Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom: The Prophetic Hope

Michael Barber and Brant Pitre

David: A Neglected Element of First-Century Expectations

While Third Quest scholars have come to recognize the importance of the restoration within Second Temple eschatological expectations, they are more reticent about Davidic messianism. This is due in large part to the growing tendency to stress a plurality of eschatological frameworks in first-century works. Here we cannot discuss all of the various sources. Here I simply want to make the case that in seeking to stress the diversity of thought reflected in second-temple hopes, scholars have often neglected the prevalence and influence that Davidic expectations had in Jewish eschatological programs.

Dating the origins of Davidic expectations is a notoriously controversial endeavor. The issue is further complicated by the question of the rise of “messianism”.[1] Some like Fitzmeyer haved argued that the explicit concern for a future eschatological messiach is a later development of an ancient tradition which was principally oriented—not specifically on a single ideal figure—but on the permanence of the Davidic kingdom.[2] Regardless of whenever scholars date the beginnings of “messianism,” it seems clear that the prophetic hope of restoration was originally linked to the belief that God had sworn a covenant oath to give David’s descendants the throne. John Goldingay writes that God’s promise to David, “…encourages the conviction that the deposing of the last Davidic king in 587 cannot be the end of the story. The drive of messianic expectation in Israel issues from Yhwh’s promise to David.”[3]


Here therefore we will bracket the question of “messianism” per se. The fact is, one cannot ingore the early prophetic tradition which linked the return from exile with the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom. In fact, although historical-critics suspect later additions, it is noteworthy that every prophetic book bearing the name of an eighth-century prophet contains a vision for the restoration of Israel under a Davidic king.[4]Whenever scholars date these books, it is clear that first-century readers accepted them as authentic. We will only look at a few passages here.

One of the most influential prophecies in first-century hopes is contained in Amos 9. In Amos 9:11 the Lord promises: “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches.” This restored kingdom will include the Gentiles (v. 12) and the re-gathering of Israel in the land (v. 14-15). It is important to note that this book primarily addresses the exile of the northern Israelites.[5]


Do to its popularity in the first century, we might also highlight the book of Isaiah, which also contains many references to a future Davidic King through whom Israel would be re-gathered from exile. Isaiah 9 describes a future return from exile with the coming of one who will be “upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom” (9:7; cf. 16:5). Likewise, Isaiah 11:1 describes a future descendant of David with the imagery of a “branch” growing from the stump of Jesse—a motif picked up in other prophetic visions of restoration (cf. Jer 23:5-8; 33:14-26; Zech 3:8; 6:11-13). The reign of this king will be accompanied with the return and reunion of all the tribes of Israel: “He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah… Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah and Judah shall not harass Ephraim” (11:12, 13b). The reign of this Davidic king will also extend to the Gentiles (“him shall all the nations seek,” 11:10).[6]

[1] Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins (Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 73-82.
[2] Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea Scrolls, 78.
[3] John Goldingay, Israel’s Gospel (vol. 1 in Old Testament Theology; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 560. Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea Scrolls, 73-82.
[4] Amos 9:11; Hos. 3:5; Mic. 5:2-3; Antti Laato, A Star is Rising: The Historical Development of the Old Testament Royal Ideology and the Rise of the Jewish Messianic Expectations (University of South Florida, International Studies in Formative Christianity and Judaism; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997), 109.
[5] Laato, A Star, 114: “The only possibility for the northern kingdom to have a future is to join to the Davidic dynasty and return to Zion. The Zion and David traditions have divine legitimation (1:2; 9:11-12).” See also Joseph Blenkinsopp, A History of Prophecy in Israel: From the Settlement in the Land to the Hellenistic Period (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1983), 117-8: “Isaiah himself thought of the monarchy as an institution through which God mediated salvation to his people.”

[6] Due to the limited scope of this paper we cannot detail every example of Davidic expectations and restoration hopes in the prophets. Ezekiel’s vision, for example, also connects “restoration” with Davidic aspirations, cf. Ezek. 34:11-16 (deliverance from exile) and 34:24 (“I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them”). One might also mention Jeremiah 23:5-8: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: `The LORD is our righteousness.' "Therefore, behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when men shall no longer say, `As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' but `As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.' Then they shall dwell in their own land."


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Qumran)

We know that these prophetic passages and others like them continued to inspire hopes for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom in the first-century. The Amos prophecy played an important role in the eschatological expectations of the Qumran community. Amos 9:11 is found in both CD 7:18-21 and 4Q174 1:10-13, in the later instance it is mentioned along with 2 Sam 7:11-14 and a reference to Isaianic image of “the branch”:

And YHWH declares to you that he will build you a house. I will raise up your seed after you and establish the throne of his kingdom [forev]er. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me’ [2 Sam 7:12-14]. This (refers to the) ‘branch of David’ who will arise with the Interpreter of the law who [will rise up] in Zi[on in] in the last days, as it is written: ‘I will raise up the hut of David which has fallen.’ [Amos 9:11] This (refers to) the ‘hut of David which has fallen,’ who will arise to save Israel.

We should also note the appearance of the Davidic messiah in 4Q252 5:1-5, which also describes “the branch of David.” There we read that “there will [not] lack someone who sits on the throne of David. For the ‘staff’ is the covenant of royalty…Until the messiah of justice comes, the branch of David” (4Q252 5:2).


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Psalms of Solomon)

Another significant witness is the Psalms of Solomon.[1] This book contains strong anti-Hasmonean tendencies, describing the Hasmonean rulers as “sinners” who tried to usurp God’s design, having “despoiled the throne of David with arrogant shouting” (Pss. Sol. 17:4-10).[2] Later, it describes the coming of a Davidic messiah: “See, Lord, and raise up for them their king, the son of David, to rule over your servant Israel in the time known to you, O God” (Pss. Sol. 17:21).

This restoration entails several important elements.[3] First, though the Messiah shall reign, the kingship of God is emphasized, framing the chapter (Pss. of Sol. 17:1, 46). Second, the hope of the Davidic messiah is rooted in God’s sworn oath to David (Pss. of Sol. 17:4; alluding to 2 Sam 7).[4] Third, sinners and Gentiles will be defeated (Pss. of Sol. 17:21-42), though Gentiles will share in the restored kingdom (Pss. Sol.17:31, 34). Fourth, the Messiah conquers through his holiness, being free from sin (Pss. of Sol. 17:36) and establishing a holy people (Pss. of Sol. 17:26-27, 30, 32, 41, 43). Fifth, this restoration is connected with Jerusalem, which he will cleanse from sin (Pss. of Sol. 17:30). Sixth, the vision describes the restoration of the exiles (Pss. of Sol. 17:31) and the gathering of “the tribes of the people made holy by the Lord,” whom he shall apportion tribal territories for (Pss. of Sol. 17:26, 28).[5] Finally, we should mention that the Messiah is referred to as xristov kuriov. Whether or not this represents a Christian interpolation is a matter of debate. However, Laato makes a convincing case that it is authentic.[6]
[1] For a discussion on the issues regarding the background of this book see R. B. Wright, “Psalms of Solomon” in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (vol. 2; ed., James Charlesworth; ABRL; New York, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1985), 639-50.
[2] John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature (ABRL; New York, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1995), 53.
[3] Here we draw from Laato’s analysis, A Star, 281-4.
[4] Collins, The Scepter, 51.
[5] It is not clear the “tribes” refer to the twelve tribes of Israel. However, there is a distinction made between Israel and the “alien and the foreigner” (Pss. of Sol. 17: 28). The chapter also refers to the “good fortune of Israel” (17:44-45). It seems at least possible that the “tribes” could be understood to include the tribes of Israel while also including the presence of other Gentile tribes.
[6] See Laato, A Star, 283-4.


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom

(Re-examining the Davidide in the DSS)

Scholars generally downplay the presence of Davidic expectations in the first-century by noting that the Qumran community expected a priestly Messiah.[1] While this fact should not be overlooked, it should also not obscure the important point that Davidic hopes were indeed present. Regarding the Dead Sea community Sanders has made the stunning claim that the Davidic Messiah “does nothing.”[2] This extreme view goes against the opinion of most Qumran analysts.[3] A careful look at the sectarian literature reveals that Sanders’ claim is simply inaccurate.


As we saw earlier, the passage in 4Q252 5:1-4 identifies the “messiah of justice” as “the branch of David.” In 4Q285 5:2-3 this Davidic figure is called the “Prince of the Congregation.” It is most likely he who leads God’s people in the eschatological war (4Q285 4-5; 4Q376 3; 1Q28b 5:20-29). 1Q28b describes how this prince will defeat the enemy “by the breath of his lips,” evoking the Davidic figure of Is. 11:4. While there are two messianic figures—one cannot deny the important role of the Davidic figure.[4] In fact, it is widely accepted that Davidic expectations were especially high in the sect’s later period (4 B.C. to A.D. 68).[5]
[1] CD 7:10-21 interpreting Balaam’s prophecy in Nm 24:13 in terms of the “Interpreter of the law” (= “the star) and the “Prince of the whole congregation” (= “the scepter”); 1QS 9:11-12: “the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel”; 4Q174 1:11-12: “the branch of David” and the “Interpreter of the law”.
[2] Sanders, Historical Jesus, 241.
[3] Laato, A Star¸294, cf. n. 17; For example, see Frank Moore Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran (3rd ed.; Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1995). Cross writes that the Davidic figure “would be lay head of the New Israel, commander of the troops in the Final War, and universal king” (159).
[4] Collins, The Scepter, 60: “The Dead Sea sect did indeed have its own distinctive attitude to messianism and indeed did look for supernatural deliverance in the final war, but the Davidic king had a well-established place in their expectations.”
[5] Mark Strauss, The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts: The Promise and its Fulfillment in Luke Christology(JSNT Supplement Series 110: Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 43, cf. n. 3 for further sources.


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom

(Son of Man & Melchizedekian Hopes)

Other messianic/eschatological passages revolve around a mysterious, transcendent figure such as the Son of Man in Daniel and 1 Enoch or, as in the case of some other sectarian documents found in the Dead Sea library, Melchizedek. These images also testify to the plurality of eschatological programs that circulated in the Second Temple period. However, it should be noted that some scholars believe these works have drawn on royal ideology and Canaanite mythology also used to describe the Davidide in the Psalms.[1]We might also mention that the Davidic King is clearly associated with Melchizedek in Psalm 110. In much later apocalyptic works Davidic imagery is clearly found merged with the transcendental visions. One such work, 4 Ezra, describes the Messiah as God’s son (7:28), a descendant of David (12:31-32). Much more could be said here—for example, note that Daniel himself is said to be “of the royal family and of the nobility” (Dan 1:3). Whenever the book is to be dated, it is clear that it is supposed to be read as a booking from sixth century. In light of all this, it is hard to imagine that the intended readers would not have drawn the conclusion that Daniel himself was in some sense linked with the house of David.[2]
[1] Collins, The Scepter, 36-7; Laato, A Star, 248; Strauss, Davidic Messiah, 46-47.
[2] So much more could be said here. Compare for example David’s language of the kingdom in 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 (“Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from thee, and thou rulest over all. In thy hand are power and might; and in thy hand it is to make great and to give strength to all”) to language in Daniel concerning the kingdom. See for example Daniel 2:20-21, 37: Daniel said: "Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever. to whom belong wisdom and might. [21] He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings;he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding… 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory”

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Conclusion)

In conclusion, it is apparent that Davidic hopes played a key role in the second temple period. Collins writes,

There was a dominant notion of a Davidic messiah, as the king who would restore the kingdom of Israel, which was part of the common Judaism around the turn of the era. There were also, however, minor messianic strands, which envisaged a priestly messiah, or an anointed prophet or a heavenly Son of Man.[1]

In fact, the New Testament itself should be taken as evidence of first-century Davidic aspirations in Jewish circles. As we shall see, the Davidic restoration may be found at the heart of Jesus’ agenda. First, however, we must look at the Davidic covenant a little more closely. That will be the subject we will tackle next.

What follows will inevitably lead us to the question Brant poses below, namely the role of David as New Adam. We're just warming up. 
[1] Collins, The Scepter, 209.


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


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.

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.


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (David, Israel & the Temple)

As mentioned above, David completed the conquest of the Land of Canaan by capturing the city of Jerusalem. In this, David fulfilled the conditions of the Deuteronomic covenant for a central sanctuary: “rest from all your enemies round about (Deut 12:10). This is finally fulfilled by David. In the great passage where God swears his covenant oath to David in 2 Samuel 7, we begin reading, “Now when the king dwelt in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about . . .” Recognizing that the conditions for the central sanctuary have been met, David announces to the prophet Nathan his desire to “build” (בָּנָה,“bānāh”) a “house” (בַּיִת, “bayith”) for God (2 Sam. 7:2; cf. 7:5).

God responds to David by rewarding him with a covenant promise[1] in which he promises to establish his “house” (בַּיִת, "bayith”) through giving him a son (בֵּן,“bēn”), who will build the Lord’s “house” (בַּיִת, "bayith”) (2 Sam 7:11b-12, 14). The play on the words “house” (בַּיִת, "bayith”), which here means both “temple” and “royal dynasty,” and the pun on the terms “build” (בָּנָה, “bānāh”) and “son” (בֵּן, “bēn”) is widely recognized.[2]The building of the temple and the Davidic covenant are therefore inextricably linked.

In fact, there is a strong connection between Israel’s cultic worship and the Davidic king. It is important to note, therefore, that the Davidic king is frequently described as functioning as a priest. 2 Samuel 6 describes how David brought the ark into Jerusalem wearing an ephod (v. 14), erecting the tent for the ark (v. 17; cf. 1 Chr 15:1; 16:1), offering sacrifices (v. 17; cf. 1 Chr 16:2), and blessing the people (v. 18). In fact, Ps 132 implies that it was this action on the part of David which led God to swore the covenant to him.[3] The Chronicler especially notes David’s role as the organizer of Israel’s worship—assigning the duties of the Levites (1 Chr 16:4, 37-43; cf. 24-26) and preparing for the future temple building project (1 Chr 22:1).[4] The Davidic status as priest-king is especially clear in his association with Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem in Psalm 110.[5]
[1] It is beyond the scope of this essay to deal with the various issues raised by covenant scholars. Suffice it to say, it is widely accepted that the language used to describe God’s promise indicates a “grant type” covenant, in which God binds himself in an unconditional way to David. Hahn sums up the features recognized: references to an oath (Ps. 89:3-4; 35, 49; 110:4; 132:11), the promise of blessing on the recipient and cursing his enemies (e.g., Ps. 89:20-23), God’s assumption of the covenant responsibilities (2 Sam. 7:9, 11-12; Ps. 89:24-29, 33-37), and the description of the covenant as a reward for David’s faithfulness (Ps. 89:4; cf. 7:12-16; 110:4). See Scott Hahn, Kinship By Covenant: A Biblical Theological Study of Covenant Types and Texts in the Old and New Testaments (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1995), 306-09.
[2] A. A. Anderson, 2 Samuel (vol. 11 in Word Biblical Commentary; Dallas: Word Books, 1989), 115; Patrick D. Miller, “Psalm 127: the house that Yahweh builds,” in JSOT 22 (1982): 119-32, cf. 123; Scott Hahn,Kinship By Covenant, 319-22.
[3] Antti Laato, “Psalm 132 and the Development of the Jersalemite/Israelite Royal Ideology,” in CBQ 54 (1992): 49-66; Hahn, Kinship by Covenant, 335.
[4] Johannes Tromp, “The Davidic Messiah in Jewish Eschatology of the First Century BCE” in Restoration: Old Testament, Jewish and Christian Perspectives (vol., 72 in Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism; ed., James M. Scott; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 199-200. Also see Peter Leithart, From Silence to Song: The Davidic Liturgical Revolution (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2003), 25-6: "Consistent with [the Chronicler's] overall liturgical interest, Chronicles presents David as a new Moses, who, with the great prophet, co-founded the worship of Israel. The simple fact that Chronicles devotes so much space to David's preparations for the temple is enough to bring out parallels with Moses, since much of the revelation given to Moses concerned the tabernacle, its furnishings, and its worship (Exod. 25-31, 35; Leviticus; Num. 3-9). Like Moses, David assigned duties to the priests and Levites. Like Moses, David received a "pattern" for the house of Yahweh (Exod 25:9, 40; 26:30; 1 Chr. 28:19). Like Moses David ensured that the plundered riches of Yahweh's enemies were devoted to the service of His house. The Chronicler also appeals to the commands and ordinances of David as authoritative instruction for Israel's worship..."
[5] A very widely held Jewish tradition held that the city of Melchizedek was actually Jerusalem (1Q20 22:12-13; Joseephus, Ant. 180 and Jewish Wars, 6:438). The Davidic king is thus closely connected with him, as priest-king over (Jeru)salem. Hahn, Kinship by Covenant, 347-48.

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (David & Israel's Vocation)

David not only completes the conquest and fulfills the Deuteronomic prescription for the temple, he also embodies the vocation Israel received at Sinai to be a “royal” and “priestly” nation (Exod 19:6) (cf. David's role as priest at the end of the last post in this series). Dumbrell concludes that “in the person of the king, the covenant demand contemplated for Israel in Ex. 19:3b-6, has been embodied. . .”[1] This “embodiment” is also reflected in the fact that the Davidic king is described as “the son of God” (2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chr 17:13; Ps 2:7; 89:26)—which also describes Israel’s relationship with God (Exod 4:22; Isa 1:2; Hos 11:1).[2]

In all of this we see how God’s promise to establish the Kingdom of David involved the partial fulfillment of other covenant traditions. God’s plans for the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants are partially realized through David. The important role of the Davidic covenant was not overlooked in the first century either, as we saw in the last section. God’s covenant with David was also important because, whereas God’s covenant at Sinai had been given conditionally, through the covenant with David God committed himself unconditionally to David. “In one sweeping assurance, the conditional ‘if’ of the Mosaic Torah (Exod 19:5-6) is overridden and David is made a vehicle and carrier of Yahweh’s unqualified grace in Israel.”[3] After Israel is taken away into exile, this promise serves a primary role in restoration hopes (cf. Ps. 89; Jer 33:25).
[1] W. J. Dumbrell, “The Davidic Covenant,” Reformed Theological Review 39 (1980), 46.
[2] Hahn, Kinship, 359: “[T]he king’s divine sonship may be seen as the perfection of the nation’s.”
[3] Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament, 605.


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (David & Adam)

The Davidic covenant may also be linked with the creation covenant—something which is quite clear in Jeremiah:

“Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the descendants
of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his descendants to rule over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Jer 33:25-26).

Speaking of a “covenant” with creation might sound odd since the word is not used in Genesis 1-2. Yet, a closer examination of Genesis reveals good reasons for doing to so. For one thing, the language used in Genesis 9:13 for God’s covenant with creation indicates the renewal of a covenant already established.[1] Moreover, the “seven-day” creation narrative also evokes covenant imagery. Entering into a covenant involved the swearing of an oath. The Hebrew word for swearing an oath is sheva, which literally means “to seven-oneself.” It should not be surprising then that “seven” and covenant oaths are often linked together. For example, in Genesis 21:31, Abraham swears a covenant oath to Abimelech near a well, which comes to be called “Beer-sheva,” which translators either render, “the well of the oath” or “the well of the seven” (check your Bible’s footnotes). [2] The seven-day creation narrative therefore indicates that the world is created in covenant relationship with God. The sign of this covenant is the Sabbath.[3]

From the outset then, God creates man in covenant relationship. Covenants were often associated with kinship bonds.[4] By virtue of the creation covenant, Adam is the recipient of divine sonship. This can be seen from the description of Adam as created in the “image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:27). Later on we read that Seth is begotten in the “image” and “likeness” of Adam (Gen 5:3). From this we can see that the phrase “image and likeness” implies filial relation. It is perhaps thus not surprising that Luke 3:38 refers to Adam as the “son of God.”

In addition to language of divine filiation, Genesis also describes Adam in priestly terminology. We read in Genesis 2:15: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till [Heb. ‘abad] it and keep [Heb. shamar] it." The word for “guard” in Hebrew, shamar, implies priestly duties.[5] Likewise, the word for “tilling” the garden in Genesis 2:15, ‘abad, also has cultic echoes.[6] These words appear together in the description of the priests’ duties in Numbers 3:7-8: “And [the Levites] shall keep [shamar] his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the Tabernacle of the congregation to do [‘abad] the service [or perhaps, "worship"; Heb.: ‘abodah] of the Tabernacle. 8 And they shall keep [shamar] all the instruments of the Tabernacle of the congregation and the charge of the children of Israel to do [‘abad] the service [‘abodah] of the Tabernacle” (cf. also Num 8:26; 18:5-6; also see Num 17:12-18:6)

Indeed the whole cosmos may be understood as a macro-temple.[7] The account of creation in Genesis 1 presents God’s creation of the world in terms of temple building. This implication is underscored by many historical-critical scholars who, upon seeing this emphasis, ascribe it the “Priestly” tradition.[8] Thus, the construction of the tent of God’s dwelling and, later, the temple, are patterned after the creation account.[9]Ratzinger explains: “Seven times it says, ‘Moses did as the Lord had commanded him’, words that suggest the seven-day work on the tabernacle replicates the seven-day work on creation.”[10] Likewise, the construction of the temple took seven years and was dedicated after a seven-day feast (Tabernacles), in the seventh month, with a seven-part prayer.[11]

If the world is the temple, the garden is the sanctuary. The inter-testamental book of Jubilees explains: “[Noah] knew that the garden of Eden was the holy of holies and the dwelling of the Lord.”[12] Several links may be found between the temple and the garden:
» place of cheribum (Gen 3:24; Ezek 28:14)
» candelabra as the Tree of Life (Exod 25:31-36; Josephus, Antiquities 3.145)
» garden imagery in the Temple (1 Kgs 6-7)
» source of water (Gen 2:10; Ezek 47:1-12 [Rev 21:1-2]
» on a mountain (Ezek 28:14, 16; Ezek 40:2; 43:12)
» facing East (Gen 3:24; Ezek 40:6)
» place of where God dwells [hithallek] (Gen 3:8; Lev 26:11-12; Deut 23:14; 2 Sam 7:6-7)

However, just as Adam is presented in priestly terms, he is also presented as a king. One scholar, Meredith Kline, finds several terms which indicate Adam’s kinship: his dominion, his call to subjugate the earth, his naming of creatures, etc.[13] Psalm 8 exemplifies the kinship of Adam, saying that God has “crowned him with glory and honor” and “given him dominion”, putting “all things under his feet”.[14] Adam, therefore, was a priest-king.

However, his kingship needed to be subordinated to his priestly calling. Adam was to sanctify all that is created and bring it into the seventh day rest – he was to offer up to God all creation, which is under his dominion. Leithart explains: “[Adam and Eve] were to go about their royal tasks for six days, only to return at the end of the week to offer themselves and their works to the Lord.”[15]

God’s covenant with Israel may be understood in terms of a kind of “new creation,” whereby God returns humanity to his prelapsarian state: divine sonship with priestly and royal prerogatives. In the Davidic king, we have a kind of return to this state: he is the priest-king, son of God, through whom God will bless all nations (cf. Ps 72:8, 11, 17). It should be no surprise therefore that the eschatological restoration was linked with Davidic themes―as we shall see ub the next few pages. In restoring the kingdom of David, God would restore humanity to its original calling.
[1] See Scott Hahn, A Father Who Keeps His Promises (Ann Arbor: Servant, 1998), 277 n. 5 which sites W. J. Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1984), 11-46; W. J. Dumbrell, “The Covenant with Noah,” in Reformed Theological Review 38 (1979):1-8.
[2] Scott Hahn is the noted expert on covenant theology. See his discussion in Kinship by Covenant andSwear to God: The Promise and Power of the Sacrament (New York: Doubleday, 2004), 103-106.
[3] “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD, your God. . . In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:10-11. Also see John Paul II, Dies Domini 8, “According to the priestly writer of the first biblical creation story, then was born the ‘Sabbath,’ so characteristic of the first Covenant, and which in some ways foretells the sacred day of the new and final Covenant" (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1998), 18.
[4] Paul Kalluveettil, Declaration and Covenant (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1982), 205: “Thus a covenant implies an adoption into the household, an extension of kinship, the making of a brother.” Also see page 212: “The idea, ‘I am yours, you are mine’ underlines every covenant declaration. This implies a quasi-familial bond which makes sons and brothers. The act of accepting the other as one’s own reflects the basic idea of covenant: an attempt to extend the bond of blood beyond the kinship sphere, or, in other words, to make partner one’s own flesh and blood. . . covenant is relational.” For a fuller discussion also see, Hahn,Kinship, 656: “[T]he inner logic of the covenant is to be found in the solidarity and life-giving love of the family. . .”
[5] “Elsewhere in the Bible, especially in passages dealing with the functions of the priests and Levites in Israel, the verb shamar occurs frequently in the sense of guarding the holiness of God’s sanctuary against profanation by unauthorized ‘strangers’ (cf., e.g. Num 1:53; 3:8, 10, 32; 8:26; 18:3ff.; 31:30,47; 1 Sam 7:1; 2 Kngs 12:9; 1 Chr 23:32; 2 Chr 34:9; Ezek 44:15f., 48:11).” M. G. Kline, Kingdom Prologue (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1993), 54. For a great overview of this issue and many of the points below see Scott Hahn, “Worship in the Word: Toward a Liturgical Hermeneutic,” in Letter & Spirit (2005): 101-36. [I can't recommend this article highly enough!]
[6] Kline. Kingdom Prologue, 54.
[7] Meredith Kline, Images of the Spirit (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 39.
[8] See Keck, Leander, ed. et al. New Interpreter’s Bible: Volume 1 (Nashville: Abingdom Press, 1994), 340.
[9] Kline explains how the Old Testament applies the temple terminology for the world. He points to Isaiah 66:1 and Psalm 132:7. Isaiah calls the earth God’s footstool, while Psalm 132 identifies God’s footstool as the temple. See Kline, Kingdom, 23.
[10] Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2000), 26-27.
[11] John D. Levenson, Sinai and Zion (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), 143-144. Also see p. 138: “The Temple is the epitome of the world, a concentrated form of its essence, a miniature of the cosmos.” Scott Hahn, “Worship in the Word,” 115.
[12] Jubilees 8:19. See Charlesworth, James, ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 2: 73.
[13] See Kline, Kingdom, 25. Kline concludes: “Man is located in [Genesis 1-3] as king over all the created order of the six days.”
[14] Psalm 8:5,6.
[15] Peter Leithart, The Kingdom and the Power (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1993), 28.


Jesus and the Restoration

(Restoring the Davidic Ideal: a Davidic King)

The Rise of Expectations: Restoring the Davidic Ideal 

As we saw in the last section, the Davidic covenant represented a fulfillment of sorts of previous covenant promises. We’ve also seen that the Davidic covenant served as a foundation for restoration hopes. Aune explains that the theme of restoration was “often linked with the related themes of the recovery of the land and the re-establishment of the monarchy. . .”[1] Likewise, Talmon writes that “the glorified ‘golden age’ of David and Solomon . . . becomes the matrix of an idealized portrayal of a future reconstitution of the realm . . . in its former boundaries, with its sociopolitical institutions and apparatus.”[2] In this section we will look at the way specific elements of the Davidic kingdom were “idealized” and became part of restoration hopes.

1. Restoration through a Davidic figure (Isa 9:7; 11:1; 16:5; Jer 23:5; 30:9; 33:25; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24; Amos 9:11; CD 7:18-21; 4Q174 1:10-13; 4Q252 5:1-5; 4Q285 5:2-3; Pss. Sol. 17:4-10, 21; 4 Ezra 12:31-32). As we have examined earlier, the restored Israel is often associated with the restored monarchy of David. This is evident in many biblical texts, some of which we have already mentioned. We have also seen how this vision is present in the second Temple period. The Qumran community identified the eschatological community with the restored “fallen tent” of David in Amos 9:11 (CD 7:18-21 and 4Q174 1:10-13). The Psalms of Solomon likewise expects that the restoration will occur under a Davidide (Pss. Sol. 17).
[1] Aune, “Restoration in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature,” 159.
[2] Talmon, “Restoration in Ancient Judaism,” 119.

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Restoring the Davidic Ideal: Pan-Israelite Restoration)

2. A Pan-Israelite Kingdom. Part and parcel of the vision of the restoration was the pan-Israelite hope—which also evoked the memory of the Davidic kingdom.[1] Of course, other kings had arisen in Israel. Yet, they were far from ideal. Abimelech is condemned in Jotham’s parable (Judg 9:7-20) and dies in disgrace, his “crime” having been “requited” by God ( Judg 9:56). His reign was most likely limited to the Josephite tribes (cf. Judg 9). Saul, who was also king, was also rejected by God (cf. 1 Sam 16:1) and failed to complete the liberation of Israel from their enemies (cf. 1 Sam 14:52; 31:1-7).

As we saw in the last section, it was under David that Israel achieved “rest” from all their enemies (2 Sam 7:2). Moreover, it was only under him and Solomon that Israel lived as unified, pan-Israelite kingdom.[2] After Solomon, the northern tribes broke away from the southern kingdom (“the house of Judah”) and formed their own kingdom, often called the “house of Israel” or “the house of Ephraim.” The pan-Israelite hope of restoration therefore often most frequently expressed in this terminology, which clearly evoked the memory of “the unity of Israel and Judah which existed in the days of David and Solomon.”[3] Not surprisingly, this language is also reflected in the Qumran scrolls (cf. CD 5:10-21 citing Isa 7 and Amos 5:26-27).[4] David, the one who had defeated the Gentiles and achieved “rest,” is therefore depicted once again in eschatological visions as the one establishing the twelve tribes in peace.[5]


[1] See above discussion of Meier.
[2] David Ravens, Luke and the Restoration of Israel (JSOT Supplement Series 119; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 62.
[3] Aune, “Restoration in Ancient Jewish Literature,” 159. Aune cites Isa 49:6-7; Jer 31:10-11; Isa 43:5-7; cf. 43:1; Ezek 37:21; Zeph 3:20; cf. 3:14; Sir 48:10; Isa 11:11-13; Ezek 37:15-19; Zech 10:6.
[4] The ingathering of the tribes is also associated with a shepherd, whom Ezek. 37:24 identifies as David, who was in fact a shepherd (cf. 1 Sam 16:11). This is also paralleled at Qumran: “And you chose the land of Judah, and established your covenant with David so that he would be like a shepherd, a prince over your people…” (4Q504 4:5-7).
[5] This is reflected in both the Psalms of Solomon and Qumran, where the Davidic “Prince of the Congregation” leads Israel in eschatological battle. Of course, it is also in the biblical tradition (e.g., Isa 11:4).


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Restoring the Davidic Ideal: Inclusion of Gentiles)

Picture: Solomon with the Queen of Sheba; attributed to Bolognese Giuseppe Marchesi

3. The inclusion of the Gentiles. Eschatological programs of Israel’s restoration also, perhaps surprisingly, involved the Gentiles (e.g., Amos 11:12; Isa 11:10). Yet, once we recognize that restoration hopes were based on the ideal of the unified kingdom of David and Solomon, the participation of the other nations is predictable. For, as we saw earlier in this series, the Davidic covenant was international in scope. David and Solomon not only reigned over all Israel, they also reigned over other nations. In this connection, Ps 72, “a Psalm of Solomon” according to the superscription, was understood to describe the international eschatological vision of the restored kingdom.[1] The notion of Gentile inclusion thus may also be seen as part of the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom.
[1] David C. Mitchell, The Message of the Psalter (JSOT Supplement Series 252; Sheffield: Sheffield Press, 1997), 66-69.

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Restoring the Davidic Ideal: Zion / Restored Temple)

4. Zion / Restored Temple.[1] Finally, restoration hopes almost always revolve around Jerusalem / Zion and a restored temple. Aune writes, “The sanctity and unity of Jerusalem and the Temple was a central theme of Jewish eschatological speculation…”[2] Not only is this theme frequently found in the Old Testament texts (Isa 52:1-2; 54:11-14; 60:10-14; Zech 2:6-12; Ezek 48:30-35), it is also present in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q554; 11Q20). In the last section, we saw how Jerusalem/Zion—“the city of David”— and the temple were closely associated with God’s covenant with David. A restored Jerusalem/Zion and a new temple fit neatly into a restored Davidic kingdom paradigm. After all, it was David and Solomon who were responsible for its construction and dedication in the first place.

Here have considered how the “restoration of Israel” was often understood within the larger context of the “restoration of the Davidic kingdom.” Specifically, we have looked the role of the Son of David, the pan-Israelite hope, the inclusion of the Gentiles and the renewal of Jerusalem/Zion and the temple. Now we shall return to the issue of the historical Jesus and see how these findings may shed light on Jesus’ ministry and his message of both the Kingdom and the restoration.
[1] “Jerusalem and the temple were so closely associated that the mention of one often implicitly entails the other and the sanctity of the former was though an extension of the latter.” Aune, “Restoration in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature,” 163.
[2] Aune, “Restoration in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature,” 176.

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Restoring the Davidic Ideal: The Triumphal Entry & Temple Action)

3.1. Jesus’ Message in Light of Davidic Expectations
As we saw in the first part of this paper, N. T. Wright believes that the overarching theme of Jesus’ ministry is restoration from exile. According to Wright, Jesus believed the restoration had come in the form of God’s Reign. Dunn has countered by responding that this seems to overlook a number of other motifs, including the inclusion of the Gentiles, healing, a feasting, an eschatological pilgrimage of the nations, and victory over Satan.[1] It is our proposal that Wright (and Dunn) have neglected the central role of David in Jewish restoration hopes. This is not to say that all eschatological frameworks of the time involved a Davidic element. Expectations certainly took a variety of forms. However, this should not obscure the fact that restoration was frequently linked to God’s covenant with David. Here we will show how the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, was central to Jesus’ ministry.

There are several episodes in the Gospels which make it clear that Jesus understood his mission against Davidic expectations. Here will name just a few of the most obvious ones. It is widely accepted that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem evoked royal imagery (Matt 21:1-11//Mark 11:1-10//Luke 19:29-38).[2] The picture of Jesus riding on a colt into a city full of a shouting crowd clearly resembles Solomon’s coronation (1 Kgs 1:33, 38). It also evokes Zecheriah’s eschatological prophecy: “Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem, Lo, your king comes to you… humble and riding on an ass” (Zech 9:9).


Each of the Synoptic accounts record the crowd mentioning something relating to David or royalty (Matt 21:9: “Hosanna to the Son of David”//Mark 11:10: “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!”//Luke 19:38: “Blessed is the King!”). Although some scholars question whether Jesus actually intended this impression,[3] to think that he was not aware of what this action would evoke stretches the imagination—especially given the fact that others apparently readily made the connection. Even E. P. Sanders, who often downplays Jesus’ Davidic claims, recognizes royal imagery here.[4]


In the Synoptic tradition Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem is followed by his act of “cleansing” the temple (Matt 21:12-13//Mark 11:15-17//Luke 19:45-46). Here again, historical Jesus scholars have recognized royal imagery,[5] though Sanders understands this action primarily within the larger context of the restoration of Israel.[6] Yet, as we have seen, there is a deep connection between the temple and the Davidic covenant. Meier writes,

[T]he two symbolic actions he performed as he came to Jerusalem for his last
Passover—the ‘triumphal entry’ and the ‘cleansing of the temple—may have been
intended as an expression of a royal messianic claim over David’s ancient
capital and the temple first built by Solomon, the Son of David.”[7]

By acting as he does—coming to Jerusalem/Zion and symbolically cleansing the temple— Jesus evokes the larger picture of the eschatological restored Davidic kingdom. Meyer notes that “here the motif of messianic acclamation was followed by eschatological restoration of the cult.”[8]
[1] James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 475.
[2] Wright, Jesus and the Victory, 490-493; Meier, A Marginal Jew, 3:496; Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 306-307; Witherington, The Christology of Jesus (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), 113-115.
[3] Paula Fredriksen, Jesus of Nazereth: King of the Jews (New York: Vintage Books, 1999), 247.
[4] Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 306
[5] Meier, A Marginal Jew, 3:496; Wright, Jesus and the Victory, 491; Meyer, Aims of Jesus, 179-202; Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 307.
[6] Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 335, 340.
[7] Meier, A Marginal Jew, 3:496.
[8] Meyer, Christus Faber, 264.


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Restoring the Davidic Ideal: The Twelve)

We have already seen that Jesus’ election of the twelve symbolizes an eschatological pan-Israelite hope.[1] His ministry in Galilee (and, as we shall see later, Samaria) may be understood within the larger context of the restoration of the united kingdom of David and Solomon. As the son of David, Jesus’ is depicted as restoring the united kingdom of David and Solomon, which was originally composed of all Israel— the northern tribes and those in the southern kingdom of “Judah” (the “Jews”).[2]David Ravens writes, “This restoration did not just entail the Jews alone but something altogether grander: nothing less than a return to the unity that had once existed under David.”[3] Finally, though Jesus’ openness to Gentiles has also been understood within the overall motif of national restoration,[4] as we have seen, the Davidic kingdom’s glory days provide the precedent for this vision. Interestingly, Solomon also chose twelve officers (1 Kgs 4:7).
[1] Paula Fredricksen, Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews (New York: Vintage, 1999), 98: “… if Jesus indeed taught that ultimately these twelve would judge the twelve tribes, then he was thinking eschatologically. To assemble the twelve tribes… would take a miracle. But that, I think, is what Jesus was expecting.” See also Meier, A Marginal Jew, 3:148-154; Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 98. The Apostles' role as "fishers of men" (Matt 4:19) may also be linked to restoration hopes (e.g., cf. Jer 16:14-15). For more on that see this post.
[2] Sean Freyne notes that the Galileans were Israelites of non-Jewish stock. See Sean Freyne, Galilee, Jesus and the Gospels: Literary Approaches and Historical Investigations (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), 170-71. In addition, see pages 130-31.
[3] Ravens, Luke and the Restoration of Israel, 99.
[4] Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 323.

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Restoring the Davidic Ideal: Exorcism & Healing)

Jesus’ exorcisms and healings also have Davidic implications since Solomon was regarded as a famous healer and as the exorcist par excellance.[1] This connection is confirmed by the fact that those appealing to Jesus for healing often refer to him as “son of David” (Matt 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; Mark 10:47; Luke 18:38). David is also described as having a kind of exorcistic power in 1 Samuel.

1 Sam 16:14: Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit
from the Lord tormented him.
15 And Saul’s servants said to him, ”Behold now,
an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.
16 Let our lord now command your
servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is skilful in playing the
lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you
will be well.”…
19 Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me
David your son, who is with the sheep.”
2023 And whenever the evil spirit
from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand; so Saul
was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

Jesus' healing of the blind men on the road to Jerusalem also evokes another Davidic episode. David had pronounced a curse on the blind and lame upon his arrival into Jerusalem:

2 Samuel 5:6-9: And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, "You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off"--thinking, "David cannot come in here." 7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David… Therefore it is said, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house." 9 And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David.

In an example of an "eschatological reversal” each of the Synoptics present the blind calling out to Jesus as the “Son of David” to “have mercy” on them (Matt. 20:30//Mark 10:47//Luke 18:38). As David cursed the blind as he was on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus heals them as he approaches the city. In so doing Jesus demonstrates his Davidic pedigree--he has the power to lift the curse.

[1] Meier, A Marginal Jew, 2:689; 3:495; Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 668.


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom

(The Davidic Suffering Servant of God)

One of the most important ways Jesus is presented as a New David in the Gospels also happens to be one of the most overlooked. While Christians today immediately link Jesus’ suffering and death with Isaiah’s prophecy of the “Suffering Servant” (cf. Isa 53), the Gospels writers―indeed, all four of them―draw primarily from the imagery of another book: the Psalms. In particular, the Evangelists draw on imagery from psalms attributed to David.

Before going further, it is important to point out why this dimension of the portrait of Jesus―so clearly an essential part of the dominical tradition as evidenced by a number of features[1]―has been neglected in modern times and the contemporary discussion. It seems clear that the Davidic echoes are lost due to the fact that certain modern critical presuppositions obscure connections that would have been clear to a first century audience. While in the first century it seems to have been universally believed that David was the primary author of the psalms, readers today come to the text looking through a different set of lenses―that of Gunkel or some other form critic. Such an approach inevitably fails to “catch” much of what the original audience would have understood.

The evidence that the Psalms were associated with David is nothing short of overwhelming. The Old Testament itself makes allusions to David’s reputation as a singer and composer (e.g., 1 Sam 16:18, 23; Amos 6:5). 2 Chronicles 7:6 attributes the instruments used in the temple to David: “The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the Lord which King David had made for giving thanks to the Lord” (cf. also 2 Chron 23:18; 29:25-27; Neh 12:36). In fact, the very songs (i.e., psalms) sung in the temple are attributed, with Asaph, to David: “Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer” (2 Chron 29:30).

This tradition was clearly well-known in the first century. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, we read in 11QPsa reads:

“And David ben Jesse was wise. . . and he wrote 3,600 plsams. . . and all the songs that he composed were 446, and songs for making music over the stricken, four. And the total was 4, 050. All these he composed through prophecy which was given him before the Most High God.”[2]

Likewise, the New Testament makes numerous references to David’s role as the author of the Psalms (Matt 22:43; Mark 12:36; Acts 2:34; 4:25).

Of course, the Psalms themselves contain superscriptions assigning them to David’s hand. Moreover, the superscriptions of several of the psalms even attach them to specific episodes from David’s life. With one exception―Psalm 51, which is attached to David’s sin with Bathsheba―the episodes involve contexts wherein David is being pursued and/or persecuted by his enemies.

Psalm 3 “A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom”
Psalm 34 “A Psalm of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech”
Psalm 51 “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba”
Psalm 52 “A Maskil of David, when Doeg, the Edomite came and told Saul, ‘David has come to
the house of Abimelech”
Psalm 56 “A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in
the cave”
Psalm 59 “A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in
order to kill him”

It would seem just from this that David’s sufferings were believed to be an especially important element of his life.

In particular the Psalms seem to hold up David as a kind of model for holiness. Of course, this concept is found frequently in the Old Testament. 1 Samuel 13:14 refers to David as “a man after [God’s] own heart.” Despite his sinful handling of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba―a matter for which he would pay for dearly and repent of―references to David’s exemplary holiness abound in the Old Testament. Indeed, he is the model for piety. This is true not only in the book of Chronicles, but also in the books of 1-2 Kings. Consider some of the following passages[3]:

1 Kings 3:3, 6: Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father… Solomon said, “Thou hast shown great and steadfast love to thy servant David my father, because he walked before thee in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward thee…

1 Kings 3:14: if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked…

1 Kings 9:4: And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my ordinances…

1 Kings 11:6: So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done.

1 Kings 11:34: Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand; but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statutes.

1 Kings 11:36: if you will hearken to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did…

1 Kings 14:8: yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments, and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes,

1 Kings 15:5: because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

1 Kings 15:11: Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done.

1 Kings 22:2: [Josiah] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

The last passage from 1 Kings 22:2 is especially interesting in that it equates “walking in all the way of David” with “doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” Something similar may be found in Sirach 48:22 (cf. Sir 47:1-11; 49:4). This tradition was clearly present also in Jesus’ day. Josephus writes that Josiah was holy because he held up David as a model of holiness: “[Josiah] was of a most excellent disposition, and naturally virtuous, and followed the actions of king David, as a pattern and a rule to him in the whole conduct of his life” (Ant. 10.29).

The way the Psalms hold up David as a model of holiness may be seen in the close combination of Psalms 1-2. Psalms 1-2 clearly form an introductory unit, which sets the tone for the whole Psalter.[4] This is highlighted by the fact that the LXX Psalter includes superscriptions for every psalm except these two.[5]Furthermore, the link between the two psalms is evident from the inclusio formed by the blessing at the beginning of Psalm 1 and at the end of Psalm 2. Psalm 1:1 begins, “Blessed is the man”, while Psalm 2 ends, “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him”(2:11). This observation has been made in rabbinic tradition.[6]

Along with the blessing inclusio there are other parallels as well. In Psalm 1:6 we read that “the way of the wicked will perish”, while in Psalm 2:11, we find that those who do not fear the Lord will “perish in the way”. Likewise, in Psalm 1:1 the blessed man “sits not in the seat of scoffers”, whereas in Psalm 2:4, the Lord “sits” in heaven and laughs, scoffing at the wicked, so to speak. Finally, in Psalm 1:2 the blessed man “meditates” on the law of God, while in Psalm 2:1 the same word used for “meditate”, the Greek word in the LXX and the Hebrew word in the MT, is used for those who “plot” in vain.[7]

Scholars recognize numerous wisdom themes in Psalms 1-2. The first psalm’s contrast of the righteous and the wicked is a common theme found throughout the sapiential (wisdom) tradition. Moreover, the Edenic imagery used in the psalm describing the righteous man as a tree planted by streams of water (v.3), is much like wisdom passages such as Sirach 24, which we looked at earlier. Also, the inevitable judgement of the wicked, who will be “like chaff which the wind drives away”, is also a theme found in the wisdom literature. The idea that the blessed man walks not in the “counsel” of the wicked is a dominant theme in the wisdom collection as well.

Psalm 2, with its close parallels to Psalm 1, thus displays David as the exemplary “wise” man. As the wisdom literature teaches, David elevates the “fear of the Lord” over the fear of impending death of his enemies – trusting that the Lord is capable of delivering him.[8] Sheppard further explains:

“The profane nations and rulers in Ps 2 are identified with those who walk the way of sinners and the wicked in Ps 1. Opposite these, one finds the divine king depicted in the language of Nathan’s oracle as one who, by contrastive implication, walks in the way of the righteous. Consequently, David is represented in Ps 2 both as the author of the Psalms and also as one who qualifies under the injunction of Ps 1 to interpret the Torah as a guide to righteousness.”[9]

Hence, David is understood to be the model “wise” man depicted in Psalm 1. Furthermore, since he is the author of the psalm, he is portrayed as the teacher of wisdom: “Now therefore, O kings, be wise, be warned O rulers of the earth” (2:10).

The wisdom nature of Psalms 1-2 is further highlighted by its close relationship with Proverbs 1. Proverbs 1 introduces the book with many of the same themes Psalms 1-2 introduce at the beginning of the Psalter. These include: the contrast of the two ways (Ps 1:1; 2:11; Prov 1:15); the wicked as “scoffers” (Ps 1:1; Prov 1:22); description of the “righteous” (Ps 1:5; Prov 1:3); the motif of “walking” (Ps 1:1; Prov 1:15); accepting right “counsel” (Ps 1:1; 2:2; Prov 1:25, 30); the use of “torah” (Ps 1:2; Prov 1:8 – mother’s “teaching”); “fruit” (Ps 1:3; Prov 1:31); the fear and knowledge of the Lord (Ps 1:6; 2:10, 11; Prov 1:7, 22, 29); “laughing and mocking / derides” (Ps 2:4 ; Prov 1:26).[10]

From all of this it seems possible to conclude that Psalms 1-2 introduce the “law” to be meditated on in the five books of the Psalter as wisdom. However, just as the Mosaic Law, the Pentateuch, taught by not only the words of God but also the actions of the Patriarchs, so too the Psalter will teach Israel wisdom through the words and deeds of David. Sheppard explains:

“The entire Psalter, therefore, is made to stand theologically in association with David as a source of guidance for the way of the righteous. In this fashion, the Psalter has gained, among its other functions, the use as a source for Wisdom reflection and a model of prayers based on such a pious interpretation of the Torah.”[11]

Thus, as we have seen, the Davidic psalms are often closely linked with some event in his life.[12]

In the Passion narrative, the sufferings of Christ are connected with the sufferings of David, the exemplary righteous man known for his sufferings in the Old Testament. As Jesus was betrayed by Judas, David was likewise betrayed by someone close to him―Ahithophel. Ahithophel is called “David’s counselor” in 2 Samuel 15:12. We read about David’s flight in 2 Samuel 15:

And all the country wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness. But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered; and all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went… And it was told David, "Ahith'ophel is among the conspirators with Ab'salom." (2 Sam 15:23, 31).

Here we see many parallels with the passion narratives found in John as well as the other Gospels: both cross the Kidron (2 Sam 15:23; John 18:1); both go to the Mount of Olives (2 Sam 15:23; Matt 26:30); both are followed on their way out of Jerusalem by people who weep for them (2 Sam 15:23; Luke 23:27). Like Jesus, David is betrayed by a close confidant, Ahithophel. Ahithophel later goes on to hang himself (2 Sam 17:23)―prefiguring Judas who does the same (cf. Matt 27:3-5). As Jesus prays to his Father in the garden, so too David prays, "O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahith'ophel into foolishness" (1 Sam 15:31).

During the Passion three Davidic psalms in particular come into focus: Psalm 22, Psalm 69 and Psalm 109. All three relate the sufferings of David. First, lots are casts for his garments, fulfilling Psalm 22:18: “they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots” (cf. Matt 27:35; Mark 21:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:23-24). While the allusion is clear in the Synoptic accounts, John explicitly calls this a “fulfillment” of the psalm. The language seems to indicate that the Psalm was more than a mere song but also a messianic prophecy. The crucifixion, which involved nailing Jesus to the wood of the cross (cf. John 20:25) may also have been seen in connection with another verse of the Psalm 89:25: “they have pierced my hands and feet.”

It is here in Jesus’ Davidic-like sufferings that his “kingship” is finally revealed for all to see as the words, “King of the Jews”, is finally fastened to the Cross. After the sign is fastened above his head we read: “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days,
30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ (Mark 15:29; cf. Matt 27:39). Here is an allusion to David’s words in Psalm 109:25: “I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads.”

At the climax of his passion, Jesus quotes directly from Davidic psalms. In Mark and Matthew we read that he quotes explicitly from Psalm 22: “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Elo-i, Elo-i, lama sabach-thani?” which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (cf. Ps 22:1; Mark 15:34; Matt 27:45-26). Luke records Jesus alluding to another Davidic psalm, Psalm 31: “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (cf. Ps 31:5; Luke 23:46).
All four Gospel accounts relate that Jesus’ final moments on the cross involved an allusion to Psalm 69:21b: “for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” In Mark we read that immediately prior to his death someone ran to get some “vinegar” for Jesus: “And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink (Mark 15:26). Matthew 27:49 tells us that Jesus was given the sponge to drink. In John, it is especially clear that Jesus initiated the event and did so to deliberately fulfill Psalm 69:21b:

“After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst.’ 29 A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:28-30).

John goes on record that the soldiers did not break Jesus' legs in order to fulfill another passage: "For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, 'Not a bone of him shall be broken'"(Jn 19:36). While this is likely a reference to the Passover instructions of Exodus 12 (cf. Exod 12:46), another passage is clearly being alluded to--a Davidic psalm: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken" (Ps 34:19-20).

Jesus’ death is thus inextricably linked to David’s identity as the royal suffering servant of God.

[1] Even the most skeptical scholars would have to recognize its coherence with the so-called “criteria of authenticity” including “multiple attestation,” and “discontinuity”.
[2] The text is from, James A. Sanders, “The Qumran Psalms Scroll (11QPsa) Reviewed,” in On Language, Culture, and Religion: In Honor of Eugene A. Nida (The Hague: Mouton, 1974): 136.
[3] Some scholars have tried to argue that there is a difference between the “high view” of David in the Chronicler and the “pessimistic” view of David in the historical books. Yet, a close reading reveals that the books of Samuel and Kings hold up David as an exemplar of holiness every bit as much as the Chronicler does.
[4] Patrick Miller, “The Beginning of the Psalter”, in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter (J. Clinton McCann, ed.; England: Sheffield Press, 1993): 85: “[The connections between Psalms 1-2] indicate, at least on the editing level, that Psalms 1-2 were to be read together as an entrée into the Psalter.”
[5] David M. Howard, "Editorial Activity in the Psalter: A State-of-the-Field Survey," in The Shape and Shaping of the Psalter, 58: “Most introductions and commentaries . . . note that while the Masoretic text (MT) of the Psalter carries superscriptions for only 116 psalms, the Septuagint (LXX) carries superscriptions for all but Psalms 1 and 2, lending credence to this idea.”
[6] See Gerald Wilson, The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter (Chico: Scholars Press, 1985), 205.
[7] For these three connections see Scott Harris, “Proverbs 1:8-19, 20-23 As ‘Introduction’”. RB 107-2 (2000): 211-212.
[8] See Psalm 2:10-11: “Now therefore, O kings, be wise. . . serve the Lord with fear.” Proverbs 9:11 states: “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.”
[9] Sheppard, Wisdom As A Hermeneutical Construct (New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1980), Wisdom, 142.
[10] Harris, “Proverbs”, 215-218.
[11] Sheppard, Wisdom As A Hermeneutical Construct, 142.
[12] The superscription to Psalm 51 reads: “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheeba.”


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom

(The Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom in Luke-Acts)

3.2. The Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom in Luke-Acts
For years very few studies have been done on Davidic themes in Luke. This is in part due to its “apparent lack of interest in the title. . .”[1] More recent studies have demonstrated the important role of David in Luke’s portrayal of Jesus.[2] For example, Mark Strauss has shown how Gabriel’s announcement to Mary mirrors God’s promise in 2 Sam 7 and Psalm 89, the later of which bases the hope for restoration on God’s promise to David.

2 Samuel 7
9 And I will make you a great name… 12... I will raise upyour seed after you... 13 ... I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me.

Psalm 89
26 He shall cry to me, ‘Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
27 And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of theearth... 29 I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of the heavens... 36 His line shall endure for ever, his throne as long as the sunbefore me.

Luke 1
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[3]

From this we can already see the important role the Davidic covenant will play in the Lukan portrayal of Jesus.

[1] Strauss, The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts, 16.
[2] In addition to Strauss', The Davidic Messiah, see also David Ravens, Luke and the Restoration of Israel (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Supplement Series 119; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995) and, of course, Scott Hahn, “Kingdom and Church in Luke-Acts: From Davidic Christology to Kingdom Ecclesiology,” in Reading Luke: Interpretation, Reflection, Formation (C. G. Bartholomew, J. Green and A. Thiselton, eds; Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 2005).
[3] Strauss, The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts, 88-9.


Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Jesus' Baptism in Luke)

Luke’s description of Jesus’ baptism seems to imply that it represents his royal anointing. There Jesus is declared to be God’s Son in language evoking Psalm 2,[1] which was a royal enthronement psalm.[2] It is interesting to note that Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist, who Luke tells us was a Levite, the son of Zechariah, a priest (cf. Luke 1:5). This provides an interesting Davidic parallel for the baptism of Jesus: Solomon was likewise anointed by a Levite (1 Kgs 1:39).

In addition, immediately following his baptism, Luke gives the reader another important piece of information: "Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23). Here we have another Davidic parallel. In 2 Samuel 5:4 we read:"David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years." Jesus begins his ministry at the same age David began his reign. Immediately after this Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam through David (Luke 3:23).

[1] “The wording of Ps. 2.1-2 in this passage is one of the few cases of an exact agreement between the lxx and Luke-Acts.” Darrell L. Bock, Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christology (JSOT Supplement Series 12; Sheffield, JSOT Press, 1987), 203.
[2] Craig C. Broyles, Psalms (in New International Biblical Commentary; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999).

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Jesus' Galilean Ministry)

David Ravens points out that Luke’s unique telling of Jesus’ ministry in Samaria (Luke 9:52; 17:11), seems to emphasize Jesus’ role as the Davidic restorer of the united kingdom. David and Solomon were the only two to reign over all twelve tribes. “[Luke’s] understanding of the restored Israel is rooted in the idea of one nation under a Davidic king, modeled on the nation before its division into the two kingdoms.”[1]Furthermore, the program of the missionary enterprise of the Church described by Jesus in Acts 1:8, “Jerusalem . . . Judea and Samaria . . . the end of earth,” describes the territories of the original Davidic Empire in the reverse order in which they successively were lost. In Luke-Acts, the Kingdom is being restored in the reverse order that it was dismantled.

[1] Ravens, Luke and Restoration of Israel, 105.

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (Resurrection & Ascension as Enthronement)

Luke is also unique in his descriptions of the Resurrection and Ascension, portraying these events as Jesus’ divine royal enthronement. In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter uses the Psalms to show how the Resurrection and Ascension represent the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. Citing Ps 16:8-11, he explains that the Lord has fulfilled David’s prayer for preservation from death not in himself, for he died, but in Jesus who is raised from the dead (Acts 2:24-31). He then draws on Ps 110:1 to show how the Lord establishes Jesus as King at his right hand in his Ascension (Acts 2:32-36); through the Ascension Jesus is enthroned at the right hand of God.[1] Though Jesus was “anointed” as king in his baptism, it was only in his Resurrection and Ascension that he was elevated and installed as king. Strauss explains, “An analogy may be drawn here to David, who was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel long before he was enthroned as king.”[2]

[1] Strauss, The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts, 140-45.
[2] Strauss, The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts, 145.