Before something is established, it may exist in the form of a thought, an idea, or even a promise. The covenant that God established with David and his descendants existed in the form of a promise until Solomon sat upon the throne of his father (1 Kings 2:12). After Solomon began his reign, God’s promise was conditional based on Israel’s kings obeying the laws set forth by Moses. Both Solomon and his descendants fell short of their covenant obligations, therefore God was not able to bless Israel as he had intended to (see note on 1 Kings 2:4).
Before he died, David hoped that God would fulfill his promise through his son Solomon. The promise recorded in 2 Samuel 7:11-16 had to do with the building of God’s house and the establishment of his kingdom. David thought that God’s house or his temple being built would establish God’s kingdom on earth. David did everything he could to ensure that the temple would be built after he died, but it was up to Solomon to perform the task, so David died not knowing the outcome of God’s promise.
Before David’s death, he instructed his son Solomon to keep the charge of the LORD thy God, “that the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me” (1 Kings 2:3-4). The phrase “continue his word” has to do with prophetic revelation. David believed that what happened to him after he died was dependent on Solomon’s performance of the Mosaic law. What David may or may not have understood was that the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth was not dependent on the temple being built, but dependent on a man being able to keep the Mosaic law, to live a sinless life.
Before Jesus was born, God’s kingdom only existed in Heaven. Jesus told many parables about the kingdom of God to help the Israelites understand that the temple of God was not a building, but something that existed within the heart of man. On one occasion, Jesus told the story of a man with two sons, one obedient and the other disobedient (Matthew 21:28-30) in order to illustrate that keeping the law was a matter of doing God’s will, not following a bunch of rules and regulations.
When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor that would decide his fate, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). The Greek word translated hence is enteuthen (ent – yoo´ – then) which literally means on both sides or on either side. After Jesus was born, God’s kingdom existed in Heaven and was established on earth. Before Jesus’ crucifixion, the kingdom of God was established on earth because Christ was physically living here. After Jesus’ resurrection, God’s kingdom continued on earth because Christ began living in our hearts.