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Tragedy and Triumph | A Study in 2 Samuel | A silver crown and a sword Tragedy and Triumph | A Study in 2 Samuel | A silver crown and a sword

Practical Theology | Son of God or Son of David?

  • August 2022 Issue
Practical Theology

“Jesus’ human lineage made Him David’s descendant. But we must not forget that His divine nature meant He was greater than David.”

What does it mean that Jesus is called the Son of David? Matthew begins His genealogy by calling Jesus “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1). This title is rooted in God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:12–16 that God would establish the kingdom of one of David’s descendants.

The Lord promised that the Davidic throne would be established “forever” (v. 16). This promise was echoed in the prophets. Isaiah 11:10 describes the Messiah’s reign and calls Him “the Root of Jesse” (see Rev. 5:5; 22:16). Jesse was David’s father. Jeremiah and Zechariah allude to this when they call the Messiah a “Branch” (Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 3:8; 6:12).

Jesus did not object to being called the Son of David (Matt. 9:27; 12:23; 21:15–16). Matthew and Mark both link Jesus to David in their genealogies (Matt. 1:1, 6, 17; Luke 3:31). Three implications of the title are spelled out in Luke 1:32–33. First, referring to Jesus as the Son of David underscores the two natures of Christ. He is both truly human and truly divine. Second, this title indicates that Jesus is Israel’s promised Messiah who will inherit the throne of His ancestor David. Third, Jesus will rule over a kingdom that will never end.

Because He was Israel’s Messiah and the Son of David, Jesus was sent to Israel first. This knowledge helps us better understand why Jesus declined the Canaanite woman’s plea for help. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” Jesus told her (Matt. 15:24). But when she pointed out that even the dogs eat crumbs that fall from their master’s table, Jesus praised her faith and granted her request (v. 28). Jesus’ initial refusal did not mean He was not interested in Gentiles. The inclusion of Gentiles in the promises made to David had always been part of God’s plan (Acts 15:12–18).

Jesus’ human lineage made Him David’s descendant. But we must not forget that His divine nature meant He was greater than David. In one of His final confrontations with the Pharisees, Jesus said the Son of David was also David’s Lord (Matt. 22:41–46; Ps. 110:1). As the Son of David, Jesus is our Savior, King, and Lord.

For Further Study

To learn more, read The Son of David: Seeing Jesus in the Historical Books by Nancy Guthrie (Crossway).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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