truth to men. It was on the basis of this promise that many persons described our Lord as "the prophet," meaning thereby that perfect prophet promised by Moses. John 1:21, 25; 7:40.
But there was another institution of Old Testament times which more than prophet or priest was associated in the people's minds with the ideal future. This was kingship. God himself was theoretically King — sole King — of Israel. Isa. 33:22. But at the entreaty of his sinful and harassed people he instructed Samuel to "make them a king." And while Samuel warned them of the evils which the monarchy would bring with it because of the sinfulness of the men who should be king, he nevertheless set up a throne that by its very nature was unique. The king of Israel was in a peculiar sense the representative of Jehovah. He ruled for God. He was his own "anointed," set apart for the exercise of supreme authority over God's people on earth and entitled to their religious as well as patriotic devotion. See, for example. Psalms 21, 101.
After the failure of Saul to obey God's instructions, Samuel anointed, at God's dictation and against his own human judgment, David the son of Jesse. This man proved himself, not indeed sinless nor the ideal king, but a man after God's heart. Acts 13: 22, because his dominant purpose was to do God's will. To David therefore was given the remarkable promise contained in II Sam., ch. 7. In a word, this promise was an irrevocable, eternal "covenant," granting sovereignty to David's "house" — that is, his posterity considered as a unit — over God's Kingdom on earth.
The story of how men came to understand better and better the vastness of this covenant, which Isaiah calls "the sure mercies of David," ch. 55:3, forms the subject of that special Old Testament study called "Messianic Prophecy." In the psalms and in the prophecies we are able to trace a growing faith, that by an ideal king of David's line Jehovah will finally work his long delayed will in and through Israel. This Person is commonly called "the Messiah," because "Messiah" means "Anointed." Its Greek equivalent is "the Christ." While other persons also were anointed with oil when they assumed office, kings were always so anointed and the idea belongs peculiarly to kingship. By the time our Lord appeared, no other side of the work which this ideal, promised, longed-for Coming One was to do, was so prominent as that of ruling for God as the King of Israel. For this reason Jesus of Nazareth is known to all who believe in his claims