“The Sure Mercies of David”

By Titus Edwards

Talk about hitting the nail on the head! Paul surely does when he connects Jesus to David in the sermon he delivered to the Jews in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:14-41). Great speakers tailor their lessons to their audiences. So watch a master preacher at work. Paul declares that in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, to be our ever-reigning King, the words of Isaiah have been fulfilled, when he said, “I will give you the sure mercies of David” (13:34, quoting Isaiah 55:3).

The ASV and NAS have “the holy and sure blessings of David.” I like the NIV rendering; “the holy and sure blessings promised to David.” The “mercies”/”blessings” here refer to the promise made to David that one of his family would sit on the throne forever (2 Sam. 7:12-13; Rom. 1:3-4; Acts 2:29-32; Ps. 132:11-12). How favored was David because of this promise! These promises (mercies/blessings) were indeed sure, as being true and unfailing. God had promised  he would fulfill it! The Jews understood this promise as referring to the Messiah, and indeed it did. It is obvious from the Isaiah passage (55:1, 4) that the Messiah is under consideration.

Let us back up and look at the context of this passage to see how Paul is using it in his sermon. The “sure mercies of David “quoted from Isaiah 55:3, is the second of three Old Testament quotes that Paul uses together in verses 33-35. The first quote (v. 33), “Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee” is taken from Psalm 2:7. It speaks of Jesus’ resurrection, which was proof of his being the Son of God (Rom. 1:3-4). The third quote (v. 35), “Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” is taken from Psalm 16:10. Paul affirms that this passage could not have been referring literally to David, for he died and his body decayed. It must refer to the one whom God raised from the dead, who was of the seed of David  the Messiah.

All three of these quotations are used by Paul to con-firm his assertion “that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus” (vv. 32-33). Earlier in the sermon, Paul had stated a number of things in Jewish history that God had done. That prepares the way for him to tell of what God has done in raising Jesus from the dead. As God had “raised up unto them David to be their king . . . Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus” (vv. 22-23).

Paul tells of Jesus’ coming and of his death. “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher. But God raised him from the dead” (vv. 29-30). The resurrection of Jesus is mentioned four times from verses 30-37. There are witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection (v. 31). The resurrection of Jesus is the fulfillment of these prophecies (vv. 33-35). The resurrection is the glad tidings that is being declared unto them (v. 32). The resurrection is the fulfillment of the promise made unto the fathers (vv. 32-33). In the resurrection of Jesus, God has given the Jews “the sure mercies of David” (v. 34).

No sermon would be complete without an application. Look at the application Paul gives to this sermon. “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (vv. 38-39). Jesus arose from the dead to live forever, reigning as our King and Savior. And because of that, we can be for-given of all of our sins! What a great promise!

Guardian of Truth XLI: 4 p. 5
February 20, 1997