“And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘ I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ ” Acts 13:34 (NAS)
In making his defense for Jesus as the Christ before the assembled Jews and God fearing Gentiles at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch, the apostle Paul followed the pattern of proving who Jesus was by quoting Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by or through Him.
One is our passage above from the prophet Isaiah originally found in chapter fifty-five, verse three: “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies (alternate reading: loving kindnesses) shown to David.” (NAS) Paul quoted from the Septuagint (Greek) translation Of the Old Testament so you’ll note a minor difference in the wording, however the intent of Isaiah’s utterance is consistent in both Hebrew as well as the Greek translation. The apostle, through the moving of the Holy Spirit, was reminding the hearers of the covenant the LORD had made with David and the particular “mercies” to which Isaiah (and Paul himself) refer to in that covenant made with David. “I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make known Thy faithfulness with my mouth. For I have said, ‘Lovingkindness will be built up forever; in the heavens Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness. I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever, and build up your throne to all generations. ’ ” (Ps. 89:1-4) This covenant concerned One who would follow David and would not only rule eternally but validate forever God’s faithfulness in His promise made to David. Paul in particular is driving home to the Jews that the One they had hoped and longed to see, the Messiah, would be known as One who could not be held by the power of the grave. Paul points to Jesus’ resurrection as proof that He is the Expected One and confirms it to be Jesus by citing another passage in the Psalms, “Thou wilt not let thy holy one to undergo decay” (Ps. 16:10) emphasizing the fact that David had died and undergone decay after serving God’s purposes in his own generation (Acts 13:35). In the resurrection of Jesus, God’s faithfulness was confirmed, as Paul states it, in His “promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this to our children in that he raised up Jesus” (Acts 13:33a). The “holy and sure blessings of David”, Jesus as the eternal, enthroned Messiah, God had planned to give to the physical descendents of Abraham, however it was not intended for them alone. Back to the context of Isaiah chapter 55 and the verses which follow the one from which Paul quoted. “Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, and a nation which knows you not will run to you, because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.” (Isa. 55:4-5) It is obvious then, that the sure blessings of David were also for the nations, those who would run (turn to) the Messiah. Notice, these things occur after the Lord has glorified this witness, leader (aka, sovereign or king), and commander (alternate translation: lawgiver). “In the heavens Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness”, uttered the inspired Psalmist. Just as the heavens have been firmly placed in their course and unchanged, so the correlation is made that in the Messiah’s glorification, the course of God’s eternal plan has been set and ratified, unchangeable. This fulfilled prophesy was just another in a long line to give the faithful real hope in this everlasting covenant, also known as the New Covenant. As Paul quoted this last part of Isaiah 55:3, surely, at least among the Jews, the first part of that verse should have rattled around in their mind, “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live” If you read the rest of Acts chapter thirteen, you’ll note that jealousy among the Jews caused them to fulfill another Old Testament passage Paul cited in his discourse regarding rejecting Jesus as scoffers who wouldn’t believe it even though it was described to them (Acts13:41) The Lord has preserved the Bible, His word, so that it can be tested and proven true, The issue is if one will bend their will, incline their ear and listen that they may live once the Bible has been proven true, or if they will “bend their backs forever” (Rom. 11:10b) in rebellion.