The apostle Peter called King David a prophet, and David’s psalms contain many prophetic and messianic passages. What can we learn from the prophecies of David the prophet?
God used King David’s deep emotions and lyrical skills to give us some of the most meaningful prophecies of the Bible. Many of his messianic prophecies were fulfilled with Jesus Christ’s first coming. Other prophecies of David are yet for the future, but they are just as sure.
David, a man of many talents
Yet most people don’t immediately think of him as David the prophet. More often we think of him as King David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, the man after God’s own heart, the shepherd and the faith-filled slayer of Goliath. David was a man of many talents, and he used them to serve God with all his might.
And God inspired David’s prayers and meditations to be recorded and preserved for us for various purposes. David’s psalms serve as examples of a multifaceted prayer life.
Many psalms proclaim praise for God and have been used in worship. (See our articles “Praise God,” “Prayers of Praise” and “Songs of Praise.”) Other passages are cries for help that resonate with those going through trials. The imprecatory psalms contain calls for justice and revenge. (See “Imprecatory Psalms: What Can We Learn From Prayers for Revenge?”) Other sections express patient and enduring faith.
And throughout the psalms of David are prophecies of the Messiah’s first coming, as well as of the end time and the Messiah’s second coming to bring the Kingdom of God.
David’s interaction with prophets
Though being a prophet was not David’s main job, his life was greatly influenced by others who are identified as prophets.
As a young man, David was called from caring for his father’s sheep to be anointed by Samuel the prophet to be Israel’s second king.
As king, David also had close advisers who were prophets of God. He listened to “the prophet Gad, David’s seer” (2 Samuel 24:11). Nathan the prophet played a major role in several pivotal events in David’s life (2 Samuel 7; 12; 1 Kings 1).
Peter calls David a prophet
David’s prophecies played a key role in the apostle Peter’s inspired sermon on the Day of Pentecost after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Acts 2 recounts that momentous day when God gave the Holy Spirit and launched the Church of God.
In his sermon, Peter quoted from the prophet Joel and from David to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. This is also where Peter recognized David as a prophet.
“For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the LORD always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’
“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.
“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
“For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:25-36, emphasis added throughout).
Throughout the psalms of David are prophecies of the Messiah’s first coming, as well as of the end time and the Messiah’s second coming to bring the Kingdom of God.Peter quoted Psalms 16:8-11 and 110:1 as David’s prophecies of the Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul, in summarizing Israel’s history and leading up to the gospel message, made some of the same points about the messianic prophecies of David and other prophets (Acts 13:22-23, 32-38).
Messianic prophecies of David
The New Testament acknowledges David’s role as a prophet in the fulfillment of other messianic prophecies as well.
Here are a few of the New Testament passages dealing with the Messiah’s first coming, followed by references to the messianic prophecies of David they fulfilled:
- “Then His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up’” (John 2:17; from Psalm 69:9).
- “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me’” (John 13:18; from Psalm 41:9).
- “Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: ‘They divided My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots’” (Matthew 27:35; from Psalm 22:18).
- “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:46; quoted from Psalm 22:1).
- “For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken’” (John 19:36; from Psalm 34:20).
David’s prophecies of the Messiah reigning in His Kingdom
Here are a few of David’s psalms that refer to Jesus Christ’s second coming to rule in the Kingdom of God:
- “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession’” (Psalm 2:7-8; Acts 4:24-26 ascribes this psalm to David).
- “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’s, and He rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:27-28).
- “Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah” (Psalm 24:9-10).
Prophecies about David
The Bible also contains many fascinating prophecies about David, his dynasty and the future Kingdom of God when his descendant Jesus Christ will reign as King of Kings, and David himself will be resurrected and again rule over Israel.
Here are some of the key prophecies about David:
God sent Nathan the prophet to tell David, “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16; see also Psalm 132:11-12).
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
“For thus says the LORD: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.’ … Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers’” (Jeremiah 33:17, 20-21).
“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever” (Ezekiel 37:24-25).
And the angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus “will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32).
David’s last words
In summing up David’s words, the author of 2 Samuel quotes Psalm 18 (which comprises 2 Samuel 22) and then concludes with “the last words of David” in 2 Samuel 23:1-7.
David’s psalm of praise for deliverance “from the hand of all his enemies” ends with:
“Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name. He is the tower of salvation to His king, and shows mercy to His anointed, to David and his descendants forevermore” (2 Samuel 22:50-51).
Verse 50 is quoted by Paul in Romans 15:9 as referring to the work of Jesus Christ, and verse 51 again shows David’s complete faith in God’s promises to his descendants. This leads into the next chapter with the last words of David the prophet.
David begins with a reminder of the source of his inspired words: “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2).
David recognized his own weaknesses and the fallibility of his human descendants, yet he knew God’s prophetic promises remained secure:
“Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire; will He not make it increase?” (verse 5).
David the prophet foresaw the first coming of Christ to suffer, but also His second coming in full glory as King of Kings. The reality of God’s promises to David’s descendants, including Christ, are sure. God’s Kingdom is coming. Christ will rule, and David will live again and rule over Israel.