CLAIM: Amillennial interpreters believe that the Jews forfeited these promises of the Davidic covenant, because they rejected Jesus—their Messiah. Is this the case?
RESPONSE: We believe that these promises have not been nullified for a number of reasons:
First, David (later in life) believed that this contract was unconditional and eternal. In fact, at the end of his life, David said, “Truly is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things, and secured; for all my salvation and all my desire, will He not indeed make it grow?” (2 Sam. 23:5).
Second, Solomon (David’s heir) believed that this contract was literal. Later, after David’s death, Solomon also confirmed that he believed that this covenant was to be literally fulfilled in the future (2 Chron. 6:14-16). In fact, portions of this promise were fulfilled in Solomon’s life (e.g. building of the Temple, discipline for sin, etc.). If these portions were literal at the time, we should believe that the future portions will also be literally fulfilled, too.
Third, other Old Testament authors believed that this contract was unconditional and eternal. Later in Israel’s history, the other OT authors revisited the Davidic covenant, claiming that it was secure and eternal (Is. 9:6-7; 55:3; Ps. 89:3-37; Ezek. 37:25; Amos 9:11; Jer. 17:25; 22:4). Hosea predicted that the people of Israel would be “without king or prince” for a long time, but that the Davidic covenant would be fulfilled “in the last days” (Hos. 3:4-5). The psalmist quotes the David covenant (Ps. 89:3-4), and then he goes on to write that God will literally fulfill this promise –even if the descendants of David fall into sin. The Psalmist writes,
(Ps. 89:29-37 NASB) So I will establish his descendants forever and his throne as the days of heaven. 30“If his sons forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, 31If they violate My statutes and do not keep My commandments, 32then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes. 33“But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness. 34“My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. 35“Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. 36“His descendants shall endure forever and his throne as the sun before Me. 37“It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful.
The psalmist was asking, “God, what are the chances that you’ll go back on your contract with David?” In this passage, God says, “It’s more likely that the sun and moon will disappear!” Likewise, we read, “The LORD has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back: ‘Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne’” (Ps. 132:11). Because God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2), this promise cannot be revoked.
Fourth, the NT authors also believed that this would be a literal reign of David’s descendants. In numerous passages, we read that there would be a literal reign of David’s descendants on Earth. When the mother of James and John asked Jesus for a seat at his right and left hand on the throne of David, Jesus didn’t say, “That prophecy about me was only figurative.” Instead, he said, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father” (Mt. 20:23). Jesus believed in a literal throne (c.f. Mt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-7; 19:28; Lk. 1:30-33; 10:1-12; 22:29-30; Rom. 1:3-4; 9:3-5; Acts 1:6-7). See also comments on Genesis 26:4-5.