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David B. Garner is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary and Pastor of Teaching at Proclamation Presbyterian Church (Bryn Mawr, PA). Pastor, professor, and author, he has also served as a missionary, ministering in Europe and Central and Southeast Asia. From 2003-2007, he served as Director for TE3 (Theological Education for Eastern Europe), a regional theological training ministry based in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Column: Sine Qua Non by David Garner

I am David and So Are You

April 1, 2014 •

My name is David. So, it seems, is nearly every other man I meet. OK. I am exaggerating a bit, but my entire life I have been surrounded by Davids – grade school, sports teams, church, the neighborhood. Family moves prove the name is no respecter of geography: North Carolina, Texas, Illinois, Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, and even Eastern Europe. Davids occupy the earth.

Not all Davids look alike: Dave, Davey, and Davi; even Dudel, Daw, Taavi and Taffy are etymologically Davidide (Yes, this actually is a word. It means “son of David”). Not to be gender exclusive, David comes in feminine forms like Davida and Davena.[1] With due respect to each of these displays of beloved Davidry (I’m not so sure that is a word), whatever you do, please don’t call me Taffy.

To be clear, I’m not complaining. David and its given kissing cousins are not bad names. In fact, David has a pretty special pedigree. And yes, irrespective of some renowned card-carrying Davids, Davidic fame extends beyond Beckham, Hasselhoff and Letterman. Even those generally unfamiliar with the Bible know of David and Goliath. The boy David, who became Israel’s king, penned one of Scripture’s most quoted lines, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23). Jesus Christ himself comes, as prophesied, from the line of David (Matt 1:1, 6, 16-17; Rom 1:3-4).

Neither is its derivation insignificant. Of Hebrew origin, the name stems from a Hebrew word meaning “beloved.” The Song of Songs celebrates the “beloved” with poetic passion, but in the New Testament, we discover how truly rich this meaning is. The name exudes intimacy and affection; in its ultimate biblical expression, it bellows the divine satisfaction of a Father whose Son fully pleases him.

As Scripture attests, though a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13), Israel’s great King David did not fully please God. Among other sins, his grievous murder and adultery (2 Sam 11) required divine redemptive grace. Great David was not great enough. He was guilty and corrupt, and by God’s grace he knew it (Ps 32; 51).

One thousand years later we meet another Son from David’s tribe of Judah. Wholly holy and fully faithful, this greater Son of David meets with unqualified Fatherly pleasure. Temptation, sin and death had met their match. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17), declares the God of heaven.

Imagine this thunderous voice! As he did with Moses at Mount Sinai, the Almighty God spoke in unmediated speech, declaring his pleasure in this Son of Mary, Son of Man, Son of God. Exuding from these words of divine affirmation is consummate pleasure with the faith and obedience of Jesus Christ, God’s own beloved Son.

In contrast to any son before or after him, this Son pleased the Father… completely. Loyal, submissive, and joyful on the pathway of obedience, this beloved Son delighted to do the will of the Father – a will that even involved his own crushing (Isa 53:10) for the sake of redeeming sinners from the power of Satan, the curse of sin and the perverse finality of death (Heb 2:10-18; 1 Cor 15:1-58). Faithful at every point, the Beloved of God became qualified to “lead many sons to glory” (Heb 2:10).

Having been raised from the dead, as the King of kings, the David of Davids, our beloved Savior floods the name David with it richest, sweetest, and consummate meaning. Jesus is the true David. He is great David’s Greater Son. He is the Beloved One. He loves his Father and his Father loves him.

But this is not all. The heavenly Father repeats his affirming refrain at the Mount of Transfiguration with one additional phrase: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matt 17:5, emphasis added; see 2 Pet 1:17). His entire life and unto death, Jesus had listened to the voice of his Father. Expressing his satisfaction, the Father tells us to listen to his beloved Son.

Listen to what his God’s Beloved says through the apostles, with words italicized for emphasis:

  •  “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col 1:13).
  • Beloved, we are God’s children now,” (1 Jn 3:2).
  • God has made us his adopted children in his Beloved Son (Eph 1:3-6).
  •  “Be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1).
  • “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col 3:12).

Consider this now, “brothers beloved by the Lord” (2 Thess 2:13): in this Great Son of David, we are the beloved ones! The comprehensive satisfaction of the Father in his own beloved Son grips us. Because of the effective work of Jesus Christ, the beloved One, the voice of God thunders down from heaven, “you are my beloved sons and daughters in whom I am well pleased.”  Named in the Name that is above all names, we are consummately loved, the beloved in the Beloved.

Oh, the joy and the blessing to be the beloved of God. Just as Paul “was never more truly a Jew than when he had become a Christian,”[2] I was never more David than when I became the beloved of my heavenly Father.

By the grace of God in the Beloved, I am David. And if you are a child of God, so are you.

[1] (Accessed March 19, 2014).

[2] R. Alan Cole, The Letter of Paul to the Galatians (TNTC; 2d ed.; Leicester: InterVarsity, 1989), 148.


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