When the royal family of Judah was brought to desolation by the captivity of Jehoiachin and Zedekiah it might be asked, “What has now become of the covenant of royalty made with David, that his children should sit upon his throne for evermore? Do the sure mercies of David prove thus unsure?” To this it is sufficient for the silencing of the objectors to answer that the promise was conditional. If they will keep my covenant, then they shall continue, Ps. 132:12. But David’s posterity broke the condition, and so forfeited the promise. But the unbelief of man shall not invalidate the promise of God. He will find out another seed of David in which it shall be accomplished; and that is promised in these verses.
I. The house of David shall again be magnified, and out of its ashes another phoenix shall arise. The metaphor of a tree, which was made us of in the threatening, is here presented in the promise, Ezek. 17:22, 23. This promise had its accomplishment in part when Zerubbabel, a branch of the house of David, was raised up to head the Jews in their return out of captivity, and to rebuild the city and temple and re-establish their church and state; but it was to have its full accomplishment in the kingdom of the Messiah, who was a root out of a dry ground, and to whom God, according to promise, gave the throne of his father David, Luke 1:32. 1. God himself undertakes the reviving and restoring of the house of David. Nebuchadnezzar was the great eagle that had attempted the re-establishing of the house of David in a dependence upon him, Ezek. 17:5. But the attempt miscarried; his plantation withered and was plucked up. “Well,” says God, “the next shall be of my planting: I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar and I will set it.” Note, As men have their designs, God also has his designs; but his will prosper when theirs are blasted. Nebuchadnezzar prided himself in setting up kingdoms at his pleasure, Dan. 5:19. But those kingdoms soon had an end, whereas the God of heaven sets up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, Dan. 2:44. 2. The house of David is revived in a tender one cropped from the top of his young twigs. Zerubbabel was so; that which was hopeful in him was but the day of small things (Zech. 4:10), yet before him great mountains were made plain. Our Lord Jesus was the highest branch of the high cedar, the furthest of all from the root (for soon after he appeared the house of David was all cut off and extinguished), but the nearest of all to heaven, for his kingdom was not of this world. He was taken from the top of the young twigs, for he is the man, the branch, a tender plant, and a root out of a dry ground (Isa. 53:2), but a branch of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. 3. This branch is planted in a high mountain (Ezek. 17:22), in the mountain of the height of Israel, Ezek. 17:23. Thither he brought Zerubbabel in triumph; there he raised up his son Jesus, sent him to gather the lost sheep of the house of Israel that were scattered upon the mountains, set him his king upon his holy hill of Zion, sent forth the gospel from Mount Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; there, in the height of Israel, a nation which all its neighbours had an eye upon as conspicuous and illustrious, was the Christian church first planted. The churches of Judea were the most primitive churches. The unbelieving Jews did what they could to prevent its being planted there; but who can pluck up what God will plant? 4. Thence it spreads far and wide. The Jewish state, though it began very low in Zerubbabel’s time, was set as a tender branch, which might easily be plucked up, yet took root, spread strangely, and after some time became very considerable; those of other nations, fowl of every wing, put themselves under the protection of it. The Christian church was at first like a grain of mustard-seed, but became, like this tender branch, a great tree, its beginning small, but its latter end increasing to admiration. When the Gentiles flocked into the church then did the fowl of every wing (even the birds of prey, which those preyed upon, as the wolf and the lamb feeding together, Isa. 11:6) come and dwell under the shadow of this goodly cedar. See Dan. 4:21.
II. God himself will herein be glorified, Ezek. 17:24. The setting up of the Messiah’s kingdom in the world shall discover more clearly than ever to the children of men that God is the King of all the earth, Ps. 47:7. Never was there a more full conviction given of this truth, that all things are governed by an infinitely wise and mighty Providence, than that which was given by the exaltation of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom among men; for by that it appeared that God has all hearts in his hand, and the sovereign disposal of all affairs. All the trees of the field shall know, 1. That the tree which God will have to be brought down, and dried up, shall be so, though it be ever so high and stately, ever so green and flourishing. Neither honour nor wealth, neither external advancements nor internal endowments, will secure men from humbling withering providence. 2. That the tree which God will have to be exalted, and to flourish, shall so be, shall so do, though ever so low, and ever so dry. The house of Nebuchadnezzar, that now makes so great a figure, shall be extirpated, and the house of David, that now makes so mean a figure, shall become famous again; and the Jewish nation, that is now despicable, shall be considerable. The kingdom of Satan, that has borne so long, so large, a sway, shall be broken, and the kingdom of Christ, that was looked upon with contempt, shall be established. The Jews, who, in respect of church-privileges, had been high and green, shall be thrown out, and the Gentiles, who had been low and dry trees, shall be taken in their room, Isa. 54:1. All the enemies of Christ shall be abased and made his footstool, and his interests shall be confirmed and advanced: I the Lord have spoken (it is the decree, the declared decree, that Christ must be exalted, must be the headstone of the corner), and I have done it, that is, I will do it in due time, but it is as sure to be done as if it were done already. With men saying and doing are two things, but they are not so with God. What he has spoken we may be sure that he will do, nor shall one iota or tittle of his word fall to the ground, for he is not a man, that he should lie, or the son of man, that he should repent either of his threatenings or of his promises.