A Chiastic Perspective of the Davidic Covenant
The entirety of Scripture concerns the concept of Covenant. This study will examine the Davidic covenant that is recorded in II Samuel chapter seven and will be viewed through the eyes of its parallel portion of Scripture Psalm 89.
We will look at some literary patterns and parallels that will further define and emphasize the purpose of this covenant in terms of a later "Son of David" who would come to be our Messiah and King and establish a heavenly rule and reign in the earth through those who would submit to His Lordship.
An Eternal Kingdom Established by a "King's Son"
In II Samuel Chapter seven, King David had come to a place of relative quiet after a tumultuous journey to the throne of Israel, at which time he decided that he wanted to build a house for God.
He discussed this proposal with the prophet Nathan. Nathan initially tells David that it sounds like a good idea and to go ahead, but God interrupts this plan by sending a word to Nathan that David cannot build this house, but "his son" will build the house.
Before we continue with the recitation of this covenant, it is a worthy note that the son is the builder of the house or family line in Hebrew thought. The Hebrew word for "son" is "ben" and very related to the Hebrew word for "build," which is "benah."
. . . you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (God's Son)
— I Peter 2:5
With this in mind, we might begin with this understanding that the Davidic covenant is in the preparation of a Messiah/King, the Son of God who would build and establish an eternal Kingdom/House.
The words "eternal" and "forever" will become essential hinges in this lesson, but before we get to that, it is also noteworthy that Nathan is the name of the prophet who delivers this message. His name means "to give," and echo's in theme a quote from the Son of God Himself who came to build a spiritual eternal Kingdom/House from the hearts of humankind who would believe in His name.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life
— John 3:16
The Davidic Covenant
The Davidic covenant promises are recorded in II Samuel chapter seven.
A) “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name and will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
Central Axis) I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
(A) And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”’
— II Samuel 7:12-16
The Literary Structure
The portion of Scripture above is arranged in what is known as a chiastic structure. According to Bible Scholar Kenneth Bailey, chiasms are like sandwiches where the message's meat or heart is in the middle of a text portion. Parallel texts on both sides then surround this main point. The surrounding texts point to and detail the main topic in the center.
Our vision is designed in the very same way. It is called "Optic Chiasm" and explains how our vision functions on information gathered from two sides (left and right eyes) that cross over in the center of our brain. This process enables us to focus and gives us depth perception. This concept works similarly to understanding written text. Two sides of information meet in the middle and give us a better focus and a more in-depth look.
You will notice in this particular Scripture above that the outer slices of bread, the "A's," echo each other in themes of establishing a house, a kingdom, and a throne.
The number three in Scripture is the number that categorizes spiritual things. "Established forever" is used three times, showing that this is a work of God's Spirit.
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
— Zechariah 4:6
The central axis concerns the main event of how this kingdom would be founded. It would be established by a "Father" whose "Son" would be chastened by the rod of men and with the blows of men. In terms of the Messiah Jesus, it would not be for His iniquity that He would experience these blows, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah.
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed...
. . . And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all...
. . . For the transgressions of My people He was stricken...
. . . For He shall bear their iniquities.
— Isaiah 53
Like quotation marks, the outer texts explain that this would be an eternal transaction as expressed in the term "forever."
It is also noteworthy that David was the third king of the united kingdom of Israel.
Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Ishbosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim; and he made him king over Gilead, over the Ashurites, over Jezreel, over Ephraim, over Benjamin, and over all Israel. Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. Only the house of Judah followed David.
—II Samuel 2:8-10
David's being the third king is in keeping with the Davidic kingdom's eternal theme and its messianic and prophetic intentions.
Psalm 89 is understood to be the parallel Psalm that is related to this covenant. Its title in the NKJV is "Remembering the Covenant with David."
Ethan, the Ezrahite, wrote this particular Psalm. Ezrahite means rising out of the soil and prophetically points to Jesus, the Messiah/King, to come.
He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
— I Corinthians 15:4
Ethan was a notable wise man (I Kings 4:31) again, indicating the "wise" nature that would identify the Messiah/King.
To God our Savior
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power
Both now and forever.
— Jude 1:25
Ethan's name is rooted in a word meaning "perennial flowing stream," which follows this covenant's eternal theme.
If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
— John 7:38
. . . whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.
— John 4:14
His father was Zerah, which means "ray of light."
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
— James 1:17-18
All taken together, these things confirm the theme, structure, and purpose of Psalm 89 and its connection to the Davidic covenant. It is a literary portrait of the indescribable gift of light and living water sent by the Father. The father sent the "light of the world" to die for our sins and rose from the dead on our behalf, showing us the way to an eternal forever life with Him.
God's Forever, Faithful, and Loyal Love
The actual first word of this Psalm is "loyal love" or chesed in Hebrew. It is many times translated as "lovingkindness" or "mercy" in some translations. "chesed" is a word that concerns the covenant faithfulness and loyal sacrificial love of God towards His people. It means so much more than God just being a nice guy who has decided to wink at our sin for the sake of the relationship. It encompasses the whole idea of God, demonstrating that faithfulness through the giving of His only chosen Son for the sake of the relationship with those who would believe and follow Him.
We will take a more in-depth look at "His chosen Son" in another section. For now, let's look at what lies at the heart of God's loyal love, as displayed in the first two verses of Psalm 89, as translated in the Lexham version.
A) I will sing forever of Yahweh’s acts of loyal love;
Central Axis) From generation to generation
I will make known your faithfulness with my mouth
A) For I say, “Forever your loyal love is built up
— Psalm 89:1-2
According to the central axis, we can see that the most important theme that is at the core of His loyal, faithful love and the Davidic covenant is God's faithfulness.
He proved His faithfulness through His one and only Son.
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
— Romans 5:8
That is an incredibly faithful act to send a one and only Son to die on behalf of people who have expressed little or no interest in wanting anything to do with Him.
The outer parallel surrounding themes of "Forever," "singing," and "saying" provide us with the details of how that becomes established, experienced, and expressed personally.
"There can never be an end to the throne of Christ, for his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; and there can never be an end to the family of Christ, for his seed shall endure for ever."
— Charles Spurgeon
A Covenant With His Chosen One
The second word of this verse, in its Hebrew form, is God's covenant name, Yahweh translates as LORD in most English Bibles. In contrast, God, or Elohim in Hebrew, express Him as the powerful creator of all. Yahweh reveals His relationship and reputation to those who are His. Let's take a look at what is at the heart of His name based on the chiastic structure of this portion of Scripture, starting with the two uses of Yahweh that frame this revelation.
A) I will sing forever of Yahweh’s acts of loyal love;
B) From generation to generation I will make known your faithfulness with my mouth.
C) For I say, “Forever your loyal love is built up
D) The heavens you have established with your faithfulness in them.”
Central Axis) “I made a covenant with my chosen one;
D) I swore an oath to David my servant:
C) I will establish your seed forever
B) and I will build up your throne from generation to generation.’”Selah.
A) And so the heavens will praise your wonderful deed, O Yahweh
— Psalm 89:1-5
Before examining the parallels, it is essential to observe a large overlapping theme throughout this Psalm, of heaven and earth. It's as if the two kiss each other and cross over each other constantly in this Psalm. I will try to note each place that this occurs as it applies to the study. This thought alone leads to the concept that this covenant concerns God's heavenly rule in the earth, giving emphasis and insight into Jesus teaching His disciples to pray.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
— Matthew 6:19
The two most outer parallels represented by the "A's" in Psalm 89:1-5 display His loyal love, expressed as "wonderful deed" in the second "A," and His name, which could be said to be inseparable.
The first "A" shows the psalmist, a representative of the earth, singing of Yahweh's loyal love, and in the second "A" we see heaven praising His wonders.
This portion of the Psalm connects His loyal love to the idea of "wonders," which is defined as extraordinary, miraculous, surpassing understanding. Paul prayed using this same language in his letter to the Ephesians.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places
— Ephesians 1:18-20
The reputation of His character of faithful, loyal, sacrificial love, and His name, in both heaven and earth, form this section's framework.
The next two parallels are the "B's" and center on the word "generations." We see the psalmist making known God's faithful name and reputation to all generations in the first "B." In the second "B' we see His throne built up to all generations.
God's name, throne, and kingdom on the earth become established by the experience of His greatness and salvation, along with the handing down of these to the next generation. In Psalm 45, the concept of His name ties to the idea of being passed through generations. Generations are the created world's illustration of eternity.
I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.
— Psalm 45:17
The third parallel, the "C's," contains the common theme of "forever," referring to His name, and includes this idea of eternity.
Your name, Yahweh, endures forever (heaven); your renown, Yahweh, throughout all generations (earth)
— Psalm 135:13
Within the "C's," we see His loyal love that built up forever, a heavenly theme, and He promises that David's seed, an earthly event, will be established eternally, pointing once again to Jesus the eternal Son of God.
concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh (earth). and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit (heaven) of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead
— Romans 1:3,4
Heaven and earth meet once again in this Davidic covenant, as seen in the "B's,"; "generations of the earth," and "C's,"; "forever," and "eternity."
"D's" don't have an exact word match. However, God's faithfulness in the first "D" and Him swearing an oath to David concerning all these things in the second "D', match in concept. Once again, we see that heaven and earth meet in what God swears to David, along with what is established in the heavens. Who God is, What God says, and does is founded in both realms of heaven and earth.
The central axis or the hinge on which all these other facts and revelations swing concerns the covenant ratified through the sacrificial death and resurrection of God's chosen, one and only Son. Jesus is the complete expression of God's character and faithful covenant name.
It may lead to this revelation that the name of His covenant, one in the Old Testament, is Yahweh. The two most outer slices of bread in this sandwich, declaring and praising Yahweh's name, are pointing to the central theme of God's chosen Son. Is Yahweh none other than Jesus Himself?
Heaven and earth meet and join at the Covenant with God's Chosen One and lies at the center of His name.
"That covenant, as you well know, was not only made with David, but it had a higher spiritual bearing, for it related to that great and glorious Son of David who still reigns, and shall reign for ever, and in whom every covenant blessing is secured."
— Charles Spurgeon
Heaven and Earth a Deeper Look
The Psalm continues with parallels and comparisons of heaven and earth.
. . . The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours;
The world and all it contains, You have founded them.
The north (Heaven) and the south (Earth), You have created them; Tabor (Earth) and Hermon (Heaven) shout for joy at Your name.
— Psalm 89:11,12
I added the "heaven" and "earth" in parenthesis to understand all the visuals and imagery that God uses to connect us to these concepts.
As seen in the above portion of Scripture, Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon carry on the themes and symbols of heaven and earth and lend to us some assisting visuals.
Mount Tabor is located in Israel's center and once marked the border between the Northern and Southern Tribes. It is a singular mound surrounded by a large area of flat land. In Biblical times it was a wilderness area. It symbolizes the earth in this particular poem.
Mount Hermon, in contrast, means sanctuary and symbolizes heaven. It sits on the northernmost border of Israel, indicating a high place. Because of its height, it gathers much precipitation, mainly in the form of snow. This mountain provides one of the most significant water resources to this dry and arid region of the world. It is also one of the primary sources of the Jordan River.
Isaiah 55, known as the Gospel of Isaiah, draws this same spiritual lesson and imagery of both heavenly and earthly elements concerning this.
. . . as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
— Isaiah 55:10-11
Mount Hermon consists of triple summits, all about the same height, one of which was thought to be the transfiguration site. The three people present at this scene were heavenly in concept (Jesus, Moses, and Elijah), and three were mere earthly men (Peter, James, and John). The three summits remind me of the Trinity itself of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One mount with three peaks.
Present-day Mount Hermon is the highest UN position in the world and sometimes referred to as "the eyes of Israel."
Kingdom and Kingship
The Davidic Covenant sets the stage to display the LORD, Jesus Christ, as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as was discussed earlier in this covenant. This thought included the promise of a Kingdom, a house, and a throne. Paul sums up this fulfillment in Christ when admonishing Timothy how to walk as a subject of the King and Lord Jesus.
But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
— I Timothy 6:11-16
What was Christ Jesus' "good confession"?
Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.”
— Matthew 27:11
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
— John 17:36-37
Psalm 89 expresses this in the language of kingship in the following ways.
‘Your seed I will establish forever,
And build up your throne to all generations
— Psalm 89:4
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne
— Psalm 89:14
For our shield belongs to the Lord,
And our king to the Holy One of Israel
— Psalm 89:18
Also I will make him My firstborn,
The highest of the kings of the earth.
— Psalm 89:27
And My covenant shall stand firm with him.
His seed also I will make to endure forever,
And his throne as the days of heaven.
His seed shall endure forever,
And his throne as the sun before Me
— Psalm 89:36
W.J. Dumbrell, in His book titled "Covenant and Creation," writes
"The Kingship of God under girds the whole Davidic Programme"
The book of Matthew that is understood to portray Jesus as "The King" refers to Him as "The Son of David" ten times, which is twice more than any other of the Gospels.
The Jews have always known that the Messiah would be a son of David. Jesus asked the Pharisees, who were continually trying to undermine Him.
“What do you think about the Christ (Messiah)? Whose Son is He?”
They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
— Matthew 22:42
Matthew's recorded events, related to Jesus being referred to as the Son of David, a Messiah/King form a distant type of chiasm with the outer parallels declaring both Jew and Gentile the recipients of deliverance and expressing His rule and reign over both physical and spiritual issues.
A) When Jesus departed from there, two blind men (Jews) followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!
— Matthew 9:27
(Central Axis) And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
— Matthew 12:23
A) behold, a woman of Canaan (Gentile) came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” — Matthew 15:22
— Matthew 15:22
The central axis is expressed perfectly as including "all the multitudes" both Jew and Gentile realizing and being amazed that the "Son of David" the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Messiah was in their midst.
Even the Wind and the Waves Obey Him
Another Kingdom scene in Psalm 89, depicting the Messiah-King's governing rights over all that He has made, is also connected with a New Testament event.
O Lord God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You
You rule the swelling of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.
You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain;
You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.
— Psalm 89:8-10
The fulfillment of the Messiah/Kingship is displayed in the New Testament Christ.
Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds (spiritual matters) and the sea (earthly matters), and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
— Matthew 8:23-27
There are bracketing events on both sides of this miracle. Before this event comes the Leper's cleansing, the Centurion's servant's healing, and Peter's mother-in-law gets healed. All are physical in nature. After it, the scenes are spiritual problems with two demon-possessed men who are delivered, illustrating Christ's rule over the realm of the spirit.
The Hebrew word "rebuke" in the Old Testament is consistent with its usage in the New Testament, Greek. It comes with the idea of protecting something valuable. It is also consistently used to rebuke watery chaos's in the Old just as it is in the New.
He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.
— Psalm 106:9
"Gaar" is the Hebrew word for rebuke consisting of these Hebrew letters with their pictograph meaning, beginning with "gimel." "Gimel," the first letter is represented by a camel, "ayin," the second letter, is imaged by an eye, and "resh," the final letter, is illustrated by a head indicating what is top or most important. I was a bit confused until I looked up some camel qualities and learned about how its eyes functioned. Camel and eye go together in the following way.
A camel's eye has three eyelids that protect its very essential eye parts from wind and sand. In Hebrew thought, the pupil is known as the "daughter" of the eye because of its preciousness and vulnerability. Its third outer lid wipes away and rebukes the wind and sand like a windshield wiper.
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
— Mark 4:39
This usage agrees with the New Testament Greek word that is rooted in protecting something valuable. What a fascinating visual. God shows us that when He rebukes it or wipes it away for the protection of something precious to Him.
The final letter "resh" reveals who has the power to rebuke. It is only the highest person.
. . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
— Ephesians 1:19-22
If we step back in covenants, we can see how God called one man, Abraham, with whom to covenant. From a descendant of Abraham came a promised son, Isaac, and a land. From that promised son came a descendant Jacob. From Jacob, God created a tribe, from that tribe He created a nation, and from that nation, He created a Kingdom, and from that Kingdom, He established the right and rule to bring His one and only Son to redeem humankind.
I will conclude with a note and encouragement from the writer of Hebrews, concerning our great King and the throne upon which He sits.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
— Hebrews 4:14-16
Charles Spurgeon summarizes perfectly with this quote.
"Our King is a great King, and he rules over sea and land; there is no bound to his dominions, and there will be no end to his righteous rule. Christ is indeed “higher than the kings of the earth,” for he is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Do not your hearts rejoice as you think of this blessed King with whom God has entered into a covenant to bless all who are trusting in him, even the very poorest and feeblest of them? What a joy it is to us to see Jesus striking hands with the Eternal, and entering into an everlasting covenant on our behalf!."
— Charles Spurgeon
© 2016 Tamarajo