Sunday, February 11, 2007

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (2.1.1. David & Abraham)

2. The Davidic Covenant
Walter Brueggemann has noted that God’s sworn covenant oath to David represents “a genuine novum in Israel’s faith.”[1] In the Davidic covenant God is doing something distinctly new with Israel. This part of the essay will examine the crucial role the Davidic covenant played in God’s plan for Israel as both fulfillment of God’s previous’ promises and as an authentic new stage of development, which came to serve as the future eschatological ideal.
2.1. The Davidic Covenant as Fulfillment of God’s Covenant Promises
After God declares his oath to David in 2 Samuel 7, David exclaims, “thou hast shown me a law for humanity” (2 Sam 7:19). The international character of the “law” associated with the Davidic covenant established at Mt. Zion clearly distinguishes it from the nationalistic pre-occupation of the Torah and the covenant made with Israel through Moses at Sinai.[2] Under Moses, Israel was to be separated from the nations—isolation was especially encouraged by the purity laws. However, the Davidic Empire under the reigns of David and Solomon included the surrounding nations (2 Sam 8:11-12; 10:19; 12:30; 1 Kgs 4:20-21; 10:15). Moreover, the foreign Queen of Sheba came to hear Solomon’s wisdom and praised the God of Israel (1 Kgs 10:1-13).

In fact, interpreters have long recognized the similarity between God’s covenant with David, which established an international kingdom, and God’s promise with Abraham, which foretold universal blessing.[3] Both covenants promises refer to the recipients’ “name” (2 Sam. 7:9; Gen. 12:2) and establish a plan for the future involving their “seed” (2 Sam. 7:12; Gen. 15:3).[4] Walter Kaiser concludes, “The ‘blessing’ of Abraham is continued in this ‘blessing’ of David...” [5] The connection between the covenants is further alluded to by the Chronicler, who indicates that David chose Moriah as the temple site—the place where Abraham had received the covenant blessing after showing his willingness to offer Isaac (2 Chr 3:1; Gen 22:2). Furthermore, as we shall see, it is David who completes the conquest of the land promised originally to Abraham.[6] Finally, the statement in 1 Kings 4:20 that under Solomon “Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea” may be related to God’s promise to Abraham in Gen 22:17: “I will indeed bless you and I will multiply your descendants as the sand which is on the seashore.”
[1] Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 605.
[2] R. P. Gordon, 1-2 Samuel (Sheffield: JSOT, 1984), 77; Paul Stuhlmacher, Reconciliation, Law, & Righteousness: Essays on Biblical Thoelogy (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), 115. Hartmut Gese, Essays on Biblical Theology (trans., Keith Crim; Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1981), 26, 60-92.
[3] Paul R. Williamson, Abraham, Israel and the Nations: The Patriarchal Promise and its Covenantal Development in Genesis (JSOT 315; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 264-65: “A strong case could be made for interpreting the Davidic covenant as a divine guarantee that the promise of ‘international blessing’ which God made to Abraham will ultimately be fulfilled through a royal descendant of David.” Walter Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament (Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology; Grand Rapids: 1995), 78-81; W. J. Beecher, The Prophets and the Promise (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977), 238.
[4] M. Wilcox, “The Promise of the ‘Seed’ in the New Testament and the Targumim” in JSNT 5 (1979): 6; Gordon, 1-2 Samuel, 76-77.
[5] Walter Kaiser, “The Blessing of David: A Charter for Humanity,” in The Law and the Prophets (ed., John Skilton; Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974), 310.
[6] Williamson, Abraham, Israel and the Nations, 265.

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