a literal descendent always being on the throne seems to have been conditional (1 KINGS 2:1-4; PSALM 132:11; 1 KINGS 8:25; 2 CHRONICLES 6:16; 1 KINGS 6:11; 1 KINGS 9:2-7; 1 CHRONICLES 28:6)”.
No, but the right to carry out this promise was conditional. If a descendant of David disobeyed, he would be punished or another person of the house of David had to be found. The promise of ongoing occupation of the throne by David’s offspring was never questioned (see scriptural evidence below, after point 5).
4. “These ‘conditions’ were obviously not met, so according to scripture, the literal ascendancy of David’s offspring was forfeited. The Bible seems quite open in affirming their fall and removal”.
Most of David’s descendants failed indeed in obeying the conditions and they received appropriate punishment. When it was time for the LORD to “dissolve” the kingdom, as it existed in Jerusalem, the LORD repeated the initial promise again to Jeremiah (see JEREMIAH 33) in the strongest terms. Individuals lost their right to rule, fell and were removed (this was part of Jeremiah’s commission), but the LORD powerfully clarified that David’s offspring were to continue to reign “over Israel” (see scriptural evidence below, after point 5).
5. “To preach that the Bible states there MUST still be a literal descendant of David, sitting on the throne in this day and age over a literal Israel, is, to my reading, a very biased exegesis of scripture. Indeed, in the light of biblical testimony, it may even be ‘unscriptural’ to assert that the Queen sits on David’s Throne.”
Please note that in the tenth year of Zedekiah, when the Babylonians had already besieged Jerusalem, God explicitly stated to the imprisoned prophet Jeremiah, who saw no hope for the covenant promises to be continued:
“…David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel” (JEREMIAH 33:17). The marginal rendering of the Hebrew says,
“There shall not be cut off from David a man...” The LORD did not say at this point of imminent Babylonian captivity: “The covenant with David will now be put on hold until its final fulfilment in Christ.” No, the clear statement was,
“David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel.” If all scriptures are taken into consideration, the only possible answer is that there had to be a continuation of the Davidic rule over Israel. This is not “biased exegesis”, but for the humble student of God’s Word the only way to understand the scriptures.
The following paragraphs are a summary of God’s promises given to David from the Bible. Let’s delve into the Word of God:
THE LORD’S COVENANT WITH DAVID INVESTIGATED IN THE LIGHT OF GOD’S WORD!
Let’s firstly go back to shortly before Jacob’s death. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Jacob gave the sceptre blessing to the tribe of Judah and his lineage.
“The sceptre shall NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (GENESIS 49:10)
“Until Shiloh come”, as many agree, refers to Christ’s coming as King (= His second coming). Until then the tribe of Judah was to rule. Let it here be noted that Jacob gave this prophecy
“…that I may tell you that which shall befall you IN THE LAST DAYS.” (GENESIS 49:1). This prophecy was consequently NOT to be fulfilled in Old Testament times only. In this context also note...
“For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler (princes, kings); but the birthright was Joseph’s.” (1 CHRONICLES 5:2)
Then God confirmed a covenant with David (FIRST KING OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH) through Nathan the prophet:
“When thy days be fulfilled and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy SEED AFTER THEE (going further than David’s death)
which shall proceed OUT OF THY BOWELS, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will stablish THE THRONE OF HIS KINGDOM FOREVER. I will be his father, and he shall be my son...” (2 SAMUEL 7:12-16). NOW notice the condition also in this verse!!!
“...If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men… BUT my mercy shall NOT DEPART AWAY FROM HIM, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And THINE HOUSE AND THY KINGDOM SHALL BE ESTABLISHED FOREVER…” (2 SAMUEL 7:14-16)
There are TWO REASONS why this promise cannot refer to Jesus Christ. FIRST OF ALL God says that the person who will inherit this promise will “build an house for my name”. This is referring to the building of the temple (see 1 KINGS 5:5) and as is evident to the reader of the Bible, JESUS DID NOT BUILD any physical temples or other houses for God’s Name! This promise is often repeated in Kings to refer to Solomon building the temple. God says that He shall establish the throne of this person’s kingdom forever. SECONDLY, God clearly says that even if this person commits iniquity (for which he will be punished), that God in His mercy WILL NOT REMOVE THE THRONE from David’s line. Now we humbly put to the reader that this CANNOT POSSIBLY REFER TO JESUS. How could Jesus commit iniquity? He was indeed without sin. So by inserting this caveat, God has clearly shown that the promises in question do indeed refer to David’s flawed physical descendants. Regardless of his son’s failings God WILL ESTABLISH David’s throne FOREVER.
In summary up to this point: The covenant with David concerns DAVID’S SEED (HIS DESCENDANTS!) and contains A WARNING (PUNISHMENT FOR INIQUITY) as well as A PROMISE (God’s mercy will NOT DEPART!!). It can consequently not refer to Jesus Christ alone. It also affirms that David’s house, kingdom and throne shall be “ESTABLISHED FOREVER” - for this, NO CONDITION is given!
David confirms that this incredible promise will be
“...FOR A GREAT WHILE TO COME...” (2 SAMUEL 7:19), he prays that it may
“...CONTINUE FOREVER” (2 SAMUEL 7:29) and is aware of the national implications:
“For thou hast confirmed to thyself THY PEOPLE ISRAEL TO BE A PEOPLE UNTO THEE FOR EVER...” (2 SAMUEL 7:24)
The Promise Was Not Conditional For David
As we continue, one recognizes more and more that God indeed prophesied
“FOR A GREAT WHILE TO COME” about Israel as a nation... for a very long time indeed. Upon studying the Bible further, we notice that DAVID was THE FIRST TO BREAK THE CONDITIONS. He fell into terrible sin and watched how his kingdom was almost taken away from him. In PSALM 132, written by David after being chastised for committing adultery and murder (SO MUCH FOR BREAKING CONDITIONS!), David remembers God’s oath concerning his house:
“The Lord has sworn in truth unto David; HE WILL NOT TURN FROM IT; Of the fruit of thy body will I SET UPON THY THRONE...” (PSALM 132:11) and that God will give the throne to David’s future descendants IF they will keep their part of the covenant...
“If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony... THEIR CHILDREN SHALL ALSO SIT UPON THY THRONE FOR EVERMORE.” (PSALM 132:12)
It is here that David realises that the promise given by the LORD does not allow his descendants to disobey God. Consequently, when handing over the kingdom in 1 KINGS 2:4, David charges his son Solomon to obey God
“that the LORD may CONTINUE HIS WORD which he spake concerning me…” David knew that the throne would be given to Solomon and to Solomon’s sons, but he ALSO knew that disobedience on behalf of any of the future rulers would mean that they, individually, would be removed from the throne and replaced.
The Promise Was Not Conditional For Solomon
Solomon, himself, understood that the THRONE, KINGDOM AND LINEAL HOUSE OF DAVID should stand FOREVER and even declared it before all the congregation of Israel (1 KINGS 8:22-25) under the same condition as David (1 KINGS 2:4). This condition does, however, not imply that the LORD would cut off the entire line of Davidic rulers or dismiss the throne - the throne was to be PERPETUAL AND SO WAS DAVID’S SEED!!
In 1 KINGS 9:2-7 God appears to Solomon again and confirms Solomon’s prayer, but states that
“the throne of thy kingdom” (= Solomon’s line) will ONLY be established IF Solomon obeys and that Israel will be
“CUT OFF and REMOVED plus the temple be destroyed” if they worship other gods. This, however, does NOT mean that the promises to David would be affected, as one will see next...
Now Solomon, David’s son, did disobey... BUT what happened with the kingdom? Let’s study on:
“...I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and I will give unto thy servant. Notwithstanding, in thy days I will NOT DO IT FOR DAVID THY FATHER’S SAKE: BUT I WILL REND IT OUT of the hand of thy son. Howbeit, I will NOT REND AWAY ALL THE KINGDOM, but will give one tribe to thy son FOR DAVID MY SERVANT’S SAKE.” (1 KINGS 11:9-13) God, who HAS TO BE TRUTHFUL TO HIS OWN CONDITIONS must now punish any of the children of David who thus forsake His Law. But RECOGNISE WHAT GOD DOES WITH THE KINGDOM. He takes away the greater part of the national strength and power of the kingdom and gives it to one of the servants of Solomon instead of the royal heir. BUT while the Lord is declaring unto Solomon the punishment which he purposes to visit upon him for his disobedience, He is careful to say:
“Howbeit, I will not rend away all the kingdom; BUT will give ONE TRIBE TO THY SON.” Why did God do that...
“FOR DAVID MY SERVANT’S SAKE.” And why for David’s sake? Because the Lord gave the
“kingdom over Israel to David and his sons FOREVER.”
The fact that Solomon forfeited HIS kingdom, but not the entire promise made to David, is underlined also in 1 CHRONICLES 28:7
“Moreover I will establish his kingdom FOR EVER, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day.” Yes there is a condition, BUT it points to Solomon and “his” line, NOT back to all the promises given to David.
The Promise Was Not Conditional For Other Kings of Judah
This COVENANT TO DAVID was so thoroughly known in Israel and acknowledged by her prophets that, even at the time of the division of the race into two kingdoms in the days of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, Abijah, in his zeal, cried out on some mountain in Ephraim:
“…Hear me, thou Jeroboam and all Israel. Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the KINGDOM OF ISRAEL TO DAVID FOREVER even to him and to his SONS (NOT SON, NOT ONE, BUT MANY!!!)
by a covenant of salt?” (2 CHRONICLES 13:4-5) The marginal reading here for
“covenant of salt” is “a PERPETUAL COVENANT”.
And on we go with PSALM 89:
“I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have SWORN unto David my servant, saying, Thy seed will I establish FOREVER, and build up THY THRONE TO ALL GENERATIONS.” (not a few, not some, not even many, but
“ALL GENERATIONS”). It continues...
“My mercy will I keep for him FOR EVERMORE, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” NOW NOTICE ANOTHER CONDITION!! ...
“If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments: then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.”
In other words punishment would have to follow and this it did... BUT, WE ARE TO READ ON...
“NEVERTHELESS, MY LOVINGKINDNESS WILL I NOT UTTERLY TAKE FROM HIM, NOR SUFFER MY FAITHFULNESS TO FAIL. MY COVENANT WILL I NOT BREAK, NOR ALTER THE THING THAT HAS GONE OUT OF MY LIPS. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will NOT LIE unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.” (read the whole Psalm!) COMMENT: This CLEARLY SHOWS that any one man on David’s throne might be punished and be removed, BUT THAT THE THRONE ITSELF WILL ENDURE!!!
It is VERY OBVIOUS that the LORD seems to decide for every ruler whether or not His promise to David will be performed with the respective person or not (if... then will I perform my word WITH THEE, which I spake unto David thy father... 1 KINGS 6:12 and 2 CHRONICLES 6:16) - The PROMISE, HOWEVER, ALWAYS STANDS!
Many of the kings in Judah disobeyed God, and in one case another branch of David had to be put in place! (See example in JEREMIAH 22:28-30; Jeconiah was replaced by Zedekiah - BOTH ARE FROM DAVID’S BRANCH!!!)
Going through Judah’s history, the essential question is, what happened then when the house of Judah was deported into Babylonian captivity and their male royal line was removed from the throne? Well, in exactly these years Jeremiah, while being imprisoned, received the following word from the Lord (quoting from JEREMIAH 33:17 onwards):
“For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want (‘never lack’ – as explained earlier)
a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel” - is this not proof enough that even after so many evil kings ruling in Judah, God had NOT EVEN CONTEMPLATED BREAKING HIS COVENANT WITH DAVID?
“If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne”!!! (JEREMIAH 33:20-21 – see also article 9 “Were Most of the Promises to Israel Fulfilled in the O.T.?”)
Then He adds the following:
“If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinance of heaven and earth, then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” And one more...
“This too, after saying: As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant.” (JEREMIAH 33:22,25-26 – again this is further explained in article 9 “Were Most of the Promises to Israel Fulfilled in the O.T.?”).
This is a powerful confirmation of God’s initial promise that David’s line would continue on the throne. The following verse seems to pose a question, namely JEREMIAH 33:18
“Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.” The priests, the Levites, in this verse do NOT SIMPLY MEAN A CONTINUATION OF THE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM (prophecies had already indicated that the service at the temple would cease) - but rather the CONTINUOUS ADMINISTRATION OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW IN THE NATIONAL KINGDOM (doctors, judges, tax collectors, lawyers, see also article 8 “Seven Times Punishment” in which the Law of God will be discussed).
With the loss of the last male successor of the Davidic line, the right to rule WAS PASSED ON TO THE ROYAL DAUGHTERS according to NUMBERS 27:8
“And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.” (It is interesting to note that we have an instance of this law in action today! It is in effect with our existing Queen Elizabeth II!!!). JEREMIAH 43:5-7:
“But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all nations, whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah; Even men, and women, and children, and THE KING’S DAUGHTERS, and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah.” So they came into the LAND OF EGYPT...
The scriptural explanations given above show VERY CLEARLY that the promise of a throne and seed was given to David UNCONDITIONALLY, BUT that every descendant had to face strict CONDITIONS in order to remain on the throne without facing punishment or removal. These conditions did, however, NOT AFFECT THE LORD’S INITIAL OATH TO DAVID, they did NOT MAKE VOID the fact that God would ALWAYS have a Davidic ruler on the throne. The most powerful confirmation is that the LORD repeats this very promise in the midst of Judah being deported,
“... David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel...” (JEREMIAH 33:17). With this repeated promise Jeremiah is given a clear commission (this leads into the next article and to the fate of the royal daughters). It would be presumption to “spiritualize” God’s words to Jeremiah as if they only pointed to Jesus Christ. ALL EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT IT WAS THE LORD’S INTENTION TO KEEP UP THE RULE OF THE DESCENDANTS OF DAVID, AND THIS, AS OTHER SCRIPTURES SHOW, IN ANOTHER LOCATION.
So, we are left with a choice:
The Lord put His promise of the eternal throne of David on ice for 600 years, before fulfilling His promise to David in Jesus (who never actually took the throne!) and then again putting the promise on ice for at least another 2000 years before the return of Jesus, at which time He will somehow claim a throne that nobody remembers and has not existed anywhere since Zedekiah’s time...
The Lord has remained true to His promise and has actively watched over the throne of David throughout HIStory, keeping it ready for the return of Christ, who will claim His rightful throne and rule the World...