The Multiplication of David’s Seed: The Development and Democratization of the Davidic Covenant

Biblical theology seeks the unity within the diversity of Scriptures. A key hermeneutical facet of biblical theology is the phenomenon of progressive revelation that is, that later biblical writers build upon and develop the biblical revelation that precedes them. Between the Old Testament history and the New Testament fulfillment, the eschatological hope of the prophets—that predict the future by developing patterns from the past—is hermeneutically revealing.

In the Davidic Covenant, YHWH promised to David (among other things) that his seed would build a house for YHWH and that his throne would be established forever (2 Sam 7:4–17). In the New Testament attributes of the Davidic seed, however, are applied to Christians (Rev 2:27; cf. Ps 2:9; and 2 Cor 6:18; cf. 2 Sam 7:14), indicating that the New Testament teaches a democratization of the Davidic covenant in that Christians are the seed of David.

Such a development of the Davidic Covenant is found among the prophets, specifically in Jeremiah 33:22—where language from the Abrahamic covenant is applied to David’s seed stating that they will be unmeasurable as the sands of the sea—and Isaiah 55:3—where an everlasting covenant is made which is epexegetically explained by the appositional phrase to be the חסדי דוד הנאמנים.

Is a such a biblical development of the Davidic covenant exegetically warranted? Or is such development merely the product of divine revelation?

I will argue that the promises of the Davidic covenant within the text 2 Samuel 7 enter an already existing theological trajectory within the biblical text. Specifically these trajectories are the command to be fruitful and multiply given to humanity (Gen 1:26), and the Abrahamic promises of a great name, seed as vast as the sand of the sea, and the universal blessing (Gen 12:1–3; 22:17). The development and democratization of the Davidic Covenant by the prophets and subsequently by the New Testament authors, therefore, has textual warrant within the text of 2 Samuel and is hermeneutically valid due to earlier canonical theological trajectories.

Recognizing the progressive revelation of these inner-canonical themes contributes to understanding both the unity of Scripture for a biblical theology—specifically the relationship between the covenants—and the hermeneutical framework of the biblical authors.

6 thoughts on “The Multiplication of David’s Seed: The Development and Democratization of the Davidic Covenant”

  1. Excellent
    Jonny was one of my PhD students, one of the best students ever to come through SBTS, and he now teaches at the College at SWBTS. He does fantastic work. This should be included on our program, and if not on ours, somewhere else on the program for sure.

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