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Monday, November 4, 2013

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From Babylon during the seventy-year captivity, Ethan the Ezrahite recalls God’s amazing covenant with David.  The Almighty had promised . . .

Your seed I will establish forever,

And build up your throne to all generations (v. 4).

Ethan waxes eloquent describing God’s faithfulness, His majesty and power in earth and heaven, in the sea and the land and the mountains (vs. 1-14).  His thoughts even reach up to the throne of God (v.14) and to the heavenly assembly of the holy ones. God spoke to them and announced to them His choice of David as the ruler of His people (v. 19). But His description of David is so exalted that it transcends what any human could fulfill.

I will make him my firstborn

the highest of the kings of earth . . .

My covenant shall stand firm with him.

 His seed also I will make to endure forever,

And his throne as the days of heaven (vs. 27-29)

 His seed shall endure forever,

And his throne as the sun before Me.

It shall be established forever like the moon (vs. 36-37).

When Ethan wrote this, the sun and the moon were still shining in the heavens, but  David’s throne was empty, and his sons had been killed in battle (2 Chron. 36).  Jerusalem lay in ruins and the inhabitants were in captivity in the heathen country of Babylon.

After asserting God’s faithfulness to His covenant, Ethan is bold to complain: But You have renounced the covenant of Your servant. You have profaned his crown by casting it to the ground (vv. 38- 45). The people whom God had promised to exalt (17), the victories over his enemies, God had promised to David (v. 22) had been reversed.

You have not sustained him in battle

You have made his glory cease,

And cast his throne down to the ground (vs. 43-44).

What had happened to God’s promises?  Wasn’t God faithful any more?  Didn’t He care for David any more?  Didn’t He love His people any more? Two possible answers are clear: (1) Israel had not kept the covenant so Ethan’s eloquent description of them did not apply any more.  The people had not been walking in the light of His countenance (v. 15), even Judah’s king had not been faithful to the Lord. (2) They had not been rejoicing in the Lord and in His righteousness as they should have (v. 16).  

But Ethan recalled that God had foreseen that possibility and promised blessings anyway.

If his sons forsake My law . . .

And do not keep My commandments . . .

Nevertheless My lovingkindness

I will not utterly take from him,

Nor allow My faithfulness to fail (30-33).

I will not lie to David

His seed shall endure forever (30-36).       .          

One possible answer remains: How could God promise eternity to David and his throne except by speaking of a greater David, the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will some day reign forever and ever.  The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever! (Rev. 11:15).  Not only will He reign, but His people will reign with Him.

Those who are wise shall shine

Like the brightness of the firmament,

And those who turn many to righteousness

Like the stars forever and ever (Dan. 12:3).

Prayer:   Lord Jesus, thank You for assuring us that you will win the battle against the forces of evil, and that we will some day reign with You.  May that great Day come soon!


Beatrice Neall
Retired Professor of Religion
Union College