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.

The Davidic Covenant Series:

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 5 - The Seed

The Davidic Covenant 5 – The Seed

When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 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.” –  2 Samuel 7:12-14 (NKJV)

The seed of David is a descendent of David. The Davidic Covenant goes beyond the lifetime of King David himself. Yet, it is not descendants, but a particular descendent as it is singular in all mention of him.

I want to first establish that King Solomon is NOT the descendent referred to in this context based on the few conditions stated in this covenant.

  1. “Build a house for God’s name” – Solomon did build temple for God but it never carried God’s name. It was called the Temple of Solomon.
  2. “Establish the throne of his kingdom forever” – We know historically that after Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel was in a decline and eventually lost her sovereignty.
  3. “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son” – Solomon was known as the son of David, never as a son of God.

I will be his Father, and he shall be My son

This one line blew my mind. God adopts David’s son as His own. This is a singular individual adoption of a son of David. We as believers are children of God as a collective through Jesus Christ, i.e. a second degree adoption. The Davidic Covenant is a first degree direct adoption by God with David the father. This means that this son will be called both son of David and son of God. Based on this, we know the only person carrying this dual identity is Jesus Christ. Jesus’ genealogy traces back to David (Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38, Romans 1:3-4, Revelation 5:5 & 22:16).

Following this declaration, God went on to talk about chastening this son. God was clear that He will not give special concession to His son from earthly human discipline for trespasses. The son of God is not spared of the consequences of sin as the son of David, a man, no concession or exemption. It is hard to reconcile this as we know that Jesus was sinless on earth. The Son of God should not have sin on him. Yet as the son of David and as the king over all nations (as discussed in Part 4 on Rest), the responsibility of the sin of all his subjects in the kingdom is upon him. This is what great leaders do. Jesus did exactly this. He went on the cross for the sin of all in His Kingdom, suffering the “rod and blows of man”.

Throne of His Kingdom Forever

The only possible kingdom that will last forever, literally eternity, will be one of God. No earthly king could ever achieve this, even the greatest empires and kingdoms. This is impossible by human means and effort. Therefore God promised to establish this kingdom. God repeated “I will establish his kingdom” and “I will establish the throne of his kingdom” with the emphasis of His sovereignty in this matter.

House for God’s Name

God stated that this house will carry the name of God. This makes complete sense as the kingdom and throne will be established by God Himself. The Tabernacle of David was named after David, similarly the Temple of Solomon after Solomon. We know that historically, Temple of Solomon was destroyed 586 BCE when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem. The Ark of the Covenant was also lost. There was no physical house built for God since then till present. So what might this house be?

Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” – John 2:19-22 (NKJV)

Jesus talked about destroying the Temple and rebuilding it again in three days. Verse 22 interpreted it for us as Christ’s death and resurrection. John Piper’s exposition on this passage provided a second level of understanding that “this temple” that Jesus was referring to can also mean the physical temple that He was in at that time (https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/destroy-this-temple-and-in-three-days-i-will-raise-it-up). The Pharisees were on the road to destroying the temple when they hide their love for money behind religion. The temple is only truly a temple when the presence of God in the temple, otherwise it is an empty shell. Based on this definition of a temple, Jesus is the temple of God as He embodies 100% of God here on earth.

I love the word used in this covenant is house and not temple. House is God’s abiding place with relationship and intimacy. Whereas a temple is more ritualistic that is distant and formal. This covenant is a paradigm shift. The house of God is moved from place to person, represented by the shift from temple to house, which I see as from ritualistic to relational.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” – 1 Corinthian 3:16  (NKJV)

Based on the same rationale that the temple of God is where God presence is, followers of Jesus Christ who are filled with the Spirit of God are also temple of God. The temple of God has now been decentralised and scattered where geographical location is no longer a limitation. The “seed” has multiplied!

Jesus is the Seed

Conclusion of the matter is that Jesus is the seed or descendent referred to in the Davidic Covenant. As straight forward as this conclusion is to some, I appreciated the multi-levels and depth of this implication to my revelation of Jesus Christ’s purpose of birth, life, death, resurrection, and second coming.

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 4 - The Rest

The Davidic Covenant 4 – The Rest

I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, I will give you rest from all your enemies.” – 2 Sam 7:10-11a

The context of the Davidic Covenant was God’s response to David’s desire to build Him a house when Israel was in a place of prosperity and peace. It was a time of rest for David and Israel. It is a little baffling to promise rest at this point. From a human’s need point of view, the promise would have given more assurance and comfort before the battles fought for the land?

Was the rest King David enjoyed permanent? Historically, we know it was not. David’s absence from war when he decided to stay in Jerusalem led him to adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1). Even with the established Kingdom of David at that time, he still had to go out to war to maintain peace as the enemies were not at rest. When the enemy is still at work, there is no true rest. The kingdom reached its peak during King Solomon’s days, after which it was a slippery road of loss. Israel eventually lost its sovereignty as a nation and its land. Closer to our times, the Holocaust is a horror in history to the Jewish people that the world is still left wondering how it happened. The modern nation of Israel is also constantly at war with its neighbours now. The promise of rest from all enemies in the physical has not come to pass till today as the nation of Israel is still at war.

True Rest from all the Enemies

When can true rest from all the enemies be experienced?

One way of looking at true rest is when we are sure of victory. As strange as it may sound, a battle can be fought from a place of rest rather than from a place of fear or survival. The mime below shows the “restedness” of Daniel, Peter and Jesus despite their threatening circumstances. King David had this rest when he fought Goliath and all the other battles. If David already had this rest, what is the rest that God promised him in this covenant?

I believe the rest promised here is the literal rest from all enemies, both psychologically and physically. There are prophecies about Israel’s eternal sovereignty and complete victory over her enemies like Zechariah 14:3-9, which points to complete rest for Israel so this perspective aligns with other prophecies.

It is interesting that God changed from “they” and “them” in reference to Israel, to “you” in reference to David within this same verse and sentence. The rest given is to the whole of Israel. For a king, there is no guarantee of rest even when the nation is at rest as the king bears the responsibility of maintaining the rest. Therefore, God addressed David directly with “you”, promising him a complete rest where the king does not need to fight anymore. For this true rest to come, David and/or his descendents cannot be just the king of Israel but as king over all i.e. no more enemies. This promise is yet to be fulfilled till now.

The beauty of God’s covenant is that there is surety of the fulfilment of rest now in Jesus Christ, the Son of David. It is not a down payment as it is paid in full. Paid but not fully claimed might be more appropriate. Even though Jesus has not stepped into the full glory as King over all the nations, His victory on the cross and death gives all who believed in Him a guarantee of this promise to come.

This is another instant where “Now and Not Yet” co-exist Biblically.

Meanwhile, thought I will share this verse with you all that popped up while I was meditating on this topic… =)

2019-04-03 11.05.32.jpg
This is the Verse of the Day on 3 April 2019 in the Bible app while I was still meditating on “REST” while writing this. Says it all that Jesus is the answer for the REST.

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 3 - The Name

The Davidic Covenant 3 – The Name

I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.” – 2 Sam 7:9 (NASB)

What’s In A Name?

With the promise of a great name in the Davidic Covenant, the first question that arose in my mind is “what’s in a name?” Biblically, a person’s name is a reflection of the person’s destiny in God. This explains why God specifically told Mary to name her son Jesus (Matthew 1:21), which means God is salvation. Jesus is the Saviour of the world through his birth, death and resurrection. There are many more Biblical names that we can discuss but here, our focus is on David, and in relation to the Tabernacle of David.

The Name of David

The Hebrew characters of David is דָּוִד which can be pronounced as “da-wid.” David means “beloved”, derived from the root דּוֹד dôwd, which had an etymological meaning of “to boil”. Interestingly, it evolves in Biblical Hebrew only in figurative usage “to love” and also specifically a term for an uncle (father’s brother).  The two meanings of “beloved” and “uncle” of David bears significance in the calling of David.

The Tabernacle of the Uncle

Tabernacle of the Uncle sounds really strange. I was ready to put this aside until I felt a prompting to dwell on it a little more. I am going to try to explain a complex relationship between God, David and the Son of David/God, Jesus here. God and David have a common son, Jesus, who is both called the Son of God and Son of David. As absurd as this may sound, in this context, God and David are in the same generation standing in a family tree. God and David are both fathers of Jesus, and in a sense uncles, “brothers” of each other.

This relationship from the name paints a picture of close kinship – family. To the Israelites who related to God through the Tabernacle of the Lord, to consider God as family will be sacrilegious and complete dishonouring of God. The Tabernacle of David was erected before the Davidic Covenant was given though. One might see the name as prophetic to the Davidic Covenant that is to come. For me, I am more convicted that the relationship David had with God already reflected kinship and the covenant was a seal of what had already developed.

The Tabernacle of the Beloved

When I put the word “Beloved” into the phrase Tabernacle of David, my whole being leaped in joy. Here we see a deepening in relationship from kinship to intimacy. Embedded in the simple name of David, the significance of the Tabernacle of David came to light. Two popular verses immediately came to mind:

  • Song of Solomon 6:3 “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, He who pastures his flock among the lilies.
  • Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

The image of the end time bride of Christ emerges from these verses. In Song of Solomon, the beloved is often times allegorically interpreted as the end-times church. The bride in Revelation is also interpreted as the church of Christ (ref Eph 5:25-32; 2 Cor 11:2). Notwithstanding that in the Old Testament, Israel is often referred to as wife and God as the husband (E.g. Hos 2:7; Isa 54:6). There is an intimacy suggested by the name of the Tabernacle of David, an intimacy that lasts through the end of time of this earth and beyond.

Beloved pronounced the status of relationship of intimacy. In the Tabernacle of David, there was no ceremonial sacrifice and separation between God and man. David was able to meet with God face to face, and others who seek Him bypassing required rituals. It baffled me why God allowed David to break the laws punishable by death to erect this tabernacle without instruction from God like with Moses, but simply by David’s initiation. David had the audacity to do so because he knew God intimately. The Tabernacle of David was birthed from a place of intimacy and not of legality. This intimacy is expressed through joy instead of the solemn fear portrayed in the Tabernacle of the Lord with Moses.

A Great Name

He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” 2 Samuel 7:13 (NASB)

The Davidic Covenant promised a great name. As we read further to verse 13, the name of David will be great because it is tied to God’s name. The Davidic Covenant is not solely about David but God. God has willingly tied His name intricately to David’s, where the house of David bears the name of God. This is seen in Jesus who is known as both Son of David and Son of God.

How can David’s name not be great when it is so intimately tied to God? It is not the great name, or fame that is the key here. I believe the key lesson here is the relationship that David has with God. The great name is simply a byproduct of intimacy by rubbing off the greatness of God, but never a goal or objective to be achieved.

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 2 – The History

The Lord came to Nathan in the same night as a response to the expressed desire of King David. This response is the Davidic Covenant. God starts off with a reminder of His history with Israel and David.

History with Israel

In the short 3 verses of 2 Sam 7:5-7, God made it clear about His view on a house on earth that was consistent.  God started with a rhetorical question, which in closer examination made David’s proposal sounded ridiculous in the grand schema of things. Let us compare the greatest splendour on earth to heaven, God’s dwelling. Of course, most of us have never seen heaven. Yet it is heaven because it is nothing like earth. A perfect place that cannot be found here on earth. This explains why God has never once commanded the Israelites to build Him a house. A dwelling on earth cannot match up to heaven.

God commanded the Israelites to build the Tabernacle of the Lord through Moses with detailed specifications. He moved from place to place with the Israelites in the Ark of the Covenant carried by the priests and rested in the Tabernacle. He even went into battles with the Israelites. Yet there was no demand of a temple or a permanent house. This is in great contrast to the other pagan gods in the region where the gods require extravagant temples. Just check out the structures left standing in Karnak of Egypt and we can see how grand those temples stood and the building were required of their worshippers. This love of God went beyond Himself to dwell among Israel in a tent, forgoing heaven. How can anyone forgo heaven? Only God who is completely secure in Himself.

It blows my mind to consider the God of heaven and earth would choose to confine Himself in the Ark of the Covenant in a tent to journey with Israel. How humbling can this be? He could have demanded a more extravagant set up and Israel will have to build it. Yet, no matter how extravagant, it still pales in comparison to His heavenly abode with angelic host giving Him full worship day and night, where everything is what it is meant to be. Here on earth, He had to deal with complains, grumblings and disobedience from the very people He was pouring out His love on. It is acceptable for the kings on earth to have extravagant setup, advance security, protocol and honour, even in our current times. For the God of Heaven, the Tabernacle of The Lord, together with His Laws, which also covered the well-being of the Israelites, should receive the honour that is due even though we have the New Testament.

The expectation of His love was not in physical return of a physical dwelling, but the heart of obedience. As deep as this Love runs, the expectation of return is one that runs deep, beyond the physical. The reincarnation of Christ in human form was an extension of this self-giving love that was exhibited right from the time with God in Old Testament. This is the heart of God that has never changed.

History with David (2 Sam 7:8-9a)

God reminded David of his humble beginnings as a young shepherd boy. I love the phrase “from following the sheep” used in NKJV & NASB versions in verse 8. In some other versions, the word “tending” was used but the richness of the role of a shepherd is lost. The phrase “leading from behind”, a leadership concept in the marketplace that is rather revolutionary or even debatable, 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: https://saffold.com/blog/2016/12/15/leading-from-behind-the-shepherds-way/. Shepherd walks at the back of their sheep to help them navigate and allow the sheep to run ahead. Yet when danger comes, the shepherd will move to the front to protect. For someone who does not understand the workings of a shepherd, it will look as though the shepherd is following the sheep as he is at the back.

In a single sentence, God included both leadership of the sheep and the nation of Israel. It is no dispute that God moved David from insignificance to significance, from sheep to nation. Perhaps deeper than this, God is saying the principle of leading for both is the same. Moreover, the nation of Israel is often times alluded as sheep in the Bible. The nation of Israel needed protection and someone to fight for them at the forefront to secure a land that is safe for their dwelling. David fulfilled the role in the years of war as king of Judah, and then king over all Israel. Now that Israel is at rest, it is time for the shepherd to move to the rear to allow the sheep to roam and enjoy. The ability to know when to be at the back and in the front is crucial in leadership and also for the leader. As we read on in chapter 11, we realised David stayed in the rear when he was supposed to go out for battle, leading to adultery with and murder.

The training David received as a young man in the fields with his sheep was the exact transferable skills he needed as a king. This brings to mind how God orchestrated and planned every single detail in David’s life. I believe this is true for each one of us as well. God equips the called, even before the call.

God did not stop there. God showed David how He was the Shepherd to him in verse 9a, “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. The abiding presence of God was His way of leading in an unassuming way, working behind the scene. This brings a different perspective to understand John 20:27 where the sheep responds to the voice of the shepherd from behind, without the shepherd having to be right up in front. God never fails to show up when dangers come because He is near even though not always visible in the front. So let’s rest in our Shepherd’s leading and protection.

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:

Sealed and Guaranteed

Sealed and Guaranteed

My heart was so full and rejoiced deeply on 12 Aug 2018 (Sun) for the baptism of two very dear brother and sister in Christ, Tim and Ruth. The Lord gave me the privilege to journey with them for the past months and it was such an encouragement. My pastor tasked me to deliver a short messge for their baptism. The message is titled Sealed and Guaranteed.

Key Scripture Passage

Ephesians 1:13-14 New King James Version (NKJV)
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
Emphasis mine.

Baptism and Salvation

Water is used for washing and to make clean. Water baptism is more than just a public declaration. It is also a symbolic act of our old self being washed away by the water and emerge as a new person. All the past regrets, shame, pain, loses, victories and achievements, are taken away, far away from us. This is the time to start anew, afresh. A second chance whereby a clear line is drawn. I am so thankful that God uses the physical elements to help us understand and internalise spiritual truths that might be too abstract at times for us.

Baptism is the beginning of our jouney and the end is when our physical body is laid to rest or when Christ comes back, whichever is earlier. Therein lies the challenge of finishing this journey. This is a long marathon and not just a 100m sprint, which we do not know the distance nor the duration of our individual journey.

The beautiful part of it is that we are not alone in this journey, sealed with the Holy Spirit. We are SEALED and GUARANTEED in Christ until He comes back!

Seal

Let’s go a little deeper to understand what it means to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of God. We will look at the instances whereby the concept of seal is used in the Bible to gain insights to the function of a seal.

  1. Locking something within. E.g. how the tomb of Jesus was sealed (Matthew 27:66). This is to keep something precious seperated from the outside within so that there is no access from outside. Each believer’s whole being, spirit, soul and body is “wrapped” by the Holy Spirit to be seperated from the world. Holiness is defined as being separated from the world. The role of the Holy Spirit is to keep us pure and holy, untainted by the world, till Christ comes back for us.
  2. Sign of Authenticity. E.g. circumcision is a seal of righteousness of Abraham (Romans 4:11). Hologram seals for many products, like medication, supplements and even some IT products indicate its authenticity from the original manufacturer or brand. This is to help people identify the genuine products and differentiate from the imitations. The Holy Spirit within a believer marks the authenticity that the believer is of God.
  3. Identification and protection. E.g. Seal of God in the forehead of God’s servants as protection (Revelation 7:3-4). As long as the seal remains intact on a product, we know that they are new and not tampered with. A buyer will safely take the products whose seals are intact and those with broken seals are left to be trashed or heavily discounted for quick clearance. The same for Jesus. He has already paid for us in full and sealed us so that he can come back for us. The seal will be the identification used to protect us and take us home with Him.

Guarantee

Let’s illustrate guarantee through the rental of bicycle at East Coast Park (location where the baptism was held, by the beach). The rental shop requires customers to put in a refundable $200 cash deposit or personal ID as guarantee. The guarantee must be valuable enough for the customer to return their rented bicycles. What does it mean when the Bible says the Holy Spirit is a “guarantee of our inheritance”? God deposited Himself, the Holy Spirit, in us. The Holy Spirit is more than a valuable  guarantee for Jesus to return for us as promised?

Thus, the Holy Spirit as a seal and guarantee locks in our faith, validates us as true children of God and protects us from judgment/destructive forces that are not meant for us.

This implies the completion of our walk and journey with God is only possible by the grace of God.
God sets us on the journey with the assurance of completion. He gives us the resources and security for SUCCESS. God makes provisions for our slips, weariness, ignorance, “blur-ness”, idiosyncrasies and weaknesses.

The ability to continue to the end is NOT based on our own strength. We take the responsibility of our lives, but we are still not perfected yet. This means we stumble and fall. This means we can still fall short.

Our Responsibility – The Cross

Luke 9:23 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Jesus states three requirements that is expected of those who wants to follow him, these make up the part that we have to play in this journey.

  1. Deny himself
  2. Take up his cross daily
  3. Follow Jesus

I will start from the middle requirement, which is to take up our cross daily. Carrying the cross is not equivalent to wearing a cross around our neck. Jesus carried the cross for a few hours to Calvary and here he commanded us to carry it for our whole journey. Does it even make sense that since Jesus already carried our sin on the cross that we need to carry our cross for the rest of our lives after accepting Him? Is the cross that Jesus ask us to carry similar to the cross He carried to Calvary?

The cross was a symbol of shame, a punishment that was given to the worst criminals. Jesus’ death changed the cross from a symbol of shame into a symbol of victory after His resurrection. Jesus carried the cross of shame, with our sin on it, to Calvary. The cross Jesus told us to carry is the cross of victory.

The cross that Jesus carried was heavy, especially with his beaten body, so heavy that Simon had to help him with it (Matthew 27:32). My next question is, “How heavy is the cross that Jesus calls us to carry?” If the cross represents the victory of Christ, it should carry the weight of Christ’s power. If Christ power overcame sin, it should be weightier and thus heavier. If we are unable to even carry the cross of our own sin without crumbling, how then are we able to carry the cross of Christ’s power?

Only God can carry Himself. No one else can.

Sealed and Guaranteed
I used the float found at the baptism site to illustrate the cross. We had a “Jesus” who carried the “cross” bent double. The other who represented us had some fun with it and even put it over her waist. What a contrast in how the cross was carried.

This leads me back to the first step Jesus instructed. To deny ourselves, which in other words, to die to ourselves. The reason why we need to die to ourselves is so that the Holy Spirit in us can fully come alive to enable us to carry the cross! This journey is not to Calvary but to Jesus. It is not to death but to life. So, our responsiblity is not to carry the cross but to deny ourselves to allow the Holy Spirit to carry the cross. This is a very reasonable demand Jesus made of us, possibly the smallest part to play in this narrative.

Is Our Cross Really Neccessary?

I find myself asking God if carrying our cross is really necessary since we already have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can serve to remind us of Jesus’ death and resurrection, lead and guide us. The cross seems a little clumsy in this whole works. I realized the “clumsiness” of the cross is exactly what God is looking for. The cross is a large visible object that everyone can see, more of cannot miss. The Holy Spirit within is not visible to the physical eyes and its existance is proven by its workings within a person and through a person. Therefore, this clumsy cross is the testimony of Christ’s victory at work in our daily lives.

Conclusion

The only way to complete this journey is by dying, not just humbling, ourselves. This is the exact same journey Jesus took to obtain victory and glory. To be able to carry the cross daily, we need to die to ourselves. Our victorious completion lies in the cross we carry daily. We can only carry the cross daily when we have the Holy Spirit within us as a seal and guarantee.

The ultimate goal is for the GLORY OF GOD as stated in Ephesians 1:14 and we share in it. Not just at the end of the journey, but throughout the journey as we carry our cross of victorious power.

Phil 1:6b – “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”