In early church history the leaders of the church taught of a latter day “King” by the name of David, who would be a descendant of the ancient King David, and who would live just prior to and during the millennium. This future King David is to be given the priesthood, throne and kingdom of the ancient King David and will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel during that time period.
He will be a forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ’s second coming, as John the Baptist was for Christ’s first coming. As such his mission will be to lead the preparation of the righteous and help them be ready to receive the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes in glory.
Most of the prophets that prophesied of the end times spoke of this future “king” and “servant” of the Lord. They call him “David the prince“, and “David their King“. He is referred to as the “Rod” and the “Branch” in the Isaiah 11:1 and the Doctrine and Covenants 113:3-4.
Lets look more specifically at some of the many prophecies of this future prophet and King.
Early LDS Prophecies
Joseph Smith’s Prophecy
In speaking one time on the subject of murderers not having forgiveness, Joseph Smith said “Although David was a king, he never did obtain the spirit and power of Elijah and the fullness of the Priesthood; and the Priesthood that he received, and the throne and kingdom of David is to be taken from him and given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his lineage“(TPJS, p. 339).
Orson Hyde’s Dedicatory Prayer
On October 24, 1841, Apostle Orson Hyde stood on the Mount of Olives to dedicate the Holy Land to the Lord. The dedicatory prayer that he prayed he said he “received by divine revelation“. In this dedicatory prayer Apostle Hyde states “Let [the kings and the powers of the earth] know that it is Thy good pleasure to restore the kingdom unto Israel — raise up Jerusalem as its capital, and constitute her people a distinct nation and government, with David Thy servant, even a descendant from the loins of ancient David to be their king.”
John Taylor – Times and Seasons February 15th, 1842.
In this article written by John Taylor (the third LDS prophet) in the Times and Seasons on February 15th, 1842, and edited by Joseph Smith himself, they talk in detail about this future king named David. They are specifically clear that this prophecy is not speaking of Jesus Christ Himself, nor of any one of the dispensation heads (Patriarchs) raised from the dead. This king will be a mortal man. I only quote a portion of the article here:
“Ezekiel after giving a description of the resurrection of the House of Israel, and the coming forth of the stick of Joseph (The Book of Mormon,) and its being united with the stick of Judah (The Holy Bible;) and also the restoration of the House of Israel, that are in a state of mortality, back upon their own lands, says: “Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will save them out of all their dwelling places wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them: and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein our fathers have dwelt, and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children, and their children’s children, forever; and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people, and the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.” – Ezek. 37:23–28. The above quotation has a particular allusion to that portion of the righteous that will remain in the flesh, and dwell on the earth, and eat the fruit of it. But the difference that will be, Satan will be cast out of the earth, and he will have no power to tempt or deceive them: they will all be righteous, and not defile themselves any more. The Lord will set his sanctuary in the midst of them, and they shall multiply and be increased in number, which they will continue to do, during the Millennium. The fact that they will multiply and increase, shows that they will be in a state of mortality.
The immortal saints will be made kings and priests, and they shall reign with Christ; but is is not said that the mortal ones shall be made kings and priests, to hold authority with Christ like the immortal ones, while in a state of mortality; only they shall have a king, priests, and all other necessary officers, to administer all ordinances, and perform all necessary ceremonies. We mean a king that shall be chosen or proceed out of their midst. Isaiah speaking of this day says, the Lord will restore their judges as at first, and their counselors as at the beginning. This will be the time that God will restore their kingdom unto them which the apostles alluded to when they inquired of Jesus, if he would then restore the kingdom to Israel. (Acts: 1-6)
According to the prophets the name of this king shall be David; not the patriarch David who was the son of Jesse; but a literal descendant of his. Some suppose that the Psalmist David will be raised from his tomb, and again reign over Israel; but we consider this one of the most unreasonable ideas that could be advanced. He no doubt will be in the Lord’s own due time raised from the dead, but not to act the part of a prince in the midst of Israel who remain in the flesh. Neither will any of the patriarchs act the part of an earthly king; although they will reign with Christ. Indeed, we have no reason to believe that Christ himself will act the part of an earthly king, or priest, to any great extent.
It is inconsistent for us to suppose that the immortal saints, who are glorified, will be perpetually confined in the midst of the mortal ones. Because it is said, they shall reign on the earth, is no reason why we should say they shall be constantly among the mortal saints. The idea is that the earth will be under the control of Christ and the glorified saints, and Christ will virtually reign over the whole earth, and this David will be subject to him. The redeemed saints will reign on earth, and perhaps have in many respects, authority over the mortal ones. We do not wish to be understood, that there will be a total or entire separation between the mortal, and immortal; but the object of the foregoing remarks is to show the distinction of privilege.”
The prophet Hosea prophesied about this future King David who will rule in the latter days. In Hosea 3:4-5 it reads “4. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: 5. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.”
The prophet Jeremiah prophesied about a future righteous day of Israel and of this future King David. In Jeremiah 30:7-9 it reads “7. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. 8. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: 9. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.
The prophet Ezekiel speaks of this King David calling him the Lord’s servant and a “prince”. In Ezekiel 34:23-24 “23. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it.”
In Ezekiel 37:21-25 it reads “21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22. And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
23. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.”
Zechariah the prophet called this future David “the Branch“. In Zechariah 6:12 he writes: “And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:
13 Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”
Isaiah And The D&C
In Isaiah 11:1 it reads “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”. The Lord interprets this verse for us in D&C 113:3-4 which reads as follows “3. What is the rod spoken of in the first verse of the 11th chapter of Isaiah, that should come of the Stem of Jesse? 4. Behold, thus saith the Lord: It is a servant in the hands of Christ, who is partly a descendant of Jesse as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power.”
In most chapters in Isaiah the prophet mentions this man. Other names he calls him are the “arm“, “right hand“, “voice” and “servant” of the Lord. Avraham Giliadi, a Brigham Young University professor who spent 5 years living in Jerusalem learning Hebrew and going to rabbinical school before joining the LDS church, has made his life’s work the study and translation of Isaiah. (Here is a link to Avraham’s website where you can read his translation of Isaiah as well as listen to 30 hours of audio recordings by Avraham explaining each verse in Isaiah IsaiahExplained.com.)
Avraham says that another name Isaiah uses for this man is “Righteousness” because this man “is faithful to the Lord under all conditions”. Whenever Isaiah uses the word “righteousness”, Isaiah is referring to this latter day David because he “personifies” righteousness. Similarly whenever Isaiah uses the word “Salvation”, Isaiah is always referring to the savior Jesus Christ because Christ personifies salvation. He is salvation.
This David’s mission will be to prepare a people (as did Enoch) to be righteous enough to receive the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes in glory. Interestingly though, this does not mean this David will be perfect. Isaiah makes it clear he is not.
Avraham Giliadi says that not all messianic prophesies are equal. Some are speaking of this forerunner David as a temporal messiah (the word messiah in Hebrew means “anointed one”), some are speaking of Jesus Christ the savior, and some are speaking of both. He says this is why the ancient Jews did not receive Jesus Christ, they were looking for this temporal messiah. Brigham Young said that “the Gentiles will be as much mistaken in regard to his second advent as the Jews were in relation to the first” (Journal of Discourses 8:115). I suspect that at least part of this is because they won’t be expecting this forerunner.
This David is a temporal messiah figure in Hebrew culture (not to be confused with the great spiritual messiah, Jesus Christ). Just like Moses led the children of Israel out of bondage, this future David will lead modern Israel from the four corners of the earth (with the help of the 144,000, Rev 7:4) to build the New Jerusalem. This has to be done to prepare a people worthy to receive Christ when He comes in the clouds as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.