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Key of David Part 2 of a Series Exploring "O Come O Come Emmanuel"

Like you and me, Jesus had a family tree. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke agree that one of Jesus’ ancestors was none other than the great King David. Some have noticed similarities between the two; for instance, both were born in Bethlehem; the early shepherd life of David points to Jesus, the Good Shepherd; and the five stones chosen to slay Goliath match the number of wounds of the Crucified Christ.

The Davidic Covenant, an unconditional promise of God, ensured that David’s son, Solomon, would build a temple and establish a prosperous kingdom. But then the covenant expands to include an eternal realm: “…his throne shall be established forever” (1 Chron 17:14).

Last week, I began a series on the beloved Advent hymn, “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” Two stanzas acknowledge the Davidic heritage of Jesus:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny.

The reference is from Isaiah 11:1. Long after the death of David and Solomon, and even after the inglorious end of the Davidic kingly line following the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 587 BC, a shoot (“rod”) would spring up from the stump of Jesse, the father of King David. From his decayed roots, a fruitful Branch would sprout, an illustrious descendant who would carry the Spirit of the Lord upon Him. He would administer perfect justice, champion the poor and downtrodden, and don righteousness and faithfulness like a sash around his waist. This figure is clearly the coming Messiah.

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home.

Citing Isaiah 22:22 and Revelation 3:7, this stanza pictures Jesus as the “key of David.” In the days of walled cities, getting “a key to the city” was no symbolic gesture; it was literally given to trusted dignitaries who could come and go as they pleased. As the key of David, Jesus has unbridled access to the kingdom that his ancestor founded.

As you sing these stanzas during Advent, know that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. Seventeen verses in the Gospels refer to Him as the “son of David” — a physical descendant of the mighty King of Israel, the holder of the promises made to him, and the coming “New David” who will rule over a restored Jerusalem and a new earth.

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