Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - Updated: 2:25 pm
QUESTION: Jesus is called “Son of David” in the Bible. What does it mean and why is it so important for the writers of the New Testament?
QUESTION: Reading the Bible, I have seen all the terrible things that King David did. This makes me wonder why he is such an important figure in the Bible, even in the New Testament. Why?
ANSWER: David’s first appearance in the Bible is as one of the eight sons of Jesse (1 Samuel 16:1-3). Although the youngest, he is anointed king by Samuel. Throughout his life, David appears to be a man of destiny. Despite many trials and failures, he manages to repeatedly return to God’s direction for him.
Nonetheless, David is also rightfully characterized as a man of violence. He is portrayed as a warrior who at times seems to show little respect for human life. He is prone to extremes of passion. Yet, there is within him a loyalty toward his people and a faithfulness to God.
These various strains are accurately portrayed in the Bible. The First and Second Books of Samuel frankly describe David with all his shortcomings, while the First Book of Chronicles lavishes praise on David to the point of obscuring anything that would place him in an unfavorable light.
The view with faults and failures was acceptable in Israel because it was not expected that the king would be a perfect moral or religious leader. David was seen as an ideal king, especially because he united Israel’s many elements, vanquished her foes and established her as a great nation. No one else had done as much.
As the kingship of David deteriorated, however, he became less of an ideal king. While the promise to David about an eternal dynasty (2 Samuel 7:8-17) was still held, it seems to have been accepted that it could be fulfilled by one other than David — one who would come after him. God’s promise would endure and be fulfilled in someone even greater than David who would be the ideal king and establish the true kingdom of God.
With this hope, it was completely understandable that the New Testament would see Jesus as the fulfillment of that dream. Jesus, the messiah and descendant of David, would be the one to fulfill the promise made to David.
Thus, each of the Gospels (Matthew 22:45; Mark 12:35; Luke 20:41; John 7:42) placed great emphasis on the fact that Jesus was a descendant of David’s royal line. This is nowhere more evident than in the events of Palm Sunday, where Jesus is welcomed into the city of Jerusalem and greeted with the sounds of “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:9-15). These words meant: “This is the one who would come after David and be the king we had hoped for.”
David, like many Old Testament figures, played a part in a sacred saga running through time. God has a plan and a destiny for the human race. Despite our own flaws and failures, God means for us to be in heaven for eternity. While humans fail, God’s plan succeeds.
Father Bober is administrator of the grouping that includes St. Kilian in Adams/Cranberry townships and Holy Sepulcher in Glade Mills.