Foundation for Reformed Theology


When at Christmas we read the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) of the birth of Jesus Christ, we realize that the birth is in fulfillment of the ancient promise that God made to King David to establish his house and his throne and his kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:1-17).

Consider what Karl Barth has to say about the gospel content of that promise.
Barth on the Royal House of David

Nothing which David himself is and does, experiences and receives, as the one with whom the Lord is, forms the content of the promise given him at this climax of his life--that God will build a house for him, that He will establish and make glorious the throne of his son--but the very opposite. The limit for David, and the decisive delineation of the provisional and figurative quality of his being, are clear in this climax, in the promise which points away from David himself, and points beyond him.

According to 2 Sam. 7:2, he finds it a problem that he himself dwells in a house of cedar, but that the ark of God stands in a tent. The prophet Nathan seems to be aware of his unspoken thoughts and answers him: "Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee" (7:3). But then the Lord himself intervenes, and teaches Nathan, and through him David also, something better: that He, the Lord, is with David even though--for this was the unexpressed idea--David does not build a house for Him; and that it will be expressed rather in the fact that the Lord makes for him, David, a name "like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth," and through him prepares an abode of peace for His people Israel.

But, then, supremely, all is future: "The Lord will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with they fathers, I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever. 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: but my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever" (7:4-15).

It is to be noted that in his prayer at the conclusion of this communication made through Nathan, David accepts absolutely the promise as such. Because of it he calls God the One to whom none is equal, and beside whom there is none other. He asks of Him only the fulfilment of this promise, and even then he recognises openly the limit fixed for himself (7:18-29).

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, edited by G. W. Bromiley and T. F. Torrance, II/2 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1957), pp. 378-379, emphasis added.
Dr. James C. Goodloe IV So may we seek only the fulfilment of God's promise.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. James C. Goodloe IV,
Executive Director
Foundation for Reformed Theology
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