Divine Loving-Kindness and the Kingdom
“In loving-kindness a throne will certainly be firmly established, and one must sit down upon it in trueness in the tent of David, judging and seeking justice and being prompt in righteousness.”—Isa. 16:5.
1, 2. (a) What invitation does Jehovah call out to the thirsty and hungry ones, together with what promise to the responsive ones? (b) What was there to thirst and hunger for, and why will there be a fulfillment of the covenant that is involved?
“HEY THERE, all you thirsty ones! Come to the water. And the ones that have no money! Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk even without money and without price. Why do you people keep paying out money for what is not bread, and why is your toil for what results in no satisfaction? Listen intently to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul find its exquisite delight in fatness itself. Incline your ear and come to me. Listen, and your soul will keep alive, and I shall readily conclude with you people an indefinitely lasting covenant respecting the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful. Look! As a witness to the national groups I have given him, as a leader and commander to the national groups.”—Isa. 55:1-4.
2 That was Jehovah God calling, inviting the thirsty and hungry ones. What was there to thirst and hunger for? A righteous king, a good government, in fulfillment of the covenant that Jehovah God concluded with King David. Never was there a covenant more important than this covenant made by God himself with the man David. Everyone thirsting and hungering for a government of justice, peace and perfect integrity must wait for God to carry out that covenant to the full. The covenant is no mere scrap of paper that can be torn up and trampled on in contempt by willful violators. The covenant is unbreakably binding. It must and will be fulfilled.
3. Which party to this covenant proposed it, and what is it that dignifies this covenant?
3 It may seem almost unbelievable that the Most High God of heaven would make a covenant or solemn, binding contract with a mere man on earth. Yet God himself has provided us with the written record of his covenants with men. He is the One that proposed the covenant with King David. A fallen imperfect man could never presume to propose such a thing. Since the covenant was put forward by such a high and mighty personage as Jehovah God, it should be something too grand for the thought of man to originate. It could be nothing trivial. It must be something highly important to God and beneficial to man. This is what dignifies the covenant.
4. What did Abraham hear Jehovah say with an oath through his angel?
4 Imagine a man’s hearing Jehovah God say: “By myself I do swear, is the utterance of Jehovah, that by reason of the fact that you have done this thing and you have not withheld your son, your only one, I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore, and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.” (Gen. 22:15-18) Yet that was what the Hebrew patriarch Abraham heard God say through his angel. He heard God swear by his own self to the covenant there announced.
5. Why should we of today appreciate the importance and value of that covenant, and what question of personal importance must we answer?
5 Of all persons we today should appreciate the importance and value of that covenant. We today ought to see that it is highly necessary that the nations should bless themselves by a God-given means. Today all the worldly nations, including the republic of Israel, are in effect cursing themselves by materialism and militarism. This is not because the promised seed or offspring of Abraham is not on hand for nations to procure the blessing. No; it is rather that the nations have no faith in God’s own covenant with Abraham and they are selfishly and proudly ignoring his seed or offspring. The sheer foolishness of the nations in doing this is plain for everyone to see. The question therefore becomes one of personal importance: Who among “all nations of the earth” will procure the blessing by God’s means?
6, 7. (a) By what other covenant is the covenant with Abraham backed up? (b) What question concerning King David did this covenant settle, and to what quality of Jehovah did it call attention?
6 Certainly if we follow the worldly nations or their political leaders and their economic and religious advisers, we shall come under a curse instead of into a blessing from God through Abraham’s seed. That covenant with Abraham is backed up by God’s covenant with King David. Counted from Abraham, David was the fourteenth man in the line of descent. Hence he was called the son of Abraham. (Matt. 1:1) Through the covenant with David the son of Abraham, God made it certain that the Abrahamic covenant for the blessing of all nations and families of the earth would be fulfilled by means of a government, a theocratic kingdom. In his day David was king of a theocratic nation, ancient Israel, with his capital at Jerusalem. The king ahead of him, Saul of the tribe of Benjamin, had died in battle without a successor to the throne of all Israel. The question arose, Would King David have a successor on the throne of Jerusalem in his family? Jehovah God made sure of that. Because King David displayed such holy zeal for God’s house of worship, or temple, Jehovah God introduced another covenant of importance to all mankind. By his prophet Nathan he said to David:
7 “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 forever. I myself shall become his father and he himself will become my son. When he does wrong, then I shall certainly reprove him with the rod of men and with the blows 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 from before you. And your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast forever before you; your very throne will become one firmly established forever.”—2 Sam. 7:11-16.
8. Why is that covenant spoken of as an “indefinitely lasting covenant respecting the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful”?
8 What a grand covenant that was, a covenant for a government, a kingdom, that would be stable for all time, the throne of which would never be overturned! What an unspeakable privilege it was for a faithful man and his household to be tied in with that kingdom covenant! That covenant was to be carried out with God’s loving-kindness as something very necessary to its reaching a grand climax in an everlastingly steadfast kingdom. In fact, it was loving-kindness that prompted the covenant on God’s part. From this viewpoint we can understand why Jehovah, through his prophet Isaiah, speaks of it as an “indefinitely lasting covenant respecting the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful.”
9. How does this loving-kindness express itself, and therefore what alternative reading in English does the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures give in its margin for hhésed?
9 Much is therefore dependent upon Jehovah’s loving-kindness. This is one of his remarkable traits, and it has come into play outstandingly toward us human creatures. A study of this word “loving-kindness” will reveal that it means more than being kind because of a loving motive. It establishes a relationship between the one expressing the loving-kindness and the receiver of it. It is a kindness that lovingly attaches itself to the object of the loving-kindness and that sticks to him with a loyalty that will not let go until the worthy purpose of the loving-kindness has been realized. As a matter of fact, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in its marginal reading of the Hebrew text gives the alternative reading “loyal love” for the Hebrew word hhésed; for this Hebrew word in the plural number it gives “acts (or, cases) of loyal love,” “full loving-kindness,” or, “full loyal love.”
10. According to a recently issued lexicon, how would the expression in Isaiah 55:3 read, and so what is it that puts the purpose of the loving-kindness beyond failure?
10 A recently issued Hebrew-English lexicon suggests that these continual proofs of loving-kindness should be read “the always proved loyalty.” Thus the expression “an indefinitely lasting covenant respecting the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful” would read “an indefinitely lasting covenant respecting the always proved loyalty to David that is faithful.” This repeated proving of God’s loyalty is what makes it faithful. So the loyalty of God to the one whom he takes into the covenant with himself proves to be unfailing. It shows God’s solidarity with the one taken into the covenant. This helps the covenant to stand firm no matter what the other party to the covenant may do. This makes it certain that the purpose of the loving-kindness will not fail in disappointment.
11, 12. (a) Hence how can Jehovah be described as being toward his faithful worshipers? (b) What were the developments that led to the first use of the word “loving-kindness” in the Scriptures?
11 Let this fact stand to His honor and credit: Jehovah God is loyal. From the first mention of this meaningful word in the Hebrew text the loving-kindness of the great God who preserves his faithful worshipers glows with a comforting warmth. When it was first mentioned the nephew of the patriarch Abraham lived in the city of Sodom. Jehovah God told Abraham that he was on his way to destroy the wicked, immoral city. Abraham knew that his nephew Lot, together with his wife and two daughters, was in the city and their lives were in danger—four persons. Evidently wanting to have their lives spared by having Sodom itself spared, Abraham pleaded with Jehovah till Jehovah finally promised that if as few as ten righteous persons were found inside Sodom he would not destroy it.
12 Two angels of Jehovah proceeded on to Sodom in the guise of men, and Lot extended to them the hospitality of his home. By taking them in as his guests, Lot was bound to be loyal to them. He proved himself so during an assault by sodomites on his house. In faith he warned his prospective sons-in-law about the imminent destruction of the doomed city. The next morning, before sunrise, the angels hurried Lot and his family to the outskirts of the city. “Escape to the mountainous region for fear you may be swept away!” said one of Jehovah’s angels. Lot then asked for a further favor, saying: “Not that, please, Jehovah! Please, now, your servant has found favor in your eyes so that you are magnifying your loving-kindness, which you have exercised with me to preserve my soul alive, but I—I am not able to escape to the mountainous region.” Considerately Jehovah’s angel granted him the favor asked, and Lot and his two daughters made a successful escape and survived the burning of Sodom with fire and sulphur.—Gen. 18:16 to 19:26.
13. (a) What quality of God did that rescue of Lot and his daughters magnify? (b) Why need the “other sheep” of today have no fear that Jehovah’s loving-kindness may fail?
13 This rescue of Lot and his daughters was a magnifying of Jehovah’s loyal love, for Lot’s uncle Abraham primarily, for with him Jehovah had made the covenant for the blessing of all the families of the earth. (Gen. 12:1-3) That was an illustration for our own day, for the sheeplike people who are being gathered into the divine favor. They need to depend so heavily upon that same loving-kindness, that same loyal love of Jehovah, to preserve them through the fiery destruction of the world organization that is spiritually called Sodom. (Rev. 11:8) These “other sheep” of the Great Shepherd need have no fear that his loving-kindness may fail. For as many as twenty-six times Psalm 136 alone repeats the reason for lauding Jehovah, saying: “For his loving-kindness is to time indefinite.” When he declared his own name before the prophet Moses on Mount Sinai at the writing of the Ten Commandments, he described himself, saying: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning iniquity and transgression and sin, . . . Here I am concluding a covenant: . . . For you must not bow down to another god, because Jehovah is exclusively devoted to his name. He is a God exacting exclusive devotion.” (Ex. 34:4-14) This God, who resents being misrepresented and who demands undivided devotion, is correct in every detail in describing himself. Hence we may safely count on his loyalty.
LOYALTY TO THE KINGDOM
14. From its start, what did that kingdom covenant demand, and therefore from what principle may we never swerve?
14 From the very time that Jehovah established the covenant with David for the everlasting kingdom, that kingdom covenant became something demanding the loyal support and adherence of both God and man. The covenant was inseparably linked with King David and his line of royal successors. In fact, the covenant was personified in David’s royal house or dynasty, so that loyalty to the covenant meant loyalty to the house of David under Jehovah God. Man’s loyalty had to be directed to that covenant. Down to this year 1958, that is a principle from which we may never swerve if we are determined to please the great Proposer of the covenant, Jehovah God. We have Jehovah himself as our perfect Example of loyalty.
15. After being favored with this covenant, in what set of crimes was King David overtaken?
15 Some considerable time after King David had been so highly favored with this covenant, he was overtaken in a set of shocking sins, dark crimes in violation of the Ten Commandments. He coveted another man’s wife and committed adultery with her, the wife of his own faithful military officer, Uriah the Hittite. When the woman became pregnant, the spiritually unbalanced David sought to protect himself. He had her husband maneuvered into a dangerous battle position, there to be abandoned to certain death. After the courageous, loyal Uriah had thus been sent to his death, David sent and took Uriah’s wife to his own house to be one of his many wives. For these crimes, should not the unclean, bloodstained David be condemned to death and the covenant with him be canceled?
16. How was David to be punished for this, and who suffered death?
16 Through the very prophet Nathan by means of whom Jehovah had announced the kingdom covenant to David, Jehovah sent his message of heavy condemnation, showing how despicably David had acted. In punishment a sword was never to depart from David’s own personal household; evil was to be raised up out of his house, and some of his wives were to be violated openly. David saw how he had despised Jehovah and had treated the God of the covenant with disrespect. Sorrowfully he confessed his sin against Jehovah. He feared for his life. “You will not die,” Nathan told him; but the illegitimate child of his covetous adultery was to die. Nothing swerved Jehovah from this sentence. The bastard child lived only seven days and died.
17. (a) What, though, about the kingdom covenant with David? (b) How was the depth of Jehovah’s loving-kindness shown as regards David’s immediate successor?
17 However, what about the kingdom covenant with David? Jehovah did not cancel it. He was loyal to it. He exercised the loving-kindness that was to go with this covenant in order to carry it to glorious success. David was reinstated in the divine favor and was kept on the “throne of Jehovah” in Jerusalem; but the several punishments set forth in Jehovah’s sentence of condemnation were inflicted upon David in course of time. The depth of Jehovah’s loving-kindness or loyal love was shown still more in that the next son that David had by Uriah’s former wife, a legitimate son, was chosen by God to become David’s successor in the throne and to carry forward the kingdom covenant. So, after David’s death in divine favor, “Solomon began to sit upon Jehovah’s throne as king in place of David his father and to make a success of it, and all the Israelites were obedient to him.” (1 Chron. 29:23; 2 Sam. 11:1 to 12:25) Jehovah’s loving-kindness according to the kingdom covenant proved to be a means of salvation. How wonderful!
18. Hence how did David appropriately express himself in his psalm, and what did his son Solomon pertinently say in prayer at the temple dedication?
18 That is why King David could say in his psalm: “I shall thank you, O Jehovah, among the nations, and to your name I shall make melody. The One doing great acts of salvation for his king and exercising loving-kindness to his anointed one, to David and to his seed forever.” (2 Sam. 22:50, 51) When his son and successor, Solomon, was dedicating the magnificent temple for which David had made such preparations, King Solomon could say with hearty appreciation in public prayer to God: “O Jehovah the God of Israel, there is no God like you in the heavens above or on the earth beneath, keeping the covenant and the loving-kindness toward your servants who are walking before you with all their heart, you who have kept toward your servant David my father that which you promised him, so that you made the promise with your own mouth, and with your own hand you have made the fulfillment, as at this day. And now, O Jehovah the God of Israel, keep toward your servant David my father that which you promised him, saying, ‘There will not be cut off a man of yours from before me to sit upon the throne of Israel, if only your sons will take care of their way by walking before me just as you have walked before me.’ And now, O God of Israel, let your promise that you have promised to your servant David my father prove trustworthy, please.”—1 Ki. 8:22-26.
19. In Solomon’s old age how did the need arise for Jehovah to exercise loving-kindness, and on what account was Abijah allowed to succeed Rehoboam on the throne?
19 In sad contrast with his father David, King Solomon in his old age fell away from Jehovah. Here again the need arose for Jehovah to exercise his loving-kindness, for the sake of the everlasting kingdom covenant. The covenant was not struck out. Hence Solomon’s son Rehoboam sat upon the throne of Jehovah in Jerusalem, but not as king over all twelve tribes of Israel. By Jehovah’s decree of punishment ten tribes were cut off from the domain of the kings of David’s house. So Rehoboam kept ruling over only two faithful tribes, Judah and Benjamin. (1 Ki. 11:1-13; 12:19-24) Rehoboam died a bad king. Yet his son Abijah came to the throne of the kingdom of Judah. Why? The inspired answer says: “On account of David, Jehovah his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising his son up after him and keeping Jerusalem in existence, because David did what was right in the eyes of Jehovah and he did not turn aside from anything that he had commanded him all the days of his life, only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”—1 Ki. 15:4, 5.
20. What appeal did King Abijah make to the enemy Israelite army, and for whom did Jehovah win the battle?
20 When King Abijah went to war against the revolted ten tribes of Israel, he first appealed to them from a mountaintop in the following words: “Is it not for you to know that Jehovah the God of Israel himself gave a kingdom to David over Israel forever, to him and to his sons, by a covenant of salt? . . . And now you men are thinking of holding your own against the kingdom of Jehovah in the hand of the sons of David, when you are a great multitude and there are with you the golden calves that Jeroboam [your king] made for you as gods. . . . And, look! with us there is at the head The true God with his priests and the signal trumpets for sounding the battle alarm against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against Jehovah the God of your forefathers, for you will not prove successful.” (2 Chron. 13:3-12) However, the kingdom covenant and loyal adherence to Jehovah as God the Covenanter had no appeal for those revolted Israelites. They went ahead with the battle. But Jehovah won the battle for those who were sticking loyal to his covenant for the kingdom with David.
21, 22. Who were an example for us today in putting God’s worship and kingdom covenant above nationalism and what record did they make for themselves?
21 The dividing of the twelve tribes of Israel into two kingdoms put a great test upon the Israelites regarding loyalty to the kingdom covenant. But there were Israelites that put God’s worship and his kingdom covenant above nationalism. They are an example for us today. For instance, take the priests and Levites who served at Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem but whose homes were located in forty-eight cities scattered about in the twelve tribes of Israel. (Num. 35:6-8; Josh. 21:1-41) The record that they made for themselves reads:
22 “The priests and the Levites themselves that were in all Israel took their stand by [the son of King Solomon] out of all their territories. For the Levites left their pasture grounds and their property and then came to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam [the king of the ten revolted tribes] and his sons had discharged them from acting as priests to Jehovah. . . . And following [the Levites] from all the tribes of Israel those that were giving their heart to seek Jehovah the God of Israel came themselves to Jerusalem to sacrifice to Jehovah the God of their forefathers. And they kept strengthening the kingship of Judah and confirming Rehoboam the son of Solomon.”—2 Chron. 11:13-17.
23. According to the record, what did Israelites already living temporarily in Judah do regarding the issue?
23 Israelites who were living temporarily in Judah did not revolt and stir up civil war but submitted loyally to the king who represented Jehovah’s kingdom covenant with David. The record says: “As for the sons of Israel that were dwelling in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam continued to reign over them.”—2 Chron. 10:17.
24. During the reigns of kings of Judah, who deserted to the kingdom of Judah, and whom did Asa collect together to Jerusalem, with what covenant resulting?
24 Throughout the reigns of a number of kings of Judah, faithful Israelites deserted to the kingdom of Judah, because its king was enjoying the loving-kindnesses or acts of loyal love of Jehovah. In the days of Rehoboam’s grandson, King Asa, “he began to collect together all Judah and Benjamin and the temporary residents with them from [the revolted tribes of] Ephraim and Manasseh and Simeon, for they had deserted to him from Israel in great number when they saw that Jehovah his God was with him. So they were collected together at Jerusalem . . . Furthermore, they entered into a covenant to search for Jehovah the God of their forefathers with all their heart and with all their soul.” They sought for him while he could be found, and “he let himself be found by them.”—2 Chron. 15:9-15.
25, 26. (a) What remarkable demonstration of loyalty to the kingdom covenant came at the death of King Ahaziah of Jerusalem? (b) How was the lone heir to the kingdom covenant finally anointed king?
25 King Ahaziah was the eighth ruler of Jerusalem in the line of King David. At his death there came a remarkable demonstration of loyalty to the kingdom covenant as symbolized in the royal house of David. His mother Athaliah, the granddaughter of wicked King Omri of the revolted ten tribes, usurped the throne of Jerusalem. That throne belonged only to men in Jehovah’s kingdom covenant. To keep herself in it Athaliah “destroyed all the royal offspring of the house of Judah,” all except a baby boy, Jehoash. His aunt, Jehosheba, had married the Levite high priest, Jehoiada. Determined to keep the royal line of King David alive in harmony with the covenant that David should not fail for a man to sit on his throne, aunt Jehosheba stole baby Jehoash away. She kept him and his nursing woman concealed in an inner bedroom in the temple of Jehovah.
26 How appropriate that Jehovah’s temple safely concealed the lone heir of His kingdom covenant! In the seventh year of this underground existence of growing Jehoash, the loyal High Priest Jehoiada brought him forth and anointed him king at a temple pillar. The murderous usurper Athaliah heard the noise of jubilation. “Conspiracy! Conspiracy!” she cried out when she came in and saw what had happened. In loyalty to Jehovah’s rightful king, High Priest Jehoiada had her conducted outside and put to death at a gate of the palace. (2 Chron. 22:10 to 23:15; 2 Ki. 11:1-16) In his loving-kindness Jehovah, by means of his loyal worshipers, proved true to his covenant made with his servant King David.
27. In Jehoash’s case, how did loss of appreciation lead to disloyalty, but what kept the kingdom covenant operating?
27 Loss of appreciation leads to disloyalty. Even Jehoash gave an example of that. As long as High Priest Jehoiada lived and was his spiritual adviser, King Jehoash went straight. After Jehoiada died, Jehoash listened to idolatrously inclined princes of Judah. Jehoiada’s son, the High Priest Zechariah, objected. “Because you have left Jehovah, he will, in turn, leave you,” he said. Finally, at King Jehoash’s own command, the people conspired against High Priest Zechariah and stoned him to death in the very courtyard of Jehovah’s temple. What base ungratefulness! Says 2 Chronicles 24:22: “Jehoash the king did not remember the loving-kindness that Jehoiada [Zechariah’s] father had exercised toward him, so that he killed his son, who, when he was at the point of dying, said: ‘Let Jehovah see to it and ask it back.’” Jehovah did. The record tells us how Jehoash died: “His own servants conspired against him because of the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and they got to kill him upon his own couch, so that he died.” (2 Chron. 24:25) His son Amaziah succeeded him on the “throne of Jehovah.” Thus, by Jehovah’s loving-kindness, the kingdom covenant kept operating.