Shepherd Following the Sheep

Shepherd Following the Sheep

While writing The Davidic Covenant 7 – The Kingdom, the phrase “from following the sheep” used in NKJV & NASB versions in 2 Samuel 7:8 caught my attention. In some Bible versions, the word “tending” was used but the versions I use for Bible study use “following” and so my discussion will be based this. The sheep follows the shepherd, why is it the reverse here? I went on a side quest of finding out more if this phrase has any significant meaning while writing on the Davidic Covenant.

The Way of the Shepherd

One of the most interesting find in my search was the phrase “leading from behind”, a leadership concept in the marketplace that is rather revolutionary or even debatable. This leadership concept is derived from the how shepherd’s the lead the sheep from the rear. Thought this blog post is a great read about leading from behind after going through quite a number: https://saffold.com/blog/2016/12/15/leading-from-behind-the-shepherds-way/.

The shepherd’s usual practice is to walk behind their sheep to guide the sheep and to allow them to run ahead. So visually, the shepherd is following the sheep. This is completely different from my visual image of the shepherd with his staff walking ahead to lead the way. The sheep is allowed to run ahead! It might be easily misunderstood, at least for someone who grew up in an urban city, that the shepherd is skiving or not doing his job if the sheep is running ahead. Standing behind the sheep makes sense as the shepherd is able to immediately notice if any sheep goes off track, use his staff and hook it back. If he is walking in front, he will only notice any lost sheep after he stop and count, which might be too late.

My next question is how will the sheep know where to go if no one is leading in front. I was reminded of Jesus’ teaching in John.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” – John 10:27

The Nazareth Village where I visited when I was in Israel had some sheep and of course there was a shepherd who took care of them. The shepherd did a demonstration of calling out the sheep and the sheep responded immediately. The sheep did not cared about anyone of us who were making all sorts of noise to get attention from the sheep. I believe this is how the shepherd leads the sheep from behind – using his voice.

Yet when danger comes, the shepherd will move to the front to protect and fight off the enemy. This is the time when David will run to the front to face the bear or lion whom he defeated over and over. A good shepherd does not run away when danger comes. Instead he rises up to the occasion and get the sheep behind him, standing between enemy and the sheep.

God as a Shepherd

God showed David how He was the Shepherd to him in 2 Samuel 7:9 “I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you.” Such a beautiful image here that God is the lead Shepherd. God as a good shepherd who moves to the front to cut off David’s enemies, just like how David would do for his sheep. God speaks to David in the very methodology that he is so familiar with since a young boy. The abiding presence of God was His way of leading in an unassuming way, similar to a shepherd leading from behind.  Yet God never fails to show up when dangers come because He is near even though not always visible in the front.

Where is God?

Where is God?” is a very common question that both believers and non-believers ask. Based on the way of the shepherd, I will say God is behind, usually! We probably cannot see Him but He has full view of us. Sometimes we wonder if God is leading the way, waiting for Him to come to the front and lead the way as we expect from most leaders. Yet, His way is for us to hear His voice to guide and direct us to the pasture He wants us to move to. We can run along, skip and be free to move towards the destination when we hear His voice leading! On top of this, we have the full assurance that He will come between us and our enemies when danger comes.

So let us rest in our Shepherd’s leading and protection.

The Davidic Covenant 8 - The Conclusion

The Davidic Covenant 8 – The Conclusion

After breaking down the David Covent into seven parts, we take a step back out to look at the Covenant holistically and its significance. I will include the Bible quotation of the Davidic Covenant for reference below as we look at concluding The Davidic Covenant.

“Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’ ” ’ Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth. 10 Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, 11 since the time that I commanded judges to beover My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.” 1“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. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 15 But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” ’ ” – 2 Samuel 7:5-16 (NKJV)

David’s Heart

In Parts 1-4, the heart of David was the differentiating factor. It is clear that David is a man after God’s own heart as describe in 1 Sam 13:14 and Acts 13:22. David’s heart was tested through his walk and history with God, even in times of rest He remembered God. As I observed in Part 1, the Davidic Covenant was not a motivation or encouragement to David. It is a  progression of intimacy with God that both God and David converge in the “seed” promised in the covenant.

The Linchpin

Lynch-pin

It is established that the seed referred to in the Davidic Covenant refers to Jesus Christ. We see the coming together of the Kingdom of David and the Kingdom of God together in Part 7 through the seed, Jesus Christ as well.

We quoted some theologians in Part 1 and I will include them here again.

  • Ronald Youngblood’s understand is that 2 Samuel 7 is “the center and focus of . . . the Deuteronomic history itself.
  • Walter Brueggemann regards it as the “dramatic and theological center of the entire Samuel corpus” and as “the most crucial theological statement in the Old Testament.
  • Robert Gordon called this chapter the “ideological summit . . . in the Old Testament as a whole.

There is no question about the significance of the Davidic Covenant in the Old Testament. Through this simple study of the Davidic Covenant, I will like to propose that the Davidic Covenant’s importance goes beyond the Old Testament. Instead, it holds the Old Testament with the New, and all the covenants in the Old Testament with the New Covenant with Jesus Christ.

The image of a linchpin comes to mind when looking at the Davidic Covenant. A linchpin is “an important part of anything, the thing that holds it all together“. The Davidic Covenant gives meaning and depth to Jesus’ identity as the Son of David that are often times mentioned in the New Testament, even in Revelation. In the macro scheme of things, it is unthinkable that the God of this Universe will go through so much pain and details to salvage a creation that self-destructs. Yet He did and is still doing. We are living in this right now.

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 7 - The Kingdom

The Davidic Covenant 7 – The Kingdom

“He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7:13, 16 (NKJV)

As we talk about kingdom, it is impossible to exclude the other two aspects – house and throne. In the two verses above, there was mentioned of house, throne and kingdom. They are different aspects of the Davidic Kingdom with distinct features.

The Three Aspects of the Davidic Kingdom

The house is linked with the king. The house provides a lineage of kings where there is continuity in kingship over the Kingdom. To diffentiate the Davidic Kingdom from the generic kingdom, small caps is used instead. In general, kingdom is represented by people and land. The Davidic Kingdom does involve a physical location, which is the boundaries promised by God. Historically, we know that Israel has been in first exile by Assyria in about 733 BCE, commonly called the diaspora. The geographical land became a sovereign Israel state once again in 1948. You can take a look at the timeline of Israel which is interesting (https://embassies.gov.il/UnGeneva/AboutIsrael/history/Pages/History-Israel-Timeline.aspx). For a kingdom to exist, both people and land are needed. The third aspect is throne. Physically a throne is a ceremonial chair, but it represents authority to rule. A kingdom can have a king, with people and land in place, but if there is no throne, the kingdom will be in chaos.

“In mercy the throne will be established;
And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David,
Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.” – Isaiah 16:5 (NKJV)

The authority of a throne comes with it the legal system and governance that holds a kingdom together. I love how Isaiah 16:5 starts with mercy as the throne is also the place of judgement. Instead of judgement, the throne in the Davidic covenant is based on mercy which was discussed in Part 6. From this Isaiah verse, it is clear that The Tabernacle of David is not just about worship and intercession, but actual rule and authority that is given to the son of David.

Below is a simple diagram to summarise the three aspects.

The Davidic Covenant 7 - The Kingdom

The “No End” of the Kingdom

“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” – Luke 1:32-33 (NKJV)

In these Luke verses, the dual identity of Jesus is mentioned – Son of David and Son of God. The Kingdom of David, reigning over the house of Jacob is declared but there is no mention of the Kingdom of God here. The only characteristic of this kingdom indicated here is “no end”. “Forever” was also mentioned three times in 2 Samuel 7:13, 16. What does “no end” or “forever” actually mean since it is emphasised repeatedly?

The Greek word for “end” used in Luke 1:33 is “telos“, according to the lexicon it means “the limit at which a thing ceases to be (always of the end of some act or state, but not of the end of a period of time)“. It is interesting that the end does not allude to time, which was what I had in mind before searching out the lexicon for its Greek word. My initial interpretation was the Kingdom of David is eternal. Now understanding what telos mean, the Kingdom of David goes deeper beyond time eternity but the state of its kingdom will not cease. The significance is that the Kingdom of David will NOT fluctuate, going through the rise and fall of kingdoms as demonstrated by human history of all nations. There is a stability in the Kingdom of David promised, a good finality.

Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven during His short three years of ministry on earth found in the four Gospels. The Romans labeled him “king of the Jews” when Jesus died on the cross. With the dual identity of Jesus as Son of David and Son of God, He does not only reign as king over the Kingdom of David, but also the Kingdom of God. This is a difficult concept to grasp as two kingdoms are coexisting in a same Person who is king over both. I will try a weak attempt using a modern day example. Not too long ago, the United States was regarded as the sovereign super power nation of the world and the President of the United States is considered the world leader. A world leader has to come from a particular nation. For Jesus, it is Israel from the lineage of King David. Being the king of Israel does not stop or restrict Him from being the leader over all of God’s Kingdom, i.e. the world, while Israel has its own people and geographical location.

Telos besides being used in Rev 21:26 & 22:13 in the description of Jesus as “the Beginning and the End”, is also found in Rev 2:26.

“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—” – Revelation 2:26 (NKJV)

The other definition of telos is eternal. If applying this definition to Rev 2:26, it means keeping God’s works for eternity! In other words, there is “no end”. This is the promise given to church in Thyatira and I believe it applies to all believers who continually  overcome and walk in obedience. The reward is authority over the nations, meaning to reign with Christ! What a privilege! The Kingdom of David extends to the nations in the Kingdom of God.

There is so much to study about the Kingdom of God but I will stop here as the topic is the Kingdom in relation to Davidic Covenant. Thus in this post, the only focus was forever as mentioned in the Davidic Covenant. It will be interesting to study more about the Kingdom of God as if we do not know the Kingdom of God, our recitation of the Lord’s prayer “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done here on earth as in heaven” will one be a superficial recitation and not a conviction.

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The Davidic Covenant 6 - The Mercies

The Davidic Covenant 6 – The Mercies

“If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” – 2 Samuel 7:14b-15 (NKJV)

Mercy Defined

We talk a lot more about grace than mercy now, at least in the communities I move in. I love the simple definition of mercy as not receiving the punishment one deserves and grace as receiving blessings that one does not deserve. Perhaps it is because we do not talk so much about sin, and thus less about mercy.

Mercy brings us from the status of being being condemned to forgiven, and grace brings us from forgiven to favoured.

Below is a simple visual of how I see mercy and grace. They come hand in hand. We cannot receive grace without mercy.

Mercy & Grace

Mercy on this Seed

The teachings and expositions I have read on the Sure Mercies of David have alluded to Jesus Christ through whom the mercy of God has been extended to us believers. This position is very important and critical to our salvation. I personally is so thankful for this mercy as without it I will be damned for eternity for my sins.

My question is why would Jesus need the sure mercy? Is not His position as the son of God and sinless absolve Him from judgement? If He does not need to be judged, then there is no need for mercy.

(I am aware that I am on a trajectory that might be a less traveled path and I am open to discussion. f anyone of you know of any established writers who bear similar position, please let me know too as I have reading and looking for another independent voice echoing perspective similar to this!)

As the son of God, yes He is sinless and of no need of judgement. Yet as son of David who as the king over all with an eternal kingdom, Jesus bears the responsibility over all His subjects. A good king and leader bears the burden of his people. Jesus took on the sin of the world, as the king of Israel. As I have established previously that the only way Israel has true and complete rest is when all the enemies are no more. This implied that this promised King is to be King over all.  So it is pertinent that Jesus took on all the sin of the world, which is expressed in the popular verse John 3:16.

I see the sure mercies of David at work here for Jesus, the son of David. King Saul was rejected because of his sin against God. The Davidic Covenant is very clear that this descendent of David will not have the same end as King Saul even if He sinned. In verse 14b, God is clear that this son of David will receive punishment from men, but mercy from God. It was a reverse of King Saul as he did not receive punishment from men but from God. Jesus was judged for the sin of the world on Him by the world, by men. Jesus took on one of the most cruel way of capital punishment through the cross meted out by men. The sure mercies of David was activated when God pardoned the sin of the world on Jesus in His resurrection. Yes, Jesus is the perfect sacrificial lamb, yet we know that the lamb in the Old Testament had to die to pay for the price of sin of mankind no matter how perfect it was. Jesus lived. Mercy was extended to this Lamb from death.

Lesson Learnt

I am amazed by the intricate details and trouble God went through to “plan” for the salvation of creation. My instinct when something I am working on went off tangent away from the end I had in mind, I will restart. God wanted to with the flood during Noah’s time. Yet His lovingkindness made Him relent to provide a rainbow covenant.

Sin can be taken rather frivolously in our time and age, even among the Christian community. Perhaps it is our temporal view of our lives, where the eternal effects of sin are not within our consideration. Yet our loving Father above saw all these and took the pains to work around the principles and laws in creation that was set to make a way for us ignorant “blur” creatures who know not what we are doing. He did not just provide a way to pardon our sins, but He also paves the way to blessedness.

I leave us with a quote from Spurgeon about the sure mercies of David.

“God dealt with Israel by way of mercy, and to make that mercy sure He took a man whom He had chosen, a man whom He loved, a man whom He intended to use, and He made with him a covenant that He would set him upon the throne, that by his personal influence he might bring down blessings upon all the people. These are “the sure mercies of David.”” – Spurgeon

 

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 1 - The Context

The Davidic Covenant 1 – The Context

As I study more about the Tabernacle of David, the Davidic Covenant is at the core. Instead of trying to define and discuss the Tabernacle of David, I want to start with the Davidic Covenant. Everything about the Tabernacle of David comes back to this covenant.

We are probably familiar with the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant. The Davidic Covenant is not taught or discussed very often in church, at least I haven’t heard of a sermon on this in the services I have been to, not including online since we search out topics we are interested in. I only delve into the Davidic Covenant a little more when I was trying to understand the Tabernacle of David. As I took time to study and mediate on the Davidic Covenant, I am deeply convicted that this covenant has deep significance to us as Christians today, almost as important as the New Covenant or even on par.

The Davidic Covenant is found in 2 Samuel 7:5-17.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found when I read some theologians on the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7.  There is an acknowledgement that the Davidic Covenant has a key role to play in the Old Testament. Below are a few quotes:

  • Ronald Youngblood’s understand is that 2 Samuel 7 is “the center and focus of . . . the Deuteronomic history itself.
  • Walter Brueggemann regards it as the “dramatic and theological center of the entire Samuel corpus” and as “the most crucial theological statement in the Old Testament.
  • Robert Gordon called this chapter the “ideological summit . . . in the Old Testament as a whole.

King David’s Stage of Life

After all the years of battles both personal and national, King David in 2 Sam 7:1 is described as “settled” and the LORD had given him “rest from his enemies”. Rest is a good place to be. It is a place of blessedness and shalom. Perhaps even being fulfilled, in the sense of fulfilling God’s purpose in his life.

King David’s cedar palace stood in stark contrast to the simple tent the Ark of God rests in. His love and respect for God led David to desire to build God a proper house, rather than a tent.

“Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”” – 2 Sam 7:3

When we examine the word that came to Nathan in the night after his conversation with King David, God’s focus is not in this house that David wanted to build as nothing was mentioned about this house except for 2 Sam 7:6-7. If we examine Nathan’s response, the key was “the Lord is with you“. Again, nothing about the house David wanted to build.

King David’s Heart

I believe it was David’s desire to honour God that led to the Davidic Covenant following. For many believers, we have instances of guilt in forgetting God when we are having a great time, especially in a place of rest and comfort. Yet for King David, in his greatest rest and comfort, he thought of God. David was willing to get up from his place of rest and comfort to work on building a house for God, as much as God did not need or desire it. God never once stopped David from doing it. In fact He allowed David to do it. God commanded that David will not be the one who built the temple but his son Solomon due to the blood shed in his life as a man of battle. David did all the preparation needed to build the temple in his lifetime.

Stage for the Davidic Covenant

I wondered why the David Covenant was given when David was enjoying success and rest.  Would it not be a greater encouragement and motivation to David if the David Covenant was made at the point when he was first anointed king as a forgotten little shepherd boy? Or perhaps when he got his victory over Goliath? There were so many instances that if I was the storyteller will insert the covenant to give a boost this young man in all the circumstances and situations he encountered. The key is this – David made it through without the Davidic Covenant. He made it through without any promise of “greater things”. His focus was on God and His purposes. This intimacy with God carried him through all the tumultous challenges that most of us probably will never experience. He did not need the covenant and promises to succeed. God was the greatest thing for David.

It will be presumptuous of me to speculate that if King David did not remember God and offer to build Him a house, the Davidic Covenant will not be given. Yet, the heart of David made it impossible for me to consider him forgetting God in his time of rest and comfort. I believe that it was because God was above anything in this world that the Davidic Covenant was made.

The Davidic Covenant was not given as an encouragement or motivation to David. It was not given as a reward for David’s heart for God since God was his reward. As I discuss the Davidic Covenant further, these points will be driven deeper. So come journey with me on this. Feel free to leave your thoughts below and I am happy to engage in discussion as I am still learning and seeking understanding.

P.S. I will try and post weekly on the Davidic Covenant until what I have learnt is shared here. I am convicted that this is something I need to discipline myself to work on and share for this season. =)

The Davidic Covenant Series: