Bible verses about David, Descendants of
(From Forerunner Commentary)
In the past we have correctly construed this to be a promise of national greatness for Jacob's posterity. The "company of nations" we know beyond a doubt to be the British Empire, currently, a commonwealth of nations. The single "nation" certainly refers to Manasseh, the United States. The "kings" coming from Jacob refer to the literally hundreds of monarchs who descended from him through his son Judah. These monarchs have populated virtually every royal house of Europe. Chief among them all, and enthroned to this day, is the British monarch, who is a direct descendant of king David.
But, there is an equally valid "spiritual" interpretation of this blessing. The "kings" descending from Jacob are those individuals who, like him, have overcome and will someday inherit God's Kingdom, the "land" they seek. They are a spiritual posterity, not a physical one.
If we can determine who the patriarchs' spiritual offspring are, we will be well on our way to understanding who the "kings" descending from Jacob are. Paul clearly establishes that Abraham's spiritual children are not necessarily his physical ones. He does this during a long discussion of God's reconciliation of Israel and the Gentiles in Romans 9 through 11, specifically in Romans 9:6-8.
In Galatians 3:29, Paul forthrightly tells us who these "children of the promise" are. They are true Christians: "If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Christians, then, are the spiritual children of Abraham. Spiritually understood, the descendants of Abraham, through Isaac (Romans 9:7), through Jacob (Genesis 35:11) will inherit the promises. They will inherit the "land" God promised Jacob in Genesis 35:12 (cf. Matthew 5:5).
The Israel of God
Probably the easiest peoples to identify are those descended from the tribe of Joseph, that is, the peoples of Ephraim and Manasseh. The reason is their wealth. Remember, God chose Ephraim and Manasseh to be the recipients of the birthright blessing, as recorded in Genesis 48. As the "birthright" tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh eventually received the great physical blessings God mentions through Jacob in Genesis 49:22-26 and through Moses in Deuteronomy 33:13-17.
Ephraim, basically the Angles and Saxons, roamed around in Northern Europe, eventually invading England in AD 449. In the course of time, some Ephraimites migrated to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and other nations of the now-defunct British Empire. Ephraim grew to become that "company of nations" God promised would descend from Jacob (Genesis 35:11); more particularly, the British peoples became that "multitude of nations" Jacob prophesied would descend from Ephraim (Genesis 48:19). The peoples of the British Empire (and, later, the Commonwealth) are the "ten thousands of Ephraim" who Moses, speaking of Ephraim and Manasseh together, said would "push the peoples to the ends of the earth" (Deuteronomy 33:17).
Britain grew slowly, protected by her geography and by the hand of God, who, more than once miraculously saved her from destruction. Her power grew slowly, as if by fits and starts. All that changed, however, in the early 1800s, when the 2,520-year punishment had reached its term. God was now prepared to bestow the birthright blessings on Ephraim. After defeating the French dictator Napoleon at Waterloo in AD 1815, Britain virtually redrew the boundaries of Europe. Never before had a European nation wielded such unquestioned control over the Continent as a whole—and got away with it for so long.
Moses prophesied that Joseph would "push the peoples to the ends of the earth" (Deuteronomy 33:17). Push is exactly what England did, for the birthright blessings included far more than domination over Europe. They included economic (and in some cases, political and military) dominance over much of the world. Answering the call of the "white man's burden," the British, through its maritime supremacy, created a worldwide Empire an order of magnitude larger than that of Rome. Her folk pushed to India, Africa, North (and, to a lesser degree, South) America, China, Australia, New Zealand, and various islands around the globe.
Britain's Empire came to include a number of African nations, some South American ones, many Caribbean islands, as well as many of the islands of Oceania—and, of course, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and India! Moreover, Britain maintained a heavy economic influence over China for years. It was a fact—the sun never set on the British Empire.
As time went by, Britain assumed control of a large number of "gates" located in or near her enemies' territories, this in fulfillment of Genesis 22:17 and 24:60. These strategic positions placed her, geopolitically, on the "top of the world," ensuring her of military and commercial hegemony. Here is a partial list of these valuable gates:
» The Suez Canal
» The Straits of Hormuz (below Iran)
» The Straits of Gibraltar
» The Straits of Malacca and the Singapore Strait (off the Malay Peninsula)
» The Falkland Islands (off Argentina)
» The Cape of Good Hope (at the southern tip of Africa)
» The Kabul Pass (a land gate in Afghanistan)
» The island nation of Malta (in the Mediterranean Sea)
Finally, Britain is ruled by a descendant of the Davidic monarchy. The throne of David, according to the prophet Jeremiah, would rule over the "house of Israel" (Jeremiah 33:17), not over some Gentile peoples. David's throne—overthrown (Ezekiel 21:27) from Jerusalem to Ireland and later to Scotland—now resides in England. Since God states that "the scepter shall not depart from Judah" (Genesis 49:10), sitting on that throne is a monarch who is of the lineage of David. That monarch rules over Israelites, not Gentiles.
Searching for Israel (Part Ten): Clues and Answers
Here is an unconditional promise: "Your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever" (verse 16). Speaking of Solomon, David's son who was later to build the Temple his father had proposed (verses 12-13), God says that His "mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you" (verse 15).
The prophet Jeremiah reaffirms that David's throne will rule Israel, and will do so forever: "For thus says the LORD: 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel'" (Jeremiah 33:17). Jeremiah's prophecy, which in context is part of a prophecy about Israel in the Millennium, emphasizes that there will always be a monarch ruling "the house of Israel." David's throne, the authority of his dynasty, is not limited to the tribe of Judah, whence David himself sprang, but extends over the entire house of Israel (see also II Chronicles 5:2). We should not expect, therefore, to find David's dynasty in a Gentile nation; God says it will rule Israel.
The promise of an eternal throne—an everlasting dynasty—is a reaffirmation of what Jacob by faith had come to understand centuries before. Speaking of Judah's descendents in the "last days," he prophesied that "the scepter shall not depart from Judah" (Genesis 49:10). There would be a period of time when Judah would not bear rule. However, once God placed the scepter in Judah's hand, we can expect that the house of David would rule ever after. Clearly, God placed the scepter in David's hand. We can therefore count on David's dynasty to rule over Israel in perpetuity.
The same faith that worked in Jacob was at work in David when he speaks confidently of God's steadfast love to his posterity. In Psalm 89:35-37, David says that God has "sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever, and His throne as the sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky. Selah."
God's promise of power to David and His promise of wealth to Joseph are not contradictory, for there is an important distinction between the birthright and the scepter. As we saw in the previous issue, God chose Joseph—specifically, Ephraim and Manasseh—to be the recipients of the great physical blessings associated with the birthright. We see this specifically in Jacob's blessing of Joseph's boys, recorded in Genesis 48:12-20, as well as the blessings listed in Deuteronomy 33:13-17. To use Jacob's words, the birthright blessing would be "up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills" (Genesis 49:26). This is a promise of great wealth and prosperity.
God chose Judah, however, to serve as the scepter tribe, that is, the tribe that would bear rule over the descendants of Abraham. The psalmist Asaph writes that God "rejected the tent of Joseph, and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved" (Psalm 78:67-68).
Asaph pinpoints David as the first king to come out of Judah: "He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance" (verses 70-71).
Searching for Israel (Part Four): The Kingdom and the Key
This verse is part of a prophecy to David that he would have a son named Solomon who would carry on his dynasty. God promises, "He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son, and I will be his Father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever." Yet Luke 3:31 plainly lists another son of David, Nathan, as Jesus' ancestor. Because of this, some claim that Jesus could not have been the Messiah.
However, the Messiah is not mentioned here at all! Instead, God establishes "the throne"! He is not even talking about a person in this verse, but a thing, the right to rule over Israel. God gave this right to David and his "seed" in a covenant, part of which is contained in II Samuel 7:16: "And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever."
Psalm 89:34-37 describes this as a perpetual covenant:
"My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: his seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me; it shall be established forever like the moon, even like the faithful witness in the sky." Selah.
This promise becomes even more specific in Jeremiah 33:17: "For thus says the Lord, 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.'" None of these sections mentions that David's heirs, especially the Messiah, must trace their roots through Solomon!
So the genealogy in Luke 3, which is most likely Jesus' biological genealogy through Mary, is just as valid a claim to David's throne as the one in Matthew 1:1-17. In fact, it strengthens His claim because He can trace his lineage to David through two separate lines!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jesse had at least eight sons (II Samuel 16:10-11), the youngest of which was David. God chose the line of this young shepherd boy to reign over Israel and ultimately to produce the King of kings: "'Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, 'that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth'" (Jeremiah 23:5; see Isaiah 9:6-7).
Both of Jesus' human parents were of the line of David (Matthew 1:1, 6; Luke 3:31), and it was well known during His ministry that Jesus was a "son of David" (Matthew 9:27; 15:22; 21:9; etc.). Before His conception, Gabriel tells Mary, "The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David" (Luke 1:32). Paul reminds Timothy of what this means to Christians: "Jesus, the seed of David, was raised from the dead. . . . This is a faithful saying: 'For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him'" (II Timothy 2:8, 11-12).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Born of a Woman
The book of Matthew opens with a stylized genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 1:1-17). Matthew presents the list in three parts—from Abraham to David, from David to the captivity in Babylon, and from the captivity to Christ—each with fourteen generations. The genealogy is perfectly correct in every way.
What Matthew records is not Christ's biological ancestry but His legal one. Verse 16 gives the proof: "And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ." It is Joseph's family tree! Remember, Christ was not begotten of Joseph but of the Holy Spirit. Legally, Christ could trace his ancestry back to David through his "father" Joseph, though He had not one drop of Joseph's—or Jehoiachin's—blood!
We must remember a major purpose of Matthew's gospel: to present Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah to the Jews. The Jews were, and still are, very particular about genealogies. Anyone claiming to be the Messiah would have to present a bona fide, airtight ancestry back to David if he were to be taken seriously (see Psalm 110:1; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; etc.). Matthew does just that in introducing Jesus in the first verses of his book.
Thus, Jesus, untainted by Jehoiachin's curse (Jeremiah 22:30), has a legal claim to the throne of David through His stepfather, Joseph. Such a thing was legally acceptable under Jewish law.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Matthew divides his genealogy into three groups of fourteen names. The first group begins with Abraham and ends with David. The second group begins with Solomon and ends with Jeconiah, the son of Josiah. The third group begins with Shealtiel and ends in Jesus Christ.
A comparison of Luke's list with Matthew's finds that Luke runs in the opposite direction, backwards, beginning with Jesus Christ and ending with Adam. Unlike Luke, Matthew includes four ladies in Jesus' line: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. His genealogy thus contains the names of 42 men and four women, all of whom were ancestors of Jesus, but they varied considerably in personality, spirituality, and experience. Some of these people were heroes of faith, like Abraham, David, and Ruth. Some of them were ordinary personalities, like Ram and Nahshon, while others had spotted reputations, like Tamar and Rahab. Some were downright evil like Manasseh and Abijah. Two of the ladies were definitely Gentiles, and perhaps another was a Gentile, Tamar, because her name is not Israelitish. The fourth lady, Bathsheba, married a Gentile, Uriah the Hittite, and was probably considered by the Israelites to be Gentile by association as a result.
God is showing us that He is not limited by human imperfections. To carry out His will, He can work through anybody He desires, even the shady characters in the ancestry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Three Kings Are Missing From Matthew 1
Joseph seems to have been a naturally kind and caring man, well-suited to Mary. Like her, he did not fly off the handle when he found things out. He was thoughtful, considering the best way to handle the situation. In his day, a woman could receive lifelong shame for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. He desired to "put her away" as quietly as possible without bringing any further shame upon Mary - or himself, for that matter. While he was still mulling it over, an angel, probably Gabriel again, appeared to him in a dream.
Throughout this episode, Joseph is shown to be a humble, pious, obedient man. He takes what the angel says without complaint or even reply. Once he is aroused from sleep, Joseph does just as the angel commands him. The angel's word was enough. The man was convinced. He would comply.
Gabriel tells Joseph almost the same things he said to Mary. It is somewhat odd, though, since it was through Joseph that Jesus would physically claim David's throne, that the angel does not mention that Jesus would be King. This is also interesting because, throughout his Gospel, Matthew constantly mentions Jesus' royal nature. Instead, Gabriel tells Joseph that Mary's Son, whom everyone would think is his Son, would be named Jesus, "for He will save His people from their sins." He also reiterates that He will be God with us and that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit.
These points hint that Joseph was more interested in spiritual matters than physical ones. Perhaps he had not allowed his Davidic lineage to go to his head. He did not need the spur of his adoptive Son becoming King to make him comply. All he needed to know was that God through the Holy Spirit had accomplished Mary's pregnancy, and that the divine Child, in fulfillment of prophecy, would one day save His people from sin.
In His sovereignty, God prepared the perfect couple to raise His Son. They are wonderful examples of submission to God. Even though His intervention in their lives threw a huge monkey wrench into their personal plans, they selflessly said, "So be it, Lord. What would You like us to do next?"
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Birth of Jesus Christ (Part One): Annunciation
How do we know that the Luke 3 lineage is Mary's? We do not know it for certain, but that conclusion is the most reasonable. One factor is, again, the purpose of this particular gospel. Luke wrote primarily to Gentiles, and he stresses Jesus' humanity throughout his book. The evangelist thus gives our Savior's natural, biological family tree to show He shares humanness with the common man. He is not just the Jews' Messiah, but He is also the Gentiles' Messiah! So Luke's genealogy goes all the way back to Adam, rather than stopping at Abraham as Matthew's does.
Another factor is that Luke had to deal with a virgin birth. What a unique situation for a genealogist! Luke had to determine, therefore, what points would matter to a Gentile. Would he be concerned with Jesus' Davidic ancestry? Not initially. Would he care that Jesus is a Jew and an Israelite? Maybe. Would he desire to know if Jesus was a man like he was? Certainly! Thus, Luke would record a line of descent that showed His universality to every man, and this would go through Mary, Jesus' link to humanity.
Some raise objections to this on the basis of verse 23, particularly because it says, "Joseph, the son of Heli." Notice, though, that Luke does not use the word "begot" as Matthew does. In fact, he uses no word at all, just a marker to denote possession. So the phrase literally says, "Joseph, of Heli."
Some say, then, that this connotes a levirate marriage because Matthew says Joseph's father was Jacob. Levirate marriage, however, was fairly rare, so this is an unlikely stretch. Others argue that this is Jesus' "priestly" lineage, but this is even less probable, since it shows Judah, not Levi, as an ancestor (see Hebrews 7:14).
Bullinger, in his Companion Bible, gives a more likely explanation: "Joseph was begotten by Jacob, and was his natural son (Matt. 1:16). He could be the legal son of Heli, therefore, only by marriage with Heli's daughter (Mary), and be reckoned so according to law." At that time, Jewish law traced inheritance and descent through the male, not the female line. Thus, Luke 3:23 would be clearer if translated as, "Joseph, the son-in-law of Heli," or "Joseph, the legal son of Heli."
No matter which we choose, it traces Heli's line from that point on back to Nathan, the son of David. There is no stigma or disqualification in Solomon's name being absent from the list. In messianic terms, David's name is the vital one.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh