Psalm 89:20 ,27 NASB

20 “I have found David My servant;With My holy oil I have anointed him,27 “I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

David was not a firstborn son.

1 Chronicles 2: 13-14 NASB

13 and Jesse became the father of Eliab his firstborn, then Abinadab the second, [g]Shimea the third, 14 Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh;

  • It says My firstborn, not Jesse's firstborn.
    – Lucian
    Jun 30 '20 at 22:07

The Hebrew text of Psa. 89:27 literally states,

Even I will make him firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

One who is “firstborn” has pre-eminence above all others.1 Just as the nation of Israel was Yahveh’s firstborn,2 and Yahveh would make the nation of Israel “high above all nations that he made,”3 the Messiah, who is David,4 just as he is Israel,5 Yavheh would make firstborn, “higher than the kings of the earth,” for one “David” said in Psa. 18,

43 You have delivered me from the strivings of the people; You have made me the head of the nations; A people I have not known shall serve me. 44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me. NKJV, ©1982

David, the son of Jesse, was not the head of the nations, but only the head of the nation of Israel, nor did other nations serve him. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus Christ is higher than the kings of the earth, and all nations serve (or shall serve) him.


        2 Gen. 49:4–5 cf. Col. 1:18
        2 Exo. 4:22
        3 Deu. 26:19
        4 Jer. 23:5, 30:9; Eze. 34:24; Hos. 3:5
        5 Isa. 49:3; Hos. 11:1 cf. Matt. 2:15

  • 1
    While I do not disagree with your answer it has some gaps - David was king of many nations as evidenced by the huge tribute revenues he collected from Moab, Amam, and many others: 1 Chron 18:2, 6, 2 Sam 8:1, 2, 6, etc. In fact, the part of the prophecy that applied to Christ was V29, I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure.
    – Dottard
    Jul 8 '20 at 23:38
  • @Dottard—Thank you for the correction regarding nations being conquered by David. Jul 8 '20 at 23:44

The birthright that fell due to the firstborn of each family had three components:

  1. A double portion of the inheritance of land
  2. To be the patriarch or leader of the family
  3. To be the priest of the family

In the case of Jacob's family, this should have gone to Reuben (Gen 49:3, 4). However, the birthright's privileges were split among the other members of Jacob's family: Joseph received a double portion of the promised land; Levi received the priesthood; Judah received the kingship and became the progenitor of Christ (Gen 49:8-10, Matt 1).

There are numerous examples where this normal course of the birthright privilege was changed:

  • Ex 4:22, 23 - Israel is called God's firstborn son. However, Jacob was not firstborn nor was the nation of Israel the first nation nor the greatest. I was the recipient of God's favours.
  • Num 3:12, 15, 41, 8:18 - the tribe of Levi was appointed priests as part of the Levitical covenant in place of the actual firstborn, Reuben, or the actual firstborn of each family.
  • Num 32:12 - Caleb was the leader of the tribe of Judah during the Exodus despite being a Kennizite.
  • 1 Chron 5:1 - the inheritance of a double portion of land that should have gone to Reuben went to Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
  • Col 1:18 - Jesus is called the firstborn of the dead. Jesus was not the first person resurrected, but Jesus was easily the most important person resurrected.
  • Col 1:15 - Jesus is described as the firstborn of all creation, meaning the most important person.
  • Heb 12:16, 17 (compare Gen 25:33, 34, 27:32, 36) Esau sold his birthright to Jacob and Jacob truly inherited all the benefits of the being the firstborn.
  • Heb 12:23 - all the saved saints are called the "congregation of the firstborn" because of our privileges.

King David is a perfect example of this same phenomenon - the last in a series of sons but was chosen by God to receive the effective birthright and become the progenitor of Christ, despite being the youngest. David, was the favoured son and had the most appropriate character to be king (according to God) and thus was called the "firstborn".

  • I do not see the logic of this. (Not my down-vote.)
    – Nigel J
    Jul 1 '20 at 7:06
  • It's allegorical rather than logical. A purely logical person would tell you that the Bible itself is illogical. Oct 16 at 7:38

Legally, firstborn sons receive a double portion of possessions.

Deuteronomy 21:17 He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has.

Figuratively, a firstborn son is the favored one over the father's other sons.

Joseph's first born was Manasseh. Before Israel died, he claimed Joseph's two sons as his own and blessed them in Genesis 48:14

But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn. Israel favored Ephraim as the firstborn over Manasseh.

Jeremiah 31:9 I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.

Similarly God favored David as the firstborn over his brothers in Psalm 89:27.

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