In the Gospels Jesus only references King David two times. This has always struck me as odd considering that he is the Son of David and is referred to as such by quite a few people from disciples to beggars. One would think Jesus would have taken more license and used his being the “Son of David” to his advantage, but not so much. In fact, Jesus’ use of King David is rather odd when we look closely. Let me explain.
When dealing with matters of Sabbath questioning from the Pharisees Jesus likens himself to King David while he was on the run from King Saul (Mark 2:23-27). During this time David had surrounded himself with an army of outcast Israelites. He was consistently on the move, hiding in caves, and going from city to city in order to escape from the hand of Saul. Here’s the passage from 1 Samuel 22:2:
“Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.”
Jesus sees himself as an outcast on the move, hiding, and going from city to city, in order to escape from the hands of his enemies. Not only that, but Jesus surrounds himself with an odd cast of characters from terrorists to prostitutes to fishermen to IRS agents. This is his army and he is leading a campaign against the powers and the principalities. It’s important to remember that Jesus could not openly enter towns because he had a target on his back, the Pharisees and Herodians wanted to destroy him just like Saul wanted to destroy David.
Later Jesus will refer to David again but it will be to undermine the people’s expectations that he would be a worldly king just like David (Mark 12:35-37). He will teach this in the city of David, namely Jerusalem. A few days later he will find himself on a throne but it will not be a normal throne but rather the throne of a Roman Cross. There the people will see a King coming “in clouds with power and glory.”