The Gospel

The Goodness Promised to David

By Nigel Bernard

The gospel is something we tend to associate with the New Testament. But, as the scriptures repeatedly emphasize, the gospel is rooted in the Old Testament. One such occasion where this is emphasized is in the beginning of Paul's letter to the Romans. As this article will show, the inspired Paul makes remarkable use of the Old Testament to show that the gospel was something which David, the man who slew Goliath, knew about.

Paul begins with these words:

"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which He had promised afore by His prophets in the holy scriptures" (Rom. 1:1-2).

The word "gospel" is used elsewhere in the context of goodness. For example in chapter 10 of Romans Paul, quoting from Isaiah, writes the following:

"...How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom. 10:15).

So the gospel is to do with things which are good. The gospel which was "promised afore" was, by inference, a promise of "good things". But when was the gospel promised? There are numerous occasions when we can see the gospel being referred and alluded to in the Old Testament. But there is an Old Testament passage which has a direct bearing on the early verses of Romans 1 in relation to the promise of the gospel.

In 1 Chronicles 17:26 David says the following to God:

"And now, Yahweh, Thou art God, and hast promised this goodness unto Thy servant."

Notice the similarity between this verse and the verses quoted from Romans 1 at the beginning of the article. Although it is "goodness" and not the "gospel" which is being promised we have seen that the gospel is a prize example of goodness. The parallel with Romans is shown below:

"...the gospel of God, which He had promised". Rom. 1:1-2

"...thou art God, and hast promised this goodness". 1 Chron. 16:26

What was the goodness to which David was referring? After David had brought the ark to Zion he purposed to build a house, or temple for God. He stated his reason to Nathan the prophet:

"Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of Yahweh remaineth under curtains" (1 Chron. 17:11).

But God spake to David through the prophet Nathan showing him that it was not for him to build a house for God. This responsibility would lie with one of his descendants:

"And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will establish his throne for ever. I will be his Father, and he shall by my son" (1 Chron. 17:11-12).

This promise had an initial typical fulfillment in that Solomon, the son of David, was to build the temple for God. But the promise ultimately referred to one who would be raised up after David's days had "expired" (Solomon was made king before David died: see 1 Chron. 23:1). Moreover the one who would build God a house would be the Son of God; "he shall be my son". And not only this but the "house" referred to was not ultimately a literal house but a house in the sense of a family.

It was in response to this promise, that God was going to build David a house, that David speaks of the goodness being promised:

"For thou, O my God, has told thy servant that thou wilt build him an house: therefore thy servant hath found in his heart to pray before thee. And now, Yahweh, Thou art God, and hast promised this goodness unto thy servant." (1 Chron. 17:25-6).

An apparent anomaly might have been noticed in what we have seen so far. In the promise made to David the man who is the subject of the prophecy is referred to as the "seed" of David, and as the "son" of God. How could somebody be both the son of David and the son of God? The answer of course is that the son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was born of a woman, Mary, and thus he could be the son of God, and also be of the seed of David. But this is where the true significance of the connection with Romans becomes apparent. For this is precisely the point that Paul is making concerning the gospel which had been promised:

"...the gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom.1:1-3).

So when Nathan the prophet promised the goodness to David this was an example of when the gospel had been promised by the prophets. As Paul was to speak of Jesus being the seed of David in verse three it was appropriate that he should begin the epistle by echoing the words of David which he prayed to God after Nathan the prophet had spoken to him.

When David had heard the promise he humbly prayed to God. What is our response when we see these things? The signs in the earth show that the return of Christ is near. Let us prepare for that time so that we might be found faithful when that day comes and the words of the angel Gabriel are fulfilled:

"He shall be great, and shall be called the son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David" (Lk. 1:32).