By Matt Redmond
I wonder if David’s words about an “everlasting covenant” over his house ever rang hollow to the Israelites after he died. It’s not as if things got better after David. His children and grandchildren were mired in rebellion resulting in a divided kingdom and exile. Eventually, there was no king in Israel because of their rebellion against God.
You can almost imagine a Jew under the rule of Rome hearing these words of David and being torn apart on the inside, the emotions rising at the mention of David and the promise of an everlasting covenant with God. This is what the Jews longed for: a king like David to vanquish their foes and rule in righteousness. This king would set things right, and God’s people would no longer be under the thumb of pagans.
But this was not the reality. For hundreds of years there had been rumors of a coming king, but he had not come. The hope of this everlasting covenant must have felt unfulfillable, exhausting the souls of all who set their hearts on it. It must’ve been hard to believe a so-called Messiah would ever come. What with Roman guards everywhere and the capitulation of the religious leaders, how could anyone sustain the hope necessary to read “everlasting covenant” with any kind of resolve?
After all, a covenant is understood to be an oath involving two parties. Promises are made and they are binding. So you can see how it seems as if one of two things has happened: God is either holding out His favor till Israel gets their act together, or He has given up on Israel, making His promise empty.
This may sound familiar. Oftentimes things start going badly for us, and we believe either one of those things. Either God is sitting up in heaven tapping His foot, waiting for us to straighten up, or He’s altogether given up on us.
How do we know neither is true?
Because of Jesus. Just as Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise of an everlasting covenant over the house of David, He is the guarantee of God’s promises to be God to us. Even when life is hard. Even when it’s hard because of our own sin. We have a sure hope in this everlasting covenant because Jesus has fulfilled our covenant obligations—the ones we could never keep—and paid the penalty we deserved for our covenant-breaking.
Because of what Jesus, the Son of David, has done for us, we can enjoy the promise of everlasting fellowship with God.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond