An Eternal Throne

by Ed Gallagher

Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

2 Samuel 7:16
Michelangelo, David, 1501–1504, photo by Jörg Bittner Unna, Wikimedia Commons

This lesson concentrates on the promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 regarding his descendant who would always reign on his throne, a promise seen in the New Testament as fulfilled in Jesus.

What are some of the important events in the life of David? 

What did God say about David that distinguished him from King Saul? When Saul sinned, God told him that he (God) would look for “a king after his own heart” (1 Sam 13:14). This is obviously David, who was anointed king as a young man because God looked at his heart (1 Sam 16:7, 12; see Acts 13:22). 

In what ways did David prove himself to be a man after God’s heart? In what ways did David fail to live up to this ideal? 

Read 2 Samuel 7:1–7. Why does David want to build a house for God? Who would end up building the temple? See 1 Kings 6. Why did God not want David to build the temple? See 1 Chronicles 22:8; 28:3

Read 2 Samuel 7:8–17. What sort of promise is this that God makes to David? What would David think this promise is about? God had taken away the kingdom from Saul because Saul had sinned. (See 1 Sam 13:8–14; 15:10–14, 22–23, 28.) Saul had failed to establish a dynasty, that perennial concern of monarchs. (Think: Henry VIII of England.) God here promises David that he will establish a dynasty, that—despite God’s treatment of Saul—David’s descendants would continue to rule over Israel even if they sinned. Their sin would bring punishment but not removal from the throne. 

We probably think of Jesus every time we read this passage, but do you see some ways that this promise from God could not apply to Jesus? See v. 14; cf. Hebrews 4:15. 

If it originally did not apply to Jesus, to whom would it apply? See 1 Kings 8:17–20, 25; 1 Chronicles 22:9–10; 28:6. The ancient kings of Israel could be considered God’s adopted sons, just as Israel could also be considered God’s son (Exod 4:22; Hos 11:1–4). [Jesus would be the Son of God in a different way (Luke 2:35).] This concept also explains the original intent behind Psalm 2, where the king is described as God’s son (v. 7). Psalm 2 is a confident song of victory because of God’s promise to David. 

The promise originally applied to David’s immediate descendants: Solomon, and Solomon’s son Rehoboam, and Rehoboam’s son Abijah, etc. Did it turn out that Solomon sinned? And what was God’s response to that sin? (1 Kings 11) God removed part of the kingdom from Solomon’s descendants, but the throne of David remained in effect (see 2 Sam 7:14–15). 

But already while the descendants of David reigned over Judah, it became obvious that they were not really like David, as the books of Kings repeatedly remind us (see 1 Kings 15:3, etc.). The prophets told the people to hope for a future “son of David” who would bring peace and righteousness (see Isa 11; Jer 23:5–6; Ezek 34:23–24; 37:25). The promise is also reflected in the Psalms (89:1–4, 19–37; 132:10–12). 

What does the term Messiah mean? “Anointed.” In the Old Testament, the term (appearing 38x) almost always refers to the king (1 Sam 24:6), but occasionally also to the high priest (Lev 4:3), or prophets (Psa 105:15), and only one time to a future ruler (Dan 9:21–24). Even though the Old Testament does not associate this term with the promise of a son of David, later on (in the New Testament: Greek Christ = Hebrew Messiah) the term would appear frequently in this context.  

Eventually what happened to the line of David? Did it come to an end? Nebuchadnezzar took the living descendant of David (Jehoiachin) and put him in a Babylonian dungeon (2 Kings 24:12, 15; 25:27) and, eleven years later, he did the same thing to Jehoiachin’s replacement, his uncle Zedekiah, after killing all of his sons and then blinding him (2 Kings 25:7).

What do you think such a circumstance would do to the hope for a Davidic king? If you were there, would you question God’s faithfulness? Some Judeans did, and these questions are recorded in scripture (see Psalm 89:38–51). Others set their hopes on the idea that God would establish the kingdom once again. In exile, Daniel prophesied that “the God of heaven would establish a kingdom that would have no end” (Dan 2:44). Though the promise to David is not mentioned here, the idea that God would establish his kingdom is connected to the idea that David’s son would reign eternally. It is the “son of David” who would rule over God’s kingdom. 

The promise to David is a promise about God’s desire for his people to live in a society characterized by peace and justice. Notice how Isaiah 11 describes the rule of the “son of David.” How does Isaiah describe the reign of this “root from Jesse”? (Remember: Jesse is David’s father.) Which verses relate to peace? Which verses relate to justice? When the good king chosen by God takes the throne, peace and justice will abound. 

In our day we long for peace and justice no less than the ancient Israelites did. Every time we hear about a mass shooting, we pray for peace. Every time we learn about a terrorist attack, we ask for justice. The world described in Isaiah 11, when the son of David rules, is our hope.


The promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 is one of the most important promises in the Old Testament, because it is ultimately a promise about the Messiah who would come to establish God’s kingdom characterized by peace and justice. This promise is the basis for the messianic hope. 

Additional Questions for Discussion

Read Psalm 89. This psalm was probably written during the exile. What does the psalmist say about God’s promise to David? How does he feel about that promise? 

The New Testament describes Jesus as the “son of David” (Matthew 1:1; Romans 1:3; etc.). What is the significance of describing Jesus in this way? 

Additional Resources

Here is a sermon, written out, by John Piper on the promise to David. And here are a couple relevant videos from The Bible Project.

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