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… =)

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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:

12-Hour CHIJMES Worship Reflections

12-Hour Worship Poster12-Hour Worship Flyers

It all started in mid-April when one of the worship leaders for CHIJMES Worship suggested to me that we should do a 12-Hour worship in CHIJMES Hall. Perhaps on Vesak Day 13 May 2013. Although my heart and spirit were excited about it, but my mind was uncertain as the CHIJMES Hall is usually fully booked on weekends and public holidays. The miracle of the 12-Hour CHIJMES Worship started.

  1. I went to check the bookings of CHIJMES Hall and realised it was actually available on Vesak Day. I knew the Lord has blocked it for His use.
  2. The management of CHIJMES approved and supported the 12-Hour CHIJMES Worship and provided the resources needed.
  3. The miracle of gathering 12 worship leaders (and teams) for each hour within a week was definitely a confirmation for me that is was of God! I was jittery whether we can get that many worship leaders in such a short time for something so new. Good worship leaders are often hard to gather as they are usually so busy with ministry in their church. In a week we had 12 amazing worship leaders with such passion for the Lord in place!
  4. With only two weeks to publicise the event, it blows my mind to see the hall filled with people. This was the greatest concern of CHIJMES management of how to get the news to the Christian community in such a short time. At about 8.30am there were small groups of people who were already waiting for the worship to start! This is something that I never expect at all! We started with only 100 chairs in the morning, we added 20 chairs in the afternoon, and another 40 chairs in the late afternoon! There were people standing at the sides where no chairs were placed as well. I am amazed. I believe many are thirsty and hungry for more in this city.

Worshippers @ 12-Hour Worship

I was reluctant to lead a slot with all the organising and coordination going on. Yet, in the end, the 8-9pm slot was left open and I knew I had to take it. The first person I had in mind was Chitrani, a cellist, whom I used to worship together. We haven’t played and worship for a while. Amazingly, she replied almost immediately. It was on the evening when she arrived that she told me she spent 10 years of her primary & secondary school years in this actual CHIJMES compound. It broke her heart that CHIJMES became commercial years back. To be able to worship in the Hall where she used to have chapel services brings back so much memories for her. This is one big miracle that only God can orchestrate!

Being led by different worship leaders with different styles and team, the Lord showed me how diverse yet unified His body is. The expression of worship, even in music, can be so varied, yet the Lord is among us in all the worship. In joyful jubilation, in quiet meditation, and in faith filled declarations, I felt God’s tangible presence. The morning (9am-1pm) was a desperate invitation for the glory of God and I felt the first wave of God’s glory fell. The afternoon (1pm-6pm), there was a peace and stillness that fell upon the people with an uplifting of hearts. The evening (6pm-9pm) was another wave of outpouring of shekinah glory and empowering. I know that God was tangibly present in the Hall as the atmosphere was charged.

I stand amazed at what God put together. There was no direct church support except thirsty and hungry hearts of individuals who want to worship and bless God in the city. This is only a small event and God is able to do greater and bigger things than this. I am a small conduit in which He chose to work through. Through this, my faith is greatly enlarged. To God be the glory!

Unless the Lord builds the houseThey labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.” – Psalm 127:1