The Sure Mercies of David

“Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” —Isaiah 55:3

THE thought of our text is taken from an experience of David recorded in II Samuel, the 7th chapter. After many years of faithful service to the Lord and his people, David was beginning to reap some material benefits from his prosperous reign. He had built for himself a house of cedar, and he enjoyed rest from all his enemies. But the desire of David’s heart was still to honor and serve the Lord, and in an expression of this desire the king announced to Nathan, the prophet, his plans to build also a house for the Lord.

The prophet at first assured David that the Lord would surely bless him in this expression of love and devotion. But later the word of the Lord came to Nathan and instructed him to inform David not to build him a house but rather that it was the Lord’s intention to build David a house. The text reads as follows: “Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his Father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever.”—II Sam. 7:11-16

We recognize in this wonderful promise to King David a confirmation of God’s original promise to provide a seed that will be the instrument he will use to bless all the families of the earth. God first suggested this in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15); Noah was eventually the one who carried the line of the seed through the Flood. Later the line of the seed was traceable through Abraham, who received God’s promise that “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18) The line of the seed was passed on to Isaac and to Jacob and then to Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob. In conveying his blessing upon his sons, Jacob prophesied, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen. 49:10) The promise made to David, who was a descendant of Judah (Luke 3:30,31), was an extension of the original promise by the Lord to provide a Seed who would be the deliverer of his people and who would establish his kingdom of righteousness.

David appreciated the greatness of the promise and the fact that it was to be fulfilled in the far distant future; for he said: “Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? 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. … For thy word’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them.” (II Sam. 7:18-21) From this text it is also evident that David was aware that the promise was a fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the seed and the kingdom.

One of the beautiful prophecies concerning the actual fulfillment of God’s promise that from David’s loins would come a Seed who would deliver the nation of Israel and establish his long-promised kingdom was proclaimed by the angel when he announced to Mary her role in providing the seed: “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33) And also Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied concerning Jesus: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed [or provided a ransom for] his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; … to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham.”—Luke 1:68-73

Jesus was the actual fulfillment of this wonderful prophecy. The statement in the 14th verse which reads, “If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men” probably has a literal reference to David’s son Solomon, but in a general sense the expression applies to David’s people, who are his seed and one with him. This thought is witnessed to and elaborated on in the 89th Psalm, which is also a prophecy concerning the sure mercies of David. In verses 30 to 33 we read: “If his [David’s] children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him [David], nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.”

David’s children were not faithful and therefore they were chastised. Nevertheless the Lord’s loving-kindness was not taken from David; and his seed, Jesus, will sit on the antitypical Davidic throne forever.—Ps. 132:11,12

In the 54th chapter of Isaiah, verses 1 to 3, the prophet foretells of the time when the previously barren Abrahamic Covenant will be activated by bringing forth Jesus the long-promised Seed. Isaiah describes how the seed, under the Sarah feature of the Abrahamic Covenant, will multiply. The text reads: “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.”

This original promise to be a part of the seed of blessing was held forth for a time to Israel only. In Exodus 19:5,6 the Lord told the Israelites, through Moses: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” And the Apostle Peter, speaking to the Jews in Acts 3:25,26 states: “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

Then in Isaiah, the 55th chapter, the prophet elaborates on the wonderful promise that was held out to those Israelites who had an ear to hear. But we must also be mindful that three and one-half years after our Lord’s death on the cross the Gospel went to the Gentiles, and also the opportunity to become part of the seed of blessing. So in the broad sense the message in this chapter is directed to all who, down through the Gospel Age, seek the Lord.

The first verse of this prophecy reads: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” One of the primary qualifications to receiving the Lord’s blessings during this age is a heart that yearns for truth and righteousness. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6) These will be filled with the waters of truth. This wonderful knowledge of God and his plan is made known to those who thirst in only one way. It is the gift of God through the Holy Spirit. The Jews, who were under the Law, were endeavoring to attain to righteousness by works, but the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight.” And so it is only by God’s grace that the thirsty are enabled to partake of the wine (the doctrines, the sacred secrets). Milk is used in the Bible as a symbol of food (basic doctrines) that promotes spiritual growth, which through God’s undeserved kindness he has provided to those who yearn for righteousness.

The second verse of our prophecy reads: “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” The promise to Israel was that if they could keep the terms of the Law Covenant the Lord would give them life. “Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.” (Lev. 18:4,5) This was bread to the nation of Israel. But it proved not to be a life-sustaining bread because it was not possible for fallen man to attain to the perfect standard of performance as set forth in the Law. The Apostle James tells us that “whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) All of this should have been a lesson to the nation of Israel, pointing out the necessity for an intercessor. This lesson was learned by a remnant at the time of our Lord’s first advent, but the nation as a whole lost that for which it sought.—Rom. 11:1-7

Jesus held forth the real life-giving bread. He said: “I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51) This is the Bread that the Lord, through the Prophet Isaiah, is urging the Israelites to partake of. How were they to partake of it? The Apostle Peter explains: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission to sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”—Acts 2:38,39

Therefore the Lord urges all who have an ear to hear, to listen: “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” Those who do incline their ear, both Jews and Gentiles, will have the wonderful privilege of sharing with Jesus “the sure mercies of David,” that is, to sit upon the antitypical Davidic throne forever. Jesus said, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”—Rev. 3:21; Matt. 19:28

God demonstrated his foreknowledge as to the eventual broadening of the call beyond the borders of Israel when he said, “Lo, a nation thou knowest not, thou callest, and a nation who know thee not unto thee for the sake of Jehovah thy God, do run, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has glorified thee.” (Isa. 55:5, Young’s Literal Translation) The nation the Lord has promised to call is referred to by the Apostle Peter as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (I Pet. 2:9) These are selected from every kindred, and people, and tongue, and nation, and they will be made kings and priests and shall reign on the earth.—Rev. 5:9

Surely the Lord is gracious, and his promises are sure, and his ways past finding out. Let us follow the advice of the Apostle Paul and lay aside every weight and run the race with enthusiasm tempered with patience, seeking the Lord while he may be found and calling upon him while he is near.—Isa. 55:6; Heb. 12:1

Dawn Bible Students Association
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