Verse 12. If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them. There is a condition to the covenant so far as it concerned kings of David's line before the coming of the true Seed; but he has fulfilled that condition, and made the covenant indefeasible henceforth and for ever as to himself and the spiritual seed in him. Considered as it related to temporal things it was no small blessing for David's dynasty to be secured the throne upon good behaviour. These monarchs held their crowns from God upon the terms of loyalty to their superior Sovereign, the Lord who had elevated them to their high position. They were to be faithful to the covenant by obedience to the divine law, and by belief of divine truth, they were to accept Jehovah as their Lord and their Teacher, regarding him in both relations as in covenant with them. What a condescension on God's part to be their teacher! How gladly ought they to render intelligent obedience! What a proper, righteous, and needful stipulation for God to make that they should be true to him when the reward was the promise, Their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. If they will sit at his feet God will make them sit on a throne; if they will keep the covenant they shall keep the crown from generation to generation.
The kingdom of Judah might have stood to this day had its kings been faithful to the Lord. No internal revolt or external attack could have overthrown the royal house of David: it fell by its own sin, and by nothing else. The Lord was continually provoked, but he was amazingly long suffering, for long after seceding Israel had gone into captivity, Judah still remained. Miracles of mercy were shown to her. Divine patience exceeded all limits, for the Lord's regard for David was exceeding great. The princes of David's house seemed set on ruining themselves, and nothing could save them; justice waited long, but it was bound at last to unsheathe the sword and strike. Still, if in the letter man's breach of promise caused the covenant to fail, yet in spirit and essence the Lord has been true to it, for Jesus reigns, and holds the throne for ever. David's seed is still royal, for he was the progenitor according to the flesh of him who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
This verse shows us the need of family piety. Parents must see to it that their children know the fear of the Lord, and they must beg the Lord himself to teach them his truth. We have no hereditary right to the divine favour: the Lord keeps up his friendship to families from generation to generation, for he is loath to leave the descendants of his servants, and never does so except under grievous and long continued provocation. As believers, we are all in a measure under some such covenant as that of David: certain of us can look backward for four generations of saintly ancestors, and we are now glad to look forward and to see our children, and our children's children, walking in the truth. Yet we know that grace does not run in the blood, and we are filled with holy fear lest in any of our seed there should be an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 12. If thy children will keep my covenant, etc. Lest David's sons, if they be left without law, should live without care, they must know that the succession shall be perpetual; but the promise is conditional; if David's sons conform themselves to God, "if they keep my covenant", whereof they cannot pretend ignorance. And they have an authentic record: the record, "my testimonies"; authentic, "I myself will teach them." You see the king's blessing, it is rely great; but lest the promise thereof be thought too good to be true, God secures the king with a most unchangeable warrant. The warrant is his oath, "The Lord sware"; and this warrant is,
- Unchangeable, because sincere; he swore in truth.
- Stable, he will not turn from it. And what could king David desire more for his own house than a promise of such a blessing, and such a warrant of that promise? Yes he might, and no doubt he did desire more; and God also intended to him more than the letter of this promise doth express, even the accomplishment of the truth whereof this was but a type. And what is that? The establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. -- Arthur Lake.
Verse 12. That I shall teach them. Here is to be noted that he addeth, "which I will teach them"; for he will be the teacher and will be heard. He wills not that church councils should be heard, or such as teach that which he hath not taught ... God giveth no authority unto man above the word. So should he set man, that is to say, dust and dung, above himself; for what is the word, but God himself? This word they that honour, obey, and keep, are the true church indeed, be they never so contemptible in the world; but they which do not, are the church of Satan, and accursed of God. And this is the cause why it is expressly set down in the text, "The testimonies which I will teach them." For so will God use the ministry of teachers and pastors in the church, that he notwithstanding will be their chief Pastor, and all other ministers and pastors whatsoever, yea, the church itself, shall be ruled and governed by the word. --Martin Luther.
Verse 12. Their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. As if he had said, this promise as touching Christ will I accomplish, and will undoubtedly establish the throne unto my servant David; but do not ye, which in the meantime sit on this throne, and govern this kingdom, presume upon the promise, and think that you cannot err, or that I will wink at your errors, and not rather condemn and severely punish them. Therefore either govern your kingdom according to my word, or else I will root you out and destroy you for ever. This promise he now amplifies, and setteth forth more at large. -- Martin Luther.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 12. Family favour may be perpetual, but the conditions must be observed.