The Forever King
Mary said, “He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Luke 1:54-55
Forever. Do you know anything that lasts forever? Mary’s prayer spoke of God’s faithfulness in remembering His promises to bless Abraham’s descendants forever. God also promised that the whole world would be blessed through Abraham’s descendants and kings would come from him (Genesis 12:1-3, 17:6).
The angel Gabriel told Mary that her son Jesus would be given “the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:32-33). Mary probably remembered a promise God gave to one of Abraham’s descendants, King David: “If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever” (Psalm 132:11-12).
Had Israel expected David’s son Solomon to be the forever king? He was the wisest man who ever lived, and he built the magnificent temple. However, God’s promise to David had been conditional. Solomon disobeyed God, ignoring His warning that amassing material things would lead to pride and cause him to forget the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:11-14). After Solomon’s 40-year reign, the kingdom split, and eventually David’s throne became empty.
But God is faithful to His promises even when we are not faithful. One of the prophets wrote, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1). Only a stump remained, but David’s lineage lasted until the birth of Jesus.
Unlike Solomon, Jesus lived a sinless life. He kept God’s covenant and laws perfectly. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world … now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). For now, Jesus’ reign on earth is not fully what it will be. But one day He will return to reign in absolute power. An announcement will ring out from heaven: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Do you eagerly await the time when Jesus reigns on earth as He reigns in heaven? This Christmas, sing with the “three kings” in John H. Hopkins’s carol: “Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain, gold I bring to crown him again. King forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign.”
Read Luke 3:23-38 and 1 Chronicles 3:5. Which of David’s sons was the ancestor of Jesus? Why do you think Luke traces Jesus’ ancestry beyond David to Adam and Adam’s Father?
Another psalm Mary may be thinking of in Luke 1 is Psalm 145:10-13. How is the kingdom described in those verses?
According to Galatians 3:5-9, who are the descendants of Abraham that inherit God’s promised blessings?
Read Luke 1:5-24, 57-80. Why do you think God gave a miracle baby to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age? How was this encouraging to Mary? How did it encourage the people of Israel who hadn’t seen a miracle or heard a prophecy in 400 years? Read Zechariah in Dig into People of the Bible.
Read more about Hopkins’s carol, “We Three Kings,” in The Magi under Dig into Songs.
Nancy J. Baker
Note: This devotion is part of a Christmas series: The Magnificat Series