Because you’re confronted with it each Sunday, it might be easy to think that our musical style is high up on the list of important Christ Church distinctives. In actuality, it’s further down the list in importance. Not unimportant, but not of first importance. On the other hand, You could hang around for a good while without knowing the first thing about our eschatology, which actually looms large over much of what we do around here. This text is an instance of both distinctives being woven together, providing an opportunity to highlight why we worship the way we do, and what the heck that has to do with the end of the world.
The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah. In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land. And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.
Summary of the Text
Zechariah, along with the other later prophets, encourage the returning exiles in the work of rebuilding Jerusalem. Though enemies threatened the work, those dwelling in tents wouldn’t be more vulnerable than those in the more secure habitations (12:7). Jehovah would defend His people; the feeblest would be like David in the height of his greatness, and the house of David would be as God, an angelic warrior of the Lord (12:8). With such a warrior within her, no enemy shall overcome this New Jerusalem (12:9).
Upon the house of David, God’s spirit of grace & supplication would be poured out; they would look upon a pierced Warrior-God, whom they pierced, and greatly mourn Him (12:10, Cf. Jn. 19:37). They’d mourn as Judah had once mourned for the death of good king Josiah (12:11, Cf. 2 Kg. 23:29, 2 Chr. 35:22-25). Every family & household––royal & priestly, great & small, husband & wife––would mourn (12:12-14). Calvin’s remarks on these verses are worth sharing, simply for the humor of it, “Zechariah seems to have used more words than necessary to complete his subject.”
In that day, a cleansing fountain would rain down on the house of David, cleansing sin & all uncleanness (13:1). This fountain will wash away both idolatry & false prophecy (13:2-3).
The House of David
It isn’t a stretch to say that David is the central character of the Old Testament. His reign is the crescendo of the OT narrative, and after his reign, Israel falls into a sad decline. The centuries after David are filled with nostalgic yearning for that Golden Era. The prophets foresee that Davidic glory returning. Later Psalmists are both students & conservators of David’s musical brilliance.
Zechariah is no exception to invoking Davidic imagery. He uses the term “house of David” because of how laden it is with historic significance, liturgical bearing, and Messianic meaning. He seems to compress all of Israel’s hopes into a singular household, and then from there into a singular person.
The historic significance which is used here is to remind the exiles of David as Israel’s champion. The House of David was the undisputed Royal household, so it would be quite natural for the regathering Jews to look there for God’s deliverance. This is just nostalgia, it is godly remembrance of past faithfulness.
But Zechariah also draws out one of David’s other significant contributions. David brought musical worship into a prominent part of the religious life of Israel. His preparations to build the temple were motivated by an insight that is expressed throughout many of the Psalms: behind God’s command for burnt offerings, was a greater desire for contrite sacrifices of praise (Cf. Ps. 51:16-17, 69:30-31). One of David’s most important episodes was the building of the tabernacle of David on Mount Zion, in order to bring the Ark of Covenant to a permanent resting place. This tabernacle wasn’t identical to the one which the Levites offered animal sacrifice in (that was in Shiloh, and later in Gibeah). This tabernacle of David, in the stronghold of David, in the city of David was full, not of the smoke of burnt offerings, but with the sound of Psalms. Zechariah prophesies that the Spirit of true prayer would return to the lips of David’s household.
Finally, we cannot miss the Messianic hope latent in this reference to David’s house. God’s promise to David was that he would not fail to have an heir sit on the throne (Cf. 1 Ki. 2:4). Zechariah picks up on this promise and foretells that David’s house would arise like the avenging Angel of the Lord; a real boon of hope to the feeble regathering exiles then dwelling in Jerusalem. The Messianic promise was that David’s Son would conquer all enemies, wash all the people, cleanse them from their idolatry & false prophets. This Messianic Angel would be pierced in the battle, but still He would wash the entire house of David & Jerusalem clean. All of this while Zechariah & Haggai stirred up the people to rebuild the temple.
A Service of Song
Zechariah expresses the Messianic promise as a renewal of a spirit of grace and supplication. This Spirit would rest in a particular way upon the house of David.
Matthew Henry makes a wonderful comment on this passage: “When God intends great mercy for his people the first thing he does is to set them a praying.” It’s no small matter that a large portion of our worship service is comprised of spoken & sung prayers. An enterprising 5th grader might tally up 19 prayers in our service.
This is a service of prayer. We bring our supplications to the Lord, and it is fitting that we do so with glorious music. The casual air of our age has led many to misinterpret what it means to come before the throne of grace with boldness. We slap indie-band chord progressions on the lyrics of a High School cheerleader’s diary, and think it a worthy offering to Royal David’s heir. We come boldly, not impudently. While musical style should not be a matter of dogmatism, neither should it be a mindless adoption of consumerist appetite.
Singing is a peculiar feature of the Christian faith. We owe that heritage to David. When God sets out to grant revival and reform, it is always accompanied by His Spirit. That Spirit energizes us, to come by the blood of David’s heir, to bring our pleas to the Father. It does no good just to have songs. We must have the Spirit. And if we have the Spirit, we will also recover the singing of Psalms with joyful reverence (Ps. 105:2, Eph. 5:19, Jam 5:13).
Weekly Renewal of an Eternal Covenant
Weekly worship in the Lord’s house shouldn’t be viewed as merely an activity to entertain religious people. Rather, this is a weekly ratification of a vow which God made to David. But that vow is older than even David. It was a covenant more ancient that Moses. It predated Abram. God’s covenant mercies existed long before the bow was hung in the sky for Noah to behold. For the covenant of grace was in the heart of God even before He promised a skull-crushing heel to the Serpent.
Christ gathers up all these iterations of the covenant of grace in himself, and by Him we order our service to follow that pattern of covenant renewal. He calls us by His Word. He convicts us of our sin, commanding us to confess our sin. He consecrates us as His own, by His Word preached. He communes with us in a feast of bread & wine. He commissions us to walk in our covenant duties by covenant grace. Our worship is the dawning of New Covenant glory (Jer. 31, Ez. 36:25-27)
Following a Davidson to Conquest
The worship of the saints isn’t a peripheral aspect of Christian faith. Our weekly worship is how we are to prepare for and hasten the end of the world. The Son of David has bought the world. The kingdom is His. Look on Him who was pierced. Sing His praise, loudly, triumphantly, exuberantly. With head and heart. Render a faithful service of reverent adoration to this Son of David.
Are there idols in your own heart? The Goliath-slayer won’t tolerate mixing praise for idols with His praise. Are you besieged by great enemies? The Lord pours out His Spirit of grace and supplication. So call upon God to deliver. The mighty, Angelic Messiah, the Christ, the Lord’s anointed Messenger shall conquer all His enemies. He conquers by filling the house of David with David’s songs. Bending before the rightful King, singing His praise, is how we overcome.
A Davidson has taken up the world’s government by taking His rightful place upon the Israel’s throne. We worship & serve Him, and this praise shall crescendo until all His many enemies fall. Our worship each Sunday foretells the end of the World: Jesus shall reign.