God’s Word for You
Acts 2:29-32 David’s tomb
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, September 2, 2019
29 “Gentlemen, brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is still here with us to this day. 30 He was a prophet. He knew that God had promised him with an oath that he would set one of his descendants on his throne.
Peter has just quoted Psalm 16. Peter reminds his listeners that King David, who wrote that Psalm, was both a patriarch and a prophet. As a man of God, Peter sets David up on the same shelf with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As an author of Scripture, Peter sets him in the same company with Isaiah, Daniel, Jonah, and Moses himself. God had promised Patriarch David that he would establish the throne of one of David’s descendants as an eternal throne: “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:13). This was not fulfilled by David’s kingship, nor by Solomon’s. All of the Jews took it as a prophecy of the Messiah, and Peter is simply recalling these facts. They aren’t new or unique to Peter. Psalm 132 also says: “For the sake of David your servant, do not reject your anointed one. The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: ‘One of your own descendants I will place on your throne.’” (Psalm 132:10-11). All of the Jews believed that the Messiah would be a king. But what sort of king would he be? What kind of throne would be his?
31 He saw what was coming and spoke about the resurrection of Christ, that he was neither abandoned to the grave nor did his body see decay. 32 “God raised this Jesus from the dead. We are all witnesses of that.”
David the prophet had said that such a descendant of his, the one who would reign forever, would also not be abandoned to the grave (Psalm 16:10). This was not true of any of the kings of Judah or Israel. David’s tomb was there in Jerusalem for all to see (vs. 29). In the Bible, Nehemiah mentions David’s tomb with a plural “tombs” (Nehemiah 3:16) near the Pool of Siloam (3:15). This means that David’s tomb had multiple chambers. The tomb of David was underground (Josephus says that those who entered it went “down” into it) but it had a definite upper structure that was marked; this is what Peter is referring to in verse 29. Other elaborate tombs around the city sometimes have a number of burial places, usually with two or more chambers in each, surrounding a larger central cave underground. In one or more of the outer chambers of David’s tomb, men found “furniture of gold, and [other] precious goods that were laid up there” (Josephus Antiquities 16,7,1). David’s tomb survived the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but the last time its location is mentioned with certainty seems to be from the time of Hadrian (117-138 AD). But enough about the grave.
Peter’s message is that all of this was part of God’s plan. God the Father had always planned to send his Son to atone for the sins of mankind. This plan was revealed to faithful believers piece by piece over time, from Adam and Eve to Abraham, to Moses, to David, and so on. The plan was that the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, would be born into the family of Israel through the line of Judah and the house of David, that he would live a life perfectly devoid of sin with nothing but righteous obedience to the Father. Because Jesus is truly God and well as fully human, his life has merit that extends out over and into everyone who puts their faith in him. His obedience covers us as our obedience. He also died by crucifixion. Jesus’ death was not an accident, a vendetta carried out by his enemies to end his popularity, but according to the plan of our heavenly Father. His death was an atoning sacrifice which covered over the guilt of all mankind’s sins. Because he is fully God, the value of his death is infinite, ample and more than ample to atone for all sins of all people for all time.
Peter’s proof? The resurrection of this same Jesus. The apostles saw him alive after he rose, and this also points to the authority of the apostolic witnesses to proclaim Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. This is what we still proclaim, because these are the words of everlasting life.
Pastor Timothy Smith