THE DAVIDIC COVENANT-2:  The Covenant of the Kingdom

B. Childress
Apr 25 2008

In the Davidic covenant God's purposes to redeem a people to Himself reach their climactic state of realization so far as
the Old Testament is concerned.  Under David the kingdom arrives.  God formally establishes the manner by which He
shall rule among his people.

Prior to this point, God certainly had manifested Himself as the Lord of the covenant.  But now God openly situates his
throne in a single locality.  Rather than ruling from a mobile sanctuary, God reigns from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.  In a
climactic sense, it may be said that under David the kingdom has come.

Not only has the kingdom come, the king has come.  The ark is brought triumphantly to Jerusalem.  God Himself
associates His kingship with the throne of David.  Rejecting the tribe of Ephraim, God delights in designating the tribe of
Judah and the house of David as his chosen instrument for sovereignty (Ps. 78:60-72).

God's covenant with David centers on the coming of the kingdom.  The covenant serves as the formalizing bond by
which God's kingdom comes among his people.

In considering the Davidic covenant, it is appropriate to begin with some introductory comments based on II Samuel 7.  
This particular chapter formally establishes God's covenant commitment to David.


The Historical Occasion

The occasion for the formal establishment of the Davidic covenant has great significance.  Already God had anointed
David as king over all Israel.  But the formal inauguration of the covenant of the kingdom had to await certain other

First, David took Jerusalem from the Jebusites and established the permanent locality of his throne (II Samuel 5).  He
had ruled for over seven years from Hebron, a city strategically located in the midst of territory belonging to David's own
tribe of Judah.  But now he moves to capture a city not yet taken by Israel and more centralized with respect to the
whole of the nation.

Secondly, David brought the ark of God to Jerusalem (II Samuel 6).  In so doing, he publicly displayed his desire to see
his own rule in Israel related immediately to the throne of God.  In this manner, the concept of the theocracy found its
fullest expression.

Thirdly, God gave David rest from all his enemies (II Samuel 7:1).  In other words, he secured the throne in Israel to a
degree that never had been experienced previously.  Instead of being threatened constantly by marauding armies,
Israel became secure as a national entity.  Indeed, not all Israel's foes had been annihilated.  But God had "given rest"
from their oppressors.

Now the context is prepared for the formal inauguration of the Davidic covenant.  The interconnection between David's
throne and God's throne, between David's son and God's son finds an appropriate framework in this historical context.  
A situation of rest from oppressing enemies anticipates appropriately the eschatological kingdom of peace.

The Essence of the Covenant Concept

II Samuel 7 places particular stress on the essence of the covenant concept.  Uniquely the passage describes the
manner in which God had continued to identify himself with his people, "
Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since
the time I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
II Samuel 7:6.  All during the days of Israel's sojourn, God sojourned with them.  His glory housed itself in a tent, even
as Israel lived in tents.

The parallel account in Chronicles is even more specific: "
For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought
up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another.
"  I Chronicles 17:5.  While
the people of the covenant lived a vagabond life, traveling from one temporary dwelling to another, the God of the
covenant displayed His readiness to identify with His people by also traveling with them.

More particularly, the essence of the covenant is manifested in God's relation to David.  Although wrong in his initial
conclusion, Nathan the prophet certainly is correct with respect to his basic premise when he declares: "Go, do all that
is in your mind, for the Lord is with you"  (II Samuel 7:3).  The Lord himself reinforces the correctness of this perspective
when he says, "I have been with you wherever you have gone" (II Samuel 7:9).  At the heart of the Davidic covenant is
the Immanuel principle.

Interconnection Between Dynasty and Dwelling place

One of the most striking aspects structurally of II Samuel 7 is the inversion of phrases as a mode of emphasis.  This
particular manner of expression brings into closest relationship the concept of "dynasty" and "dwelling-place."

First, God responds with emphasis to David's proposal, "
Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou
build me an house for me to dwell in?
" II Samuel 7:5.  Shall you, a mortal man, determine the permanent dwelling place
for the Almighty?

Then God inverts the pattern of thought, "
...Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house."  II Samuel 7:
11.  Obviously the house which the Lord shall build for David is not a royal palace, since David already lived in a "house
of cedar" (verse 2).  David understands God's reference to the "house" to be his posterity, ".
..but thou hast spoken
also of thy servant's house for a great while to come.
"  II Samuel 7:19.

David shall not build God's "house," but God shall build David's "house."  The inversion of phrases interchanges
"dwelling-place" with "dynasty."  In both cases, perpetuity is the point of emphasis.  David wishes to establish for God a
permanent dwelling-place in Israel.  God declares that He shall establish the perpetual dynasty of David.

In His gracious words to David, God indicates that these two "permanencies" shall be linked together.  He shall establish
David's dynasty, and David's dynasty shall establish his permanent dwelling-place.  But the order of grace must be
maintained.  First, the Lord sovereignly establishes David's dynasty; then the dynasty of David shall establish the
Lord's dwelling-place (verse 13).

The net effect of this close interchange on the basis of the "house" figure is to bind David's rule to God's rule, and vice
verse.  God shall maintain his permanent dwelling-place as king in Israel through the kingship of the Davidic line.

David's Son/God's Son

This chapter also stresses the connection between David's son and God's son.  David and his seed are being
established in their regal capacity by this covenant.  God affirms that the descendants of David shall sit on Israel's
throne forever.

At the same time, the Davidic king of Israel shall maintain a special relation to God.  God shall be his father, and he
shall be God's son (II Samuel 7:14).

The king's position as son of God finds a pointed development subsequently in Scripture.  David himself declares in
poetic fashion God's decree concerning the position of honor attributed to Israel's messiah:

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."

The relation established between "son of David" and "son of God" at the inauguration of the Davidic covenant finds
consummation at the coming of Messiah. Jesus Christ appears as ultimate fulfillment of these two sonships.  As son of
David he also is Son of God.  Jesus was,

...made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to
the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
" Romans 1:3,4

The writer to the Hebrews founds a significant aspect of his theological perspective on the fact of Messiah's sonship to
God.  The superiority of Messiah over every other covenant messenger arises from his unique position as Son of God.
This perspective the author of Hebrews establishes by conjoining the messianic sonship-decree of Psalm 2 with the
messianic sonship-promise of II Samuel 7 (Hebrews 1:5).

The prospect of a chastening of this "son of God" (II Samuel 7:14) spoils any effort to find the "divine kingship" concept
of the Ancient Near East manifested in Israel's understanding of its monarchy.  The lordly figure in Israel always was the
subject to the chastening activity of the one true God, as the history of the monarchy adequately shows.

Yet at the same time, the declaration of II Samuel 7:14 that David's son also is God's Son provides adequate basis for
later developments which point toward a "divine Messiah."  Isaiah speaks quite clearly of a child born to sit on the
throne of David who shall be called "mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6).  The psalmist addresses pointedly Israel's king: "Thy
throne, O God, is forever and ever" (Psalm 45:7).  Eventually the history of redemption proves that in a unique sense,
David's son is God's son.


Having noted some introductory points of interest from II Samuel 7, a few distinctive questions relating to the Davidic
covenant may be considered.

The King as Covenant Mediator

The king of Israel maintains a unique role in relation to the covenant.  To be king in Israel is to be in covenant relation
to Yahveh.  The two positions are related inseparably.

Still further, the king in his position as national head mediates the covenant to the people.  By virtue of his office, he
functions as mediator of the covenant.

This distinctive role of the king as covenant mediator is made apparent at the time of David's coronation at Hebron.  
According to II Samuel 5:3, "King David made a covenant with them before the Lord at Hebron, and they anointed David
king over Israel." Integral to David's establishment as king in Israel was his role as covenant mediator for the people.  

The reform instituted by Josiah emphasizes the role of king as covenant mediator.  When the neglected book of the
covenant is discovered in the temple, Josiah takes the initiative on behalf of the people.  He calls the assembly.  He
read the law.  He makes the covenant (II Kings 23:1-3).

Zedekiah also functions as covenant mediator in the crisis of Nebuchadnezzar's invasion.  The king makes a covenant
with all the people in Jerusalem, specifying obedience to the legislation of Moses (Jeremiah 34:8). By virtue of his office
as king, he possesses authority to bind the people in covenant obligation.

In his office as covenant mediator, the king not only represents God in his authority as covenant Lord to the people.  He
also represents the people to God.  As head of the people, he embodies them and their cause before the Lord.  In him,
the national form of the covenant-idea assumes the personal form.

The dual responsibility of covenant mediator relates particularly to the king's position as son to God.  As son he shares
the throne of God his Father.  As son he possesses the privileges of perpetual access to the father.  By virtue of his
sonship, he serves as covenantal mediator.

This role of son of God as covenantal mediator actually serves as the foundational basis for a significant portion of the
argumentation of the Epistle to the Hebrews.  First, the writer establishes Jesus' unique role as Son, in contrast with
angelic mediator of the old covenant (Hebrews 1:1-14).  At the same time, he elaborates on the twofold function of
Jesus as Son of God.  Because he is Son, he is Priest and mediator (Hebrews 5:5,6).

Pivotal Promises in the Davidic Covenant

The provisions of the Davidic covenant center on two promises.  One promise concerns the line of David, and one
promise concerns the locality of Jerusalem.  The purposes of God in redeeming a people to himself center on these two
points:  David's line and Jerusalem's throne.  

The history of the Davidic monarchy as recorded in the books of Kings repeatedly emphasizes these two points.  
Despite God's severe chastening of Israel, He continues to deal graciously with David and with Jerusalem.

The first son of David to sit on his throne learned vividly the meaning of God's chastening activity.  God had promised a
perpetual preservation of the house of David in contrast with the house of Saul.  But he also had given assurance that
"...If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:" II Samuel 7:14.

Because of Solomon's sin, God declared that he would tear the kingdom from him, and give it to his servant (I Kings 11:
11).  The implication is startling.  Someone other than David’s descendant shall rule over Solomon's kingdom.

Yet God does not forget His commitment under the Davidic covenant, "
Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but
will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.
"  I King 11:13.

This identical thought concerning the preservation of the line of David is emphasized in God's message to Jeroboam
the Ephraimite.  God will tear the kingdom from Solomon: "
But he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and
for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:
" I Kings 11:13.  Twice again in the
immediately succeeding verses this point is underlined.  God will be merciful and not rend the kingdom from Solomon
himself "for the sake of my servant David" (verse 34).  To Solomon's son God will give one tribe "that my servant David
may have a lamp always before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for myself to put my name" (verse 36).

Thus the point is made plain.  God's chastening activity in the rending of Solomon's kingdom does not terminate the
covenant commitment made on behalf of David and Jerusalem.

As Rehoboam son of Solomon begins his rule, the significance of Jerusalem again is stressed.  He reigned in
Jerusalem, "the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put his name there” (I Kings 14:21).  
Despite the rending of the kingdom, God maintains his promise.

Subsequently, Rehoboam's son and successor Abijam sins.  His kingdom must be judged.  But "for David's sake the
Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, to raise up his son after him and to establish Jerusalem" (I Kings 15:4).  
Again both David and Jerusalem are linked.  God maintains the lineage and the location according to his covenantal

This same emphasis on the preservation of the line of David reappears in connection with the next wicked king of
Judah.  Nothing explicitly is said of preserving the line of David in the narrative concerning Asa and Jehoshaphat.  But
in connection with Jehoram, the writer of Kings indicates that though he did evil in the sight of God, "
Nevertheless thou
shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.
" I
Kings 15:4.  Now the destiny of the entirety of Judah depends on God's mercy in behalf of his covenant promises to

Still later, as the Assyrian Sennacherib besieges Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah, the fortunes of the throne and of
the city rest on God's promises to David.  Isaiah the prophet reassures the troubled Hezekiah.  Through his messenger,
the Lord announces, "
Yet the LORD would not destroy for David his servant's sake, as he promised him to give him
alway a light, and to his children.
"  II Kings 8:19).  Again the city of Jerusalem and the throne of David are linked.  Both
shall be preserved because of the covenanting grace of God.

Hezekiah's prayer for deliverance from death also receives answer in terms of this same dual commitment.  God will add
15 years to Hezekiah's life, "And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand
of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake."  II Kings 20:6.

As Scripture characterizes the wicked reign of Manasseh, the chosen city of Jerusalem provides the point of reference.  
The atrocity of the king's sin may be appreciated only as it is realized that it has been done in Jerusalem:

And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to
Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for
" II Kings 21:7.

These provocations committed by Manasseh set the stage for that which would appear to be inconceivable in the light
of all that had preceded.  God had maintained His covenantal lovingkindness to David and Jerusalem for all these
years.  Yet now the doom of Jerusalem must be sealed.  Even the vigorous efforts toward reform under Josiah cannot
save either the chosen city or the Davidic dynasty.  Because of the sins of Manasseh, God declares, "Notwithstanding
the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of
all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal." II Kings 23:26.

Prior to this point of devastation, the line of David and the capital of Jerusalem had developed a truly remarkable
record.  From David's accession somewhere around 1000 B.C. to the fall of Jerusalem, over 400 years had transpired.  
The average dynasty in Egypt and Mesopotamia during their days of greatest stability was something less than 100
years.  David's successors even outlasted the long-lived eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, which endured for about 250

The endurance of David's dynasty contrasts rather vividly with the experience of the kings of Israel to the north.  The
northern kingdom of Israel managed only two dynasties of any significance, neither of which exceeded 100 year.  God
clearly was manifesting his unique faithfulness to David.

The importance of the continuing maintenance of Jerusalem as Judah's capital city comes to expression in many ways.  
Never in the entire history of the southern kingdom is there a hint of the possibility of relocation.  Jerusalem stands
without questions as God's chosen city. God sits enthroned among the cherubim at Zion, and orders the reign of
David's descendents from that vantage point.

The stability associated with Jerusalem contrasts vividly with the instability of the capital of the northern kingdom.  The
ancient shrine-city of Shechem served as the place of Jeroboam's accession to the throne (I Kings 12:1).  Subsequently
he strengthened this locality, apparently that it might serve as his capital (I Kings 12:25).  Yet evidence indicates that
early in the history of the northern monarchy Tirzah was established as the place of royal residence (I Kings 14:17; 15:
21, 33; 16:6,8,8,15,23).  Later Omri selected Samaria as the new site for his capital (I Kings 16:24), which continued
until the captivity of the northern kingdom.  Yet during this period of centralized stability, some of Israel’s kings preferred
Jezreel as a place of residence (I Kings 18:45; 21; II Kings 8:29-10:11).

Further evidence of the absence of a centralized place of rule in the northern kingdom relates to centers of worship.  
Worship centers never were coordinate with royal residences in the north.  Dan and Bethel continued to be the main
cities of cultic activity throughout the history of the northern kingdom.

This stability associated with the royal throne in Judah had great significance for the people of God.  It stood in starkest
contrast with the nomadic condition that had marked the life-style of Israel from the days of Abraham.  Now God's
people were no longer tent-dwellers, always on the move, pilgrims without a permanent dwelling place.  Instead, they
were inhabitants of a kingdom, settled and secure.  No longer was Israel exclusively looking forward to the coming of the
kingdom; in a very real sense, God's kingdom had come.

Indeed, the level to which the kingdom of God was realized in Israel under the line of David had decided limitations.  
This "kingdom" must be placed in the category of an "anticipative" realization in proper keeping with the entire scope of
Old Testament experience.  The shadow-kingdom of Israel was real.  God was reigning in their midst.  But it was
nonetheless only a shadow of the reality to come.

The perpetual dynasty of David and the permanent capital of Jerusalem find some parallels in evidence from Ancient
Near Eastern treaty forms.  The *Hittite treaties in particular reflect interests similar to those found in the Davidic
covenant as recorded in II Samuel 7.  Specifically, throne-succession and territorial stability receive significant attention
in the treaties.

Philip J. Calderone{1} notes at least four cases in the Hittite treaties in which royal lines of conquered peoples were
guaranteed support in maintaining dynastic right to the throne.  One text reflecting close parallels to the biblical
expressions may be found in the treaty granted by Tudhaliyas IV (or Hattusilis III) to the ruler of Datassa:

As for you, Ulmi-Tassub, [I have affirmed your possession of Datassa].  After you your son and grandson will hold it,
and no one shall take it away from them. [But] if anyone of your line sins [against Hatti], the king of Hatti will have him
tried and if he is condemned he will be sent to the king of Hatti where, if he merits it, he will be executed.

Particularly striking in this passage is the provision for chastening disobedient descendents as well as for maintaining
the original line.  As in II Samuel 7, the disobedient king shall be punished.

In another treaty, the Hittite king Suppiluliuma promises to receive Mattiwasa as his son:

I will take you to myself in sonship; I will stand by you with aid; upon the throne of your father I will set you.

The character of the sonship envisioned in this document is difficult to determine.  The reference may be to an
anticipated son-in-law relationship.  But the provision is striking for its parallelism with the biblical account.

In addition to concern over dynastic succession, territorial rights also play a significant role in these treaties.  One text
reads as follows:

This Suppiluliuma the Great King, king of Hatti, the hero, has granted by the seal these [frontiers], cities, mountains to
Niqumadu [king of] Ugarit, as well as to his sons and the sons of his sons forever.

In another text from seventeenth century B.C. Syria, a certain Abba-AN bestows the city of Alalakh on Yarimlim,
swearing never to take the city back.

These provisions provide interesting parallels to the covenantal guarantee granted to David concerning Jerusalem.  But
is should be noted that the treaty texts do not parallel the specific commitment found in Scripture toward a particular city
as capital of a theocracy. In a unique sense, God Himself resides in the city of Jerusalem, and rules from its locality.

In summarizing the evidence of parallels between the Hittite documents and II Samuel 7, Calderone acknowledges that
each of the various elements in Nathan's oracle "can probably be paralleled in many other types of legal, historical and
religious material.  It is rather difficult to establish that a direct influence from the culture of the Ancient Near East
actually has affected the form and substance of the biblical materials.  Both Calderone and McCarthy{2} reject the
treaties, although they do see parallels in substance.

In any case, the continuing investigation of such parallels should be noted with care.  It may be that a deeper
understanding of covenantal provisions found in Scripture will develop along these lines.

The Davidic Covenant: Conditional or Unconditional?

The third and final question concerning the Davidic covenant has to do with the type covenant involved.  Is the Davidic
covenant to be regarded as conditional or unconditional?  Are its promises contingent on a certain response in David
and his descendants?  Or does this covenant guarantee the fulfillment of its gracious provisions unconditionally?

Various perspectives on the question

This question has been viewed from a variety of perspectives.  Primarily the problem has been framed in terms of
whether the Davidic covenant connects with the Abrahamic or the Mosaic covenant as its predecessor.

R.E. Clements{3} asserts that the type covenant asserts that the type covenant made with David could not possibly
have arisen by a process of natural development out of the Mosaic covenant. Instead, David's covenant represents a
recollection of the ancient covenant made with Abraham.

Clements suggests even more radical modifications of the biblical picture.  From his perspective, the Davidic covenant,
although represented in Scripture as having come almost 1000 years after the Abrahamic covenant, actually played a
crucial role in the Israelite formulation of the Abrahamic covenant.  He is quite sure that "there was a material
connection between the tradition of Abraham and the rise of David, and the fortunes of the Davidic house greatly
affected in Israel the ancient covenant with Abraham.  According to the thesis of Clements, all three major promises
associated with the Abrahamic covenant must be seen as arising out of the political situation of the Davidic epoch.  The
promise concerning the "land" grew out of the expansion of the territorial state of David.  The promise of the "seed"
developed from the reality of a national entity formed under David.  While for Clements the Abrahamic and Davidic
covenants interrelate closely, no such connection between David and Moses is possible.  Clements affirms that "...The
Davidic covenant is formally to be distinguished from the type of law covenant found in the Sinai-Horeb tradition."

Bernard Anderson{4} also chooses to emphasize two types of covenants which set apart the Davidic from the Mosaic
covenant. The Mosaic covenant represents for Anderson the type covenant that is founded on stipulated obligations,
and ultimately leads to chaos.  God's covenant with David, however, creates stability and continuity.  By emphasizing
promise, it holds in check the unpredictable and disruptive tendencies of undisciplined humanity.  The Davidic covenant
is for Anderson "...a covenant which removes elements of security."  Its promise is absolutely unconditional.

Exactly the opposite opinion concerning the Davidic covenant has been expressed by other scholars.  Instead of
connecting David's promises with those of Abraham, they relate them instead to the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant.

M. Tsevat{5} suggests that the rise of David to power in Israel cannot relate to the sacral traditions of the tribal
confederacy, despite the attempt of II Samuel 7 to make just such a connection.  Tsevat concludes that the Davidic
covenant must be related to Sinai, since the tribal confederacy had its formation at that point in Israelite history.  As a
result, an inner contradiction must be seen in the substance of II Samuel 7.  The covenant with David rests on the
conditional structures of Sinai, and the wholly unconditional assurances found in II Samuel 7.  The covenant with David
rests on the conditional structures of Sinai, and the wholly unconditional assurances found in II Samuel 7:13b-16 are
out of place.  It therefore must be concluded that these verses represent a later gloss which does not belong to the
essence of the Davidic covenant.

Tsevat also proposes that the repeated emphasis on the eternal character of the Davidic covenant must be modified.  
Only in the context of the intrinsic qualifications of the covenant may this promise be regarded as eternal.  So long as
faithfulness is maintained the line of David shall be preserved.  The covenant is "eternal" only in this qualified sense.

Proposed resolution of the question

The question concerning the conditional character of the Davidic covenant must be viewed from various perspectives.  
The structurally simple bond of the covenant involves a complexity of relationships.

First of all, some distinction must be made between factors of conditionality within the covenant and certainty of
realization with respect to the ultimate goal of the covenant.  The covenant which God established with David fitted
integrally into God's purpose to redeem a people to Him.  This fact assures the ultimate realization of the promises
made to David.  The Lord of this covenant shall not be thwarted in his intention to bring sinners out of the realm of
darkness into his gracious domain.

Is it certain that God's purposes to establish a kingdom for Him among redeemed sinners shall be realized?  Nothing
could be more certain.  Shall covenantal lovingkindness be taken from David as it was taken from Saul?  
Unquestionably it shall not!  The purposes of God to establish a messianic royal line through David never shall be

The word of certainty concerning the line of David must be seen as an organic whole with the previous covenantal
expressions of God's purpose to redeem a people to Himself. In this respect, the question concerning the conditionality
of the Davidic covenant comes wrongly framed when it is asked in terms of whether the Abrahamic or the Mosaic
covenant served as its immediate predecessor.  All the various manifestations of the covenant of redemption in
Scripture contain this aspect of certainty of realization.

God Himself assumes the total responsibility for the fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham.  Only the theophany
passes between the pieces (Genesis 15).

It is unthinkable that God would not have brought his people into Canaan under the ordinances of the Mosaic
covenant.  His determination to chasten the wicked without partiality is apparent.  Even Moses himself receives
correction at the Lord's hand.

But it is unthinkable that God would fail to bring his people Israel through the desert into Canaan.  His purposes to
redeem a people to himself shall be realized.  Even at the point of greatest apostasy, the certainty of God's realizing His
purposes is guaranteed.  God may blot out all Israel; but He shall raise up a new nation - from the Israelite Moses
(Exodus 32:10).  The nonobservance of Mosaic stipulations certainly will bring punishment.  But it will not bring

The certainty of God's consummating His purposes for Israel cannot be attributed merely to the Abrahamic covenant.  It
must be remembered that it is the Mosaic covenant that receives cultic renewal as the people enter the land.  This
covenant of national election continues to be in effect as well as God's covenant with the patriarchs.

Now a second question concerning conditionality in the covenant may be asked.  What about individual participation in
the blessings of the covenant?  Under Abraham, the uncircumcised male was to be cut off.  Under Moses, the
disobedient would not enter God's rest.  Under David, the sinful king was to be beaten with the rod of men.  In each
case, full participation in the blessings of the covenant had a condition.  Only as this condition was fulfilled would
blessing be assured.

So it may be affirmed that each of God's covenants has a conditional aspect.  the purpose of God to redeem a people
to Himself makes it certain that these conditions shall be met.  But this certainty cannot relieve the individual from his
obligation before the stipulations of the covenant.

Still a third factor must be considered.  Some distinction must be made between God's chastening of His sons and his
destruction of the reprobate. This aspect of the conditional character of the covenant emphasizes both the typological
form of the experiences of God's people under the old covenant and the temporary aspect of the life of God's people in
the present age.  Under the old covenant, the chastening of God's sons often was intermingled with the destruction of
the reprobate.  It is not always apparent which type judgment was being administered.  Under the provisions of the
Davidic covenant, Israel experienced the chastenings under Solomon and his successors as well as the ultimate
devastation of the exile in which Israel became "not my people."  Yet is not possible to make a neat distinction between
the status before God of various persons experiencing these two forms of judgment, classifying some as sons and
others as reprobates.

Even in the present day, the very existence of chastening experiences for the believer in Christ reveals the temporary
character of the current situation.  The day shall come in which no such disciplinary chastenings will be necessary.

In either, the situation prevailing under the old covenant, or the situation prevailing under the new, the certain outcome
of God's covenant is not disturbed.  The presence of threat of judgment on the condition of disobedience does not
imply inherently a collapse of the certainty that God ultimately will succeed in his covenanted intention to redeem a
people to himself.  The question of "conditional" versus "unconditional" must be considered in this light.

Finally, the role of Jesus Christ as the ultimate seed of David speaks rather decisively to this question of conditionality
in the covenant.  It may be affirmed as emphatically true that David's covenant hinged conditionally on the responsible
fulfillment of covenant obligations by Jesus Christ, the seed of David.  He satisfied in himself all the obligations of the
covenant.  Not only did he maintain perfectly every statute and ordinance of the Mosaic law as required of David.  He
also bore in himself the chastening judgments deserved by David's seed through their covenant violations.

In Christ, the conditional and the certain aspects of the covenant meet in perfect harmony.  In him the Davidic covenant
finds assured fulfillment.

The ultimate realization of the promise

Acceptance of the absolute certainty of the realization of the provisions of the Davidic covenant creates something of a
problem.  In the covenant, assurance was given that the line of David would sit on the throne of Israel forever.  Yet
unquestionably the descendants of David ceased to occupy the throne of Israel.

The Old Testament history of Davidic succession indeed was impressive.  It stretched for a period of over 400 years.

But it did not last "forever."  It came to an end.

It is not enough to suggest that perpetuity of throne-occupancy was not a part of the promise.  The very essence of an
eternal covenant with David's dynasty rests in the unbroken character of the kingly line.

What is the solution to this problem?

The breaking off of Davidic throne-succession in Old Testament history may be evaluated in terms of the anticipative
role of Israel's monarchy.  David's line anticipated in shadow-form the eternal character of the reign of Jesus Christ.

While God actually was manifesting his lordship through David's line, this human monarchy was serving at the same
time as a typological representation of the throne of God itself.  David's reign was intended to anticipate in shadow-form
the reality of the messianic Redeemer who was to unite with finality the throne of David with the throne of God.

Just as the levitical priesthood anticipated the abiding priesthood of Jesus Christ; just as Moses and the school of the
prophets anticipated the prophet par excellence; so David and his throne anticipated the beneficent reign of the coming

It is in this context that the failure of the Davidic line must be understood.  Inherent in every Old Testament type was an
inadequacy which demanded some more perfect fulfillment.

A fuller perspective on this question may be gained by considering the throne of David and his descendants as
presented in the Old Testament itself.  The establishment of a monarchy in Israel must not be secularized.  To the
contrary, the virtual identity of Israel's throne with God's throne must be recognized if a truly biblical insight into this
question is to be achieved.

The Chronicler in rather startling fashion gives expression to the notion of God's kingship in Israel which was inherent
throughout the nation's entire history.  As Solomon was established as David's legitimate heir, the Chronicler offered his
analysis of the significance of the event:

...And did eat and drink before the LORD on that day with great gladness.  And they made Solomon the son of David
king the second time, and anointed him unto the LORD to be the chief governor, and Zadok to be priest.
"  I Chronicles

Notice that the Chronicler is not content to indicate that Solomon in David's line functions as "ruler for the Lord."  This
affirmation would have been striking enough in itself.

But the assertion goes even further.  Solomon sits "on the throne of Yahveh as king!"  The throne of David's
descendants is nothing less than the throne of God itself.

This perspective on the significance of the Davidic throne accords with the original destination of David as "son" to
God, and thus heir to God's throne.  It furthermore corresponds with the continual stress in the historical books, in the
prophets and in the psalms concerning the closeness of relation between the throne of God in Zion and the throne of
David's descendants in Jerusalem.  David rejoices at the bringing of the ark to Jerusalem (II Samuel 6) because now his
throne is related immediately with the throne of God.  The psalmist merges the cause of the Lord with the anointed king
of David's line as the object of opposition by the heathen kings (Psalm 2:1,2).  Zion is God's holy mountain on which He
has established his king (verse 6).

The prophetic expansion of the Davidic promise fits into this same pattern.  As the kingdom crumbles all about them,
these seers anticipate the greater day.  A greater occupant of David's throne shall come.  He shall sit on the throne of
his father David forever.  He shall rule the whole world in righteousness.  He shall merge God's throne with his own, for
he shall be Immanuel, Mighty God, God Himself.

It is in this context of the Old Testament identification of the throne of David with the throne of God that the position of
the modern dispensationalist must be assessed.  The dispensationalist asserts that Jesus Christ's session at God's
right hand has nothing to do with his occupancy of David's throne.  John F. Walvoord{6} asserts: "A search of the New
Testament reveals that there is not one reference connecting the present session of Christ with the Davidic throne."

However, if it be understood that from the perspective of the Old Testament itself, David's throne was considered as
coordinate with God's throne, this position hardly could be maintained.  The fact that "the Christ," The anointed one of
Israel, is seated at God's right hand, has everything to do with David's throne.  Christ's present reign represents the
fulfillment of the Old Testament anticipations in this regard.

This same perspective is found in New Testament evaluations of the significance of Christ's exaltation.  In Acts 2:30-36,
Peter indicates specifically that because David knew that God would seat one of his descendants on his throne, he
spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah.  In accord with the general New Testament approach, Peter binds together
Jesus' resurrection-ascension-session at God's right hand as a single act of exaltation.  God "raised' him, "exalted him"
to his right hand, and "made him Lord and Messiah."  It is this unified act of exaltation that established Jesus to be the
promised Messiah, the anointed King, the successor to David.

The New Testament usage of the Zion/Jerusalem imagery also requires that the validity of Walvoord's statement be
questioned.  As has been indicated, the maintaining of the Zion/Jerusalem complex was as significant in God's covenant
with David as the maintaining of the Davidic line.  According to Hebrews 12:22-24, believers in Christ "are (now) come"
to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem.  According to Paul, the significant "Jerusalem" no longer is the "present"
Jerusalem, but the "Jerusalem above" (Galatians 4:25,26).  It is from this "Jerusalem above" that life in God's kingdom

The dispensationalist must be commended for his desire to hold strongly to the full veracity of Scripture in its promises.  
But the denial of any connection between the "throne of David" and Christ's current enthronement at God's right hand
must be taken as an effort to limit the magnificent realities of the new covenant by the shadowy forms of the old.


Taken as a whole, the books of Kings present quite convincingly a distinctive pattern for understanding the history of
the monarchy in Israel.  This pattern underscores repeatedly God's covenantal faithfulness.  Again and again, the
historian displays the veracity of God's covenant word.  Once God's binding oath has been declared with respect to the
kingdom, its decree remains inviolable.  The covenant Lord of heaven and earth speaks irrevocably among the sons of

This overriding thesis of covenantal faithfulness receives quite elaborate development throughout these books.  In
addition to foundational passages underscoring the provisions of the davidic covenant, the books present as many as
20 concrete instances displaying the veracity of God's covenantal word, complete with a distinctive "formula of
fulfillment."  A major section of the books concludes with a summary statement underlining once more the theme of
God's covenantal faithfulness.

Foundational Passages

II Samuel 7.  Although lying outside the scope of the books of the entire movement of the monarchy in Israel.  The
sovereign Lord of heaven and earth has spoken his covenantal word among the kings of Israel. Several times in the
chapter, reference is made to King David and his sons as kings (II Samuel 7:2,12,13,16).  In contrast to the designation
of these men as "kings," numerous titles are ascribed to the sovereign Lord of Israel who has initiated this covenant
relationship.  He is "Yahveh of hosts" (verse 8); "Lord Yahveh" (verses 18,19,29,28.29); "Yahveh Elohim" (verses
22,25); "Yahveh of host, God of Israel" (verse 27).  Near the end of the chapter, a climax is reached, "
...And this was
yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come.  
And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?
" II Samuel 7:19

Three other passages within the books of Kings establish the central role played by God's covenantal word to David in
the history of the kingship in Israel.  These passages are I Kings 2:1-4, I Kings 8, and I Kings 9.

I Kings 2:1-4. David now delivers his deathbed charge to Solomon his son.  Solomon is instructed to keep the statutes,
the commandments, the judgments and the testimonies of God.  This admonition clearly indicates that David did not
consider God's covenant with him as supplanting the provisions of the Mosaic covenant.

The reason for David's urgency in his charge to Solomon is "that Yahveh may cause to stand his word which he spoke
concerning me" (verse 4).  David clearly reflects the provisional character of the covenant which God made with him.  
Only as his descendents walk faithfully before the Lord will they enjoy the blessings of God's covenant word to David.

I Kings 8. At the dedication of Solomon's temple, the prayer of the king clearly reflects the language of God's covenant
with David.  Solomon repeatedly refers to the word which God had spoken to his father:

And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his
hand fulfilled it...
" I Kings 8:15.

And  the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst
well that it was in thine heart.
" I Kings 8:20.

In both these verses, the key to the events current in Solomon's day is found in the covenant word to David.  God's
promise has determined the course of history to this point.

Subsequently in his prayer, Solomon returns to this theme.  God has been faithful to the word he spoke to David (verse
24).  But interestingly, it is not only His word to David.  The covenant word spoken to Moses also has functioned
decisively in the establishment of the Israelite monarchy.  Solomon offers his testimony that "not one word" has failed of
all that God spoke to his servant Moses (verse 56).  Both covenants, the covenant with Moses and the covenant with
David, blend together to explain Solomon's presence on the throne of Israel's kingdom.

Appeal to God's covenant word also becomes the hope for future expectations.  Solomon twice asks God to confirm in
the future the word that he spoke to David (verses 25,26).

I Kings 9.  God appears to Solomon a second time.  The Lord now reminds the king of his responsibility to keep the
"statutes and ordinances" which have been given to direct his life.  If the king will observe these statutes, then God will
establish his throne forever, just as he had spoken to David (verse 5).  This passage once more unites the Mosaic and
the Davidic covenants.

These foundational passages make it quite plain that the future of the monarchy in Israel depends on the provisions of
the covenant word to David.  If Solomon remains faithful, God's word to David shall be fulfilled in him.

Concrete Instances Displaying the Veracity of God's Covenant Word to David

Using these four foundational passages as background, the unfolding of the history of the kings of Israel may be
appreciated from a proper covenantal perspective.  God's covenantal word to David now will be verified through the
concreteness of historical events.

Commentators occasionally note a "fulfillment-motif" in the book of Kings in isolated instances.  But the thoroughness
with which this theme has been pursued throughout Kings often is overlooked.  By a survey of the primary passages
demonstrating this thesis, the full impact of the significance of God's word in the book of Kings may be felt.

In tracing the history of the word of God among the kings of Israel, a clear pattern of presentation may be detected.  
Although slight variations occur in some of the cases under study, the pattern of presentation is as follows: first, God's
word experiences
particularization so that a specific application of the broader word concerning the Davidic covenant is
made evident.  Then the particularized word of God finds verification in the history of Israel.  Finally, the author of Kings
pointedly calls attention to the fulfillment of God's word through
formularization.  The prophesied events occur
"according to the word of Yahveh which he spoke" or simply "according to the word of Yahveh."  While other formulas of
fulfillment do occur, this particular phrase saturates the book of Kings.

I Kings 11:9-13; 31, 35 (see also I Kings 12:13-15).  Since Solomon had revolted against the kingship of God, part of
his kingdom would revolt against him.  Yet because of God's covenant word to David, the rending of the kingdom would
occur under Solomon's son rather than under Solomon himself.

This prophetic word concerning the chastisement of Solomon's son finds its fulfillment during the reign of Rehoboam.  
The young king would not hearken to the wisdom of the older men, "for it was a thing brought about of the Lord."  God
caused the king not to hearken to the counsel of the wiser men of his kingdom "in order that he might cause to stand
his word which he had spoken" (I Kings 12:15).  The Hebrew phraseology is striking in its similarity to that used in the
foundational passages discussed previously.

I Kings 13:1-10 (see also II KIngs 23:15,16).  Now that the division of the kingdom has become a reality, the great
concern of Jeroboam is that the heart of northern Israel be weaned from its loyalty to the central place of worship in
Jerusalem.  So the king summons all Israel to Bethel for the dedication of a new altar (I Kings 12:32).

This event becomes the occasion of one of the most remarkable prophecies found in the entirety of Scripture.  An
unnamed man of God declares that a child shall be born to the house of David who is to desecrate this unholy altar by
burning men's bones on its surface.  The prophet even goes so far as to specify the child's name.  He shall be called

God's word of prophecy does not indicate the time at which this judgment shall take place.  In the ordering of God's
providential longsuffering, it was approximately 300 years later that Josiah appeared as king in Judah.

Quite naturally, critical scholars do not hesitate to declare the impossibility of such an utterance.  Yet it is quite in
accord with the book’s intention to affirm the lordship of God over history that such a spectacular declaration is made.

In affirming the validity of this prophecy, the crucial character of the historical context should not be forgotten.  God now
speaks his first word of condemnation regarding the altars and the false worship of the northern tribes.  Following this
prophetic denunciation, the sin of Jeroboam will be the repeated theme of the books of Kings up to the very point of the
captivity of northern Israel.  It is quite appropriate that a very stringent and specific prophecy be uttered to startle Israel
in the light of the hideousness of their sin on this particular occasion. A son of the house of David shall arise to destroy
this altar, says the unknown prophet.  The whole plan of Jeroboam is doomed to failure from the beginning.  He will be
unsuccessful in breaking loose from God's ordained center of worship.

The fulfillment of this prophecy is spelled out explicitly by the author of Kings.  Not only did a man named Josiah
eventually accede to the throne of Israel, in his program of religious reform, he broke down the altar at Bethel.  Even
more specifically, Josiah "sent and took the bones from graves, and burned them on the altar and defiled it" (II KIngs 23:

This passage clearly indicates the fulfillment of the prophecy uttered long before.  But the author of Kings does not
complete his message without appending the formula of prophetic fulfillment.  Josiah desecrated the altar at Bethel
"according to the word of Yahveh" which had been proclaimed by the man of God.

I Kings 13:11-32.  This same unnamed prophet who had performed so faithfully at Bethel now becomes the victim of
the judgment of God himself.  Although he rejected the bribery of Jeroboam, he could not resist the pleas of one who
pretended to have a word from God.  As a result of his disobedience to God's command to return directly to Judah after
his prophecy against the altar of Bethel, the man of God himself is told that he will not return to Judah safely.  As he
journeys, he shall be slain by a lion.

"We may be grateful that there is so little of this kind of thing in the Bible," says one critical scholar.  Nevertheless, the
entire sequence of events adds strength to the theme of the book of Kings.  God vindicates His word without respect of
persons.  The man of God slain by the lion had just uttered one of the most spectacular prophecies in all of Scripture.  
Yet this same prophet, because of his personal disobedience to the word of God, suffers an untimely fate.  The formula
of fulfillment occurs at the end of the narrative.  The lion slew the man of God "according to the word of Yahveh which
he spoke" (I Kings 13:26).

I Kings 14:10,11,14 (see also I Kings 15:28,29). Jeroboam's is ill.  The king instructs his wife to go to Ahijah the
prophet to inquire concerning the health of his son.  Ahijah uses this occasion to prophesy concerning the house of
Jeroboam.  Not only shall this son of Jeroboam die; the king's entire household shall be destroyed.

This prophecy finds fulfillment at the hands of Baasha, throne successor to Jeroboam.  I Kings 15:28,29 records the
total destruction of the house of Jeroboam by Baasha.  Again the formula of prophetic fulfillment finds full expression.  
Baasha destroys Jeroboam "according to the word of Yahveh which He spoke."

I Kings 16:1-4 (see also I Kings 16:10-12).  Though Baasha himself had executed the word of God on the house of
Jeroboam, he nonetheless proceeds to commit the identical sins.  Jehu the prophet indicates that Baasha's house is to
be destroyed even as Jeroboam's.

Did Baasha not perceive that disobedience to the word of God would bring to him the same judgment which it brought
to Jeroboam?  This word of prophecy finds fulfillment at the hands of Zimri.  The formula in its undiluted form recurs
again.  Zimri destroys Baasha "according to the word of Yahweh which he spoke" (I Kings 16:12).

I Kings 16:34 (see also Joshua 6:26).  Joshua placed a solemn curse on anyone attempting to rebuild Jericho (Joshua
6:26).  The man who should attempt to rebuild this city would lay its foundation with the death of his firstborn son, and
would complete its gates with the death of his youngest son.  In the days of the arrogance of Ahab, Hiel of Bethel
initiated the rebuilding of Jericho.  The text is not explicit, but most likely Hiel built in blatant defiance of Joshua's
prophetic word.  Particularly after witnessing the death of his firstborn son as a consequence of laying the new
foundation for Jericho, it would seem evident that Hiel would have been reminded of the sure consequences of
continuation.  Yet Hiel persists until he has raised up the gates of the city.  As a consequence, he celebrates the
completion of the city with the death of his youngest son.

Assuming Hiel was made aware of Joshua's solemn word of prophecy at one point or another, no more blatant revolt
against God's word may be imagined.  He suffered the loss of his sons "according to the word of Yahveh which He
spoke" (I Kings 16:34).

I Kings 17:13-16.  The monarchy of Israel failed to extend the beneficent reign of God throughout the earth.  Yet the
Lord of the covenant continued to display his gracious power among men of all nations.  Though many widows lived in
Israel during this period (see also Luke 4:15,16), God sent Elijah to a widow at Zarephath in the land of Sidon.  To this
solitary widow God's word of saving grace came in power.  Her bowl of flour would not be exhausted, nor would her jar
of oil become empty, until the Lord should send rain.  This word of God finds fulfillment "according to the word of
Yahveh which he spoke."

I Kings 21:17-24 (see also I Kings 22:34, 35,38; II KIngs 9:21-26,30-37; 10:10, 17).  Ahab just had taken possession
of Naboth's vineyard.  The innocent man had been stoned through the connivings of Jezebel.  As Ahab first strides
proudly onto his most recent acquisition, he is met by the prophet Elijah.

Four distinct prophecies occur in this context, all of which find recorded fulfillment in the books of Kings.  First, a
prophecy is uttered concerning Ahab, "
And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed,
and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs
licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
" I Kings 21:19.  The substance of the prophecy is that
Ahab will meet violent death.  As a further humiliation, his blood shall be shed on the very ground of Naboth to which he
now lays claim.

The Word of the Lord concerning Ahab's death finds vivid reinforcement in the subsequent narrative of Kings.  Ahab
and Jehoshaphat have entered into a coalition against Syria.  The prophetic word to Ahab concerning the certainty of
his death in this conflict is delivered by Micaiah, the Lord's faithful prophet.

The descriptive detail of the narrative enforces the contrast between the earthly kings of Israel and the Lord, the true
King of the covenant.  Ahab and Jehoshaphat "were sitting each on his throne arrayed in their robes...and all the
prophets were prophesying before them" (I Kings 22:10).  Micaiah contrasts their regal pomp with the glories of the one
true living Lord, "sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on his right and on his left" (verse 19).

The outcome of the conflicting prophetic projections concerning the ensuring battle cannot be doubted.  Despite
elaborate attempts to disguise himself, Ahab dies of an arrow shot at random which strikes him precisely in the joints of
his armor.  In his humiliation, dogs lick his blood, "according to the word of Yahveh which he spoke" (I Kings 22:37,38).

However, one aspect of Elijah's earlier prophecy concerning Ahab's death had been modified due to Ahab's
repentance, imperfect though it may have been.  Ahab is spared the added humiliation of dying on the very plot of
ground he had snatched from Naboth.  This irony is deferred to his son Joram (K Kings 21:27-29).

The second prophecy of this chapter thus concerns Joram, successor to Ahab.  To him now belongs the ironical curse
of dying violently on Naboth's vineyard.  As a result, Joram dies at the hands of Jehu, who casts his corpse into the field
of Naboth the Jezreelite.  The "formula of fulfillment" occurs again, this time in abbreviated form.  Joram dies "according
to the word of Yahveh" (II Kings 9:26).

The third prophecy in I Kings 21 deals with the fate of Ahab's posterity. Even as Jeroboam's house suffered
annihilation, so also Ahab's house shall suffer annihilation (I Kings 21:21).  Eliisha repeats this prophecy to Jehu (II
KIngs 9:1-9).  It's fulfillment is recorded in II Kings 10:17.  Again the complete formula of prophetic fulfillment occurs.  
Ahab's seed is eliminated "according to the word of Yahveh which he spoke."

The fourth and final prophecy of this section deals with the fate of Jezebel.  God's prophetic mouthpiece predicts that
"the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel" (I Kings 21:23).

This prophecy also is repeated by Elisha (II KIngs 9:10).  Its fulfillment is recorded vividly in II Kings 9:30-37.  Jezebel is
residing in Jezreel when Jehu arrives fresh from the battlefield.  The blood of Jezebel's son Joram still drips from his
hands.  With incalculable insolence, the queen paints her eyes and accosts warring Jehu.  The rugged warrior
commands that she be cast from the banister.  The queen of Israel no sooner has struck the earth than Jehu spurs his
horses so that they crush her to death.

After a quiet meal to recover his strength from the exhaustion of battle, Jehu determines that Jezebel deserves proper
burial, since to her belongs the dignity of being queen of Israel.  His men, however, discover that the dogs of the streets
of Jezreel have devoured their queen.  It is at this point that Jehu recognizes the fulfillment of the prophetic word: "It is
the word of the Lord which he spoke" (II Kings 9:36).

The extensiveness of prophetic fulfillment throughout this narrative, and the faithful repetition of the prophetic formula
of fulfillment underlines with awesome solemnity the veracity of God's word.  What God has spoken shall be done.

II Kings 1:16,17.  King Ahaziah has fallen through his lattice.  He suffers severely.  Will he survive?

Elijah the prophet sends his message.  Because the king of Israel has sought after the god of Ekron instead of
acknowledging the one true God, he shall die.

"According to the word of Yahveh" the king dies.  The King of heaven has spoken irrevocably among the kings of the

II Kings 2:19-22.  God's curse had been placed over the city of Jericho from the days of Joshua (Joshua 6:26).  But
now the word of the Lord goes forth to heal the cursed land that had been devoted to destruction. It is being claimed
anew as a part of God's land of fruitfulness.  Elisha scatters salt into the spring (a most unpromising agent for healing
bitter waters).  He speaks in God's name, and the water is healed "according to the word of Elisha which he "spoke."  
The prophetic formula of fulfillment continues to recur.

II Kings 4:42-44.  A famine in the land had brought the children of Israel into dire straits.  A godly man from Baal-
Shalishah had generously provided according to what he had for Elisha's prophetic school.  But the portion was hardly
enough to feed 100 men.

The prophet Elisha commands a distribution, and promises the meagre provisions shall prove to be more than
adequate for all his men.  Beginning with only 20 loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain, he satisfies his 100 followers
so that they eat to the full and still have some left over.  This miracle occurs "according to the word of Yahveh."  Now
the abbreviated formula is used.

The parallels with Jesus' feeding of the 5000 are quite extensive.  The form of the prophetic command given to the
disciples in each case is almost identical, ".
..And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat." II Kings 4:42;
(Matthew 14:16).  The servants to God's old and new covenant prophets respond in a strikingly similar fashion:  "What,
shall I set this before a hundred men?" (II Kings 4:43; John 6:9).  In each case, the narrative notes that some food
remains after the people have satisfied themselves (II Kings 4:44; Matthew 14:20).

But as the points of comparison are scrutinized more closely, the vast superiority of Jesus as the greater prophet
becomes more apparent.  Elisha fed 100 men; Jesus fed 5000, plus women and children.  Elisha began with 20 loaves
and ears of corn; Jesus began with five loaves and two small fish. Elisha provided only grain products; Jesus provided
bread and meat.  Elisha's company had an indefinite "some" left over; Jesus' multitude had 12 baskets full.  In every
way Jesus excels as the greater prophet.

II Kings 6:15-18.  Syria continually was warring against Israel.  During one such period, the Israelite demonstrated an
uncanny capability to anticipate Syria's maneuvers.  

Finally the word came to the king of Syria.  Elisha the prophet had been relaying the secret counsels of the king to their
Israelite enemy.

A host of horsemen and charioteers are commissioned to hunt down this troublesome prophet.  Elisha is discovered
and surrounded in the region of Dothan.

But the host of heaven always are more numerous and more potent than the armies of earth.  "According to the word of
Elisha," the king's army is struck with blindness (verse 18).  Once more God's ultimate lordship over the nations is

II Kings 7:1,2 (see also II Kings 7:16-20). In this narrative, the city of Samaria is being besieged by the armies of Syria.  
Elisha the prophet promises the impossible.  The siege will lift by the following day, and the abundance of grain for the
starving populace will be so great that prices will be minimal.

One of the king's captains, overhearing Elisha's prophecy, expresses unrestrained skepticism: "If the Lord should make
windows in heaven, could this thing be?"

This servant has dared to mock God's lordship over the nations of the earth.  He failed to acknowledge that Assyrian
armies as well as Israelite provisions derive their very existence from the one true living God.

The prophet declares the man's fate.  He shall see God's provision with his eyes, but he shall never taste their
satisfying refreshment (II KIngs 7:2).

This two-fold prophecy finds its fulfillment on the following day.  As a result of the hasty disbursement of the Syrian
army, a measure of fine meal is sold for a shekel "according to the word of Yahveh" (verse 16).  The captain of the gate
witnesses his miraculous provision, but never tastes for himself.  He is trodden to death at the gate of the city as the
ravenous mob presses toward the abandoned provision of the Syrians.  He dies "according to the word of the man of
God which he spoke" (verse 17).

II Kings 8:7-15 (II KIngs 10:32,33,; 12:18; 13:3,7 also Hosea 10:14; 14:1; Amos 1:3-5).  Benhadad, king of Syria, has
fallen ill.  He sends his servant Hazael to Elisha the prophet to learn of his prospects for the future.  During the
interview, Elisha offers three prophecies: Benhadad the king shall die; Hazael shall reign in his place; and Hazael shall
afflict Israel.  While no prophetic formula of fulfillment is found regarding these prophecies, the particulars of each
fulfillment are described in the passages cited.

II Kings 10:30 (see also II Kings 15:12).  Because of Jehu's faithfulness in executing God's wrath against the house of
Ahab, God promises that the descendants of Jehu shall reign on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.  The line
of Jehu's dynasty consequently runs through his descendants Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam, and Zechariah, and
endures for almost 100 years.  No other family sat on the throne of Israel nearly so long.  The closest rival to Jehu's
dynasty was the dynasty of Omri, which lasted less than 50 years.  The long dynasty of Jehu, according to the author of
Kings, was in fulfillment of "the word of the Lord which he spoke" (II Kings 15:12).

II KIngs 14:25.  Under Jeroboam II, Israel's borders enlarged almost to the boundaries previously enjoyed under
Solomon. This kind of expansion could occur only because God's word of prophecy bore in itself the power to
coordinate the whole complex of events determining the course of Ancient Near Eastern history.  Assyria lapsed into a
period of weakness, allowing for the rapid expansion of Israel under Jeroboam II, "according to the word of Yahveh the
God of Israel which he spoke."

II Kings 24:1,2.  As the history of the southern kingdom moves swiftly towards its close, the formula of fulfillment recurs
again.  Now, however, it is attached not to a single prophetic utterance, but to a conglomerate of declarations.  God
sends marauding bands of neighboring nations to chastise Judah for its sin, "according to the word of Yahveh which he
spoke through his servants the prophets."

This series of invasions fulfills the words of warning which had been issued throughout the long history of prophetism in

II Kings 20:12-18 (Also II Kings 24:10-17).  Though he had been healed graciously by the Lord, Hezekiah responded
foolishly to the flattering attentions paid him by emissaries from Babylon.  He responded by displaying pridefully all the
riches of his kingdom.

The prophet Isaiah exposed the king’s folly and pronounced the divine judgment.  All the wealth in which Hezekiah
gloried would be carried away (II Kings 20:17; Isaiah 39:6).

This prophecy of judgment finds fulfillment in the days of Jehoiachin. God alone was worthy of glory in Israel.  As a part
of the removal of "glory" from Israel, the king of Babylon took with him all the treasures of the Lord's house, "just as the
Lord had said" (II KIngs 24:13).  Judgment must come on all those who fail to acknowledge Yahveh to be King of kings
and Lord of lords. Even the captivity of his own nation must occur to maintain his distinctive role among all the peoples
of the earth.

So the entire history of the monarchy in Israel hinges on the word of the Lord.  Having established the basis of his
covenant relationship with David, God faithfully demonstrates the veracity of His word.  From the first chastisement
against Solomon to the ultimate deportation of the nation, God's word of the covenant controls history.

Summary Statement by the Author of Kings

In addition to the foundational passages establishing veracity of God's covenant word, and the numerous concrete
instances of the fulfillment of that word, the author of Kings himself offers a summary statement regarding God's
covenant word among the kings of Israel.  As the northern kingdom experiences its judgmental end, the author appends
a rather full statement of the cause of this calamitous event (see II Kings 17:7-41, particularly verses 7-18).  Because of
the failure to keep God's covenant, they must be cast out of the land.

References to the statutes, the commandments, the testimonies, and the covenant saturate the passage (verses
13,15,16,34,37).  All these phrases reflect the language of the foundational passages discussed earlier (I Kings 2:3, 4;
8:57-58; 9:6,7).  Allusion to the "hardening of the neck" by Israel echoes the covenantal language of Exodus and
Deuteronomy (II Kings 17:14; Exodus 32:9; 33:3; Deuteronomy 10-16; 31:27; Jeremiah 7:26; Acts 7:51).  Israel's
stubborn refusal to hear and to heed God's word has sealed their fate.  The whole history of the monarchy in Israel
presents itself as a solemn verification of God's covenant word.


One cannot but be amazed at the architechtonic structure of the books of Kings.  It is difficult to conceive of a more
elaborate or more convincingly executed demonstration of a thesis.  The word of the covenant set the course of history,
and the word of the covenant had its verification in history.  As a result of this elaborate theme-development, several
insights into the ways of God with His people may be noted:

1)  Some conclusion may be drawn concerning the nature of prophecy from the biblical perspective.  Clearly the
Scriptures intend to depict the prophets of Israel as predictors of the future.  More precisely, the words of Yahveh
spoken through his prophets determine the future.  God's messengers are not merely good political prognosticators.  
Their words determine the course of future events.  Yahveh may declare the end from the beginning because he is the
Lord of history.

To be sure, this declaring of the future does not occur in a vacuum.  Because of commitments in the past by the Lord of
the covenant, the course of the future is determined.  Predictive prophecy occurs only as it relates organically to the
covenantal ordinances established between God and His people.  But prophesy clearly does not contain a predictive

2)  Insight into the nature of the biblical concept of the covenant may be derived from the thesis of the books of Kings.  
Because the whole of the history is determined by the covenant, a visual model of covenant thought-pattern in Israel
has been provided.

Clearly, covenant in Israel does not embrace merely philosophical ideologies about God.  Only the concreteness of
historical reality may explain the covenant concept.

Clearly, covenant in Israel involves a word-contract.  Not merely the undefined vagueness of a deed, but the
specificness of a word spoken to Israel establishes the covenant relationship.  The foundation of the covenant rests on
a verbal commitment by Yahveh to David.  The history of the covenant cannot be understood apart from awareness of
this verbal form.

Clearly, covenant in Israel emphasizes the wholeness of history from Abraham through Moses to David.  The
achievement of rest in the land under Solomon derives from the promise to Abraham.  The criteria of legal stipulations
enforced in Israel derive from the law of Moses.  The intermingling of the principle of preservation for David's line in a
context of repeated chastisements for David's sons derives from God's covenant word to David.

3)  Particularly striking throughout the narrative is the relative consistency of contexts in which the specific word of the
Lord comes to Israel.  Every instance of the "King's word among the kings" up to the point of the fall of Samaria is
addressed to the northern kingdom.  The overwhelming majority of these predictive utterances relate to God's judgment
on His disobedient nation.

It may be suggested, therefore, that the overarching purpose of the books of Kings concerns the justification of the
ways of God with His people.  If they are His covenant people, why ultimately does He cast them off:  These judgments
occur "according to the word of Yahveh which he spoke."  First He spoke a word of warning to David.  Then he spoke
repeatedly to specific circumstances in Israel's history.

4)  This long history of judgmental realization on the basis of God’s covenant word must be balanced by focusing equal
attention on the faithful maintenance of the Davidic line through the history.  While calamity strikes repeatedly among
Israel's sons in the northern kingdom, God continues to sustain in unbroken fashion the line of David in the south.

Indeed, the kingdom of Judah also ultimately tastes the righteous judgments of God.  But the gentle upsurge of events
which closes the books of Kings must not be overlooked (II Kings 2:27-30). The king of Babylon released Jehoiachin
from prison, spoke kindly to him, and set his throne above the other captive kings in Babylon.  Furthermore, Jehoiachin
was allowed to remove his prison clothes, to eat his meals in the king's presence all the days of his life, and to receive a
regular allowance until his death.  Thus the books of Kings conclude.

What is the meaning of this quiet upturn in the narrative as the history concludes?  Why should a book so laden with
the history of God's judgment end by tantalizing the reader's appreciation of his final message by concluding with a
definite note of positive hope?

Is not this final incident intended to reflect the "other side" of God's covenant with David?  Indeed, God chastened
David's sons according to the provisions of the covenant.  But never did he remove his lovingkindness as he did from
the house of Saul.  Even as the last of David's line languishes in prison, God does not forget his covenant mercies.

So, the drama concludes with the stage set for a return of David's son to the throne of Israel.  The consummation of
God's covenant purposes has not yet been realized.  The prophetic projection concerning a greater David builds on the
surety of God's covenant, and anticipates the ultimate realization of all God's promises.


The Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson, Copyright 1980, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing


Dynastic Oracle and Suzerainty Treaty, Philip J. Calderone, Manila, 1966.

Covenant in the O.T.: the Present State of Inquiry, D.J.McCarthy, Catholic Biblical Quarterly,27,1965.

Abraham and David: Genesis 15 and Its Meaning for Israelite Tradition, R.E. Clements, Naperville, 1967.

Creation versus Chaos, Bernhard Anderson, New York, 1967.

Studies in the Book III. The Steadfast House: What was David Promised in II Samuel 7:11, M. Tsevat, Hebrew
Union College Annual, 1963,

The Fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, John F. Walvoord, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1945.