O Come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home,
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel,
qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperuit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel,
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.
LSB “O Antiphons” under Hymn 357 and in Treasury of Daily Prayer p. 1035:
O Key of David and scepter of theHouse of Israel, You open and no one
can close, You close and no one
can | open: *
Come and rescue the prisoners who
are in darkness and the shad- | ow
Clavis means Key. This title for Christ is from Revelation 3:7 and is drawn from God’s commission of Eliakim son of Hilkiah in Isaiah 22:22. The title Key of David refers to the authority of God given to David over the whole of the people of God. That authority was given as part of the Promise that David would have an Heir who would sit on his throne forever exercizing God’s authority over all of God’s people.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28)
Study on O Clavis David
The theme of the O Antiphons has been building, and at this point they begin to overlap. We started by calling that Christ Come with the title O Sapientia: the Wisdom, Creator and Master of all-confessing that it is the Lord Who made us that is our Redeemer. We continued with O Adonai: Yahweh, Lord-confessing that Christ is the same Lord, the Angel of the Lord who by means of the Exodus from Egypt prefigured the fulfillment of His words in Genesis 3:15 to conquer Satan, Sin, and Death. With O Radix Jesse, Root of Jesse, we moved into confessing that the Son of God had chosen to become human of the family of Jesse to accomplish the Promise of Salvation. He is the Divine Son of David. Today, with O Clavis, we confess the Divine/Human authority of the Son of David. He has the right of authority to rule both because He is the Almighty Eternal God and He is the legitimate human authority for His people. Both O Radix and O Clavis anticipate the confession of O Oriens.
Christ describes His title as Key of David in Revelation 3:7. He is the first and final authority. There is no one else with greater authority.
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’
This title of Key of David is found in the kind of authority God gave to Eliakim over the house of Israel in Isaiah 22:22.
20 ‘Then it shall be in that day,
That I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah;
21 I will clothe him with your robe
And strengthen him with your belt;
I will commit your responsibility into his hand.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem
And to the house of Judah.
22 The key of the house of David
I will lay on his shoulder;
So he shall open, and no one shall shut;
And he shall shut, and no one shall open.
23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place,
And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.
24 ‘They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers. 25 In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the Lord has spoken.’”
The Divine and Human natures of the Messiah are clearly taught in Isaiah 9:6-7. His authority as Savior springs from this Union: He is both true God begotten of His Father from eternity and also true Man born of His virgin mother.
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
His office as the One True Ruler of God’s people was foretold to the surrounding nations. The purpose of His office as Divine/Human Savior made plain, as in, for example: Isaiah 16
4 Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab;
Be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler.
For the extortioner is at an end,
The oppressors are consumed out of the land.
5 In mercy the throne will be established;
And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David,
Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.”
David was chosen by God as a Shepherd to be King in order to Shepherd His people. So Ezekiel 34:23-24 shows us this historical picture of David’s life would be made manifest when the Messiah would come into the world.
20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep.21 Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, 22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and 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.
God used the return from the Babylonian captivity as a picture of the resurrection. In Ezekiel 37 where God describes the Valley of Dry Bones being brought to life He repeats the promise that God would dwell with us in the flesh. Note how the language of verse 27 is used in John 1:14.
23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and I will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
24 “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25 Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 28 The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”’”
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt (literally “tabernacled”) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
David, his home, his youth, his reign all became a historical example so that the people of God would recognize the Messiah when He came into the world. The Messiah, the Key of David, would be born in David’s region (Psalm 132) even in David’s City.
2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
3 Therefore He shall give them up, Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; Then the remnant of His brethren Shall return to the children of Israel. 4 And He shall stand and feed His flock In the strength of the Lord, In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; And they shall abide, For now He shall be great To the ends of the earth; 5 And this One shall be peace. (Micah 5)
God had moved the events of the world to shape David and his life into this model. He moved the events of the world to shape the reality, the fulfillment of the model. Kings did things they thought were their own ideas, but were doing God’s bidding in setting the stage for the rescue of the world through the Key of David.
The Roman Emperor and his empire were moved: Luke 2:
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Gentiles from other nations were moved: Matthew 2 (also anticipating O Oriens)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
The angel Gabriel communicated to Mary that her Son would carry the authority of David’s House, fulfilling the Promise. In this text is the testimony of the words of Genesis 3:15-16 and Isaiah 7:14 –that the Messiah would be born of a woman, but have no human father; that He is the Divine Son and the human Son.
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favoredone, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1)
The words of Zacharias in the Benedictus repeat and magnify the pattern of prophecy which we have seen in the O Antiphons, highlighting the legitimate Davidic Authority of the Christ. The words of the petition in O Clavis David are found in verse 79 where Zecharias echoes Isaiah 9 and Psalm 107.
67 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel. (Luke 1)
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces.
15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
16 For He has broken the gates of bronze,
And cut the bars of iron in two.
It was with deliberate purpose to demonstrate His Davidic office in fulfillment of this prophecy that Christ moved to Capernaum. Matthew 4:16:
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
This became the central confession of faith, Who Is Jesus? He is the Christ, the Son of David. He has all authority. And He has authorized His Church to use the Key of David to bind and loose sin. Matthew 16:19
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.
Paul preached on this at Antioch in Pisidia. Acts 13
20 “After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ 23 From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus— …
29 “Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 But God raised Him from the dead. 31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.’
34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus:
‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’
35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm:
‘You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’
36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; 37 but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Paul declared the fulfillment of the promise in his letter to the Romans:
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ (Chapter 1)
The fact that Christ, the legal heir to the Throne of David, who holds the Key of David, was the one who humbled himself for our redemption is a cornerstone in Paul’s encouragement to the young preacher Timothy:
8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2)
O Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is given the throne and scepter of David Your father over the house of Israel, that You might extend his kingdom over all peoples:
You came in our nature, as the Son of man forgiving sins, dispelling sickness and loosing bonds:
To You now is committed all authority in heaven and on earth, and the powers of hell cannot withstand Your Word:
Come, we pray You, by Your grace, and through Your means of grace, to loosen the prisoner from the chains of sin, to enlighten with the glad tidings of Your Word all who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, that they may rejoice in the deliverance which You have wrought.
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed
1 Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,
Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
To set the captive free,
To take away transgression,
And rule in equity.
2 He comes with succour speedy
To those who suffer wrong,
To help the poor and needy
And bid the weak be strong.
To give them songs for sighing,
Their darkness turn to light
Whose souls, condemned and dying,
Are precious in His sight.
3 He shall come down like showers,
Upon the fruitful earth,
And joy and hope, like flowers,
Spring in His path to birth.
Before Him on the mountains
Shall peace, the herald, go
And righteousness, in fountains,
From hill to valley flow.
4 Arabia’s desert ranger
To Him shall bow the knee,
The Ethiopian stranger
His glory come to see;
With off’rings of devotion
Ships from the isles shall meet
To pour the wealth of ocean
In tribute at His feet.
5 Kings shall bow down before Him
And gold and incense bring;
All nations shall adore Him,
His praise all people sing.
To Him shall prayer unceasing
And daily vows ascend,
His kingdom still increasing,
A kingdom without end.
6 O’er every foe victorious,
He on His throne shall rest.
From age to age more glorious,
All-blessing and all-blest.
The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove;
His Name shall stand for ever–
That Name to us is Love.
ELH 103 Hail to the Lord’s Anointed
J. Montgomery, 1771-1854
ES FLOG EIN KLEINS WALDVÖGELEIN
German folksong, adapt. and arr.; A Student’s Hymnal, 1923 (harm.)
O Key of David, Hailed by Those
O Key of David, hailed by those
In fetters long confined;
For where Thou openest none may close,
Nor where Thou loosest, bind;
Without one ray of light around
To comfort and to cheer,
Poor prisoners we, in fetters bound,
Await Thy drawing near.
Thou, only Thou, canst loose the chain,
Thou only end our woe:
Thou only give us light again,
And let the captives go.
William Cooke and Benjamin Webb, eds.,
The Hymnary – A Book of Church Song
(London: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1872),
#122, p. 102. 1-3