THE “SEED” SERIES, PART 3—II Samuel 7:4-29

The Sure Mercies of David

THROUGH THE PROPHET Ezekiel, the Lord said to Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, who in B.C. 606 was dethroned by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive to Babylon, “Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.”—Ezek. 21:26,27

Thus ended a long series of divinely overruled events which had begun many centuries before, specifically with King David of Israel, but in a related sense, many centuries prior even to David’s time. These events were related to the fulfillment of God’s promises, the first of which was made in the Garden of Eden, when God foretold the coming of a ‘seed’ that would bruise the ‘serpent’s head’. This was an assurance that evil, under the leadership of Satan, would ultimately be destroyed by one whom God would authorize and empower for the purpose. It was to this one that God referred in his promise to Abraham that through his “seed” all the families of the earth would be blessed.—Gen. 12:1-3; 22:18

In the second generation from Abraham, the vital aspect of this promise was narrowed down to the descendants of Judah, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, who himself was the grandson of Abraham. In bestowing his parental 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

At the time this prophecy was uttered, the descendants of Abraham were dwelling in Egypt, and were subject to the Egyptian government. They had no ruler of their own, nor had they ever been an organized nation having their own government. God’s promise to Abraham stated that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed, and that his seed would possess the gate of his enemies. Just how this promise was to be fulfilled was not revealed.

But as time went on, and promises relating to the seed continued to be made, bits of additional information were given. An example of this is Jacob’s prophecy, which refers to the seed under the name, or title, Shiloh, meaning ‘peaceful one’. And notice the further language of the prophecy: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet.” This is suggestive of some sort of government which would administer law under a divine mandate.

In the preceding verse of this prophecy Judah is referred to as a “couched” lion. In Egypt, at the time, a couched lion was the symbol of the regal right of the pharaohs to rule; so in this also we have the suggestion that in some way, and at some time the promise to bless all the families of the earth would be fulfilled through the agencies of a government over which the ‘seed’ in this prophecy—Shiloh—would be the head.

Later God appointed Moses to deliver his people from Egypt. He also became their lawgiver. While Moses lived he was the recognized head of the nation, but Moses himself knew that he was not the seed of promise. Through Moses the Lord said of the Israelites, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.”—Deut. 18:18

In this we have another promise of the coming seed, referred to as a great prophet. There is an interesting aspect to this promise, which is that the promised Prophet was not to be raised up to the generation of Israelites which Moses served, but from “among their brethren” of a later generation. This implies that the Israelites whom Moses led out of Egypt will be raised from the dead, that they might be among all the families of the earth then to be blessed by the seed.

Following the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader of Israel. Following him, they crossed over Jordan into the Promised Land. Under his direction the land was divided among the twelve tribes. Following Joshua’s death came the period of the judges when the nation had no central government of any kind. Samuel was the last of Israel’s judges during this period.

Toward the close of Samuel’s tenure of office as a judge, the Israelites petitioned him to appoint a king to rule over them. God instructed Samuel to comply with the people’s wishes, and Saul was anointed to be Israel’s first king. Saul started well, but became disobedient to the Lord and was rejected, although he was allowed to reign until he died.


David, a shepherd boy of Bethlehem, the son of Jesse, was anointed to succeed Saul as king of Israel. In God’s dealings with David, and his promises to him, the ‘seed’ theme of the Scriptures comes to the fore again, and further emphasis is given to the fact that it was to be through a powerful kingdom, or government, that the seed would bless all the families of the earth. Indeed, the Lord used the kingdom of Israel, over which David and his successors ruled, to foreshadow a greater future kingdom over which the promised seed, the Shiloh of Jacob’s prophecy, would reign.

David had fleshly weaknesses, but at heart he was loyal to the Lord. Because of this the Lord referred to him as a man after his own heart. (I Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22) David’s reverence for the Lord, and his great desire to honor and please him, gave him motivation to build a house, or temple for the Lord. He told the Prophet Nathan of his intent, and Nathan approved.

But the Lord overruled in this, and instructed Nathan to inform David that he would not be permitted to carry out his project. David, of course, was greatly disappointed, but the Lord gave him a compensating blessing in the form of a special promise, or covenant, that the kingdom would be continued in his ‘house’, or lineage, forever. The covenant as outlined by the Lord, reads:

“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 for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”—II Sam. 7:12-16

This is an unusual covenant. David’s son, Solomon, is typically referred to in it, and the promise made that he would build a house for the Lord—a temple—which he did. There is also a hint of Solomon’s later iniquity, with assurance that the Lord would show mercy and would not wrest the kingdom from him as he had from Saul, but that the ruling heads of the kingdom would continue to be the descendants of David. Paul applies this text to Jesus. See Hebrews 1:5.

It is this that suggests the name of the covenant—“the sure mercies of David.” (Isa. 55:3) It was a covenant which would continue upon the basis of mercy being shown to those who, because of their lack of integrity, would not be qualified to sit upon the throne of the Lord, as the throne of Israel was regarded to be.—I Chron. 29:23


In the beginning of Solomon’s reign, he was a true and humble servant of the Lord. But this did not continue. Under the influence of his heathen wives, he permitted the worship of idols to flourish in the land. Following his death, when his son, Rehoboam, became king, there was a rebellion of ten of the tribes of the nation, and these set up a kingdom of their own under the leadership of a man named Jeroboam.

So far as Solomon and his son were concerned, their conduct did not warrant the saving of any of the kingdom, but the ‘sure mercies of David’ operated, and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were saved for the Davidic line of kings. That Judah should be one of the loyal tribes was in keeping with Jacob’s prophecy that the sceptre would not depart from Judah until the coming of Shiloh.

Through the centuries that followed, some of the royal line of David reigned in righteousness, but many of them were wicked. Time and again the people were led into idolatry. Nevertheless, the ‘sure mercies of David’ continued to prevail. Finally, however, a drastic change did occur, being brought about by the overriding power of Babylon under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar. It was then that the last of Judah’s kings was overthrown.

But this did not imply that God’s covenant with David had been broken. It was just that a change had taken place. When the covenant was first made, David sensed that there was something about it which went beyond his ability to grasp fully at that time, and he said to the Lord, “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. And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?”—II Sam. 7:18,19

Surely the Lord had spoken of David’s house for ‘a great while to come’—so great a while that it extended far beyond the dethronement of Zedekiah in B.C. 606. What happened there was merely the downfall of the typical house of David. Through Ezekiel, God said to Zedekiah, “Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same.” No longer was the typical kingdom to function, for the antitypical was, in due time, to take its place.


With the dethronement of King Zedekiah, the people of Israel were taken captive to Babylon. Among the captives was Daniel, who became one of the Lord’s outstanding prophets. Through him the Lord gave a prophecy establishing the date for the coming of “Messiah the Prince.” (Dan. 9:24-27) Thus was Daniel assured that although his people had lost their national independence, God’s purpose, as centered in the promised seed, Shiloh, the Messiah, was to be carried out exactly on time.

And Daniel was given this assurance in still another prophecy where the Messiah is referred to as “Michael,” the “Prince,” who would stand for, and deliver, his people. (Dan. 12:1-4) In this prophecy we are assured that the deliverance to be wrought by the mighty Prince whom God would send was to be more than deliverance from the overlordship of heathen nations; it was also to be a deliverance from death.

After this, many long centuries passed before there was any visible evidence that the Messianic promises of God were to be fulfilled. And then it happened. The angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary and announced that she was to have a son whose name would be called Jesus, and that he would be given “the throne of his father David.” Luke 1:30-33 reads:

“The angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt 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 for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

Hundreds of years before this, the Prophet Isaiah had written concerning this great one which was to be born in Israel, and the announcement of Gabriel to Mary emphasized that the time had come for this prophecy to begin to be fulfilled. Isaiah wrote:

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:6,7


In due time Jesus was born, and the angel announcing his birth said to the shepherds:

“Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. … And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”—Luke 2:10-14

Now the promises of God pertaining to the seed began to have a definite fulfillment. And notice that through the centuries the divine purpose had in no way become restricted. To Abraham God had said that ‘all the families of the earth’ would be blessed, and now the announcement of the birth of the real seed of promise was declared by God’s angel to be good tidings which would be to ‘all people’.

Thirty years later Jesus began his ministry, a ministry which pertained to the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven. These expressions did not imply a rulership in heaven, but a rulership on the earth which the God of heaven had promised and would, through Jesus, one day establish. In proclaiming the good news concerning the coming kingdom, Jesus illustrated by his many miracles the manner in which all the families of the earth would be blessed by its rulership.

The common people listened to Jesus’ reassuring message with joy. They believed that he was a prophet sent by God. His immediate followers, particularly those whom he chose to be his apostles, believed that he was the promised Messiah. However, the religious rulers in Israel manifested enmity and hatred toward Jesus. They persecuted him, and sought to turn the people against him. In this they succeeded to a large degree, particularly toward the close of Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus told these religious rulers of Israel that they were of their father the Devil, thus identifying in a definite way the seed of the serpent, mentioned by God in the Garden of Eden—that seed which God had said would be at enmity with the seed of the woman. And it was indeed a bitter enmity, a hatred which ultimately led to the death of Jesus on Calvary’s cross.


Jesus came, as Gabriel announced to Mary, to be the royal heir of the throne of David, the one referred to by the Prophet Ezekiel as having the ‘right’ to that throne. But now his enemies had killed him. From the standpoint of human wisdom and ability this would mean that the divine purpose centered in the seed of promise had been defeated—that the ‘throne of David’ had been overthrown.

But as the poet so truthfully wrote, “God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.” Actually the death of Jesus was not a tragedy, but part of the divine plan for the redemption and recovery of the world of mankind from sin and death through the seed. In the crucifixion of Jesus, the seed of the serpent had, as it were, inflicted a painful ‘heel’ wound upon the seed of the woman, but it was not a deadly wound so far as the divine purpose was concerned, for God raised him from the dead!

Nevertheless, the immediate disciples of Jesus, those who had accepted him as the Messiah and believed that he would “restore again the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6), were puzzled and discouraged by their Master’s death. They did not as yet understand the full purpose of God as it centered in Jesus, and to them it now seemed impossible that Jesus could ever be a king.

But their sorrow was turned into goy when they became convinced that Jesus actually had been raised from the dead. This comes to light particularly in connection with two disciples whom the resurrected Jesus met, and with whom he walked as they journeyed on their way to Emmaus. When joining the two, Jesus asked, “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” One of them replied to Jesus, saying:

“Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” Jesus replied, “What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done.”—Luke 24:13-21

This gave Jesus an opportunity to explain. So he replied, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”—Luke 24:25-27

After Jesus had left them, these disciples “said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (vs. 32) No wonder they rejoiced! Jesus had explained that it was necessary for him to suffer and to die in order to redeem mankind from death. Otherwise he would rule as king over a race that was dying.

In this marvelous discourse Jesus cited the prophetic testimony concerning the fact that it was necessary for him to die. Previous to this Jesus’ disciples were so carried away with the thought of his being the Messiah and a great king to sit on David’s throne, that they had not noticed what the prophets had said concerning his suffering and death.

The Prophet Isaiah had written that Jesus would be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he would not open his mouth in self-defense. This prophecy had been fulfilled in exact detail. (Isa. 53:7; Matt. 27:11-14) However, the Prophet Isaiah also described Jesus as the “Arm” of Jehovah, and prophesied that this ‘Arm’ would be made bare “in the eyes of all the nations,” and that “all the ends of the earth” would, through him, see “the salvation of our God.”—Isa. 52:10; 53:1

But as Jesus explained to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, before this and the many other promises of kingly glory could be fulfilled, it was necessary that he suffer and die. These prophecies concerning him had now been fulfilled, and God had raised him from the dead! It was after his resurrection that Jesus said to his disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”—Matt. 28:18

During the course of Jesus’ last appearance to his disciples, they made bold to ask him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) The disciples could not now see any reason why Jesus should not begin to exercise his ‘all power’ as king, and restore the kingdom of Israel which had been overthrown by Nebuchadnezzar in B.C. 606. They knew that he was the seed of promise—the Messiah—the great king of glory foretold in the prophecies. And now that he had given his humanity for the sins of the world, why should he not proceed with the setting up of his kingdom?

But there were still other aspects of the divine plan which the disciples did not as yet comprehend. Jesus knew this, so he simply replied to them, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”—Acts 1:7,8

From this it must have been apparent to the disciples that while the kingdom of promise was not then to be set up, the divine plan had not failed. They would understand, also, that they were to be given an important assignment in the carrying out of that plan—the details of which were to be revealed to them later.

And then—after giving the disciples this partial explanation—Jesus was “taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”—Acts 1:9-11

While the realization of the disciples’ hopes pertaining to the Messianic kingdom were now postponed, they had not failed. After all, Jesus had been raised from the dead, and since the success of the plan of God was guaranteed by power capable of raising the dead, there was no reason why they should not continue to have full assurance of faith.

In the synagogue at Antioch, Paul reviewed the providences of God in connection with David, and the promise which God had made concerning David. Then he added, “Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.” (Acts 13:23) Continuing his sermon, Paul explained that the religious rulers had put Jesus to death, “but God raised him from the dead.”—vs. 30

Reaching the climax of his discourse, Paul said, “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the Second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.”—vss. 32-34

When God made that wonderful promise to David that his seed would sit upon the throne forever, there was no way for the psalmist to visualize the fact that the real king envisioned by God in this promise would be put to death by his enemies, and that divine power would raise him from the dead in order that the promise might be fulfilled.

But in the light of God’s purposes, this is not surprising, for, without the resurrection of the dead, the whole plan would come to nothing! Just as in this plan the promised seed of blessing is put to death, and later raised from the dead to dispense the blessings, so ‘all the families of the earth’ to whom the blessings are promised, are, for the most part, in the tomb when the time comes to bless them; and God has promised that these will be awakened from the sleep of death in order to receive the promised blessing. What a blessed hope!

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