TODAY’S READING: 2 Samuel 6–7; 1 Chronicles 17
God’s promise to Abraham (to bless him to be a blessing to all the peoples of earth) and to David (to ensure from His house will come the Messiah, the eternal King of all the nations) are the two pivotal covenants of the Old Testament. They are of course missionary covenants that give us the river banks for a biblical theology of missions all the way through the Scriptures, and they are why Matthew opens his Gospel (and our entire New Testament) by linking Jesus to these two patriarchs. If you want to summarize the Bible (and its missionary heart) in three names, it would be Abraham, David, and Jesus. Knowing how their stories interact in covenant with Jehovah and the nations is to know all. The covenant to David is so critical and so essential to understanding the Bible, it is worth quoting Walter Kaiser’s excellent summary at length:
To complete our study of the plan of God for the peoples of earth, it is necessary to investigate the continuation of the promise first made to Eve, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but now announced to David in 2 Samuel 7. Next in importance to the promise given to Eve and Abraham must rank the promise given to David… It had always been in the plan of God to give the nation of Israel a king… The problem was not in the request for a king, but with the motivation that triggered it: they wanted to have a king so they could be “like the other nations.” Graciously God yielded to their request… But after [Saul] turned away from the Lord, the Lord turned away from him.
It was at this point that the Lord called David to be king in place of Saul… It was at the open house for the new palace that David remarked in an off hand manner to the prophet Nathan that it was his desire to build a new house for God as well…that night the LORD appeared to the prophet Nathan with the divine word that David was not to build the temple of God since his hands were full of blood… But there was a compensating word for David. God promised to make a “house” that is, a dynasty, out of David… Moreover the “Seed” to whom David looked and trusted for his salvation, would now come from [David’s] own body… God would also grant him a throne and a kingdom that would last forever.
It was in the midst of all these surprise announcements that the overwhelmed David went in, sat before the Lord, and exclaimed, “Who am I, O Lord Yahweh, and who is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if that is not enough in your sight, O Lord Yahweh, You have spoken about the future of the house of Your servant. And this is the charter of humanity, O Lord Yahweh.”
The translation above is Kaiser’s and he points out two fascinating aspects of this verse. First, the use of “Adonai Yahweh” was the expression used when God had promised Abraham “a seed,” showing that these two covenants are linked. Second, the phrase translated “charter for humanity” is critical, and other translations (“is this Your usual way of dealing with man”) miss the point. David uses the word torah (law) and is not asking a question but making a statement. An astonished David remarks back to God: This is your outline/law/decree/charter by which you have established your plan for all humanity!
Once again, at the most critical point of the gospel, not only have we moderns failed to hear the most significant point of all, but also have muted it in our own translations. The gospel was indeed a charter on teaching for all humankind and not just for Israel. However David had not missed this point. He realized that he had just been given an everlasting dynasty, dominion, and kingdom, which was linked with the ongoing promise that God had been announcing repeatedly. The ancient plan of God would continue, but as usual, it would involve the future of all humanity! Surely that is missions at its highest watermark!
And what did David have reference to by his use of “this” in “and this is the charter for humanity?” The antecedent can be nothing less than the substance of the oracle that had just been given to him by the prophet Nathan. “This” refers in context to the revelation that David had just been given about the “seed”.
God gave David the same charter for all humanity—He will be our God, we will be His holy people, He will live among us, and His family will include every people on earth. It is the same charter God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the promised seed of blessing to Abraham is the same promised King to David: Jesus.
The plan of God had from the very beginning the central figure of the “Seed” who was to come in the person of the Man of Promise, the Messiah. It was a message aimed universally at all people groups and nations from the very beginning. We do not, as David Filbeck claimed, move from the universalism of Genesis 1–11 to the particularism later in Israel at the time of the giving of the Law, back to an emerging universal offer of the gospel once again in time of the kingdom and the prophets. Instead, it was ever and always the plain offer of God to all the peoples of the earth through his elected servants of the promise plan.
No wonder David sat down stunned in the presence of Jehovah. David had offered God plans for a temple of brick and stone, and God had given David the plan, the charter, for how God would interact with all humanity—every tribe, people, and nation. That plan would flow through David’s “Seed” and include every ethnic group, every unreached people, and every demographic in every era of history. In awe and anticipation, because he could hardly stand the wait, David would sing about that hope of all nations in most every psalm. Let us read the Psalms then in the same key of joyful missionary hope in which they were written.
 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2000. 25–26.
 Ibid. 26–27.
 David Filbeck. Yes, God of the Gentiles, Too: The Missionary Message of the Old Testament. Wheaton, IL: Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College, 1994. 75.