In this chapter Carson begins by focusing on what it means for God to be king. He first emphasizes that God is not a constitutional monarch. This means that His power isn’t limited like the Queen’s is limited in the United Kingdom, the kings is limited in Saudi Arabia and even more so Thailand’s monarch is limited. But God is not limited.
In the Old Testament, God is sometimes depicted as king over everything and everyone in the universe, and sometimes as king over Israel. On the one hand, God’s Kingdom is over all because He is the creator and in a certain sense all creatures are in God’s kingdom (e.g., Ps. 103:19; Dan. 4:35). This includes those who hate God.
On the other hand, God is Israel’s King because He rescued them out of Egypt. He made a covenant with Israel which they broke, but God did not. They became His nation. As their history unfolded, God continuously sent Judges to rule over Israel during their cycles of rebellion, idolatry, and repentance. This rebellion is well depicted in the choice of Saul to be Israel’s monarch, the goal of which was to be like the surrounding nations. Unfortunately Saul became an awful man-centered king (1 Sam. 8-31).
King David was another story. In principle what a good king looks like is that “he’s a man after my (God’s) own heart” (which David is known to be). Unfortunately, David would soon fall into horrible sin (e.g., adultery, murder, in the end, a disorderly home). Yet, unlike Saul’s reign, David experiences a measure of peace, security and prosperity.
After the aforesaid, Carson secondly considers how the term “son” is tied to Christ as David’s progeny. In David’s dynasty, there’s a king that would become God’s “son” at the beginning of his reign. What can this mean? Unlike our usage today, the term “son” or “son of…” gave one their family identity along with the family trade (e.g., Jesus, the son of the carpenter…). In 2 Samuel 7:11-17 the text reads:
“11 even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. 12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’”17 In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.”
Here, to become God’s “son” is used to refer to kings. Now if God is the supreme king over his people, than when the human person comes in the line of David to reign, he will be acting as God acts. He becomes God’s “son.” In Isaiah 9:6-7 the passage reads:
“ 6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
A son of David here is called “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father”. Carson points out that in Jesus’ ministry, he continually announced the dawning of the kingdom. But when did Jesus’ kingdom come? In Christian theology there’s a phrase tethered to the kingdom of God known as “the now and the not yet”. That is, the kingdom is here now and secretly working—THE NOW. But it’s also in the future—THE NOT YET. Only in the consummation (an eschatological term for the last days where God ushers in the new heavens and the new earth) will the NOT YET become the NOW.
Thirdly, Carson explains how the Not Yet relates to death itself. The Bible is clear that the last enemy Jesus must overcome is death itself. The text in 1 Cor. 15:25-26 reads:
“25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
The relevance for believers is that they no longer have to fear death for the 2nd death they will not taste. Death will die. This concept of defeat and remaining conflict is well depicted in the difference between D-day and VE-day in WWII.
In D-day, the War was over for all intents and purposes, but Hitler didn’t go down without a fight as the fiercest fights were forthcoming. This is akin to Christ’s first coming—THE NOW. He conquered death and the grave, but we still die. In VE-day Europe could finally rejoice because the remaining skirmishes were over, that is, victory in Europe was finally realized—THE NOT YET—the consummation. In light of Christ’s kingship even over death, Carson asks the reader if they belong to God’s kingdom or not, and how it is they know; sobering indeed.