The Kingly Messiah
Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul
Scripture links the kingship of David to Jesus as the Kingly Messiah. Although David was a man with frailties common to man, his unwavering love toward God and service to him resulted in God’s promise to David that “your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16, NIV). The promised Messiah of Israel would come from the “house of David.” God’s word refers to this aspect of the unfolding of his plan as “the sure mercies of David” (Acts 13:34). Though the lineage and authority of Jesus as the kingly Messiah is clearly established in Scripture, nothing is said that David’s kingship was typical of the reign of Jesus. Because of David’s human failings, he could not prefigure Christ in every way. But there are many notable similarities between David’s life and the Anointed Jesus.
Types and Shadows
Before considering details of the parallels between David and Jesus as king, we should first reflect on the Scriptural pictures intended as types. Students of the Bible often recognize similarities in Old Testament Scriptures to New Testament events and are tempted to declare the Old Testament Scriptures as pictures or types of the people and events in the New Testament, or of events of our day and beyond. This should be done cautiously, especially where the Bible does not clearly identify a Scripture as a picture or a type. The Bible is the final authority and where it is silent, the opinion of no man should be elevated to equal authority.
An example of people or events intended as a type is found in Hebrews 10:1 where we read, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” Paul also declares that many particulars of the Mosaic Law were intended to be “shadows of things to come” (Colossians 2:16,17; 1 Corinthians 10:11).
Whenever Scripture makes such clear declarations, a Bible student has biblical authority that the Scripture is intended as a “shadow of things to come.” The words type and shadow describe how Old Testament people and events foreshadowed future people and events.
Whenever we find something that might be a type without Scriptural authority, we should consider it worthy of consideration and faith strengthening, but it should not be considered dogma. An example might be considering Abraham’s “wife” Keturah as a type of the New Covenant. Paul clearly identifies Sarah and Hagar as types of the Abrahamic Covenant and Law Covenant when he writes, “These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants” (Galatians 4:24, NIV). It may be logical to also identify Keturah as a type of a covenant, but there is no Scriptural authority to do so.
Saul, David, and Solomon
The reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon may typify the Jewish, Gospel, and Millennial ages respectively. Nowhere does the Bible declare that the reign of any one of them is a picture of a particular age, but the details of their reign and the events of their day lend credence to the idea that their reigns typified an unfolding of God’s plan throughout these three ages. A superficial study reveals that Saul’s reign can be seen as a type of the chosen people of God during the Jewish age who were unfaithful to the grace of God and had their “kingdom” removed from them. Likewise, David’s reign might logically represent the Gospel age. The fact that David was not allowed to build the temple supports this idea because God dwelling with his people in the temple is something that happens in the Millennial age. Finally, Solomon, the third of these three anointed kings, logically represents the Millennial age. The fact that Solomon built the temple supports this conclusion. Nevertheless, the story of David’s anointing and kingship reveals faith-strengthening similarities between the reign of David and the reign of Jesus as Messiah King.
The story of David’s anointing begins during the reign of Saul, David’s predecessor and Israel’s first king. The account of Saul’s anointing does not refer to him as a “son of God,” but rather as a “leader over Israel.” This contrasts with the Scriptures that declare David and Solomon as “sons of God.” David records concerning himself (for Solomon had not yet been anointed), “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy hill. I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, You are my Son, today I have become your Father” (Psalm 2:6,7, NIV). God promised to David that his son, Solomon, would be anointed as king when David died and that Solomon would build “a house for my name.” Furthermore, he declared, “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son” (2 Samuel 7:12-14). In the letter to the Hebrews (see 1:5 and 5:5), Psalm 2 is applied to the anointing of Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of the promise to David that his kingdom would last forever. The word for “the anointed one” in Hebrew is “Messiah”; its Greek translation is “Christ.” Saul was anointed a king to lead the nation. David and his house were anointed (“Messiah”) sons. Thus David was the first Messiah (Christ, who was the son of God), as were all the members of his dynasty. Though declared to be a “son of God” by God, David and Solomon were not sons of God in the way Jesus was the son of God. Jesus was begotten of God and born of a virgin, something that cannot be said for anyone else.
David as Savior
David as Messiah (the anointed son of God) served as a savior of his people. The kind of salvation he provided was very different from that which Jesus has provided, but it is one of the parallels between King David and Jesus as king. David was a savior for the nation in that he saved them from their enemies and united them into a strong nation. The seeds of weakness were planted with David’s adultery and the subsequent consequences of his behavior. It was a tragedy of human frailty that was compounded by Solomon’s toleration of idolatry. Solomon’s many wives may have contributed strong alliances with neighboring kings, but they also brought in idol worship and were a bad example for the people of Israel.
Samuel anointed David long before he assumed kingly authority. This was also true of Jesus. Jesus was anointed with the holy spirit when he was baptized at Jordan. At that time God declared, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). When he resurrected him after the crucifixion, God spoke the same pronouncement as written by David: “Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee” (Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33). Jesus can be viewed as an anointed king prior to assuming kingdom authority because this is what he said about himself: “For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:21, NASB). He also said, “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matthew 12:28). Jesus will assume kingdom authority when his thousand-year kingdom begins. Before that time God permits the prince of this world, Satan, to influence the world just as King Saul exercised authority even though God had removed his spirit from him and had anointed David.1 David honored Saul’s anointing until Saul’s death even though God had rejected Saul. David’s respect for Saul testifies to David’s love for God and his respect for God’s wisdom in the outworking of his plan.
The Attributes of David
David’s humility provided outward evidence of his faith in God’s selection and election. His humility reminds us of our Lord Jesus’ own humility and willingness to do the will of God no matter what the cost. David’s poetic prowess produced passages of profound eloquence that have stirred the hearts of all through the ages and yet they reveal a humble man after God’s own heart. Perhaps no passage reveals this with more simplicity, passion, and beauty than David’s response to God’s promise: “Then King David went into the Tent of the LORD’s presence, sat down and prayed, Sovereign LORD, I am not worthy of what you have already done for me, nor is my family. Yet now you are doing even more, Sovereign LORD; you have made promises about my descendants in the years to come. And you let a man see this, Sovereign LORD! What more can I say to you!” (2 Samuel 7:18-20, Good News Bible).
David’s grief at the death of his mortal enemy Saul and his sorrow at the death of his rebellious son Absalom reveal the depths of his compassion and mercy. This capacity of David to mourn so deeply reminds us of our anointed savior Jesus whom the prophet Isaiah describes as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). The closest companions of both David and Jesus could little understand the intense anguish each felt at the death, pain, and suffering of others and especially of anyone closely associated with them. At the death of his good friend Lazarus, “Jesus wept,” even though he knew he was about to raise him from the dead. At that time we are told, “When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33,35, NIV). It was the pain and agony the others felt that so deeply affected Jesus, including, perhaps, the recognition that he had to permit this so God’s glory would be revealed to those of faith. It also served to harden the hearts of the Sanhedrin against Jesus because this miracle, like no other, would convince even more Jews to follow him.
Finally, David’s capacity to rejoice with abandon and to sing aloud his praises to God remind us of the underlying joy that Jesus felt because of his knowledge of his Father’s plan to bless all the families of the earth. Nowhere did David express his joy with more exuberance than on the occasion when he danced in front of the procession that was bringing the ark to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:14-16). He dressed simply with a linen garment about his waist and he jumped and shouted with joy amidst the crowd as the ark was carried through the streets toward the temple. To his wife, Michal, and others more concerned with appearances than with praising and glorifying God, David’s exuberance was viewed as despicable.
David simply said he was dancing before the Lord that had chosen him above Saul and that he would continue to dance. Likewise Jesus encourages his followers, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22, 23). The Scriptures further encourage us to emulate Jesus: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
The Covenant with David
The risen Lord Jesus literally fulfills God’s covenant with David when David was assured that “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16, NIV). He also becomes the antitype of the typical priesthood: “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:14-17, RSV). This type —and Scripture makes clear that it is a type —reveals that Jesus will fulfill a role that even David, as king, could not fill.
Jesus will also be a priest and will reign as both king and priest. His priesthood will be superior to that of Aaron because he puts away sin forever by his own sacrifice. His kingdom will be superior to that of David because he has conquered death and will live forever. He will put away all opposition to God, and there will be no end to the peace of his kingdom.
Thank God for his abounding grace: “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.” (Isaiah 9:7).
1. David was anointed three times: first as a youth, before kingly authority; second as king over Judah; then as king over all Israel. Similarly. Christ was anointed at his first advent; then at his return for his church; then lastly as king in his thousand-year kingdom.