The Place of the Abrahamic Covenant in the Salvation of Mankind


When the Apostle Paul delivered his lecture to the Jewish synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13), he was offering evidence that Jesus was indeed the Messiah of Israel and that God had raised him from the dead as proof of his Messiahship.

After citing the fact that the risen Lord had been seen by witnesses that were still alive, he then argued that the resurrection of Christ was a direct fulfilment of prophecy. The prophecy which he cites is the Davidic Covenant:

"And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David".(Acts 13:34)

One might well ask, "What have the Sure Mercies of David got to do with the resurrection of Christ? How could the Sure Mercies of David be used as a proof of the resurrection of Christ?"

The "Sure Mercies of David" is another name of the Davidic Covenant. Solomon ended his prayer at the dedication of the temple (II Chron. 6:41-42) with these words, "Remember the Mercies of David thy servant". Immediately before these final words, Solomon quoted Psalm 132: 8-10. Immediately following in verse 11 of Psalm 132, David wrote, "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set up thy throne". This is a direct quotation from the terms of the Davidic Covenant as recorded in II Samuel 7:12-16.

While this is not the place to expound the Davidic Covenant, we might make these observations concerning the import of some of the terms thereof:

  1. David was to have a descendant, the throne of whose kingdom would be established for ever.

  2. This descendant was to have God for his father.

  3. David was guaranteed a resurrection from the dead to personally witness the permanent re-establishment of his throne, house and kingdom. David's resurrection was implicit in the covenant because he was promised that his kingdom was to be re-established "before thee". (The RSV and the NIV nullify the teaching of the Davidic Covenant by translating before thee by before me {God} ).

There is no doubt that the descendant referred to was David's greater Son, Jesus Christ as proven by Hebrews 1:5. The Davidic Covenant - the Sure Mercies of David - also guarantee the resurrection of Christ by implication. The throne of Christ's kingdom could never be established for ever as long as Christ remained in the grave! But there is more. Is the Davidic Covenant confined to David and Jesus? The answer is found in Isaiah 55:3:

"Incline your ear and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live;
and I will make an everlasting covenant with YOU, even the Sure Mercies of David".

Here is a direct equation between the Davidic Covenant and the Sure Mercies of David. But the point is that the promise is not confined to David and Christ but is extended to "every one that thirsteth" and come to the waters {of baptism} (Isa. 55:1) - "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the Sure Mercies of David". The "you" includes, by extension, those who are associated with Christ by baptism into his saving name.

In summary the teaching is that those who come into covenant relationship with the Sure Mercies of David by baptism into Christ are assured of a resurrection from the dead just as David was assured and just as resurrection actually occurred in the case of Jesus who was brought forth from the dead "through the blood of the everlasting covenant". (Heb. 13:20).