“Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. And the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.” - 1 Kings 2:10-12
The trouble with the death of a king is always in the successor. What kind of king will we get next? Better? Or worse?
As the shadow of death drew long on David’s doorstep, there were plenty of challengers to the throne, but it was hard to imagine there would be a king better than David. When Jesus came along 2,000 years later, not simply as successor but also as the ideal, many had trouble imagining him as a king at all. To be fair, he didn’t exactly look like a king, mostly because while the history and culture of Israel told the story and previewed the shape of his kingship, his kingdom was not limited to Israel. He was easy to miss without the eyes of faith. The only way to trace his royal right was through his connection to David. There was of course the lineage of ancestry to appeal to, but the similarities between the two were also meant to be revelatory.
Similarity 1: The City of David - David’s final resting place (v. 10) was also the site of Jesus’s birth thanks to the census decreed by Herod Agrippa. The circumstances were divinely aligned to present Jesus an heir of David.
Similarity 2: Contested Kingship - When David was anointed king, not everyone was ready to receive him, particularly Saul, the sitting king and his supporters. David’s obituary acknowledges the contested start to David’s reign – “And the time David reigned over Israel was forty years,” the text reminds us, and also points out that seven of those forty years were in exile in Hebron. David was accepted as king in the southern region of Judah, but to the north in the territories of Israel, one of Saul’s loyal generals set up a son of Saul as a rival king (2 Samuel 2:1-11). When Jesus began to announce himself, his reign was hotly contested for three years. Roman magistrates and company men, Jewish puppet kings and high court grifters, religious establishment types, paramilitary operators and Make-Israel-Great-Again organizers, demons and devils - all took their turns challenging Jesus’s appointed march to the throne.
Similarity 3: Established Reign - Finally, the elders of Israel have had enough of rivalries and pledge themselves to David as king of a new united kingdom comprising Israel and Judah. Thirty-three years he reigned over this expanded kingdom from Jerusalem, or City of Peace. Jesus also firmly established his own reign of peace by slipping free of the tomb. Former rivals and resistors came under his reign of peace at Pentecost with the pouring out of his Spirit of love and loyalty.
And this is where the pattern of similarity gloriously breaks. The text says David slept with his fathers (v. 10). David died like the rest of them. Jesus shattered death’s teeth and stood back up out of sleep. The text says Solomon sat on the throne of David his father (v. 12). At least for one more generation, God’s people would have a decent successor. Jesus on the other hand, took his seat on the throne with the eternal heavenly Father, and there he remains, his reign unbroken today and forever. Jesus will have no successor. He is the first and final king. We never have to worry about corrupt and abusive rule again because whatever earthly powers may rise, we serve the unbeatable king in his unbeatable kingdom.
Wisdom suggests that to resist God’s chosen king is to defy God himself. On the other hand, to bow with trust and contented surrender before God’s chosen king is to inherit his inexhaustible blessing.
Faith and Practice:
How do you assess your relation to the reign of Jesus? Do you despise it? Do you acknowledge but resist the way he rules our world and your days? Do you push toward practicing contented surrender? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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