Oh Come, Thou Key of David

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

Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery.”

In our Tuesday Bible study, we have been examining the beginning of David’s kingdom in 1 & 2 Samuel. Before Thanksgiving we read 2 Samuel 7. In that chapter David desires to build God a home, a temple. However, God tells David that HE (God) will be the one who does the building. It is God who built David’s kingdom bringing David from being a poor meager shepherd to being the king. David prayed and asked God for the privilege to build him a temple, “I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” But God answered David with a long “No.”

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son…"
2 Samuel 7:8-14

Here, God says that he will send one of David’s lineage that will establish a kingdom forever that will give God’s people shelter and will never again be attacked. That’s quite the promise! This promise though cannot be speaking of an earthly king. God’s people will experience attacks in the future, in fact, Christians are the most persecuted people in all history, even more so than the Jewish people. So, what is God speaking about? Who is this king?

The king of course is Jesus. Jesus is the key to this prophecy. It’s easy for us to see this now on this side of Easter, but did David know who God was speaking about?

"Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord GOD! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”"
2 Samuel 7: 18-22

Even though God denied David’s prayer to build him a temple, David still gave thanks and praised God for refusing his prayer. Why could David do this? I know that is rarely the way I receive a “No” from God for my prayers. We are usually angry if God doesn’t allow us to do what we want to do. But David rejoices because God preached the Gospel to him! And not only would God establish a kingdom of refuge for his people forever, but it would also be a man from David’s family.

That is what is meant in the hymn “O Come O Come Immanuel” when we sing the verse about the Key of David. Jesus is the Key of David. Jesus is the one who has the “key” or he is the “key”. When you have the key to something you have the authority. We can also see Jesus as the “key” to unlocking this prophecy from 2 Samuel.

The Bible teaches this understanding from Revelation. In Revelation 3:7-8,

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name…"
Revelation 3:7-8

Jesus is the “key” of David. He is the king that has established for us a place of refuge from our sins. By his death on the cross he has locked away all our sins and has freed us from those nagging enemies of guilt and shame. The “key” to our peace and the fact that we don’t even fear death (the worst any earthly kingdom can do to us) is Jesus is our king that is also our own flesh and blood. For this it is our duty to “Thank, praise, serve and obey.” 

See you on Sunday…

In Christ, 

Pastor Ottmers