God had given the people of Israel rest from their enemies which seemed to give King David the opportunity to slow down and relax and the ability to notice something he had missed before. He was living in a fine cedar palace, yet God’s ark was still in the tabernacle, a portable tent. So David told Nathan about this and his implication was pretty clear—David thought it was time to build a permanent structure—a temple—for God.
Nathan told the king to do whatever was in his heart because God was with him. It seems that Nathan spoke a tad impulsively though, because that night God spoke to Nathan and gave him a different message for David. God did not want David to build the temple, Solomon would do that, but God Made a Covenant with David (Unit 10, Session 5) that night. Here is the covenant Nathan shared with King David:
11 “‘The Lord declares to you: The Lord Himself will make a house for you. 12 When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me. When he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod and with blows from others. 15 But My faithful love will never leave him as I removed it from Saul; I removed him from your way. 16 Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.’” 2 Samuel 7:11-16
Now, we have to be careful with how we understand the prophetic promises God made in this covenant. God is not just talking about one of David’s descendants, but two—Solomon and Jesus. Let’s walk through the covenant step-by-step to see why it cannot refer only to Solomon or only to Jesus.
12 When your time comes and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.
This could reference Solomon, Jesus, or both, but I would suggest the emphasis is on Jesus because of the reference to establishing his kingdom here and in the next verse. Both Solomon and Jesus were of the line of David and both were given kingdoms by God.
13 He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
The first part of this verse seems to focus on Solomon building the temple, but at the same time, we know that the temple pointed toward Jesus, so really Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of that part of the verse. The second part definitely references Jesus alone. Solomon’s throne was not forever, but Jesus’ is. So this part of the covenant requires that Jesus be included in how we interpret it.
14 I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me. When he does wrong, I will discipline him with a human rod and with blows from others.
The first part of this verse seems to focus more on Jesus, so up to this point, it is tempting to interpret the entire covenant as pointing to Jesus. But then we read the middle part of this verse which definitely does not talk about Jesus. Jesus was sinless, so “when he does wrong” must talk about Solomon’s sin, notably polygamy and idolatry. But then we read the last part of this verse and it sure sounds like it is talking about Jesus again. And this is where the beauty and richness of Scripture leaps off the page once more. God is layering prophecy masterfully here. Solomon would sin and be punished for his sin, while Jesus would not sin, but take man’s sin on Himself and be punished for it so that those who trust in Him would be forgiven and have eternal life.
Remember that the temple David wanted to build was a picture of how man could relate with God through the perpetual sacrifices. But here God is reminding David, and us, that it was not the house David wanted to build for God that would bring salvation, but the house that God was giving to David and all of mankind—Jesus.
15 But My faithful love will never leave him as I removed it from Saul; I removed him from your way.
Again, this related to both Solomon and Jesus. While Solomon would sin, God would not turn his love away from him. He’d be disciplined, but God would not reject him. In a similar way, while Jesus bore the sin of the world, God did not stop loving His Son. Jesus was disciplined for the sins of the world, but God did not reject Him, proven by the resurrection.
16 Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.
The Davidic Covenant closes with more references pointing toward Jesus and how His reign is eternal.
So what are we to do with the Davidic Covenant? Two suggestions:
First, show your kids how the Davidic Covenant points to both Solomon and Jesus. Help them see the richness of God’s promises and plans. If you have older kids, consider breaking the covenant down more and showing how different parts focus on Solomon while other parts focus on Jesus. If you have younger kids, consider just highlighting how Solomon had to be in view because of the sin, but Jesus did too because of the eternal throne. Then share how Jesus is the greater Solomon—Solomon was punished for his own sin, but Jesus was punished for the sins of others.
Second, take a step back and show your kids the bigger story here. How David wanted to build a house for God—a house that provided the means for God’s people to approach Him and worship Him—but God turned that around and told David of the house that He was giving to the world—Jesus, the only way we can truly approach God and worship Him. As always, take your kids to the gospel story unfolding in rich layers in this passage.
What most excites you about teaching kids the Davidic Covenant? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the July 3, 2016 session (Unit 10, Session 5) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Brian Dembowczyk is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to LifeWay. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Brian, his wife, Tara, and their three children—Joshua, Hannah, and Caleb—live in Murfreesboro, TN, where Brian enjoys drinking coffee and teaching 1-3 graders at City Church.