The Everlasting Covenant With David
“Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken” (vv. 20–21a).- Jeremiah 33:14–26
Chapter 31 of Jeremiah does not end the prophet’s look at the new covenant. The new covenant restoration was to return Israel and Judah to their land (vv. 1–25), and God demonstrated the surety of this promise when He told the prophet to buy property during the final siege of Jerusalem just prior to its fall in 586 B.C.(chap. 32). Owning a field signified that the Lord would keep His promise to bring faithful Judahites back to Canaan. Why would God have anyone buy land if the exiles would never return?
Chapter 33 expands upon the new covenant, recording what the Lord said to Jeremiah while he was in prison for telling King Zedekiah the bad news that Jerusalem was going to fall (v. 1; see 32:1–5). The verses chosen for today’s study were particularly important for the prophet and other faithful Judahites as they watched Babylon surround the city. Zedekiah would soon be taken from the throne and the people exiled (2 Kings 25:1–21). What would become of God’s promise to David that his offspring would reign forever? (2 Sam. 7:1–17).
The Lord’s answer to the faithful Judahites was that the exile would not nullify the Davidic covenant. In the new covenant, God would keep David’s line on Israel’s throne by causing a “righteous Branch” to spring up for David (Jer. 33:14–15). Jeremiah 23:5 also refers to this Branch—the Messiah—and the other prophets use the image as well (Isa. 11:1; Zech. 3:8). David’s line would be like a tree cut down to a stump, but just as a stump shows itself to be alive by sending out a branch, David’s line would survive after Zedekiah. God would not forget His promises, and He would put a righteous Davidite on the throne of Israel again.
We know that this righteous Branch is Jesus, who reigns forever (Matt. 1:1–17). What, then, are we to make of the promises that the Lord would multiply the offspring of David and Levi so that there would be rulers and priests in Israel forever? (Jer. 33:14–26). First, there have always been physical descendants of Levi and David in the church, including James the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19), a descendant of David through Joseph, and priests (descendants of Levi) who became “obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). Second, we must remember that God always speaks to His people with words they can understand. Living prior to the new covenant restoration, old covenant believers did not know everything about the Messiah’s ministry that we know today. Yet they did know that a godly king and priest were necessary for their salvation. In Christ, we have both offices.
When God makes a covenant, He always keeps the stipulations He has imposed upon Himself. Our Father promised to set David’s offspring before Him forever, and this is the promise He has kept in Christ Jesus our Lord. When we doubt that our Creator will fulfill His Word, let us remember that He kept His promise to put a righteous son of David on the throne forever. If He could do that, given the corruption of men in David’s line such as Zedekiah, surely there is nothing He cannot do for us.
Passages for Further Study
2 Samuel 7:1–17
1 Chronicles 17
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343