Friday, February 14, 2014

Today I Have Begotten You

I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.”
(Psalm 2:7)
In this psalm of David, the Lord says to him, “You are My son, today I have begotten you.” Some have wondered what it means that God has “begotten” him. We usually find the Hebrew word in the “begats” section of Genesis and in other places throughout the Old Testament. So, how can God say to David, “Today I have begotten you”? And what does it mean?

To answer that, we need to look back to the history of David, particularly in 2 Samuel 7, where the Lord made a covenant with David, in which He promised David a throne that would endure forever. Here the Lord says of him, “I will be his father, and he will be my son” (v. 14).

We also find a similar reference to this covenant in Psalm 89, where the Lord says of David, “He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth” (vv. 26-27).

The author Hebrews quotes Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14 together and applies them to the Lord Jesus, to demonstrate the superiority of Christ to the angels:
For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”?

And again: “I will be to Him a Father; and He shall be to Me a Son”? (Hebrews 1:5)
This Father-son relationship is about David’s kingship. In Psalm 2, the Lord says, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain” (v. 6). Then David recalls God’s promise, “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’” (v. 7). Or as the NIV puts it: “I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’”

So, the use of “begotten” in verse 7 refers to God’s promise that He would be David’s father, and David would be His son. The language is a bit different, but the meaning is exactly the same. God identifies the king as His son and His son as king. These are words of enthronement and indicate the special relationship He makes with David, and by extension, with those descendants who would reign on David’s throne.

The Hebrew readers in Old Testament times would have been reminded of the covenant God made with David. Of course, they realized very early that David was not the perfect king in whom all the promises and provisions would be fulfilled. However, because they took God as true to His word, they had an expectation that there would one day be a descendant of David who would sit on David’s throne, who would perfectly fulfill the role of king, and in whom all of God’s covenant promises would be made complete. They looked for this One who would be God’s anointed king. In other words, they looked for the Messiah.

This is why it is very significant that Jesus is the Christ. Christ means the same thing as Messiah. It refers to the Anointed. Jesus is the Christ, that is, the one God anointed to reign as king on David’s throne. It is also why it is very important that Jesus is the descendant of David, for only a descendent of David could qualify to sit on David’s throne forever.

This is not merely a matter of historical interest, however, but is also a very important part of Paul’s proclamation of the gospel. We see that in his letter to the believers at Rome, as well as in his final letter, which is to Timothy:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:1-4 NIV)

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel (2 Timothy 2:8 NIV).
These two passages have three things in common in regard to the gospel:
  • They both identify Jesus as Christ, that is, the Messiah.
  • They both present Jesus as descended from David.
  • They both declare the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
The fact that Jesus is descended from David is important to His identity as Messiah. Indeed, if He were not descended from Messiah, He could not be the Messiah. The resurrection demonstrates that Jesus truly is the Messiah, Son of God, whom God has anointed as King to reign on David’s throne forever. The gospel is the announcement that this is now so.