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Is 2 Samuel 7 About Jesus?

July 16, 2015

I know–taken from the vantage point of Christian interpretation, it might seem a dumb question. So bear with me. Here is 2 Samuel 7:11b-16:

“Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.

This could all so easily be about Jesus, until you get to: “When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.”

Even if you want to say God somehow punished Jesus on the cross (uhh…), Christians don’t (generally) believe Jesus committed any iniquity.

So that part, at least, has to be about David’s literal next-of-kin descendant, Solomon.

Verses 15 and 16 go on:

But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

There are at least Messianic undertones to this whole passage, though. Surely God had more than just Solomon in mind when he spoke these words. He is, after all, promising a throne to David forever. Two other things:

1. The lectionary reading stops after v. 14a (!), so you don’t get the stuff about punishment. Is this to intentionally make it read more like it’s about Jesus?

2. The parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 17 also omits the iniquity part… does this mean the Chronicler was taking it to be a Messianic promise (only), too?

What say you, O readers? I’m still mulling this one over.

48 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2015 11:38 pm

    Those lectionary pericopes, they sure do like to cut out the hard stuff (0:

    • July 17, 2015 11:45 am

      No kidding–did you see the 2 Samuel one last week? It omitted the part about Uzzah touching the ark of the covenant so it wouldn’t fall to the ground–and God killed him for it. (We read that part anyway.)

  2. July 16, 2015 11:43 pm

    WHEN he commits iniquity or IF he commits iniquity?\

    • July 17, 2015 11:46 am

      What a great question! I’m not sure–I just spent some time puzzling over the Hebrew (and lexicons, etc.), and it seems like it’s always translated “when,” but there also seems to be room for ambiguity. The Greek translator(s) appears to have understood it as “if.”

  3. July 17, 2015 8:47 am

    I think the normal reader is going to read 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17 as referring primarily to David’s immediate descendants. We only begin to read them as Messianic when we realize that indeed the Davidic dynasty did come to an end, in 587 B.C. The throne of David did not last forever. That is in fact the dilemma that the psalmist in Psalm 89 is struggling with. He accepts the promise as divine, but the reality seems to contradict it. The solution is to begin to read the promise as Messianic. Then the promise remains real but acknowledges historical reality. David become the type of the antitype of the Messiah. So we struggle with the text just as much as Psalm 89 does.

  4. Steve permalink
    July 17, 2015 9:54 am

    It appears to me that this is like some other OT prophecies that don’t have just one fulfillment/interpretation. The “virgin birth” of Isa 7 spoke immediately to the birth of Hezekiah or an 8th century man it seems from a not-yet married young woman; but was used by the angel to reference the birth of Jesus much later–thus, a double prophecy. Perhaps 2 Sam 7 applies to both Solomon and Jesus the same way. Not everything in a double prophecy has to apply to one or the other, but there are similar elements that apply to both. Thoughts?

    • July 17, 2015 12:02 pm

      Yes! That makes perfect sense, and fits well with this passage, too, I think.

  5. Bob de Jong permalink
    July 18, 2015 1:57 pm

    I think this matter is settled in 1 Kings 11:11. Here God clarifies that the ‘forever’ in 1 Samuel 7, is actually conditional on David’s offspring behaving properly. And – in God’s eyes- Salomon didn’t behave properly, so ‘forerver’ was reduced to ‘until Salomon’s death (1 Kings 11:12.

    • July 18, 2015 7:41 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Bob. The beginning of 1 Kings 2 shows what seems to be a similar understanding by David that there are some conditional aspects to the covenant. But 2 Samuel 23:5 does not suggest the same. It seems to me David understood it to be “forever,” though I’m not sure 1 Kings 11 settles it. New Testament writers, for example, certainly seemed to think that promise was still in effect–and fulfilled in Jesus.

      E.g., Luke 1:31-33: “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

  6. Bob de Jong permalink
    July 19, 2015 7:16 am

    Thanks Abram. Indeed it may appear that the pact between God and David (to continue his throne) is described as unconditional in Samuel 7 and Samuel 23, while in Kings 1: 2 and 11 the condition is clarified that David’s descendants should behave well.

    I think that it is fair to argue that this difference in the formulation of the pact is not a contradiction; the conditions to he pact are understood in Samuel 7 & 23, but not spelled out there; the focus of the story is on David, and God’s forgiveness towards him.

    In the Hebrew bible, a pact (covenant) is always understood to be conditional on the ‘good behaviour’ of both parties involved. Much of the Hebrew bible is devoted to describing how the – misbehaving- Israelites managed to ‘salvage’ the covenant that God made with them, thanks to the intercession by great prophets like Moses. God was entitled to, and indeed intended to, annul the covenant at numerous occasions.

    Therefore, I don’t think we need to invoke messianic messages to bring the books of Samuel and Kings into line regarding the ‘eternity’ of David’s throne.

    • July 19, 2015 7:36 am

      Hi, Bob–good points. That makes sense to me, although we may agree to disagree on your last line.🙂 Or, at least, I can perhaps agree with you that we don’t *need to* adopt a messianic interpretation for all those passages to still hang together consistently (is that what you mean?). However, it is also noteworthy to me that even before the NT writers and Jesus came along, Isaiah and Micah (for example) were interpreting this Davidic covenant as messianic.

  7. Bob de Jong permalink
    July 19, 2015 8:11 am

    Abram, you’re up early! Yes, I meant the texts are perfectly understandable without messianic interpretations. I appreciate that NT writers did see these passages (and Isaiah, Micah a/o) as referring to Jesus.

    For me, texts like 1 Kings 9:4-5 ( “IF you …keep my statutes and my rules…THEN I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever), Psalm 132: 12 ( “IF thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore”), clearly indicate the conditionality of the pact of David.

    Isaiah and Micah are complex texts, open to various interpretations, messianic and otherwise. I’m afraid that topic is too big for this comment box……..

    • July 21, 2015 11:19 am

      I’m still mulling this over, Bob–could one possible interpretation be that in a proximate sense there were those conditions to the covenant, but that it was still unconditional in its ultimate/eschatological/messianic sense?

      • Bob de Jong permalink
        July 23, 2015 12:54 pm

        Abram, thank for mulling this over, you put a very difficult question to your readers!

        I agree that any text can be understood at different levels; starting at the literal meaning (what you call proximate?), all the way up to general, wider scope interpretations, such as messianic messages.

        I suppose we have quite some ‘room for discussion’ on the wider interpretations. But there is a hard stop somewhere: no (wider) interpretation should actually conflict with the literal interpretation of this, or other Bible texts. I trust you agree with this ‘hard stop’.

        With 2 Samuel 7 referring to Solomon, I don’t see any issues. If instead this would refer to Jesus, then we are lefty with a number of problems:

        1) 2 Samuel 7:12 says: “When your days are done and you lie with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own issue, and I will establish his kingship.” The phrase “one of your own issue’ in Hebrew actually reads something like ‘coming from your own organs’ (including the sexual organs). So God clearly indicates that He is talking about a child directly fathered by David. If instead God meant “I will send my (God) Son 10 centuries after your (David) death, to resume the kinship after an interlude of 8 centuries”, then don’t you think that God is misleading David? Something which God is – of course – incapable of doing.

        2) in Kings, the Davidic covenant is clearly described as dependent on the good behaviour or David’s descendants. Would God need such an escape clause for Jesus?

      • July 24, 2015 8:26 am

        On your second point, no, God wouldn’t need an escape clause for Jesus. Is it possible that God in God’s mercy fulfilled a covenant even in spite of David’s family not meeting the “conditions”? I think this is likely–certainly the kind of thing God does. That could also help explain what feels on first read like a potential discrepancy between the conditional and unconditional descriptions of the covenant. That’s what I mean by the possibility of this prophecy having two different understandings/fulfillments/loci/interpretations.

        To your first point, I’m not sure this has to be interpreted biologically. I think about what Paul does in Galatians 3:16 and his use of the word “seed” to describe Jesus as coming “from” Abraham. Could not a similar thing be intended with David?

        I mostly agree about your “hard stop” idea–though, of course, “literal” is a word that needs some clarification. And Scripture doesn’t always intend to be interpreted literally (e.g., God is a Rock), so I think we have to start with genre, etc.

        Thanks for the good engagement here!

  8. July 20, 2015 5:34 pm

    For whatever it’s worth, in the original Common Lectionary this passage goes through v. 17 (and appears a couple weeks earlier).

    • July 21, 2015 11:16 am

      Thanks, Steve–I look so much at the RCL that I confess the original lectionary has become a distant memory to me. But maybe I should be checking it out more.

      • July 21, 2015 12:03 pm

        The 20th anniversary ed. of the RCL has helpful notes cross referencing both the CL & the earlier Roman lectionary. Particularly interesting for questions about the OT & Jesus, given that (from Pentecost to Advent) the Roman lectionary uses the OT to echo the Gospel themes, the CL treats the OT independently, and the RCL tries to be all things to all people.

      • July 21, 2015 12:16 pm

        Had forgotten all about that resource, which it appears I need to explore. Thanks, Steve!

  9. Bob de Jong permalink
    July 26, 2015 3:23 pm

    Thanks, I enjoyed the discussion.

    Just a quick remark on your reference to what Paul does in Galatians 3:16. I agree that Paul could interpret ‘seed’ (or ‘offspring’) similarly with respect to 2 Sam 7. But there are 3 problems with that:

    – 2 Sam 7 adds ‘from your body’, or ‘from your issuance’ to the mention of ‘seed’, making the nature of the seed very physical/biological. To make this mean something like ‘ten centuries after your death an angel will father a child” seems like a stretch.

    – The funny thing is that Paul never clearly uses the ‘Davidic Covenant of 2 Sam 7 to support Jesus’ authority. Only once in the undisputed letters (Rom 1:3-4) does Paul say that Jesus is a descendant of David, without expanding on the Davidic covenant. Could the Davidic covenant have not been very relevant to Paul?

    – In Acts 13:23 its is said that Paul mentions Jesus as David’s descendant. But Paul does not mention the other aspects of the Davidic covenant, such as the ‘house’ that would be built, or the eternal kingship. Again, the Davidic covenant is not used where it would have added a lot of strength to Paul’s arguments.

    Given all the above, it seems to me that Paul didn’t see 2 Sam 7 as relevant to Jesus. Is it not much more likely that Paul quotes Isaiah 9:7; 11:1, 10 when Paul calls Jesus a descendant of David?

    • July 27, 2015 12:28 pm

      Bob–I appreciate this discussion. I’m lucky to have such readers who are so sharp. The question of how Paul interpreted 2 Sam 7 is utterly fascinating to me! Though this idea of a Davidic covenant certainly was important to Luke, wouldn’t you say?

      And good point about “from you body” seeming to be biological. Not quite sure what to do with that, although I suppose that fits into my proposed dual-level interpretation strategy whereby that can only refer to Solomon, whereas at least parts of the other passage have a Messiah in mind.

  10. Bob de Jong permalink
    July 29, 2015 3:23 pm

    Thanks Abram.
    Agree that the gospel of Luke alludes to the Davidic covenant in several places. Question is how Luke understands the Davidic covenant. In shorthand: 2 Samuel sees the Davidic covenant as a prophecy that a) the worldly kingdom of David will endure, and b) the king will always be a descendant of David.

    The most explicit reference to the Davidic covenant could be Luke 1:32-35. How does Luke re-phrase it? In my understanding, Luke 1:32 talks about 2 prophetic components: 1) being called the Son of the Most High (signifying spiritual/religious leadership), 2) the throne of David (worldly leadership.).

    Note that the spiritual leadership is absent in 2 Sam, indicating that Luke is introducing a new component to the covenant; Jesus is not ‘just’ the fulfilment of the Davidic covenant. (also see the Last Supper, where Jesus talks about a ‘new covenant’).

    In my view, worldly kingship is strongly de-emphasized in Luke. For sure, Luke 1:33 quotes the ‘throne of his father David’, but does NOT call Jesus the ‘son of David’. Jesus is called by bystanders ‘son of David’ mainly when Jesus assumes a royal role, such as the entry into Jerusalem. Jesus appears to not accept that title, see Luke 20:41-44. (Also see Luke’s genealogy: there are no kings among Joseph’s ancestors, except for David).

    So we see that – in Luke’s gospel – a spiritual component is added to the Davidic covenant, and the worldly component is suppressed. So it might be argued that Luke appears inspired by the Davidic covenant, but transforms it in such a way that its meaning is radically changed from the way it was understood in 2 Samuel.

    • July 29, 2015 3:39 pm

      Those are some great points, Bob. I like the distinction you’re making.

      Also at play here, of course, is how NT writers “used” OT texts, which itself is a whole can of worms! And I suspect you’re spot on again–that how Luke talks about the Davidic covenant is in no wise how David would have understood it.

      Not that we will know the mind of God on this, but I’m awfully curious what was in *God’s* mind in the original giving of the covenant in 2 Sam. 7. I.e., just how “far off” God was thinking and looking….

  11. Bob de Jong permalink
    August 3, 2015 5:22 am

    I’m curious why it is so important to you that 2 Sam 7 refers to Jesus. What would change if it didn’t?

    • August 3, 2015 7:53 pm

      I think it is a significant passage in helping to shape a theology of a Messiah. Reading through 1 Kings, I see more of what you note (re: the conditional nature of the covenant), yet also see more of God’s determination to fulfill promises made in 2 Sam 7 on a broader scale–regardless of whether human kings keep up their end of the deal.

      I think it’s the “throne shall be established forever” part that especially makes me think it’s looking off into the distant future and has Messianic implications.

  12. Bob de Jong permalink
    August 7, 2015 4:05 pm

    Thanks Abram. I think it is important to consider what you mean by ‘Messianic theology’.

    In the OT, a Jewish king is usually called ‘messiah’ (= anointed), without implying that the king is divine. I assume that – instead – you are thinking of a messiah as a divine Saviour, a Redeemer.

    So what does the NT say about this? Good verses to read is when Jesus is interrogated by the Sanhedrin and Pilate:

    On the questions ‘Are you the Messiah’, Jesus replies by citing Daniel 7: “the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” (Luke 22).

    So if Jesus sees himself at all as a Messiah, then it is a messiah as described in Daniel’s vision: this Messiah appears at the end of the age: an eschatological figure, accompanied by rivers of fire, 10-headed monsters and flying lions. Surely, Nathan did not prophecy this in 2 Samuel 7!

    And when Pilate asks Him ““Are you the King of the Jews?”, Jesus replies only with ““You have said so.” (Luke 23). Pilate then concludes that Jesus is innocent, so he clearly takes Jesus’ reply as a denial of kingship.
    Surely, this shows that Jesus did not think of Himself as a (Davidic) King. This is also evident from Luke 20:41-44.

    All in all, Jesus does not refer to the Davidic covenant at all before Pilate of the Sanhedrin, the view He gives of Himself indicates that he does not see Himself as Davidic king. Nor as a Messiah in the way it was understood by his interrogators.

  13. Steve permalink
    August 7, 2015 5:38 pm

    Well…I’ve been monitoring this exchange between you (Abram) and Bob–and I apologize for what could be taken as an intrusion into your discussion. But I wanted to share a few thoughts/questions for Bob:

    1) I’m curious (to borrow your question–with a twist) why it is so important to you Bob that 2 Sam 7 NOT refer (directly or indirectly) to Jesus.

    2) You said, “In the Hebrew Bible a pact/covenant is always understood to be conditional.” Then, what do you make of the covenant God made with Noah/the earth that he would never flood the world again like this–via the rainbow? Is that conditional on the good behavior of the world? I hope not. Also, how do you explain Ps 89? Do we believe what Ethan apparently thought was God breaking his everlasting covenant with the house of David over the unfaithfulness of David’s descendants? Or do we go with God’s promised unconditional covenant in spite of David’s offspring’s unfaithfulness that it would remain intact for David’s house to continue (“or be restored”–Acts 1:6) as God promised?

    3) So…when Jesus is in discussion with the Samaritan woman in John 4–and she says “I know that Messiah is coming…” and Jesus responds: “I who speak to you am he.” And when she muses about the incredible possibility that this Jew is actually the Messiah…and Jesus spends two more days with her/the city–and apparently never refutes his confession of being the Messiah…that seems to be rather clear, does it not, of a present identity of Messiah–long before a second return?

    4) Does “through your seed/offspring” have to do only/exclusively with a) the immediate ‘seed-giver’? and b) with only/exclusively the physical–as you said? If so, how do you explain Gen 22:18–which Luke uses to describe Abraham’s descendants — leading to Jesus (coming from Abraham’s seed/offspring) and the spiritual blessing of forgiveness offered through him–in Acts 3:25-26?

    5) I find your interpretation of Luke’s Messianic theology to be most limiting–if I understand you to say Jesus only accepted some type of messianic identity when he returns again. The context of Lk 20-22 is set up by Lk 19’s triumphal entry of the promised Messiah, a designation Jesus fully accepts (see vv 39-44). I understand this is a spiritual messiah concept (“my kingdom is not of this world…”), but Jesus embraces this identity, as Luke clearly depicts. The question of Jesus’ authority (in Lk 20) comes out of this messianic identity of Lk 19; the parable of the tenents in Lk 20 clearly has messianic overtones which Jesus uses for the express purpose of self-identification as the promised messiah (see Mk 12; Ps 118:22-26). Thus his use of the Ps 110 reference in Lk 20:41f to David’s Lord is to confirm what has been declared repeatedly by Jesus and the people the past day or two but denied by the teachers of the law: I am the Messiah! Right?

    6) And if it is not clear that Luke’s theology thought of Jesus as a Davidic king (understandably his gospel was not written to Jews–so that was not a primary topic), it certainly is clear in Matthew’s genealogy listing in Mt 1:6-7, 16–tracing Jesus’ royal lineage, as well as multiple references to the Son of David throughout Matthew.

    Bob–I have other questions about your responses to Abram–but perhaps this is enough for now. Again–I apologize if this is seen as an intrusion, but perhaps your clarification and responses will be of help to us all.

  14. Bob de Jong permalink
    August 8, 2015 1:53 pm

    Thanks Steve, for following the discussions, and for your great questions. I’m happy to exchange thoughts with you, just a bit concerned to ‘hijack’ Abram’s forum. So I will not be offended if he would prefer to end this line of discussion.

    I don’t think I will be able to address all Steve’s questions in one go. But I’ll start at the top.

    1) I don’t have a particular horse in this race. I thought I would respond to Abram’s invitation to comment.
    And there’s a bit more than that: I like to understand what the text of the Bible actually means, and enjoy discussing that. So when someone claims that his/her belief (or dogma) is based on the bible, then my interest is triggered and I want to find out if the text actually says that. You would be surprised how often the bible does not say what people expect to find there. I speak from experience: in pre-school I made drawings of the nativity (like millions of other children) with the ass and the ox watching over the manger. But you will not find the ass or the ox anywhere in the nativity narratives of the NT!

    • Steve permalink
      August 10, 2015 11:16 am

      Bob–I appreciate your responses–and sorry to be late in responding, as I just had a granddaughter born at 26 weeks–so I’ve been a bit preoccupied with the very early arrival of Miss Lucy. As I mentioned in my initial comment, I did not want to (to use your term) ‘hijack’ (or–my term, ‘intrude’ into) your discussion with Abram, but I felt like there were some additional contexts that might provide a broader picture to the 2 Sam 7 discussion, in part supplementing Abram’s current understanding of the messianic interpretation found there.

      Thus, in light of your concern (for ‘hijacking’) and because I need to spend some time with my daughter right now, I’ll comment on your responses and then bow out of this discussion.

      1) I’m not sure if your understanding of 2 Sam 7 totally disagrees with that interpretation (i.e., 2 Sam is a messianic text) or if it might allow it to be a messianic prophecy to some extent. I had suggested early in Abram’s discussion that this very well could be a type of double prophecy in which not all of the factors are equally applied to both of the designates of that prophecy, but that it could refer to both. I’m hearing you say that is not correct–that is is not a double prophecy, nor is it even referring at all to the coming messiah. So–I have offered some thoughts that might counter (if I have understood you correctly) that understanding. I’m still wondering why it is important to you that this OT text not refer to the anticipated messiah coming from David’s royal family. Do you believe there are other texts that directly prophecy about an anticipated Messiah (not just another ‘annointed one/king’ messiah)–say, Isa 53? Ps 110? I hoping you do, because the NT writers that used these texts certainly did. And I’m going to give Gabriel a lot of respect in his understanding of 2 Sam 7 as he announces the coming of Jesus–and as Luke records that conversation between God’s spokesman/angel and Mary, he sure seems to see the connection between 2 Sam 7 and the birth of Jesus.

      May I add that I get it that those living in 1000 BC–including David, most likely didn’t quite get the connection. It was certainly directly related to Solomon–that’s for sure. But there are several OT texts/prophecies that may not seem to be connected to a NT person or event, that had it not been for some inspired authors guiding/interpreting for us, we’d never make the connection. (i.e, Acts 15:15-18…with Amos 9:11-12). So I’m going defer to Gabriel and Luke on how they see the 2 Sam 7 prophecy fulfilled.

      • Bob de Jong permalink
        August 10, 2015 3:12 pm

        Steve,

        Congratulations with your granddaughter! I hope mother and child are well.
        I fully understand that you are occupied with other things at the moment. I enjoyed our discussion. I’ll just try to answer some of the questions in your last comments, and then return the blog to Abram.

        At the risk of repeating myself, I think there are various types of messiah in the OT and the NT. So yes, I do think that there are ‘messianic’ prophecies in the OT, but they are far fewer than you postulate. I think we should be weary of passages that only become ‘prophecy’ when we try to associate them with NT passages or words. Why? because it becomes far too easy to ‘find’ prophecies in this way, and we end up with a multitude of ‘false positives’. For instance, if we understand ‘Jesus’ for every time the word ‘king’, ‘child’ or ‘messiah’ is used in the OT, then aren’t we just fooling ourselves?

        I think a true messianic prophecy should display the characteristics of such a prophecy in its own context, and – equally important – be consistent with other biblical texts. We can then see an evolution of messianic prophecy in the OT: from the hope of a “messiah,” as an anointed – human – warrior/king (e.g .in Jeremiah, Isaiah), through a messiah supported by divine intervention (Zechariah), to a supernatural messiah (Daniel).

        And there is diversity in the understanding of what constitutes ‘messianic prophecy’ in the NT as well; in Matthew’s gospel, it seems that faith (in Jesus) reveals new meaning in the OT, that was not accessible otherwise. This is – in my view – what Matthew means by ‘to fullfill what was written in the scriptures”. I think Luke’s gospel has a different view: Jesus fulfils scripture by actually doing what was predicted in the OT, plain to see for everyone.

        As for me? I’m mindful of Matthew 16:4, Mark 8:12 and Luke 11:29: “”Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” In other words, you have faith or you don’t; faith can’t be obtained by evidence. So why do we mine the OT to justify Christ?

  15. Bob de Jong permalink
    August 8, 2015 2:13 pm

    2) The covenant with Noah. A closer reading shows that the text in Genesis contains 3 parts:

    – Gen 9:1-3: God gives dominion over all living creatures.
    – Gen 9:4: God demands adherence to dietary restrictions.
    – Gen 9:5-6: God imposes a legal system of punishment.

    So we see that God actually imposes 2 conditions on this covenant: dietary and legal. We may overlook this easily, since so much meaning is crammed into so few words. Some people also read prohibition on suicide and/or abortion in Gen 9:5-6.

    Since God speaks of ‘Noah and his descendants” in Gen 9:8, it is believed that these conditions are imposed on Jews and non-Jews (also descendants of Noah!) alike. The conditions are made operational in 7 commandments; Gentiles who observe the “seven commandments of the descendants of Noah” can meet with God’s full approval:

    (1) establish courts of justice, (2) to refrain from blaspheming the God of Israel, (3) idolatry, (4) sexual perversion, (5) bloodshed, (6) robbery, and (7) not to eat meat cut from a living animal.

    So God expects quite a lot from everyone, in exchange for not flooding the world again. There’s no such thing as a free lunch!

    • Steve permalink
      August 10, 2015 11:34 am

      2) So I want to make sure I understand you: you are saying that all Jews and all Gentiles are under the obligation of faithfully obeying all 7 of the conditions God mentions to Noah? Or else–what? Is it possible these stipulations are in a different category than God’s commitment to not flood the earth again? Because if they are not, then every time I look at the rainbow — knowing that God is looking/remembering every time he looks at the rainbow–I’m pretty sure all the Jews and Gentiles since the flood have not been faithful by any stretch of the imagination in keeping all of these stipulations–would you agree to that? And since I’m going to say you will agree with that, then–back to my question: Or else–what? There is absolutely no confidence and assurance that God will not flood the earth again based on how you have interpreted this ‘covenant.’ The sighting of rainbow in that case would cause more fear than confidence.

      Conversely if God made — in addition to whatever arrangement includes the 7 stipulations (what I see as his expectations and guidelines for righteous living for all) — if God made a covenant promise beyond humanity’s ability to live righteously (see Gen 8:21), and that promise context begins in 9:8 (Then God said…–as a distinctive from vv 1-7), then God’s unconditional promise/covenant with all the earth states he will never (despite the disobedience he knows will happen post-flood) ever again flood the earth: that’s his promise for all–for all time, despite our failings. And that is an unconditional covenant.

      • Bob de Jong permalink
        August 10, 2015 3:31 pm

        2) I think the text says that there are conditions attached to God’s promise not to flood the earth again. Jewish traditions make these (very condensed in Genesis) workable in the Noachic commandments. If Gentiles want to be righteous with God, and avoid the risk of a new Flood, then they should obey these 7 commandments.
        The reverse is not necessarily implied: if people (Gentile or Jew) disobey the 7 commandments, then God will not automatically pull the plug from the waters above. So as long as we see a rainbow, we are Ok and don’t need to fear a new flood.

        I think that various texts indicate that God has considerable latitude in enforcing penalties when one of his covenants is violated. This starts already with Adam and Eve: God says that they will die if they eat from the Tree, but – when they do it anyway – God doesn’t kill them. He converts the death penalty in a ‘lifelong’ sentence. And when the Israelites worshipped the golden calf, God’s command to Moses was to kill them all; fortunately, Moses pleaded successfully with God to spare a fair number.

        Perhaps we should see the penalties attached to the various covenants similar to God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. We should take it seriously, but we can trust God not to apply penalties unreasonably?

  16. Bob de Jong permalink
    August 8, 2015 3:03 pm

    2) Psalm 89. As I read the psalm, Ethan respectfully reminds God of the covenant, and pleads with God to restore the covenant in Ethan’s lifetime.

    As in 2 Sam 7, the conditions of the covenant are not spelled out, but as I commented on July 19, 1 Kings 2, 9 and 11 (“IF you …keep my statutes and my rules…THEN I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever), Psalm 132: 12 ( “IF thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore”), clearly indicate the conditionality of the covenant of David.

    I don’t see a verse in Psalm 89 where Ethan gives the unfaithfulness of David’s descendants as the reason to repudiate the covenant. Ethan doesn’t seem to give any reason at all; instead, he would like God to focus on His love for David and his descendants.

    • Steve permalink
      August 10, 2015 11:58 am

      Psalm 89–Bob, why would Ethan respectfully remind God of the covenant if things are going well in the kingdoms of David and Solomon at the time of the writing of the Psalm? –the two kings he apparently served under? Ethan references God’s promise to David in 2 Sam 7 of an everlasting kingdom, and even “if his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes…I will punish their sin…but I will not take my love from him nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. Once for all , I have sworn by my holiness–and will not lie to David–that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun…” (vv 30-37) This strongly suggests Ethan’s concern that God’s promise to David’s lineage doesn’t appear to be happening or maintained. (Probably a good thing Ethan wasn’t around for the exile–he’d really have some questions!) The point being–there was an interruption in someone on David’s throne during the exile–but Jesus’ birth announcement and his identification as the promised ‘annointed one’ restores and fulfills that unconditional promise God made to David.

      • Bob de Jong permalink
        August 10, 2015 3:43 pm

        I think verses 38-51 are problematic if you date them to the reign of David and Solomon. The Davidic dynasty prospered at that time, and God had not broken the covenant (v 39). Si I think (following many true scholars) that the psalm, or at least v 38-51, was written at later time, around the exile.

  17. Bob de Jong permalink
    August 8, 2015 3:26 pm

    3) John 4. I refer to my earlier comment: messiah means different things to different people. When the Samaritan woman talks about the Messiah, she can’t be thinking of the Davidic covenant or a Davidic king, spiritual or wordly; the Samaritans broke away from Jerusalem long ago and didn’t recognise the Davidic kings’ claim to the throne.
    Jesus doesn’t define His understanding of Messiah at length in John 4; but it seems to me that it includes some end-time scenario: “now my kingdom is not here” (John 18:36).

    • August 9, 2015 9:02 am

      Thanks for the dialogue, you two. Feel free to keep it up! I will be slower in responding these coming days, but will read more closely as I can.

    • Steve permalink
      August 10, 2015 12:26 pm

      John 4–If we were to take the various understandings of ‘messiah’ and compile them from all the different people Jesus met and talked with, it undoubtedly would be a most diverse set of understandings. Thus it is important for us to listen to Jesus’ own interpretation of the identity and ministry of the messiah (Luke 4:18f). We are indeed not privy to the entire conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman, but I’m guessing his clarifying of the topic of worship wasn’t the only clarification he gave the woman and her friends over the two days he was with him. But that is really beside the point–he declared his identity clearly to her in the early stages of his earthly ministry, not–as you suggested, some future role of the messiah as may be depicted in Revelation. His pre-cross messiahship had to do with salvation (Jn 4:39-42), not (post-resurrection) judging–as the second coming will undoubtedly entail.

      • Bob de Jong permalink
        August 10, 2015 3:56 pm

        I agree with much that you say above. The messiah in Luke’s view has the characteristics of a redeemer, a saviour, particularly for the poor and oppressed.

        Indeed, we don’t have all of Jesus’ words to the Samaritans, but I think John reveals his view on the character of the messiah early on: ” All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” John 1:3). If feel these sentiments in the words to the Samaritan woman, about food and water.

        But however you want to refine these views, they are very different from a ‘Davidic king’, or other messianic prophecies in the OT.

  18. Bob de Jong permalink
    August 9, 2015 9:15 am

    4a) In my view “seed/offspring” can – in general – signify many generations after the ‘seed-giver’. In this sense, it is used when God promises Abraham that his seed will be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen 15:5). In some verses, additional words “from your issue”, from your organs” etc.) are used to indicate that the “seed/offspring” is a direct, biological descendant. This is the way Nathan formulates it in 2 Sam 7. And also in Gen 15:4, God promises Abraham a – biological – son, instead of a legal heir: and the ‘from your issue’ formulation is added to ‘seed’ to signify this.

    4b) Luke indeed traces Jesus’ ancestry to Abraham, but it is not clear to me why Luke would need Gen 22:18 to do that. Gen 22:18 is formulated in a general way, so that any or all of Abraham’s descendants could be a blessing to the world. The descendants of Abraham are as numerous as the stars, so how does this foretell specifically Jesus?

    • Steve permalink
      August 10, 2015 12:36 pm

      4a) So..yes, it would be my understanding that “seed” would indeed include Solomon, but it is not limited to Solomon, as Luke/Gabriel understood it in Lk 1:30f. If I understand you, your view limits 2 Sam 7 only to Solomon; my understanding of that does not put that limitation on that text.

      4)b How do Peter/Luke interpret what “blessing” means in Acts 3:26? “When God raised up his servant (referencing Jesus as from the seed/offspring of Abraham in v25), he sent him first to you to bless you BY turning each one of you from your wicked ways.” Does Jesus fit that role? Does he bless the world by providing the opportunity for repentance and having sins forgiven? That is exactly what vv 19-20 say. That’s pretty specific to me all the way around.

  19. Bob de Jong permalink
    August 9, 2015 9:35 am

    5-6) Steve, I appreciate that Luke’s Christology is important to you, but I feel we would be going too far off-topic to go into it here. My point was NOT that there are no messianic elements in Luke’s Christology; what I challenge, is that these messianic elements are foretold in these OT texts (Samuel, Kings, Genesis).

    • Steve permalink
      August 10, 2015 12:50 pm

      5/6: I would simply say this, Bob: I am thankful for your thoughtful and timely caution against making every OT text a messianic one. That has been done and that is unhealthy exegesis–so I do appreciate your reminder of this. Having said that, I again am going to defer to how Jesus approaches understanding OT message as a whole–again as recorded by Luke: “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ (Messiah) have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself….This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures…” Lk 24:25-27, 44-45 This almost leads me to rethink that I probably have not seen enough messianic references (directly or indirectly) in my OT reading–as I consider Jesus’ comprehensive statements for interpretation. So hopefully, a balanced approach to understanding these and other OT scriptures will prevail.

      As I said at the beginning, I will now bow out of this conversation and let you and Abram resume your discussion. Thanks — Bob and Abram, for the opportunity to reflect further on these things.

      Respectfully

  20. Matt permalink
    June 1, 2016 2:36 am

    Jesus did not commit iniquity but yes these verses are talking about Jesus. Jesus took upon himself our iniquity and therefor he also took our punishment which we rightly deserved.

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