Taken together, 2 Samuel 7 and Psalms 2, 40, and 110 provide a window for understanding God’s redemptive plan. In the immediate historical context, these passages referred to God’s covenant with David and Solomon as kings of Israel. These texts cast a long shadow, fulfilled finally in the reign of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus could satisfy the language of power, dominion, suffering, and fellowship with God contained in these Old Testament passages.
In the New Testament, portions of 2 Samuel 7 and of Psalms 2, 40, and 110 were seen as indicative of something greater than the reigns of David or Solomon. Various New Testament authors arranged phrases from these passages to:
(1) Verify that Jesus was in the family line of David. Luke cited 2 Sam 7:12-13 in both his Gospel and in the book of Acts. Luke recorded that the angel Gabriel told Mary that her son would be named Jesus and that “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:32-33). When Paul testified concerning Jesus in Pisidian Antioch, he said that God raised up David the son of Jesse to be king over Israel. “From this man’s descendants,” Paul exclaimed, “according to the promise, God brought the Savior, Jesus, to Israel” (Acts 13:23).
(2) Identify Jesus as God’s Son. In light of Ps 2:7, the author of Hebrews wrote of Jesus’ superiority over the mediators of the old covenant saying, “For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are My Son; today I have become Your Father” (Heb 1:5). The remainder of the verse, “or again, ‘I will be His Father, and He will be My Son’” (Heb 1:5b), is rooted in 2 Sam 7:12-13. Further, the author of Hebrews understood from Ps 2:7 that Jesus “did not exalt Himself to become a high priest, but the One who said to Him, ‘You are My Son; today I have become Your Father’” (5:5). Luke recorded that in Paul’s sermon in Pisidian Antioch, the apostle saw in Ps 2:7 a basis for understanding the resurrection. Paul said, “We ourselves proclaim to you the good news of the promise that was made to our forefathers; God has fulfilled this to us their children by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son; today I have become Your Father’” (Acts 13:32-33).
(3) Validate Jesus’ royal status—even over that of King David. When Jesus questioned the Pharisees about the family heritage of the Messiah (Matt 22:42//Mark 12:35//Luke 20:41), Jesus answered His own question by quoting Ps 110:1, placing the Messiah in the family line of David. Jesus concluded His message to the Pharisees by claiming to be the Messiah, David’s Son by lineage and yet David’s Lord by position (Matt 22:44//Mark 12:36//Luke 20:42-43). Toward the end of his sermon at Pentecost, Peter quoted Ps 110:1 to explain Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to the place at God’s right hand, a reality David never experienced (see Acts 2:34-35). In 1 Cor 15:25, Paul directed the Corinthians to consider Ps 110:1 as a basis for understanding Christ’s resurrection and the climax of history, a reality that in itself guarantees the resurrection of all believers. In Heb 1:13, the author called his readers’ attention to Ps 110:1 to show Christ’s superiority over angels, those who mediated the old covenant. In Rev 12:5, John wrote that the woman he saw in his vision would give birth to a son who would rule the nations with an iron scepter, echoing Ps 2:9. In Rev 2:27, Jesus quoted Ps 2:9 and promised the church in Thyatira that those who endured in their confession of faith would reign with Him.
(4) Confirm that Jesus’ royalty included an eternally valid priesthood. According to Ps 110:4, David’s kingship included a priestly function—and since the Lord had promised that David’s throne would endure forever, then his priesthood would also be eternal. It is thus natural to understand why the author to the Hebrews found in Ps 110:4 grounds for his argument that Jesus, God’s Son, was the Priest of the new covenant—appointed to the position and serving there eternally according to the oath of the Lord (Heb 5:6, 10; 7:17, 21).
(5) Describe Jesus’ suffering in the language of what David endured. It may be that the second Psalm was composed to honor the victorious king of Israel either before or after a battle (see David’s victories in 2 Samuel 8-10). These triumphs may have been in the author’s mind when he wrote, “Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the LORD and His Anointed One” (Ps 2:1-2). When the disciples were facing opposition in Jerusalem, they gathered in prayer and interpreted this text as ultimately referring to Jesus (Acts 4:25-26).
(6) Emphasize the significance of Christ’s once-and-for-all sacrifice for sin. The flow of Psalm 40 includes both praise for God’s deliverance and petition for the same. In the midst of this turbulence, the Psalmist confessed his piety before the Lord saying, “You do not delight in sacrifice and offering; You open my ears to listen. You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering. Then I said, ‘See, I have come; it is written about me in the volume of the scroll. I delight to do Your will, my God; your instruction resides within me’” (Ps 40:6-8). In Heb 10:5-8, the author to the Hebrews saw in the Psalmist’s confession phrases that not only illustrated Jesus’ disposition in suffering and dying for sinners but also evidence for the shift in redemptive history. For centuries sacrifices were offered according to the Mosaic law but Jesus’ unique self-sacrifice fulfilled these sacrifices forever. The author inferred, “He (God) takes away the first to establish the second. By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all” (Heb 10:9b-10). According to Hebrews, the significance of Christ’s finished work can be seen in that after He offered Himself during His first advent, He “sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb 10:12) and is now “waiting until His enemies are made His footstool” (Heb 10:13) in fulfillment of Ps 110:1.