Stephen Dempster on the Davidic Covenant

Stephen Dempster takes a literary approach to the Hebrew Bible in his book, Dominion and Dynasty. By retelling the storyline of the Hebrew Bible with a focus on location (dominion) and kingship (dynasty), Dempster is well-suited to discuss the Davidic covenant which brings both of these themes together. Reflecting on the importance of 2 Samuel 7, Dempster writes, “The matters of geography and genealogy have been settled: Jerusalem and David, Zion and Scion” (142). Now, “from this one location in world geography and this one person in world genealogy will flow blessing to the entire world and its inhabitants” (142). 

Dempster rightly points out the wordplay on the word “house”: While David desires to build a “house” (i.e. a temple) for God, God promises to build a “house” (dynasty) for him (143). The covenant God makes with David is not just about geography and genealogy, however. It is also about relationship: “David is regarded as a son and God as a father” (143). The significance of the relationship between David and God is that redemption for Israel and the world is bound in that relationship. God will bring the blessing of Abraham to the world through the Davidic line (143). Even if some of David’s descendents sin, God will ultimately not remove his love from the royal line. 

Moving along in the story, Dempster highlights the prophecies of Jeremiah and their relationship to David. While Jeremiah harshly criticizes some of the Davidic kings, he prophecies that “the future of the royal house of David is not really in doubt, since it will be resurrected” (166). Jeremiah promises that “A Davidic king with a Torah heart will match a new people with the same” (167). There is a strong connection between the Abrahamic covenant and the Davidic covenant as “the promise to Abraham, of numerous descendents, is transferred to the covenant with David! In David all the promises find their fulfillment” in Jeremiah 33 (167). After David emerges on the scene, the rest of the Hebrew Bible really does totally revolve around him and his royal line.  

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