God's promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 has to be among the most brillian moments in the history of salvation. It is matched in importance and prestige only by the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12 and later to all Israel and Judah (and the human race) in Jeremiah's New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). Therefore, the forty year segment out of the narratives of the prophetic historians (Joshua - 2 Kings) merits an extended and separate treatment even though it finds its basic location in the works of the earlier prophets.
However, there is more textual material to consider than just 2 Samuel 7. In order to get the proper perspective, it is necessary to include the following:
a. What scholars have refered to since Leonhard Rost as the "succession narrative" (2 Sam. 9-20 and 1 Kings 1-2) -- that is, the remaining history of David from the end of 1 Sam. 16-31 and from 2 Sam. 1-8; 21-24). You see what we have looked at in previous lessons builds upon this lesson. All these things are interrelated.
b. The royal Psalms: 2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72 89, 101, 110, 132, 144:1-11.
c. Since David and the ark of the covenant were so intimately united in much of their theology, we also need to keep in mind what is called the "history of the ark" (1 Sam. 4:1-7:2), and that momentous experience in David's life when he moved the ark to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6).
A Promised King
Deuteronomy 17:14-20. When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite.
The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.
We see from this passage, then, that the kingship, as such, was not outside the plan of God. It had only to wait for the proper time and God's selection. Up to this point, Israel's government in theory had been what Josephus labeled a theocracy, in which the sovereignty and and power belonged to God. Had not Israel sung at the Exodus, "Yahweh will reign for ever and ever" (Exodus 15:18)? Yet in practice, Israel had been little better than an anarchy. The question for the Israelites, then, was not whether there would be a king under God, but when.
A Usurping Ruler.
In the interum, between Joshua and David, there were many false starts. Gideon, we saw, had received the offer to "rule over" (Heb. mashal) the men of Israel after his rather stunning victory over Midian (Judges 8:22). Not only was he to be their ruler, but the offer was an offer of a herditary rulership: "You, your son, and your grandson also." To all this Gideon declined unconditionally and asserted instead the principle: "Yahweh will rule over you." (v. 23)
Gideon's illegitimate son, however, was not that reluctant. After his fatehr's death, Abimelek became king of Shechem (Judges 9:15-18). This usurper (for so he is if Yahweh is the actual king), son of Gideon's maidservant, took a new name. Martin Buber had argued that "to appoint a name" is never used in connection with giving a name to a child at birth; rather, it is consistently the verb "to call." This expression "to appoint" means "to give a new name" (cf. 2 Kings 178:34; Neh. 9:7). If Gideon renamed his son, then he probably did so on the occasion of his rejection of the kingly office, declaring instead that God, his father, was king, and hense, Abi "my father" is melek "king." But the expression in Judges 8:31 can also be translated "The appointed him" or even "He appointed for imself," the name "My father [before me] was -- really -- a king."
The irony is clearly brought out in Judges 9:6 where the root malak "to be king, to reign" appears two times: "And they kinged 'father-king' as king". The whole experiment ended in tragedy for Abimelek and his "kingdom."
A Rejected Ruler.
Neither was Samuel's generation any wiser when they prematurely demanded a king (1 Sam. 8:4-6) on the false assumption that God was powerless to help them now that Samuel had grown old and his sons were morally corrupt (vv. 1-3). It, too, was a rejection of Yahweh's kingship (8:7; 10:19). The whole situation grieved Samuel to no end (8:6).
Samuel's opposition appears at first to be strange in light of the promise of Deuteronomy 17:14-20 where directions had been given on how to act in the event that the people should desire a king. But Samuel's opposition, as was true of Yahweh as well, was perhaps a condemnation of the people's spirit and motivation for requesting a king: they wanted to be "like all the other nations" in having a king (8:5, 20). Perhaps it was also a tacit statement of disbelief in the power and presence of God: they wanted a king to go before them and fight their battles (v. 20).
Graciously, God yielded to the request of the people, after Samuel had done everything he could to make them aware of the responsibilities of being under a king (1 Samuel 8:10-19). They got what they asked for: Saul. And Saul accomplished the task appointed him by God:
He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen the affliction of my people because their cry has come up to me (1 Samuel 9:16; cf. 10:1).
So it was. Wherever Saul turned his hand, so greatly was the power of God on him as a spirit-filled leader, that he emerged victorious against every nation he fought (1 Sam. 14:47; cf. 2 Sam. 1:17-27 in David's lament). Saul also rooted out all kinds of superstition and the occult forbidden by Mosaic law (1 Sam. 28:9) and even seemed to be careful about such Levitical matters of detail as the eating of blood (14:34). He was "God's chosen" (10:24) and "anointed" (10:1).
But what of the perpetuity of that reign? Nowhere had Saul, or Samuel for that matter, been promised that the offer was a hereditary rule; yet 1 Samuel 13:13-14 showed that the possibility had been there nonetheless:
The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be a leader over his people because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.
There would have been nothing unusual about this had not the promise of a ruler coming from the tribe of Judah already been given, but indeed it had been in Genesis 49:10. The symbols of the office, a scepter and a ruler's staff, would not depart from Judah until the one to whom they legitimately belonged came. How then was the Lord able to ffer Saul an everlasting kingdom -- especially since he was from the tribe of Benjamine? There is no doubt that Israel was to have a king one day, for that had been made plain in Numbers 24:17 and Deut. 17:14. And Israel could have made several flase, even premature starts. But here the Lord himself said to Saul, in retrospect, that the kingdom could have been an everlasthing kingdom -- there is the difficulty.
The solution to this conundrum was not to be found in an allegedly treasonous act of Samuel who, contrary to what Scripture claimed, was supposed to have single-handedly deposed Saul and chosen David instead. Nor could this particular issue be resolved by blaming the people alone with electing a king after their own heart (1 Sam. 12:13), for Saul was also the one whom "Yahweh had chosen" (9:16; 10:1, 24; 12:13). A fellow by the name of Patrick Fairbairn came up with an interesting approach:
After the people had been solemnly admonished of their guilt in requesting the appointment of a king on their worldly principles, they were allowed to raise one of their number to the throne...And to render the divine purpose in this respect manifest to all who had eyes to see and ears to hear, the Lord allowed the choice first to fall on one who -- as representative of the people's earthly wisdom and prowess -- was little disposed to rule in humble subordination to the will and authority of Heaven and was therefore suppplanted by another who should act as God's representative, and bear distinctively the name of his servant.
Perhaps better, we should think of Israel getting a king to be like divorce, polygamy and slavery -- permitted and regulated behaviors, but not what God ultimately would have preferred. He didn't want the people to have a king, but he allowed them to nevertheless, and actually made it part of his plan in the long run. What God wants is different from what he needs, and he is able to recognize the distinction, and his will consists of that which he needs -- in this case, a king.
Thus, the lesson was designed by God to show people that God alone was the supreme King, and any government had to function under his authority. Hence the lot temporarily fell to Benjamin (10:20) rather than Judah. Saul was incomparable to all others because only he, to the exclusion of all others, was God's man according to Samuel (v. 24). His stature (v. 23) was a sign, but his divine election was what really made him incomparable.
Whether God might have given to Saul the "kingdom", later known as the northern ten tribes which subsequently broke away and were given to Jeroboam, and kept only "one tribe" (note Judah and Benjamin were here regarded as one tribe!) for David his servant that He might always have a "lamp" in Jerusalem, the city where God had chosen to place his name (1 Kings 11;33-37), is ultimately unknown. One thing is known, Ephraim had always had a chip on its shoulder and was ready to challenge or secede from the rest of the tribes at the slighest provocation all during the era of the Judges (cf. Judges 8:1, 12:1). Consequently, a rift had been in the making for a long time. But it does not suggest what might have been involved for Saul had he continued in obedience to God.
The permitted monarchy was -- even as forseen in Deut. 17:14-20 -- to be bound by certain restrictions (that is, government by law, not by men). The people were not to appoint anyone who was not chosen by God, and the king was not to do his own will and pleasure; he was to rule according to the law of God. Thus Israel still had a theocracy of sorts where the king merely reigned as a viceroy or earthly representative of Yahweh, the heavenly sovereign.
It is commonplace in recent scholarship to divide the narratives on the institution of the monarchy into two basic sources: one favorable to the monarchy (1 Sam. 9:1-10; 11:1-11, 15; 13:2-14:46) and the other later and deuternomistic and anti-monarchical in its outlook (1 Sam. 7:3-8:22; 10:17-28; and 12:1-25). However compare the article on the Thematic Structure of Biblical Narratives and the impact it has on the concept of cutting the Bible into multiple source texts.
Hans-Jochen Boecker has shown that it is too simplistic to label 1 Sam. 8 and 12 as antimonarchical. These passages do give a more conditional acceptance of kignship as an institution from God, but that was mainly because the monarchy carried with it the greater danger of apostacy.
These chapters were no more antimonarchical than Jotham's fable of Judges 9:7-21 was. According to Eugene H. maly's careful analysis, this fable contained a characature of Abimelek, the would be king, and a figurative description of the impending destruction that awaited the Shechemites was no general condemnation of kingship itself; rather, its criticism was directed at those who were foolish enough to look to such protection as this and at the worthless king himself. Again, the focus was on the response of men, not on the institution itself.
An Anointed Ruler
When Saul was rejected, the Lord looked for a "man after His own heart" (1 Sam. 13:14): and David, the son of Jesse, was his selection. He was first anointed by the prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 16:13); then he was anointed as king of Judah (2 Sam. 2:4); and the final anointing was over all Israel (2 Sam. 5:3). Even as Saul had ten times been called the "anointed of the Lord" (mashiah Yahweh, 1 Samuel 24:6, 10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23; 2 Samuel 1:14, 16), so now David is "anointed" and "The Spirit of the Lord came mightily on [him] from that day forward" (1 Samuel 16:13). David, too, was called the Lord's "anointed" ten times. The oil of anointing, when used in worship, was a symbol of the divine Spirit; but in regal consecration it marked God's gift of his Spirit to aid the king of Israel in administering his rule. It marked David as the recipient and representative of the divine majesty. Saul, too, had recieved the "Spirit of God" (1 Sam. 11:6) as did the previous "judges" from Othniel to Samuel. But when Saul departed from the Lord after a brilliant beginning of delivering Israel from the Philistines (1 Sam. 9:16; 14:47), he became totally inept at governing the people dure to a loss of the Spirit's gift of government.
Though this title of "the anointed one" was used twice by transference in Psalm 105:15 of the patriarchs and once of Cyrus, a divinely called ruler (Isaiah 45:1; cf. 1 Kings 19:15), the title was only used absolutely of the king. Subsequently, the word became the title for the great Davidite who was to come and to complete the expected kingdom of God. All together, the noun "anointed" occures 39 times in the Old Testament. Twenty-three of those times, it is used for the reigning king of Israel.
This means that there were nine passages left where the "anointed one" refers to a person yet to be, usually of the line of David (1 Sam. 2:10; 2:35; Ps. 2:2; 20:6, 28:8; 84:9; Hab. 3:13; Dan. 9:25-26). He was Yahweh's king who would reign over His everlasting kingdom on earth; yet simultaneously he was tthat chosen man in the line of election who was entitled to sit as God's representative on the throne of David. Though this term was by no means the clearest nor the most frequent in the OT, usage fixed it as the most fitting term, in preference to the other titles, to describe the expected king, the Messiah. Perhaps part of the reason for this shift is the consequence of being without a king at all from the time of the Babylonian exile, on.
A Promised Dynasty
More than a kingship was at stake, however. Next to the promise given to Abraham must rank the word of blessing poured out on Ddavid. The classical Old Testament passage dealing with this new addition to the ever-expanding promise and plan of God was 2 Samuel 7, with its duplicate in 1 Chronicles 17 and commentary in Psalm 89. It was the account of David's proposal to build a "house" or temple for Yahweh and the revelation Nathan received with God's counterproposal that he would not allow David to construct it. Instead, Yahweh would make a "house" out of David (2 Sam. 7:5-11).
Historical and literary criticism have not always seen fit to treat 2 Samuel 7 in a uniform, much less a kind way. Probably the most violent estimate of the text came from R.H. Pfeiffer, who charged that the author's mind was "muddled," his text "obscure, involved," "badly written," full of "bad grammar and dreary style," filled with "repitition ad nauseam" and "monkish drivel." Had he been describing one of my typical lectures, perhaps he would have been right, but this hardly fits this scriptural text. Pfeiffer concluded that the whole chapter was a late fourth century BC Jewish Midrash (inventive commentary) based on Psalm 89, having no literary or historical value.
While others like Hermann Gunkel reversed the direction of literary dependence and declared Psalm 89 a free poetic expansion of 2 Samuel 7, John L. McKenzie and C.J. labuschagne took the middle ground that both the historical book and the psalm writers drew from an original common source. And contrary to those who would regard 2 Samuel 7:13 as a "deuteronomic addition", the verse is not only to be regarded as genuine, but it is precisely the point on which the theology of the whole passage pivots.
It can be demonstrated that the role of building a temple was closely connected with the establishment of a kingdom in the ancient Near East. Such a connection was demonstrated in F. Willesen's fine study. Thus, according to 2 Samuel 7:13, the "house" of David had to be first established by yahweh before a temple could be built. Temple building could only be the completion and crowning effect of Yahweh's creation of a kingdom. This same emphasis on the necessity of God's work of establishing the kingdom taking priority over the construction of a house of worship can also be seen in 7:11c where the "you" is emphatically positioned in the Hebrew text: "And to you the Lord declares that the Lord will make you a house" (cf. "he", i.e., Solomon, and the verb "to build" in 7:13a, 15b). The contrast, then, was between a kingdom established by human effort and one totally brought about by Yahweh.
God promised to make David a "house" (Hebrew, bayit). But what could this mean? The Hebrew word for "house" referred to more than a residence; it was also a family: parents, children, and kin. For example, Noah went into the ark with his "whole house" (Genesis 7:1) and obviously not with the building he lived in. Jacob ordered "his whole house" to dispose of their foreign gods (35:2). Later all the tribes could be subdivided into "houses" (larger family groupings, Josh. 7:14), and the posterity of a family, king, or dynasty would be called his "house" (Exodus 2:1; 1 Kings 11;38; 12:16; 13:2).
For 2 Samuel 7, the meaning of a "dynasty" is most fitting, especially since the expression "your house and your kingdom will be made secure forever" (v. 16), could only mean that David's "dynasty" woud rule forever. This was the new addition to the promise plan: all that had bee offered to the patriarchs and Moses was now being offered to David's dynasty. Moreover, it would last into the future, forever (v. 19).
Eight times in 2 Samuel 7, Yahweh promises to make David a "house" (vv. 11, 13, 16, 19, 25, 26, 27, 29), not counting the instances of parallel ideas which use other terms. It was explained that David's "house" was aline of descendants (vv. 12, 16, 19, 26, 29) which the Lord would give to him in perpetuity. Usually monarchs worried, once they had succeeded in enforcing the peace after a long period of military gains, about the durability of their kingdom (cf. Nebucadnezzer in Daniel 2). But David was relieved from this anxiety. His "dynasty" would be secure forever.
Even though the word "seed" is used only once in 2 Sam. 7:12, this promise of a dynasty which would have a long line of descendants was a reminder of a similar word to Abraham. "Seed" had a collective meaning of "posterity" even as it did in Genesis 3:15; 12:7; 13:15. But the seed simultaneously pointed to the one person who represented the whole group and was the earnest of a line of descendants yet to come. Thus, David's "seed" would build the proposed temple (2 Sam. 7:13), meaning the single individual Solomon. But at the same time, the eternally enduring house would never lack a descendant to sit on the throne of David. In fact, in one expression in 2 Chron. 22:10 Athaliah wanted to exterminate the "whole seed of the kingship" (kol zera' hammamlakah), i.e. the whole dynasty.
As already noticed, one item in the promise during the era of the patriarchs and the Exodus was that Israel would have "kings" (Gen. 17;6, 16; 35:11; cf. 36:31), including a "kingdom" (Exodus 19:6; Numbers 24:7), and a "dominion" (Numbers 24:19). Now that kingdom was being assigned to David and his family according to 2 Samuel 7:23-24, 26, 27.
It was not that God had abdicated his rule or that his reign had come to an end; for so closely linked was this newly announced reign of David with God's reign, that the Davidic throne and kingdom were later on called the Lord's own. Thus 1 Chron. 28:5 speaks of Solomon sitting on "the throne of the kingdom of the Lord", and in 2 Chron. 13:8 refers to "the kingdom of the Lord," and in 2 Chron 9:8 the king is placed by God "on his [God's] throne to be king for the Lord your God." Already in 1 Sam. 24:6 and in 2 Sam. 19:21 he was called the "Lord's anointed." Accordingly, the theocracy and Davidic kingdom, by virtue of their special palce in the covenant, were regarded as one. They were so inseparably linked together that in the future their destiny was identical.
More information on this kingdom can be gleaned from the royal psalms (2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 89, 101, 110, 132, 144) and the eschatological psalms or enthronement psalms (47, 93-100). But for now, David was told in 2 Samuel 7 that the kingdom was irrevocable and eternal (v. 13, 16, 24, 25, 26, 29).
Son of God
Particularly surprizing was the divine announcement: "I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son" (2 Sam. 7:14). Now "Father" must have been a title David used naturally of God, for he had named one of his children Absalom, "My Father is Peace". Indeed, Moses had already taught Israel the same when he asked, "Is he not your Father, he who created you?" (Deut. 32:6).
The concept of sonship was not without its theological antecedents in times past. All the members of Israel were God's sons, his firstborn (Exodus 4:22; 19:4). Interestingly enough, "the whole diplomatic vocabulary of the second millennium was rooted in the familial sphere". Hence, it was most appropriate for this covenant with David.
What was new was that Yahweh should treat David's son now in a manner clearly reminicent of the patriarchal and Mosaic promises. This was more than the Near Eastern titulary of divine sonship: "son of god x"; it was a divine gift, not a proud human boast. It was also a particularization of the old word given to Israel (that is, his "firstborn", which now would be addressed to David's seed -- Psalm 89:27). In a totally unique way David could now call him "my Father" (v. 26), for each Davidite stood in this relation of son to his God. Yet it is not said that any single Davidite would ever realize purely or perfectly this lofty concept of divine sonship. But should any person qualify for this relationship, he would also need to be a son of David.
A Charter for Humanity
What God had promised David was no brand new unrelated theme to his previous blessings. Already there had been in vogue a long development of theology which could inform David's covenant. Among the familiar themes already known to David in 2 Samuel 7, as they were again reheresed in this word directed to him, were:
1. "I will make you a great name" (2 Sam. 7:9; cf. Genesis 12:2, etc.)
2. "I will appoint a place for Israel and will plant them." (2 Samuel 7:10; cf. Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 11:24-25; Joshua 1:4-5).
3. "I will set up your seed after you." (2 Samuel 7:12; cf. Genesis 17:7-10, 19).
4. "He shall be my son." (2 Samuel 7:14; cf. Exodus 4:22).
5. "I will be to you a God and you shall be to me a people." (2 Samuel 7:24; cf. Genesis 17:7-8; 28:21; Exodus 6:7; 29:45; Leviticus 11:45; 22:33; 23:43; 25:38; 26:12, 44-45; Numbers 15:41; Deuteronomy 4:20; 29:12-13).
6. Israel's uniqueness (2 Samuel 7:22; cf. Exodus 1:9; Numbers 14:12; Eeuteronomy 1:28-31; 5:26; 7:17-19; 9:14; 11:23; 20:1; 33:29. Notice especially the plural verb in 2 Samuel 7:23: "Who are like your people, like Israel, one nation in the earth whom God have [sic] to redeem", a deliberate quote of Deuteronomy 4:7-8, with the same peculiar grammar).
7. Yahweh's uniqueness (2 Samuel 7:22; cf. Exodus 8:10; 9:14; 15:11; Deuteronomy 33:26; Psalm 18:31; 89:6, 8)
8. The exceptional use of "Adonai Yahweh" (2 Samuel 7:18-19, 22, 28-29), which does not appear again in Samuel or Chronicles. Probably the special significance of this designation, which appears only a total of five times prior to this, was caught by R.A. Carlson, who noted that this was the designation used when God promised Abraham a "seed" in Genesis 15:2 and 8. Its repeated used in 2 Samuel 7 is striking, and so is probably not accidental.
Thus the blessing of Abraham was continued in a blessing of David: "With your blessing," prayed David, "let the house of your servant be blessed forever." (2 Samuel 7:29).
A Promised Kingdom
Six times David's kingdom had been declared eternal (2 Samuel 7:13, 16, 24, 25, 26, and 29). But was this gift to David "a blank check of unlimited validity?" M. Tsevat, along with a large number of other commentators, have trouble accepting the stress of irrevocability or unconditionality as part of the original passage. Rather, they would prefer to treat as normative the theme of conditionality which stressed the "if" clause and the necessity of loyalty and fidelity as found in 2 Samuel 7:14-15; 1 Kings 2:4; 8:25; 9:4-5; Psalm 89:31-38[30-37]; 132:11-12.
Yet David himself reflected on this same promise in 2 Samuel 23:5 and called it an "everlasting covenant" (berit 'olam). His exact words were: "Certainly my dynasty is established by God, for he has made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged in every detail and guaranteed." The same thought is repeated in the royal Psalm by David: (Psalm 21:6-7[7-8]) where he rejoiced that God had "made him most blessed forever" and that the "covenantal love of the Most High [to David] would not be moved."
Psalm 89:28-37 [29-38] also commented on the immutability of this eternal covenant. It would endure "forever" (28, 29, 36, 37): "As the days of heaven" (29), "as the sun" (36) and "moon" (37). God "will not violate, nor alter the word that is gone out of [his] lips" (34); he has "sworn by [his] holiness; [he] will not lie to David"(35).
Nevertheless, the argument for conditionality still rages. could not this covenant be broken? Indeed, even though the Abrahamic covenant was also "everlasting" (Gen. 17:7, 13, 19), yet "the uncircumcixed man...has broken [it]" (v. 14). Even the later "everlasting covenant" would be broken by the inhabitants of the earth (Is. 24:5), and an adulterous Israel despised "the oath of God" (the covenant "to the extent of breaking the everlasting covenant" (Ezek. 16:59, 63).
The solution to these apparent breakings, frustrations, invalidations of the covenant was the same as it was for the "if" clauses which concerned Tsevat and others: "If your children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit on your throne forevermore" (Psalm 132:12; cf. 2 Samuel 7:14b-15; 1 Kings 2:4; 8:24; 9:4-5; Psalm 89:30-33). The "breaking" or conditionality can only refer to personal and individual invalidation of the benefits of the covenant, but it cannot affect the transmission of the promise to the lineal discendants. That is why God would staunchly affirm his fidelity and the perpetuity of the covenant to David in spite of succeeding rascals who would appear in his lineage. For in that case, he "finds fault with them" but not with his Abrahamic-Davidic-New Covenant (cf. Jeremiah 31:32; Hebrews 8:8ff).
This same state of affairs shows up from the research on the promissory land grant treaties of the Hittites and Neo-Assyrians. M. Weinfeld, by linking the "royal grants" made to Abraham and David with the grants of "land" and "house" (dynasty) in Hittite-Syro-Palestinian politics, has demonstrated that the unconditional gift was also explicitly protected against any subsequent sins made by the recipients' descendants. In these treaties the grant of "land" or dynasty may be delayed or individually forfeited; however, it must still be passed on to the next in line instead of being granted to someone outside the specified family. So it was in David's situation: rascals there may be, but the blessing would never be revoked from the family; thus it was an "everlasting" covenant.
Jeremiah 36:30-31 talks of Jeconiah (or Jehoiakin) never having an offspring to sit on the throne. This should be taken as meaning immediate decendent (i.e., his sons), rather than meaning that the line of promise is broken, since such an interpretation would be at variance with the earlier promises, and an interpretation that results in an absurdity (or contradiction), cannot possibly be correct. To argue that the promise of David could come through one of David's other children (for instance Nathan), will not work, since Nathan and his descendants are not in the line of promise, any more than Esau and his descendants are in the line of promise, though he is no less a son of Abraham than Isaac.
The Age of Accountability
This is a bit of an excursis, but the question comes up now and then and so it might be useful to address it here. The relavent passage is 2 Samuel 12:18-23, where David says that although he cannot bring the child back to him, he will go to the child. Many will read this as an expression of hope in an afterlife and resurrection for the child. However, based on normal OT usage, David was simply saying that the baby was dead and someday David would be too. Questions of an afterlife are not even being addressed by the passage. Yet, this passage is used to bolster -- in fact it is the only passage available -- the concept of an "age of accountability."
But how do we square the "age of accountablility", the concept that the unborn and children to a certain, indefinite age, are under God's grace, with such passages as Psalm 5:5; Job 14:1; 15:14; 25:4; John 14:6; Acts 4:12 and Romans 5:12-14 (especially v. 14), among others? (such as Ephesians 1:4-5, Romans 9:10-29, Ephesians 2:8-10, etc., etc.) The concept of an age of accountability is incompatible with the standard picture of the nature of salvation. If salvation is permanent, how can it be lost by committing the unpardonable sin of say, becoming four?
Moreover, if this doctrine of the "age of accountability" is true, then why are so many Christians opposed to abortion? We should rejoice in it, since it means untold millions are entering the kingdom!
God is love (1 John 4:7-8), and God is merciful (Psalm 103:17; 108:4; Lam. 3:22; Mic. 7:18; Titus 3:5). We don't know how God deals with small children. We do not know the cognitive capabilities of infants and the unborn. But we do know what the Bible says. The concept of the "age of accountability" flies in the face of the scriptural record. It may sound nice, it may be convenient, and we may find the concept of babies in Hell horrific, but "the age of accountability" is not the answer to the conundrum. It creates more problems than it solves.
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