David and His Successors
Before we move on to the successors of David and the Davidic dynasty, I would like to take a few more moments to discuss the failures of David, and their impact on his life, and on the future of the Seed.
David was not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, if we were to assess his character flaws and compare them to those of other kings of Judah, we would find that he does not really come out on top! He made many mistakes and committed numerous serious sins for which he was severely disciplined by God.
All you need to do is read the books of Samuel to see a clear portrait of David: he pretended he was a madman when he defected to the Philistines, he allied himself with the enemies of God’s people (on the surface, but nevertheless in the eyes of his enemies), he committed adultery, lied and cheated, ordered the death of an innocent man, one of his best fighters, and took census of the army of Israel contrary to the advice of his generals. So David was not a saint! He was as much ordinary and normal in character as you and I. Through all these experiences, David was shaped and molded into what God had destined him for. The great character strengths of David which we examined in the previous chapter arise from these terrible and humiliating experiences. Adversities, if one heeds their message, have a tendency to melt and reshape one’s character by purging him/her of the thick layers of self-dependency, self-sufficiency, self-absorption, self-expression, and self-centeredness. One good thing about the fires of affliction is that they somehow remove what is false and unstable – the self and its achievements – and retain and further strengthen what is true and permanent – Spirit-breathed characteristics. David, likewise, was not exempt from a fair share of sufferings and afflictions. He had come to learn that the way to the throne of God, and ruling on His behalf, was paved with the process of ‘sonship’. This process, derived from the principle of sonship, exposes believers to a series of life-long experiences which bring death to the natural and life to the spiritual in them. This process of “death and resurrection” is the underlying flow of the process of sonship in believers, where they are brought into conformity to the image of Christ through the experience of the death of their self-life and the release of the spiritual and divine life of Christ in them. This process leads a believer to a position of total dependency on the Father, as Jesus Christ was totally and absolutely dependent on His Father for every matter of life.
David as an immature yet beloved child of the Lord had to be taken through “valleys of the shadow of death” in order for him to come to know who his shepherd was. The sin in David’s life was not the greatest issue. God knew that every sin can be atoned for by the offerings of the prescribed sacrifices (a type of the blood of Jesus). Sometimes, however, there were severe consequences to the sins committed by David. The Lord allows these consequences to persist in order to use them to conform believers to the right image, the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
An outstanding feature of David’s life as a human being is that despite all his shortcomings and failures, he never committed the “ultimate sin” for which there is no remedy: the sin of idolatry! The Lord detested the worship of idols so much He finally sent Israel and Judah into captivity because of it. Idol worship was more than ceremonial gestures and conduct. Every idol had an invisible spiritual image behind it, and by coming in contact with it, the worshiper would yield to the conforming power of that image. God had specifically ordered that the people of Israel should never engage themselves in the worship of any images of idols. Israel however consistently violated this command and gave themselves to these foreign gods, even as early as their first few weeks in the wilderness when they worshiped the golden calf, an Egyptian god. Someone rightly said that it took God one night to take the Jews out of Egypt, but it took Him forty years to take Egypt out of the Jews!
David never worshiped an idol. He never bowed down to the foreign gods of the neighboring nations. He never, for the sake of political convenience, gave in to the temptation of collecting idols from those nations. David was free from this cancerous disease. That is why God so loved David despite all his weaknesses.
There was only one image David wanted to be conformed to: the image God had prepared for him. For David, there were no competing loyalties and images. David had, in a sense, an undivided heart.
Now the time had come for David, an old king, to pass on the torch of the testimony of God’s sovereignty over Israel to his successor. In Acts 13:36 we read that David served his generation and then by the will of God fell asleep. David faithfully maintained the sovereignty and the lordship of Jehovah in and over Israel and consequently obtained a good report from his God who had promised him that from his Seed, there would always be a king on the throne of Israel.
All that Satan had hoped to accomplish in and through David turned into victory after victory. Isn’t this what Paul said in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who love God, those who are the called according to His purpose”? God turned David’s every blunder into a lesson in conformity to the image of Christ and blessing for the nation. It is no wonder we never read about David’s failures in the New Testament, but rather about his accomplishments and God’s promises to him and his heirs.
Satan will attempt to frustrate God’s plan at any cost by pushing us into situations where we will succumb to our weak nature and commit sins that displease God; but since God has provided the remedy for sins, He will use these seemingly negative opportunities to turn them into victory. One prime example of this principle is the incident of David’s adultery with Bathsheba. The entire episode from beginning to the end was dark and shameful for David and his family; and yet, once David restored his relationship with God through confession and repentance (Psalm 51), God brought about a beautiful fruit from this horrible act: Solomon! Actually, and surprisingly, both sons of David responsible for the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ – Solomon and Nathan – came from the union of David and Bathsheba! It seems that God knew ahead of time that David would commit such an ugly sin, but by teaching David the lessons derived from this experience, He used it to bless David. This is beyond human comprehension!
Satan was waiting to see who the next heir would be, so he could focus his efforts on discrediting and destroying him. This is perhaps the most interesting juncture in the history of Israel. The house of David has been promised the throne of Israel and that to Satan means that someone from David’s house will rise up to destroy him. Of course, the choice can be narrowed down to the son who would not only reign after David, but would also build a permanent dwelling place for the God of Israel. A dual task is required of this heir: building the house of God and ruling on the throne of King David. Who would it be? This is where God had to reveal His masterpiece in covert operations! All eyes are on David to proclaim the next king, the man who would most likely end Satan’s rule. Satan is very worried because when David had wanted to build God a house, God had disallowed it and said to David, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall by My Son” (II Samuel 7:12-14).
In Satan’s mind, and according to this revelation, the next person from the seed of David who takes the throne is the promised Seed. Therefore, he has to be destroyed at all cost. David had lost three sons before reaching this point in his life. Amnon, Absalom, and the newborn baby of his union with Bathsheba had all died. God had placed in David’s heart the thought that Solomon would be the next king.
Satan, assuming that Solomon was the promised Seed, tried to block his ascent to the throne by inciting his brother Adonijah to opposing him and usurping the throne. So, as soon as David died, a struggle began. Even though Solomon did ascend to the throne of his father, and even though he built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem, God passed the promised Seed very quietly to another son of David because He knew the craftiness of the Devil and Israel’s history of weakness and surrender to the idols of the nations surrounding them. Solomon remained the official heir and the king of Israel and through his lineage, the royal and legal title to the throne of Israel was passed on to Jesus Christ; but the real Seed bearer and the one who provided the earthly clothing of Christ through Mary, the mother of the Lord, was not Solomon.
History does not shed much light on the identity of this mystery Seed bearer. Everyone who was familiar with the revelation of God to David, as far as his family’s destiny was concerned, knew that the sons of David assuming the throne of Israel would be the Seed bearers. In the mind of the public, there was no other possibility; therefore all homage and honor was bestowed upon the kings of Judah who sat on the throne of their great ancestor David. They were known to be the carriers of the promised Seed of the promised Messiah who would one day destroy Satan and his kingdom. Satan and his hosts of rebellious angelic beings were also persuaded that Solomon and his children were the carriers of the Seed.
Satan is not God! Only God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Only God can be everywhere at the same time, and know everything at the same time and in advance of their occurrence, and do everything as He wishes. Satan is bound by certain limitations in space and time and therefore is not capable of using foreknowledge, for instance, to change or modify the future. All he can do is to make predictions of how things will be, based on how things have been and are. Since he knows the nature of mankind so well, he knows how a person reacts to certain thoughts or stimuli; he therefore sets into motion certain events in order to trigger the desired reactions which would serve his purposes. The point I am trying to make here is that unlike God who can see the history of the world forwards and backwards, Satan is bound by the normal progression of history. Satan has to devise his plans based on past information about mankind’s nature, past prophecies and his interpretation of them. In the history of the Bible Satan is at pace with mankind, but out of pace with God. God is always ahead of him and in the nick of time, just before Satan can reach his goal of destroying God’s plan, He moves ahead and beyond harm’s reach.
As events unfolded, Satan realized that Solomon was the heir and potential Seed. He therefore tried to destroy him. First he incited Adonijah to challenge him. The Lord rallied good men like Benaiah and Zadok the priest to protect the king. Then as Solomon’s fame started spreading around the world, Satan enticed him to enter into political alliances with the neighboring nations through marriage. In time, the women he married enticed Solomon to commit the ultimate sin of idolatry. He began to worship at the altar of other idols. Satan must have been celebrating, since in his mind, the person who sat on the throne of David, who built the most magnificent temple in all history, whose name meant “peaceful”, and on whom King David had placed his hopes to lead Israel into all the glorious future God had promised them, was now worshiping idols! Satan had managed to destroy the testimony of the chosen seed. From the time of Solomon onwards, the people continued to practice idol worship, even though, some of the descendants of Solomon did return to God, but none completely eradicated the detestable practices associated with idol worship. Satan had finally succeeded in completely corrupting the Seed through the kings of Judah who themselves had been taken captive by these demonic powers. The history of Israel after the early days of Solomon is generally a dark period of failures, compromise, ignorance, pride, and corruption. All of these forced God to send Israel and Judah to captivity in order for them to come to their senses and become aware of the cancerous condition of their hearts. Captivity delivered Israel, particularly Judah, of their idolatry once and for all.
Therefore, when we read the books of Kings and Chronicles, we must remember that God was allowing these terrible things to happen to Israel in order to discipline them, and restore them to wholeness. But where is the Seed? Who are the Seed carriers?
Well, as I said before, we would not have known about this mystery had we only read the Old Testament. As history unfolded, it became more and more evident that the house of David had failed in a general way, and the kings of Judah were in danger of being cursed by God. As a matter of fact, God did at last pronounce a curse on Jekoniah and disallowed anyone from his seed to be king in Israel.
Matthew, in his Gospel, enumerates the genealogy of Christ in chapter one and clearly demonstrates that Jesus could not have been the son of Joseph, because Joseph was a descendant of Jekoniah, a cursed king. So Matthew’s readers, who were mainly first century Jews, would have known beyond a shadow of a doubt, that even though, by the right of adoption by Joseph, Jesus was entitled to the throne of Israel, he could not have been born of his flesh and blood and assumed the title of king of the Jews.
In the rest of the Old Testament we read the history of the sons of Solomon and their perils, troubles, trials, afflictions, persecutions, miseries, defeats, misfortunes, pains, sufferings, and destitutions, all because Satan had wrongly assumed that they were the carriers of the Seed. They were literally annihilated because of this promise to David. The application of this principle in our lives is clear. Anytime we are connected to Christ and His throne, all hell breaks loose to prevent us from ever becoming the testimony of God’s sovereignty and lordship in our lives and in our surroundings. Satan hates the Seed of God, whether it be in Israel or in the individual believer or the church of Jesus Christ. Satan does not want to allow any other sovereignty except his own on the earth. He does not want to allow mankind to be the expression, manifestation, and the representation of God’s kingdom on this earth. You may believe all you want to. You may go to church all you want. You may read and print as many Bibles as you want. But the moment you stand on the grounds of the Lord’s sovereignty, renouncing the enemy’s control on your life, all hell will break loose and you will become a target of persecution. This has been, is and will always be the pattern he follows. We are, as Paul said, “not unaware of his schemes”!
In I Chronicles 3:10-16 we read about several descendants of Solomon sitting on the throne of Judah. For approximately 500 years, Satan pursued the family of David in order to destroy them completely. For him, everything had to serve this one goal: the utter destruction of Judah and the family of David. Satan’s hatred towards this family manifested itself the in endless murders of David’s children and the genocide of the Jews during the time of the captivities under Nabuchadnezzar of Babylon.
On the surface, every one of the kings from the line of David had a flaw and was unworthy to be the Seed! Satan failed to realize, however, that the promise given to Eve, reintroduced to Abraham, passed on to Judah, and preserved in David, was not just about an ordinary man, born of sinful parents, but about God’s only begotten son who would take flesh from the house of David and would legitimately and legally destroy Satan. Satan had really underestimated how much God loved mankind that He would be willing to give His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to redeem them and usher in the kingdom of God. Satan had assumed all along that the Messiah would be a mere man, not realizing that the Seed of God had both human and divine dimensions. The Seed was not only a perfect human born of the seed of David, but also divine, the son of God in nature and attributes. This was a secret kept in the heart of God.
In Romans 1:3-4, the apostle Paul beautifully narrates this truth, “Concerning His son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
Solomon and his heirs were eventually taken captive by the deceitfulness of idolatry. Ultimately, they went to captivity in Babylon around the year 586 B.C. Meanwhile, they acted as decoys in order for the Seed carriers to be safe from all harm and destructive schemes of Satan. As we already know, the lineage of King Solomon is not the actual and direct line of the Seed. Even though the Lord Jesus was the son of David through Solomon and the kings of Judah from a royal entitlement standpoint (his stepfather Joseph was a descendant of David through Solomon’s lineage), it was not this particular vein of David’s children that gave rise to the Messiah. So why all these details about the kings of Judah in the historical archives of the Old Testament? The answer is not simple, but perhaps the following observations may help us understand the reasons from the perspective of God’s plan and the promised Seed.
First of all, David’s descendants were to be the rulers of Israel forever according to God’s promise. That is why the history of these kings was recorded for us to see what things transpired from the time of the promise to David until the last king, in order to prove to us that none of them were the promised Seed, even though some of them in type represented the character and the work of Christ in their lifetime. Examples are Solomon, who built the house of the Lord, as a type of Christ building the true dwelling and spiritual house for God which is the Church. Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah, Uzziah, and Josiah, also portrayed Christ in some aspects.
Secondly, God had to employ a decoy strategy, just as He had during the time of Joseph, the son of Jacob. You recall in Genesis 37, how Joseph rose up to be the prime minister of Egypt, giving the apparent signal that he indeed was the chosen Seed carrier. And while Joseph was being assaulted by the Devil for this false assumption, in chapter 38 Judah passes on the Seed though Tamar to his son Perez. Joseph was a mere distraction, a decoy. Likewise, in this situation, all things pointed to Solomon and his dynasty as the true Seed bearers; in the meantime, God was very quietly passing the Seed from generation to another through the other son of David, Nathan!
Yes Nathan was the other son of David through Bathsheba who was going to be the recipient of the Seed of the Lord Jesus. Surprising, isn’t it? That is why the Jews had a serious problem with Jesus claiming to be king of Israel. There seemed to be a contradiction. On the one hand, Jesus claimed that He was the rightful heir to the throne of Israel. This had to make him a direct descendant of the house of Solomon. And yet, the Lord’s ancestry clearly pointed to God and not Joseph. If He was not a son of Joseph through flesh and blood, then He would not be a royal descendant of David, and would not be entitled to be the king of the Jews. On the other hand, we know that the lineage of Solomon could not be the ancestor of the Messiah because of their idolatry and the eventual curse that was placed on Jekoniah. This was the controversy and in a sense the mystery of the origins of Jesus of Nazareth.
This mystery was not successfully resolved until Luke thoroughly investigated the matter and gave us the answer in his Gospel, chapter 3, verse 23. Through careful investigation and study of the genealogy of Christ through Mary, the mother of Jesus and the only person from whom the Lord took flesh, Luke shows us that Jesus was indeed a direct descendant of David in flesh through Nathan. This qualified Him to be a heir to the throne of His great ancestral father David. Also, this would allowed Him to be the rightful heir of David not through a cursed lineage but through a pure and preserved lineage. We do not read much about this lineage in the history of the Old Testament except for a few mentions here and there. In I Chronicles 3:1-9 we see a list of David’s children from various wives. Nathan and Solomon are listed under Bathshua (or Bathsheba). The Mystery is thus solved in Nathan.
So at this point in history, Solomon obtains the physical, the ‘seen’ royal throne of Israel, while Nathan becomes the Seed carrier, far from the eyes of the enemy. Satan continues to pursue and persecute the house of Solomon, believing that either Solomon himself or one of his descendants would be the promised Seed. What a grave error! Once again God beautifully maneuvered situations to make the Devil believe in a false signal, while He passed His son’s Seed down from David through Nathan all the way to Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus.
This is a very solemn and important moment in the history of Israel. God, who in His foreknowledge, was aware of how Satan would try to corrupt and contaminate the lineage of the Seed, diverts all attention away from Nathan and preserves His precious Seed. Israel becomes the object of Satan’s wrath in an even more furious manner, because Satan realizes that somehow the time is drawing near for the promised Seed to take flesh from David and become manifest. Thus begins the battle over the Seed and the survival of Israel as the national and corporate carrier of the divine Seed. God guided and preserved the Seed even though He had to discipline Israel, His beloved nation; and Satan, taking advantage of opportunities, did his utmost to destroy this nation lest there ever be a chance for the Seed of woman, now the Seed of David, to ever stand on earth! The enemy thinks that the earth and its sovereignty belong to him and his forces. He wants to prevent God from ever gaining a foothold on this planet for if such a thing happened and God managed to plant His seed in the soil of this earth, not only would the Seed grow and fill the earth with the glory of God, but it would also uproot all other evil seeds and the kingdom would revert to God through redeemed man, the vessel that would contain the Seed and its fruit.
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