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The Davidic Covenant - A Chiastic Perspective

Updated on August 15, 2016


The entirety of Scripture concerns the concept of Covenant. This study will examine the Davidic covenant that is recorded in II Samuel chapter 7, and will be viewed through the eyes of it's parallel Psalm 89. We will look at a few chiasms 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 and be His.

An Eternal Kingdom Established by A King's "Son"

In II Samuel Chapter 7 King David had come to a place of relative quiet after a tumultuous journey to the throne, and decided that he wanted to build a house for God and expresses this to 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 is not to 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 in Hebrew thought the son is the builder of the house/family line. In fact 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 ~ I Peter 2:5

With this in mind we might begin with this understanding that the Davidic covenant is in preparation of a Messiah King the Son of God who would build and establish an eternal Kingdom/House. The word eternal/forever will become an important hinge 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 - House/Kingdom from the hearts of men who would believe on 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 is recorded in II Samuel chapter 7 as such...

(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.

(B) 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 portion of text above is in, what is known as, a chiastic structure. Chiasms are like sandwiches where the meat or heart of the message is in the middle and is surrounded by parallel texts on both sides. 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 is based on information that is gathered from two sides (left and right eyes) that cross over in the center of our brain that enables us to focus and have depth perception. When only one eye functions, much is lost in discerning depth. So on that note lets look a little deeper using the chiasms.

You will notice in this particular text that the outer slices of bread (the A's) echo each other in themes of the establishment of a house, a kingdom, and a throne. "Established forever" is used 3 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 text (The "B" portion) discusses the main event of how this Kingdom 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 own iniquity, that He would experience these blows, as prophesied by 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

The outer texts, like quotation marks, explain that this would be an eternal transaction as expressed in the term "forever"

More on the Kingdom/House/Throne later...

Scofield notes on Chapter 17 of Lukes Gospel in reference to the question about the coming of the divine Kingdom

"The kingdom in its outward form, as covenanted to David 2 Sam 7:8-17 and described by the prophets.. that, during this present age, it would not "come with observation" (lit. "outward show") but in the hearts of men (cf) Lk 19:11,12 Acts 1:6-8.

Psalm 89

Psalm 89 is understood to be the parallel Psalm that is related to this covenant. In fact it is titled in the NKJV as "Remembering the Covenant with David"

This Psalm was written by Ethan the Ezrahite (Ezrahite meaning; rising out of the soil)...

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)...

To God our Savior
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power
Both now and forever.
Amen. ~ Jude 1:25

...and Ethan's name is rooted in a word meaning "perennial flowing stream" which follows the eternal theme of this covenant.

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 of these things taken together set and confirm the theme, structure, and purpose of Psalm 89 and it's relationship to the Davidic covenant along with it's present application of the indescribable gift of light and living water who was sent by the Father to die for our sins and rose from the dead on our behalf showing us the way to an eternal forever life with Him.

"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

Mercy/Chesed - Forever

The actual first word of this Psalm is "mercy" or chesed in Hebrew and sometimes translated as "lovingkindness". it is a word that concerns the covenant faithfulness and sacrificial loyal 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 actually encompasses the whole idea of God demonstrating that faithfulness through the giving of His one and only chosen Son for the sake of that relationship with those who would believe and follow Him. We will take a deeper look at "His chosen Son" in another section. For now lets look at what lies at the heart of of God's mercy/lovingkindness/chesed as displayed in the first two verses of Psalm 89.

(A) I will sing of the lovingkindness (mercy-chesed- loyal, sacrificial, faithful love) of the Lord forever;

(B) To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.

(A) For I have said, Lovingkindness (mercy-chesed- loyal, sacrificial, faithful love) will be built up forever ~ Psalm 89:1-2

According to "B" The middle text, we can see that the central most important theme, that is at the core and meat of His lovingkindness and the Davidic covenant, is His faithfulness.

He proved His faithfulness in this...

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 you.

The outer parallel surrounding themes of lovingkindness, forever and singing/saying give us the details of how that will be established, experienced and expressed.


David's dynasty never decays, but on the contrary, is evermore consolidated by the great Architect of heaven and earth. Jesus is a king as well as a progenitor and his throne is ever being built up—his kingdom comes—his power extends. ~ Charles Spurgeon

His Name - YHWH

The second word of this verse, which we will examine chiastically, is God's covenant name YHWH (Yahweh). Elhohim/God expresses Him as the powerful creator of all. YHWH (Yahweh) expresses His revelation and reputation to those who are His. Lets take a look at what is at the heart of His name.

(A) I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord (YHWH) forever;

(B) To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.

(C) For I have said, Lovingkindness will be built up forever;

(D) In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.

(E) (main point - heart of the chiasm) -> “I have made a covenant with My Chosen

(D) I have sworn to David My servant,

(C) I will establish your seed forever

(B) And build up your throne to all generations.” Selah.

(A) The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord (YHWH); ~ Psalm 89:1-5

Before examining the parallels it is important to observe that there is a large overlapping theme throughout this Psalm of heaven and earth. It's as if the two kiss and cross over each other constantly in this Psalm. I will try to make note of each place that occurs as it applies to the study. This thought alone lends to the concept of this covenant being that of God's heavenly rule in the earth, giving emphasis and insight to Jesus teaching His disciples to pray...

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven ~ Matthew 6:19

On with the parallels...

The Two most outer parallels (A's) display both His lovingkindness/mercy/chesed (loyal, faithful, sacrificial, covenant love) and His name, which could be said to be inseparable. The first "A" shows the Psalmist, a representative of the earth, singing of the LORD's (YHWH - His covenant name) lovingkindness/mercy/chesed (faithful, loyal, sacrificial, covenant love) and in the second "A" we see heaven praising His wonders. This also connects His lovingkindess/mercy/chesed (loyal, faithful, sacrificial, covenant love) to the idea of "wonders" which is defined as extraordinary, miraculous, surpassing understanding. Paul prayed with this understanding in 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 epitome and reputation of His charcter of faithful loyal and sacrificial love, and His name, in both heaven and earth frames the outside of this chiasm

The next 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 being built up to all generations. Could this be a revelation of how God's name, throne, and kingdom on the earth would be established?...By the experience of His greatness and salvation and the recitation of that to the next generation? We see in Psalm 45 the concept of His name being tied to the concept of being passed through generations. We might also observe that generations are the created worlds image of eternity in terms of being passed on and on and on.

I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever ~ Psalm 45:17

Which brings us to our third parallel, the "C's" which is "forever". In reference to His name we can see that it 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 Lovingkindness/chesed (faithful, loyal, sacrificial, covenant love) that is built up forever (heaven) and He promises that David's seed (earth) will be established forever (eternity), 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/eternity)

The "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. And once again we see that heaven and earth meet in what God swears to David is said to be also established in the heavens. Who God is, What God says, and does is established in both realms of heaven and earth.

"E" is what is known in chiastic structures, as the central axis or the hinge on which all these other facts and revelations swing. The covenant (Jesus sacrificial death and resurrection) with His Chosen, His one and only Son, is the complete expression of His character and faithful covenant name.

It may lend to this revelation as well, that the name of His covenant One in the Old Testament is Yahweh, other wise printed as LORD in most translations. The two most outer slices of bread in this sandwich declaring and praising the name of Yahweh are pointing to the central theme of God's chosen Son. Is YHWH 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. These next few won't be viewed chiastically but will be seen in parallel themes.

The heavens (heaven) will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones (earth).

For who in the skies (heaven) is comparable to the Lord?
Who among the sons of the mighty (earth) is like the Lord...

...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 89:5,6,11,12

I added the "heaven" and "earth" in parenthesis in order to understand all the visuals and imagery God uses to connect us to these concepts.

Mount Tabor and Hermon are used for this very purpose. According to the "Liberty Bible Commentary" on this portion of scripture

"These geographical designations are a poetic expression of the universality of God's creation. Tabor and Hermon complete that poetic description. Mount Tabor is situated on the west bank of the Jordan River, and from it's summit the Mediterranean Sea can be seen. (Jer.46:18). Mount Hermon stands to the north of Tabor on the east side of the Jordan. The prominence of these two mountains is used to poetically to designate the third and fourth points on the compass."

Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon | Source
Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor | Source

Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon

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 the middle of Israel and once marked the border between the Northern and Southern Tribes. it is a lonely mound surrounded by a large area of flat land that in Biblical times was a wilderness area, and symbolizes the earth in this particular poem.

Mount Hermon, in contrast, means sanctuary and symbolizes heaven. It sits on the northern most border of Israel (highest place) and provides one of the greatest resources of water to this dry and arid region of the world. Because of it's height it gathers much precipitation, mainly in the form of snow. It is also one of the main sources of the Jordan River.

Isaiah 55 is known as the Gospel of Isaiah draws this same spiritual lesson and imagery of both heavenly and earthly elements in relation to 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 site of the transfiguration. Three were heavenly in concept (Jesus, Moses, and Elijah) and three were mere earthly men (Peter, James, and John). Father, Son, and Holy Spirit seem to come to mind in this visual as well.

A little side note on present day, Mount Hermon, it is the highest UN position in the world and is sometimes referred to as "the eyes of the world"

"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

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 with promise of a Kingdom/house/throne. Paul sums up this fulfillment in Christ when admonishing Timothy in as to how to walk as a subject of the King and Lord Jesus, as in under His Lordship

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

John adds

“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 language of kingship in these ways

‘Your seed I will establish forever,
And build up your throne to all generations ~ Psalm 89:4

O Lord God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You.
You rule the raging of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.
You have broken Rahab in pieces, as one who is slain;
You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm ~ Psalm 89:8-10

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 where 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

Matthews recorded events, related to Jesus being referred to as the Son of David (Messiah King), form a distant type of chiasm with the outer parallels making this declaration of being such, by both Jew and Gentile. One a healing and one a deliverance expressing His rule and reign over both physical (earth) and spiritual (heaven) issues.

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

And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” ~ Matthew 12:23

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

The meat of the sandwich in the middle 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.

Bonus Note

The Hebrew word "rebuke" in the Old Testament, is consistent with it's usage in the New which was written in Greek and It comes with the idea of protecting something valuable. It is also consistently used to rebuke watery chaos's just as it is in the New Testament. gaar is the Hebrew word for rebuke consisting of a gimel - camel, and ayin - eye, and resh - head, top, most important. I was a bit confused until I looked up some qualities of a camel and learned about it's eyes.

A camel's eye has three eyelids that protect its very important eye parts from wind and sand. The pupil in Hebrew thought is known as the "daughter" of the eye because of its preciousness and vulnerability. Its third outer lid wipes away (rebukes) the wind and sand like a windshield wiper. This 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 is for the protection of something precious to Him.

Even the Wind and the Waves Obey Him

Psalm 89 once again overlaps the Messiah/King's governing rights over all that He has made.

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 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 it, comes the cleansing of the Leper, the healing of the Centurion's servant, and Peter's mother-in-law is healed. All physical in nature. After it, two demon possessed men are delivered, illustrating Christs rule over the realm of the spirit.


If we step back in covenants we can see how God called one man Abraham to covenant with. 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 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 mankind.

I will conclude with a note and encouragement from the writer of Hebrews, concerning our great King and the throne upon which He sits and may we find our rest in this...

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

© 2016 Tamarajo


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    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 12 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      This is so well researched and written - and the images you have chosen so evocative. Thank you for an erudite article that should be useful to many for a long time to come.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 12 months ago from Southern Minnesota

      Thank you Blossom! I am pleased that the study is useful in understanding our Great God and the heights and depths of what He has done for us. No greater encouragement than that.

      God bless!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 12 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      A pleasure! God bless you, too.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 11 months ago from The Caribbean

      This is a very good Bible Study presentation showing how the Davidic Covenant found its fulfillment in Christ. Thanks for the detailed lesson.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 11 months ago from Southern Minnesota

      Thank you MsDora. I am glad you enjoyed the study. It is the details that I most appreciate about the Word of God. These particular details have helped me hone in on the Kingship of Christ too, and the depths of His faithful Lordship in spite of ourselves.

      I appreciate your visit and encouragement

      God bless!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 11 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Wonderful, thank you.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 11 months ago from Southern Minnesota

      Thank you Lawerence, I am glad you liked the hub! I appreciate your comment and visit .

      God bless!

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