A Covenant for a Kingdom Made with David
1. What time period is marked off in 1 Kings 6:1, and why is this time measurement appropriate?
GOD marks off his own time periods according to His “eternal purpose.” One such time period is marked off for us in the book of 1 Kings, chapter six, verse one, where it is written: “And it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out from the land of Egypt, in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv, that is, the second month, after Solomon became king over Israel, that he proceeded to build the house to Jehovah.” This was an appropriate measurement of time, for it was from when the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, shortly after which they began to build the house of worship in the wilderness of Sinai, to when King Solomon the son of David began to build the temple at Jerusalem. This was from Nisan 15, 1513 B.C.E., to 1034 B.C.E., Ziv (or, Iyyar) 1.—Numbers 33:1-4; 1 Kings 6:37.
2, 3. (a) Why did the Israelites wander so long in the wilderness of Sinai? (b) How long were they in subduing the Promised Land, after which how were they ruled for centuries?
2 Of course, much had happened during those almost five centuries. Because of a lack of faith in God’s ability to subdue the nations that then inhabited the Promised Land, the Israelites were obliged to wander in the wilderness of Sinai for almost forty years. During that time the older Israelites who had revolted against invading the Promised Land under God’s leadership in the second year of their exodus died off. (Numbers 13:1 through 14:38) At the end of forty years God miraculously brought them across the flooding Jordan River into the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.
3 Then, under the leadership of Joshua, the successor of Moses, there began years of warfare for subduing the land. According to the words of faithful Caleb, the son of Jephunneh of the tribe of Judah, at the time of apportioning out the occupied land to the families of Israel, the Israelites were six years in subduing the land and dispossessing its inhabitants. (Joshua 14:1-10) After that God gave the now settled Israelites a line of judges for centuries until a change in the form of the national government was introduced in the days of the prophet Samuel. A Jewish chronologer of nineteen hundred years ago briefly measured out this period for us. Speaking one sabbath day in a synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, Asia Minor, this chronologer said:
4, 5. (a) What time period did that Bible chronologer mark off in Israel’s history before they had judges? (b) With what events did that time period begin and end?
4 “Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, hearken. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they sojourned in the land of Egypt, and with a high arm led he them forth out of it. And for about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land for an inheritance, for about four hundred and fifty years [all that during about four hundred and fifty years, NW]: and after these things he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; and God gave unto them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for the space of forty years.”—Acts 13:14-21, English Revised Version Bible, published in England in 1884 C.E. See also the Douay Version Bible, published in 1610 C.E. Also, The Emphasised Bible, by J. B. Rotherham, published in 1897 C.E.
5 The allotting of the land to Caleb and the other Israelites for an inheritance took place in the year 1467 B.C.E. If we measure back “about four hundred and fifty years” it brings us to the year 1918 B.C.E. This was the year in which Isaac, the son of Abraham by Sarah, was born and God chose Isaac instead of Ishmael, the older son of Abraham by Sarah’s Egyptian maidservant Hagar. With a sworn oath God had confirmed to Isaac the covenant He had made with Abraham for the possession of the land of Canaan, and now here at the end of this four-hundred-and-fifty-year period God was allotting to Isaac’s offspring for an inheritance that Promised Land. In faithfulness Jehovah God was adhering to his “eternal purpose” for blessing all mankind.
6. (a) How did Judge Gideon show loyalty to God’s sovereignty? (b) How did Gideon’s son Abimelech fare as a king?
6 During the period of the fifteen judges from Joshua to Samuel, the men of Israel tried to persuade the sixth judge, Gideon, the son of Joash of the tribe of Manasseh, to set up a dynasty of rulers in his family, instead of having Jehovah God as King. But Gideon was loyal to the Sovereign Ruler of Israel and turned down the offer of rulership, saying: “I myself shall not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. Jehovah is the one who will rule over you.” (Judges 8:22, 23) One of Gideon’s many sons, named Abimelech (meaning “My Father Is King”), influenced the landowners of Shechem to install him as king over them. He came under God’s adverse judgments and, after he had reigned for three years, a woman brought about his death in battle.—Judges 9:1-57.
A KING OVER ALL ISRAEL
7. When and how did Israel come to have a human king chosen by God, and how long did he reign?
7 In the old age of the fifteenth judge, Samuel the prophet, the elders of Israel came to him with the request: “Now do appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Samuel took this as a rejection of him as God’s appointed judge, but Jehovah said to him: “Listen to the voice of the people as respects all that they say to you; for it is not you whom they have rejected, but it is I whom they have rejected from being king over them.” God told Samuel to warn the Israelites of all the hardship that it would mean for them to have a visible human king, but they still expressed preference for such a king. God, as the Sovereign Lord over Israel, did the choosing of the man to be Israel’s first human king. He sent Samuel to anoint Saul the son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin to be the king. In the year 1117 B.C.E. Saul was installed as king at the city of Mizpah. “The people began to shout and say: ‘Let the king live!’” Saul reigned for forty years.—1 Samuel 8:1 through 10:25; Acts 13:21.*
8. (a) In the eleventh year of Saul’s reign, what birth occurred in Bethlehem? (b) What did Micah prophesy about Bethlehem?
8 In the eleventh year of Saul’s reign there occurred a seemingly insignificant event in the city of Bethlehem in the territory of the tribe of Judah. Jesse the Bethlehemite became father to an eighth son, whom he named David. Little did King Saul or anyone else in Israel know that this newborn baby would one day become so illustrious that his birthplace, Bethlehem, would one day be called “the city of David.” No one then knew that, some three hundred years later, it would be prophesied concerning that city of David: “But thou, Beth-lechem Ephratah, the least though thou be among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from olden times, from most ancient days.” (Micah 5:1, Leeser; JPS; Mic 5:2, NEB; NW) This prophecy the Jewish religious leaders of the first century before our Common Era understood to apply to the Messiah. So the “seed” of God’s “woman” was to be born in Bethlehem.
9. In view of Saul’s indiscretion, what did God have Samuel tell Saul about the kingdom, and whom would God choose for the throne?
9 However, prior to this, after King Saul had reigned for two years, he yielded to a lack of faith and acted presumptuously, indiscreetly, in office. “At this Samuel said to Saul: ‘You have acted foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of Jehovah your God that he commanded you, because, if you had, Jehovah would have made your kingdom firm over Israel to time indefinite. And now your kingdom will not last. Jehovah will certainly find for himself a man agreeable to his heart; and Jehovah will commission him as a leader over his people, because you did not keep what Jehovah commanded you.’” (1 Samuel 13:1-14) The “man agreeable to [God’s] heart” was not yet born, for those words were spoken years before the birth of David at Bethlehem. This made it evident that the Most High God would exercise his power and right and make his own choice of an Israelite to succeed King Saul. In doing so he would stick to his “eternal purpose” in connection with the Messiah.
10, 11. (a) How was David designated to be the future king of Israel? (b) How did David incur Saul’s murderous jealousy, and where did he first become a king?
10 When David was just a teen-age shepherd boy at Bethlehem, God designated him as the man agreeable to his heart. Although David was not Jesse’s firstborn but was merely the eighth son, God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint David to become the future king of Israel.
11 David came into the spotlight when he alone of all the Israelites volunteered to meet the challenging Philistine giant Goliath on the field of battle and killed him with a slingstone aimed at Goliath’s forehead. (1 Samuel 16:1 through 17:58) David was taken into King Saul’s army, and his popularity with the people grew beyond that of the king. This made Saul very jealous and he tried to kill David and thus prevent him from supplanting one of his own sons on the throne of Israel. Eventually a fatal wound in battle, followed by his falling upon his own sword to speed his death, ended Saul’s kingship. Ish-bosheth, the surviving son of Saul, was made king by those cleaving to Saul’s family line, but only over eleven tribes of Israel. The tribesmen of Judah anointed David king over them in Hebron in the territory of Judah. That was in the year 1077 B.C.E.—2 Samuel 2:1-11; Acts 13:21, 22.
12. When and how was David made king over all Israel, and what question arises now as to the “scepter” and “commander’s staff”?
12 Saul’s son Ish-bosheth lasted on the throne of Israel possibly for seven years and six months and then he was assassinated by subjects of his. (2 Samuel 2:11 through 4:8) All the tribes now recognized David as Jehovah’s chosen one and they anointed David as king over all Israel, at Hebron. This was in the year 1070 B.C.E. (2 Samuel 4:9 through 5:5) Thus, in harmony with Jacob’s deathbed prophecy as recorded in Genesis 49:10, the “scepter” and the “commander’s staff” had come to the tribe of Judah. On what basis, now, would those emblems of royalty not “turn aside from Judah . . . until Shiloh comes”?
13. How was David really an “anointed one,” and of whom was he made a prophetic type?
13 Because of three anointings for kingship, King David could really be called an “anointed one” or “messiah” (Hebrew: ma·shiʹahh), as in 2 Samuel 19:21, 22; 22:51; 23:1. Outstandingly, David was used as a prophetic type of the preeminent Messiah, the “seed” of God’s heavenly “woman.” (See Ezekiel 34:23.) In fact, God saw good to choose David to be in the line of descent that culminated in the Messiah of God’s “eternal purpose.” How did this occur?
14. What city did David make the capital of all Israel, and what sacred object did he then locate there?
14 Shortly after being anointed king over reunited Israel in 1070 B.C.E., David captured the city of Jebus from the Jebusites and called it Jerusalem. There he moved his government and made this lofty city his capital, it being more centrally located than Hebron, for it was at the borderline between the territories of Judah and Benjamin. (Judges 1:21; 2 Samuel 5:6-10; 1 Chronicles 11:4-9) Not long after that, King David gave consideration to the sacred Ark of Jehovah. For decades it had been allowed to be displaced from the Most Holy of the tent of meeting at Shiloh in the territory of Ephraim. (1 Samuel 1:24; 4:3-18; 6:1 through 7:2) David felt that the Ark should be in the capital city. So he had it brought up and lodged in a tent near his palace.—2 Samuel 6:1-19.
15. What covenant did Jehovah now establish toward David, and out of appreciation for what on David’s part?
15 However, David came to feel embarrassed, because he, a mere human king, dwelt in a royal palace whereas the Ark of Jehovah, the true God and real King of Israel, dwelt in a modest tent. To put matters in proper balance, David conceived the idea of building a worthy house, a temple, to the Most High God and Universal Sovereign. But Jehovah disapproved of David’s building such a temple. By His prophet Nathan he told David that a peaceful son of his would be privileged to build the temple at Jerusalem. Then, in appreciation for David’s heartfelt devotion to God’s pure worship, Jehovah did a wonderful thing with this man who was “agreeable to his heart.” Of His own accord, he established a covenant toward David for an everlasting kingdom. He said:
“Jehovah has told you that a house is what Jehovah will make for you. When your days come to the full, and you must lie down with your forefathers, then I shall certainly raise up your seed after you, which will come out of your inward parts; and I shall indeed firmly establish his kingdom. He is the one that will build a house for my name, and I shall certainly establish the throne of his kingdom firmly to time indefinite. I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son. When he does wrong, I will also reprove him with the rod of men and with the strokes of the sons of Adam. As for my loving-kindness, it will not depart from him the way I removed it from Saul, whom I removed on account of you. And your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite.”—2 Samuel 7:1-16; 1 Chronicles 17:1-15.
16. What prayer of gratitude did David offer to Jehovah for this?
16 David offered a prayer of gratitude and closed it, saying:
“And now, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, you are the true God; and as for your words, let them prove to be truth, since you promise to your servant this goodness. And now take it upon yourself and bless the house of your servant for it to continue to time indefinite before you; for you yourself, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, have promised, and due to your blessing let the house of your servant be blessed to time indefinite.”—2 Samuel 7:18-29; 1 Chronicles 17:16-27.
17. This covenant was also backed up by what on God’s part?
17 That covenant promise to David was backed by God’s oath:
“Jehovah has sworn to David, truly he will not draw back from it: ‘Of the fruitage of your belly I shall set on your throne. If your sons will keep my covenant and my reminders that I shall teach them, their sons also forever Will sit upon your throne.’”—Psalm 132:11, 12.
“To time indefinite I shall preserve my loving-kindness toward him, and my covenant will be faithful to him. And I shall certainly set up his seed forever and his throne as the days of heaven. . . . I shall not profane my covenant, and the expression out of my lips I shall not change. Once I have sworn in my holiness, to David I will not tell lies. His seed itself will prove to be even to time indefinite, and his throne as the sun in front of me.”—Psalm 89:28-36. See also Jeremiah 33:20, 21.
18. The prophecy of Isaiah declares that David’s kingdom would furnish the basis for what greater kingdom?
18 According to that covenant toward King David, his kingdom had to furnish the basis for the coming kingdom of the Greater Messiah. That is why the prophet Isaiah, centuries later, was inspired to prophesy: “For a child is born to us, a son given to us, and the rulership is upon his shoulder; and his name is called: Wonder, Counselor, Strong God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace; in order that the rulership may increase and there may be no end of peace upon the throne of David and in his kingdom; to rear it up and to support it through what is suitable and what is right from now on to forever. The zeal of the Eternal One of armies does such a thing.”—Isaiah 9:5, 6, according to the translation of the Hebrew scholar Rabbi Leopold Pheinkard Zunz, German, sixteenth edition of 1913 C.E. See Isaiah 9:6, 7, AV; RS; NEB; Jerusalem Bible.
19. According to Micah’s prophecy, this “child” was to be born in what city, and this as an identification mark of whom?
19 According to the prophecy of Micah 5:1 (Zunz; Mic 5:2, AV; NW), this Messianic child was to be born, this royal son was to be given, at Bethlehem in Ephrathah in the territory of Judah. This place of human birth was to be one of the identifying marks of the true Messiah, the “seed” of God’s figurative “woman.” Bethlehem, and not the royal city of Jerusalem, was the birthplace of his ancestor, King David, and hence came to be called David’s city.
A DYNASTY OF DAVIDIC KINGS
20. How long did David’s dynasty last on the throne, and how long did the Israelites have kings?
20 In fulfillment of this kingdom covenant toward David, there followed a line of kings of Jerusalem all in the family line of King David. Counted from David’s kingship in Jerusalem in 1070 B.C.E. this kingdom with a dynasty of Davidic kings in Jerusalem lasted for 463 years, or till 607 B.C.E. So this means that, when we count from the year 1117 B.C.E., when the prophet Samuel anointed Saul as king over all Israel, the nation of Israel had visible kings for 510 years. However, Jehovah was the invisible King.
21. Did David ascend to heaven at death, and who did David prophesy would be invited to sit down at God’s right hand?
21 As the royal representative of God who had chosen and anointed him to be king over Israel, King David sat on “Jehovah’s throne” at Jerusalem. (1 Chronicles 29:23) But he did not sit at Jehovah’s right hand, for Jehovah’s throne is in the heavens. (Isaiah 66:1) At his death in 1037 B.C.E., David did not ascend into the spirit heavens and sit down at Jehovah’s right hand up there. He was not invited to do so; but down to the first century of our Common Era the Israelites could locate and identify David’s burial place. Rather, David himself was inspired by God to prophesy, in Psalm 110:1-4, that his Messianic descendant who would be like King-Priest Melchizedek would be the one whom Jehovah would invite to sit down at His right hand in the heavens.
22. How did Solomon and the majority of his successors on the throne turn out, and since when has Jerusalem not had a Davidic king on the throne?
22 David’s young son, Solomon, followed him upon the throne of Jerusalem, “Jehovah’s throne.” According to the divine promise, he was the one favored with building the temple on Mount Moriah at Jerusalem, completing it in the year 1027 B.C.E. (1 Kings 6:1-38) In Solomon’s old age he became unfaithful to the God whose temple he had constructed. The majority of his successors on the throne of Jerusalem also turned out bad. The last of these Davidic kings to sit on Jerusalem’s throne was Zedekiah. For his rebellion against the king of Babylon, who had made Zedekiah a tributary king, he was carried off captive to Babylon, but leaving the city of Jerusalem and its gorgeous temple behind in ruins. (2 Kings 24:17 through 25:21) Never since that tragic year of 607 B.C.E. has there been a Davidic king upon Jerusalem’s throne.
23. Had the kingdom covenant failed or been canceled, and what assurance did God give by Ezekiel about this?
23 Did that signify that the kingdom covenant toward David had failed or had been canceled? By no means! God gave assurance against that. About the fourth year before the dethronement of Zedekiah and his being exiled in Babylon, God inspired his prophet Ezekiel to say to this last king on Jerusalem’s throne:
“As for you, O deadly wounded, wicked chieftain of Israel, whose day has come in the time of the error of the end, this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low, and bring low even the high one. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.’”—Ezekiel 21:25-27.
24. What was to be brought low, and when was the reverse of this to take place, and how?
24 Do we get the drift of that? Jehovah himself would make a ruin of the kingdom of the royal family of David at Jerusalem. Things would not be the same as formerly. The Gentile ruling powers that had been low in God’s sight would be put on top, and the earthly kingdom of Jehovah’s chosen people would be brought low, in subjection to the Gentile world powers. The period of Gentile world supremacy without interference from a typical kingdom of God at Jerusalem would continue on until the coming of the one “who has the legal right,” that is to say, the promised true Messiah, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah would give the kingdom to him. The Gentile world powers would then be no longer on top to dominate the earth. The Messianic kingdom would take world control. Thus, according to the covenant established toward David, his kingdom would be an everlasting government. His throne must stand forever!
25. Despite Jerusalem’s desolation in 607 B.C.E., what covenants and purpose still stood?
25 So, even though down to this very day no Davidic throne has been reestablished at Jerusalem in the Middle East, all is not lost for those hoping in the promised Messiah, the “seed” of God’s heavenly “woman.” True, by the autumn of 607 B.C.E. the throne city of Jerusalem and its temple lay in ruins. The nearby city of Bethlehem, David’s city, lay in ruins at the hands of the Babylonian conquerors. Still, the Law covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai in Arabia continued in operation. Also, the covenant for an everlasting kingdom as established toward David continued to apply. God’s “eternal purpose” in connection with his Messiah stood. God’s kingdom covenant will not fail. Neither his purpose!
In Antiquities of the Jews, Book 10, chapter 8, paragraph 4, Flavius Josephus of the first century C.E. assigns twenty years to King Saul. But in Book 6, chapter 14, paragraph 9, Josephus wrote: “Now Saul, reigned eighteen years while Samuel was alive, and after his death two,” to which some Josephus manuscripts add: “and twenty”; making a total of forty years.