God makes an unconditional covenant with David reminiscent of the ones made to Abraham on a few occasions in Genesis. When David desires to build a house for the ark of God, God’s prophet Nathan warns against such an action. Speaking the words of YHWH to David, Nathan explains that God has never asked for a house to be built for Him. Rather, God intends to build a house for David instead, one that will last forever; David’s house will not be a building, but a lineage of kings. 2 Samuel 7:17 summarizes this covenant well: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” For God to work out this promise, at first glance, must mean that kings will forever spring up from the line of David. There is another option, however. God could also place one king in David’s line on this throne forever. In the New Testament, even before Jesus is born, this is the very thing God intends. When Gabriel visits Mary to tell of her child to be born, he promises her that “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:32-33).
God’s promise to David shaped Israel’s self-perception, and their lack of kings on David’s throne during their days in exile would have caused crises of faith and understanding. Jesus is God’s response to such question and fulfills God’s promise to David in unexpected ways. God did not intend to promise an infinite succession of kings, but a king whose session is infinite.