Thomas Schreiner unpacks the Davidic covenant in his chapter on it in his book, Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World. Schreiner sees the Davidic covenant standing in continuity with both the Abrahamic and the Sinai covenant. As king, David and his sons would “represent Israel, and the nation would be blessed through their obedience to Yahweh and their reign over the people” (71). The covenant was originally inaugurated in the backdrop of Saul’s failures to obey the Lord as the king (74). Obedience on behalf of the king was the responsibility loaded into the Davidic covenant. The king was promised by earlier Scriptures and given the responsibility to obey the torah, the demands of the Sinai covenant. Schreiner points out that “No king who departs from the Torah will experience blessing” (77).
Schreiner deftly shows that the Davidic covenant contains both conditional and unconditional elements. The Davidic kings were responsible to obey the torah and would be disciplined if they did not (76). On the other hand, God repeatedly emphasizes his promise to David that his line would be “everlasting” and his kingdom would be forever (77-78). How does one resolved this tension between the conditional and unconditional elements? Schreiner says that “the answer is that God will certainly fulfill his covenant, but the fulfillment will be realized only with an obedient king” (78). The failure of the Davidic kings then creates the anticipation for a fully obedient king, which the prophets point to. One day a “new” David will arise and rule over the people (81).
Schreiner shows how Christ fulfills the Davidic covenant. The title “Christ” means “anointed one,” that is, the Davidic king (82). Therefore, the title “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name, but an important indicator that the New Testament authors considered him the fully obedient and promised new David who would rule over God’s people (84-85). Schreiner believes that Christ indeed is ruling and reign as the Davidic Messiah now: “Jesus, in fulfillment of Psalm 110, has sat down down…at God’s right hand…He rules as the Davidic king until God places all enemies under his feet” (84). Yet Schreiner also acknowledges that the full extent of Christ’s reign has not been fulfilled yet; the Davidic promise still await consummation (84). After surveying how the New Testament Scriptures uses the terminology of “Christ,” Schreiner points out that “the early Christians believe that the covenant with David was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. He is regularly identified as the Christ, showing that he is the anointed one of David” (85).