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The Sure Mercies of David

In reading 2 Samuel 7:14 KJV, I came across a passage that took me aback: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:” Jesus did receive the rod of men and did take our stripes but HE did not commit iniquity. Seems out-of-place and contradictory. Further, the NIV states “When he will”, inferring that it will happen. Thoughts on this matter?

Very good question, and the Jews know it well, which is part of the grand plan, as nothing is incidental or happenstance in this kingdom, because “discernment of providence is the first element in being led of the Spirit” (Mike Snyder).

We are being confronted here with a mystery of profoundest divine intention that will either bless or stumble, depending on the disposition of the heart. It is only by a faithful and unbiased commitment to the ‘cumulative evidence’ of all that scripture says on a given subject that many of the antinomies (paradoxes, or apparent contradictions) of scripture can be solved, often with the greatest edification of glory. But this requires great patience with God’s intention to hide His secrets from the wisdom of this age while revealing them to babes.

It is a truly sublime strategy of ‘hide and seek’ that designs that the same ‘hidden wisdom’ ordained to the saint’s glory (1Cor 2:7) should elude and confound confidence in the flesh. The mysteries of God are divinely set to stumble pride, so that the wisdom of man would be its own snare, as God reserves His secrets for His friends (Gen 18:17; Isa 41:8; Amos 3:7; Jn 15:15; 1Cor 2:7; Rev 10:7), His ‘little ones’ who feel themselves hopelessly undone and cast on His mercy, daily crying, “who is sufficient for these things?!”

That said, we are dealing here with a covenant promise that is both personal and corporate. Some of it applies to the personal Messiah, David’s Lord and greater son, and some of it applies only to His spiritual seed.

It is at once the Seed (singular) of the woman, and His ‘seed’ (plural), the corporate line of all the regenerate elect of God. In both Samuel and certain of the Psalms (72 and others, forget just which), the promised Messiah is represented to apply first to Solomon, albeit in language and terms that every scripture revering Jew would at once recognize to far transcend anything realized in Solomon’s reign, clearly signifying the presence of typology.

In glorious paradox of sublimest mystery, and with notably intentional use of the exact same words, that Isaiah sees the ‘chastisement’ and the ‘stripes’ that would be laid on David’s royal heir and his children (2Sam 14:7; Ps 89:32; Isa 53:5) is laid most ultimately on the suffering Servant of Yahweh. With no guilt of His own, God has laid on Him the ‘iniquity’ of us all, and with His ‘stripes’ we are healed (Isa 53), as when those in the wilderness looked to the lifted up symbol of their destruction and were healed (Num 21:9; Jn 3:14). This is one sense in which David’s greater son and Lord was indeed visited with many stripes for the sins that were not His own but were counted to Him as though His own (2Cor 5:21). It is the mystery, but also the holy logic of divine substitution, which Jewish interpreters paradoxically can apply to corporate Israel, the righteous remnant, or some other innocent sufferer, but cannot conceive of applying to the Messiah.

Even before the creation (Acts 2:23; Rev 13:8), the ‘sure mercies’ of David (2Sam 7:13-16; 22:51; Ps 89:28-36; Isa 54:13; 59:21; 61:9; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 32:40; 33:17-16) was based on the suffering of the woman’s Seed as the Surety of a better covenant (Heb 7:22).

It is inescapable logic that in order to reverse the curse, the woman’s seed cannnot be under it. He must be free of the sin by which the curse is passed on all the race. It follows then that the Messiah must be uniquely begotten in order to be free of the taint of sin that disqualifies every other servant of God. The mystery is solved when it is seen that He will be at once human and divine, vulnerable and fully human but kept sinless as the perfect substitute. This is the logic of the virgin birth, which Isaiah understood by the Spirit’s revelation, as seen in his ‘Song of Immanuel’ (chps. 7-12), as the heel of the man child is wounded in the songs of the suffering Servant (chs. 42, 49, 50-53).

So who are David’s seed, not only his son but his children from whom His loving kindness shall ‘never depart’ (Isa 59:21; Jer 32:40), as it did from Saul? Who are these that are faithfully chastened when they sin but never forsaken? Can these be the wicked kings  ofJudah that issued from David’s line by natural descent?

As in case of the true, spiritual ‘seed of Abraham’ who are distinguished by their fruits (Mt 3:8-9; Jn 8:39) must be more than Jewish. They must be born again. Moreover, a remnant from among the natural branches must become more than a remnant. They must become an all holy nation in order to inherit the Land forever because of a righteousness that is forever (Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24). But also, because the promise that all the nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed, an election called out from among the nations is grafted into the righteous remnant, the ‘holy seed’ (Isa 6:13) of which Messiah is the spiritual head. These too are ‘counted as the seed’ (Ro 4:16; 9:7-8, 24). (Isa 6:13) This is the spiritual seed of Abraham and of David that is the divine nature that indwells all who have been ‘born again’ of the indestructible Word of God (1Pet 1:23). As the scripture concludes, it is those who are born of the Word and the Spirit, these are the sons of God and counted for the seed (Ro 8:14; 9:8).

So this promise of the “sure mercies” of David is only to the spiritual seed, both Jewish and gentile, who stand in that line of humanity, which Paul called (speaking particularly of the Jewish branches), the ‘remnant according to the election of grace’. Manifestly, this spiritual line existed before the cross,  as also the necessity of spiritual regeneration and the new birth, as none were ever made alive nor sustained union with the living God apart from the quickening and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, the corporate seed of the woman is most essentially that spiritually regenerate line of humanity reaching all the way back to righteous Abel. It includes all who are all born of the divine nature that would be perfected in the personal Seed, the Messiah and Son of God to whom the Spirit would not be given by measure (Jn 3:34) but perfectly embody all the fullness of God.

We also  note that in Isa 55:1-6, the promise of the ‘sure mercies of David’ does not wait till its final eschatological outworking in the reign of the Messiah, but was preached as available to whosoeover will, and extended to nations beyond Israel during Isaiah’s day.

Conclusion: As the ‘seed of Abraham’ is shown to require the necessity of regeneration to ‘count as the seed of promise’, and just as the nation (Isa 66:8), and therefore the individual must be born of the Spirit to enter into the kingdom (Jn 3:10), it can be no less true of David’s seed / children. They must be justified by a righteousness that is not their own. It is the righteousness of another, even “the Lord our righteousness” (Jer 23:5-6) that justifies with an everlasting salvation(Isa 45:17, 25; 54:17 ).

Paul will show in Romans that this is a distinct kind of righteousness, “the righteousness of faith” by the which David could be assured that his sins would not be imputed to him (Ps 32:1-2; Ro 4:6-8). If the faith that justifies God’s elect were mere belief, it would be possible to man, and thus something in which one could glory as finding its source in man (Jn 3:27; Ro 11:35; 1Cor 4:17). On the contrary, faith must be given (Eph 2:9; Phil 1:6). The faith of ‘God’s elect’ (Tit 1:1) necessarily overcomes the world. It must; precisely because it is ‘born of God’ (1Jn 5:4). Though graciously given, it is not of man or from man, and therefore nothing in which flesh can glory.

Because of an absolute and negligently unqualified interpretation of Jn 7:34 that says in a certain context that ‘the Spirit was not yet given’, it is hastily assumed that this distinct kind of righteousness, namely ‘the righteousness of faith’ (Ro 4:13) could exist in OT saints without the Spirit, particularly in the sense of His abiding indwelling. Quite the contrary,  Peter is clear that it was the very Spirit of Christ who was “IN” Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, David, the prophets and, we may be sure, all the righteous by faith (1Pet 1:11). No less then than now, they were the living branches, alive to God by the Spirit, as based on nothing less than the imputed righteousness of God Himself, as promised in the Surety, which is to say, a righteousness that was NOT their own, no less then than now. Theirs was the very righteousness of the Spirit.

As such, the fruit and works of the Spirit are the only works that can count with God. As the righteousness is not our own, the works too must be His alone, else room is made for human glory and this can never be! As much as this rule cannot be thought unique to the NT, but must apply to all ages and dispensations, it follows that then as now, the only works that God can regard are not our own but His within us. To mix or mingle the work of man with the work of the Spirit is to make room for human glory, which is idolatry.

Therefore, the righteousness of the saints must be altogether the righteousness of another. Where this is true and real, whether of an individual or a nation, it will necessarily be accompanied by the sure evidences of its fruits, the test of its reality.

Like the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant is NOT unconditional, but it is UNILATERAL, as signified in Abraham’s deep sleep. It is made by God within Himself alone (in that sense, unilateral). Because nothing of man can defeat a covenant that God makes within Himself alone, these covenants belong to the ‘everlasting’ of ‘new covenant’ that even the OT shows to stand above the conditional covenant of Sinai, which has, and Jeremiah will argue, CAN never secure enduring peace and security in the Land, but condemns those under it to a perpetual and hopeless covenant jeopardy, ever threatening further curse and exile until its terms can be eternally satisfied and secured.

As the NT scriptures will make even more clear, the covenant of the law at Sinai designed to cut off all hope of attaining  to the promise on the basis of natural ability. This is writ large throughout the entire story. But what is by design ‘impossible with man’ is made sure, “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord,” and that is the primary point the scripture underscores all throughout the history of redemption. All of history waits, not on man, or anything issuing from man, but on God who will favor Zion “at the set time” (Ps 102:13; 110:3 KJV)

This is the divine jealousy of grace apart from ‘what is in man’, to the end that no flesh can glory. This ‘hard saying’ is what we are called to help Israel see by its demonstration by the foolish nation.

This divine jealousy of a grace that depends nothing on man for its initiation or perpetuation is shown most particularly by the problem of how a covenant made with a visibly hopeless, ever backsliding nation, could ever guarantee perpetuity of obedience, so that the Land could be inherited forever, without threat of repeated covenant failure. Thus the need for a ‘better’ covenant that could guarantee the required continuance for a particular, elect nation to inherit a particular Land for an everlasting possession. This is its only hope of guarantee, that God come down and in, and that forever!

The required works of obedience would be uncompromisingly accomplished ‘in’ and ‘through’ man but not by man. This is the divine jealousy that cuts off all works that are possible to man from gaining divine acceptance or reward as pertaining to the promise. Therefore, the sure mercies of David necessarily guarantees the gift of the Spirit, and the perpetuity of the Spirit’s work to accomplish an obedience that does not fall away to further covenant cursing.

 

We see this perfectly in millennial Israel, and notably, they are NOT yet in glorified bodies. This spectacle of unimaginable safe keeping in abiding holiness of a nation for a thousand years of open witness is a, if not THE, primary purpose for a millennium on this earth before the perfect state. It is to show the ability of God to save and keep a people forever despite their historic track record. The millennium will put the dispute over the sovereignty of grace forever beyond dispute, just as I have learned by the Spirit to say that, from the calling of Jacob till the end of the millennium, “Israel exists to destroy all boasting!”

That the corporate, spiritual seed of David are not perfect like their head (the one, unique Son to whom the Spirit was not given by measure; Jn 3:34; KJV) is plain by the guarantee of sure and swift chastisement to those who ‘momentarily’ offend against their own ‘sure mercies’. We see this especially clearly in Ps 89:29-37; compare also Isa 59:21; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 33:19-36) . But it is also plain that this imperfection does not put the covenant in jeopardy by man’s natural inclination to always slide away backwards. No, quite the contrary, though chastisement is faithful and swift evidence that one is in a state of grace and truly regenerate, continuance and eternal perseverance in holiness is never in doubt, thus securing the covenant as “everlasting” (Jer 32:40 with Dan 9:24). Why? How? Because it is based on an ‘everlasting righteousness’ that cannot perish or fade but is its own faithfully resilient, eternal life source of the ”God who raises the dead”.

How does this kind of ‘eternal security’ NOT lead to license and abuse of the new liberty? It is because the heart is made new, forever new, by an indestructible divine nature by a sovereign act of new creation. Built right into to the New Covenant (synonymous with Abrahamic and Davidic installments) is the clean and holy fear of God. When the Spirit has come, the very nature that gave the law indwells the believer, and not only so, but God ‘PUTS’ His fear in the heart as intrinsic to the new nature. Where this fear is absent, or grows dim, it is a sure sign of one of two things: Either divine discipline is at the door, or its complete absence is a clear indicator that the heart has never been changed at its root, as God has not been known by revelation of the Spirit.

Regeneration cannot exist at one and the same time apart from the sure presence of this kind of love and this kind of holy fear. That is why the regenerate ‘seed’ of woman, of Abraham and David show that the works of the law to be written in their hearts, because when the law is in the heart, to break one of its commandments is to break the heart (compare 1Cor 7:19 with Gal 6:15), and to do so lightly is to invite sure and certain discipline, with increasing severity, if need be unto death (1Cor 11:32).

To see to the end of David’s sure mercies, and thus to the end of the New Covenant, as eternally secure in the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, we have only to go to the future millennial blessedness of the natural seed of Jacob, since for the believer, the prophesied future is as sure as the past. There we see that in all the generations of those who are the combined natural and spiritual seed of Abraham, Jacob, and David, for a thousand years, not one born to Jewish parentage will ever fail or depart from this ‘everlasting covenant’. They are all saved and kept unto children’s children without the exception (Isa 4:3; 45:17, 25; 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 32:40; Eze 39:22, 28-29; Zeph 3:13, etc. et al). This is the millennial outworking of the ‘everlasting / new covenant’, which is synonymous with the Davidic covenant as ‘sure mercies’. This is why the covenant of promise will no longer be in jeopardy through the broken law.

The Spirit has come; not merely upon a remnant, as in other generations (leaving always the danger of sliding back to curse and exile) but now, at length, ‘all Israel’ is saved, each and every Jew, from the least to the greatest (Jer 31:34), with ‘none left behind’ (Eze 39:28), and so on for a thousand years of open demonstration of covenant fidelity, as the nations are made to look on with either emulation and access to the same grace, or with resentment and contempt at God’s prerogative to choose as He will choose, all to the end that no flesh can glory.

By design, election tests the heart to discover any presumed claim on divine grace. God resists all thought of entitlement on any other ground than mercy alone, that gives the grace to believe in the God who raises the dead. This is shown beautifully in the episode with the Syro-Phoneician woman (Mt 15). This is why God’s heart of universal love for all who are made in His image is necessarily and wisely ‘MEDIATED’ through a people who can claim nothing for themselves, as of themselves. It is mediated on the basis of divine election for this very clear purpose: “IN ORDER THAT the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls” (Ro 9:11, 16).

This is how a people who were dead shall live; and continue in abiding security from all their enemies forever, because of a righteousness that is forever. Then as now, the sign of sonship will be the faithfulness of God to chasten all waywardness, and this fear (in no discrepancy with this God kind of love as proof of the divine nature(, will keep every Jewish inheritor of His holy mountain, and every child born to them’ ‘unto children’s children’ for a thousand years of open display (Isa 54:13; 59:21; compare esp. JN 6:45 to show that this covenant is not only millennial but now).

(Note: While massive salvation will be experienced among the nations of the gentiles, this promise of uniform salvation of all its population stands with no other nation. While the nations will flow to and from the Land and holy city promised to the natural seed (as all now saved; Ro 11:26), among them is no such promise of uniform salvation. This is God’s open, public vindication of His sovereign ability to ‘quicken whom He will’ and keep them secure in their land, “world without end”).

This will be a spectacle of the sovereignty of grace, designed to move either to emulation or envy and contempt, as seen by the revolt at the end of the millennium. All of this is made sure and secure by an indestructible new nature that prohibits all false assurance by professors whose works deny their hasty claims (Titus 1:16; 2Tim 2:19; 1Jn 2:19; ). It is those two golden, glorious words of Paul: “in Christ.” There is the locus of the everlasting covenant and sure mercies of David, “in Christ!” The covenant is made secure by the Spirit’s quickening ‘revelation’ of the gospel, for therein, and only therein, is the righteousness of God revealed. This is the only power that is sufficient to secure the corporate ‘seed of David’, which is the ‘seed of Christ’, the curse reversing Seed of the woman.

This regeneration by the Spirit is certainly not limited to those born again of the Spirit and the Word since Pentecost. Though revealed in time, His blood avails for all, as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. He is the eternal surety of all the elect, as those ‘eternally’ elect, ‘the (eternally foreknown) remnant according to the election of grace’ were as born again as any since Pentecost, since it is only the Spirit that has ever given life and the ‘revealed’ nature of God and quickening of new life. As I often remind; never assume that because something is newly revealed, or has come to greater light, that it is necessarily new as to existence and reality.

It will take a miracle more powerful than the world has witnessed since the resurrection of Jesus for the Jewish survivors of the last holocaust will see this. It will be life from the dead. Until then, the election and the love that decreed it is irrevocable. The dead are dead until quickened, and no amount of ‘relative’ human measurements of good or evil can even factor into a salvation that is utterly apart from works (note the story of Mannaseh of Judah). Therefore, grafted in branches should marvel and wonder, not at their fall, but at our grace, as utterly contrary to nature. We should have mercy, since they were confronted with a profound mystery that God ordained and designed to be ‘shut up and sealed’ from all pride (what flesh is not?). God deliberately hid this mystery in the writing of the prophets to be revealed at the set time, first at Pentecost, and then to the Jewish nation at the end of the 70th week. In the meantime (two days of Hos 6:2), they are enemies “FOR YOUR SAKE,” gentile!

How CAN they believe except God open their eyes? How did we believe? What do we have that we did not receive, so how glory? (1Cor 4:7). Are we less stubborn? If God went away and hid His face from us, could we see what we have been helped to see? It is by our mercy that God has ordained that they shall at length receive mercy. We justify God’s holy severity, even while we marvel that we should escape by grace alone and the sovereign drawing power of the Spirit. A lack of love for Israel in their blindness, particularly in their blindness, is a sure sign of boasting that will meet with no less a mystery designed to confound and condemn the boaster, as God has laid, particularly through the mystery of Israel, a snare and a trap for all confidence in the flesh.

In brotherly love and appreciation, Reggie

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