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Son of David


A messianic title describing Jesus Christ as man, a savior of His people who would bring Israel the full enjoyment of God's promises. It is based on God's assurance to david (2 Sm 7.1329) that his kingship would last forever. Time proved that these words could not be understood literally, but Jewish hope transcended time and gave the promise an eschatological dimension. Men believed that a king would inaugurate this blessed era in this world. "'I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: Forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations"' [Ps 88 (89).45].

The exile of Israel strengthened this interpretation. Jeremiah wrote: "On that day, says the Lord of hosts they shall serve the Lord, their God, and David, their king, whom I will raise up for them" (30.89). According to Ezekiel, all Israelites will be united forever in one kingdom under David (Ez 37.2426). Psalm 2 describes the submission of all nations to the king appointed by the Lord. Some expected a civil ruler, a prince of peace (Zec9.910); others believed that he would be a warrior who would rule with "a rod of iron," as in the Psalms of Solomon (17.26). This latter work (17, 18) suggests that Son of David was a messianic title favored by the Pharisees, who taught that he would expel pagans from Jerusalem, purify the city, and restore the Davidic kingdom. A popular opinion about the return of David's Son prevailed in Palestine at the time of Christ (Mt 12.23; Jn 7.4142). The synoptists used this title in the cure of the blind Bartimaeus (Mt 20.3031; Mk 10.4748; Lk 18.3839). Matthew introduced it in the genealogy (1.1), cure of two blind men (9.27), crowd (12.23), Syro-Phoenician woman (15.22), Palm Sunday (21.9), Temple (21.15). Jesus did not welcome the title and tried to open men's minds to another concept of the Messiah. Paul used the phrase "born of the seed of David" and linked it with the statement that Jesus is the son of god (Rom 1.35). This relationship was recognized in the primitive Church (Lk1.2638; Acts 13.1641; Ignatius Ad Eph. 20.2; Ad Smyrn. 1.1). In the Epistle to Barnabas (12.1011) "Son of David" is rejected as heretical and Jesus is called instead the Son of God. This is in harmony with Jesus' own teaching. Just as He invited men to look beyond the restoration of the earthly kingdom long associated with David, so the primitive Church was not content with "Son of David" but preferred to use "Son of God."

See Also: jesus christ, iii, 7; messianism.

Bibliography: b. van iersel, "Fits de David et Fils de Dieu," La Venue du Messie (Recherches Bibliques 6; Louvain 1962). v. taylor, The Names of Jesus (New York 1953). o. cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, tr. s. guthrie and c. hall (Philadelphia 1959). e. lohmeyer, Gottesknecht und Davidsohn (Göttingen 1953).

[k. sullivan]

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