By Kevin R. Williams, B.Sc.
Jesus asked his disciples the following question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13-16). The disciples’ reply was that people were saying he was one of the Old Testament prophets such as Elijah or Jeremiah. The nature of Jesus’ question, and his disciples’ reply, reveals the question was assumed to be one about who the people were saying Jesus was in a past life. His disciples knew this and so they gave a reincarnational answer. And Jesus made no comment against the popular belief in reincarnation and his question sealed it with his approval. Belief in reincarnation during the time of Jesus was almost universal including in all the so-called pagan religions. Nowhere in the New Testament is reincarnation denied, disputed or questioned. If reincarnation was a false doctrine it would almost certainly have been denounced in the same harshest terms as idolatry, sorcery and evil throughout the entire Bible. Instead, as we have seen, reincarnation is referenced throughout the Bible and taught by Jesus.
More evidence of reincarnation as a teaching of Jesus can be found in the belief systems of the early Judeo-Christians. One group, known as the Ebionites, believed the Holy Spirit had incarnated first as Adam and later as Jesus. Other early Judeo-Christians, such as the Elkasaites and Nazarenes, also believed this. In the Clementine Homilies, an early Judeo-Christian document, also taught of Jesus having many previous incarnations. The Jewish sect of Samaritans in Jesus’ day, believed the spirit of Adam had reincarnated as Seth, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Even today, Orthodox Judaism teaches reincarnation (gilgul).
All human beings are participating in an evolving, reincarnational, perfecting process toward sanctification and holiness. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, it states that Jesus himself, as a human being, also needed perfecting and it was through his suffering on the cross which accomplished this (Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 5:9). This implies Jesus himself had enduring the perfecting process of past lives, and the biblical evidence shows this. One of those past lives is King David (1000 BC) who was anointed the king of Israel and Judah. David conquered Jerusalem, took the Ark of the Covenant into the city, and established the Kingdom there. David is mentioned in the prophetic Hebrew literature as an ideal king and Messiah. The Hebrew word translated as “Messiah” comes from the Hebrew noun meaning “the anointed one.” In the First Book of Samuel, the young shepherd David is anointed King (“Messiah”) of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1,10-13). In the Second Book of Samuel, the dying King David is called “the anointed (“Messiah”) of the God of Jacob (2 Samuel 23:1). As we will see, the Hebrew Bible is filled with references of David as God’s first Messiah and references of Jesus as the reincarnation of David.
Table of Contents
- Whose Son is the Messiah?
- David and Jesus as Firstborn, Seed, Root, Melchizedek, Savior
- David Will Be Reincarnated in the Last Days
- More Evidence of David as a Past Life of Jesus
- Whose Son is the Messiah?
The Good ShepherdIn Jewish eschatology, the Messiah also came to refer to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line who will be the king of God’s kingdom and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Judaism, he is referred to as “Messiah ben David,” which means “Messiah, son of David.” Belief in the eventual coming of a future Messiah is a fundamental part of Judaism and Christianity. The early Church believed the life of David foreshadowed the life of Christ; Bethlehem is the birthplace of both; the shepherd life of David points out Christ the Good Shepherd; the five stones chosen to slay Goliath are typical of the five wounds on Christ; the betrayal by his trusted counselor, Achitophel, and the passage over the Cedron remind us of Christ’s sacred Passion. Many of the Davidic Psalms, as we learn from the New Testament, are clear references to Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, the archangel Gabriel informs the Virgin Mary she will give birth to Jesus whom God will give the throne of “his father David.”
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31–33)
The “Son of David” is a clear title of the Messiah is the New Testament (See Luke 1:31–33; Matthew 1:1; Matthew 15:22; Mark 10:47). Jesus confounded the religious leaders who were persecuting him by asking them a question about the son of David:
“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, ‘What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ ‘The son of David,’ they replied. He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?’ No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:41-45, See also Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44)
In the above verse, Jesus references David’s Psalm 110:
“The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'” (Psalm 110:1)
Although Jesus doesn’t give us the answer to his question on how the Messiah can be David’s son when David calls him “lord,” we already know the answer. Jesus knew that he himself, as the Messiah, was not a genetic son of David because he was the only “begotten son of God” — the title given to the soul whom God first gave to David:
David as God’s only begotten son: “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to me, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you.'” (Psalm 2:7)
Jesus as God’s only begotten son: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus’ human father, Joseph, was a genetic descendant of David; but because Jesus was not a genetic descendant of Joseph — and therefore not of David — the only way he could be the “son of David,” David’s “lord,” and God’s “only begotten son” would be if David’s soul was a past life soul of Jesus.
- David and Jesus as Firstborn, Seed, Root, Melchizedek, Savior
And as the “only begotten son,” both David and Jesus are said to be the “firstborn” of God:
David as firstborn of God: “I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand shall be established; also My arm shall strengthen him… He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ And I will appoint him to be My firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 89:20, 26-27)
Jesus as firstborn of God: “And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.'” (Hebrews 1:6; See also Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:15-18, Hebrews 12:22-23, Revelation 1:5)
In the gospels and in Paul’s epistles, the soul (spirit) is metaphorically referred to as a “seed” (See Matthew 13:24-30; 1 Peter 1:23). God promised David that his “seed” and throne would be established forever to all generations suggesting his “seed” would be his reincarnation:
The seed of David established with David: “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to my servant David: ‘Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations.'” (Psalm 89:3-4)
The seed of David established with Jesus: “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” (John 7:42)
An even more direct reference to the soul of Jesus as a reincarnation of the soul of David is the Messianic title “Root of Jesse.” Jesse was the father of David and a direct descendant from Judah, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. So “Root of Jesse” is the literal son of Jesse, who is David himself. Isaiah the prophet, whose ministry was active hundreds of years after David’s death from 740 BC to 698 BC, prophesied of a “Branch” which will rise from the “Root of Jesse” (David) of whom “the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him” during a time when “the wolf will live with the lamb.” The apostle Paul confirms that Isaiah’s prophesy applies to Jesus:
Root of Jesse anointed Messiah: “Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king (David) among his sons.” (1 Samuel 16:1)
Messiah as Branch from “Root of Jesse”: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit… In that day the Root of Jesse (David) will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:1,10)
Jesus as One from the “Root of Jesse”: “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse (David) will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.'” (Romans 15:12)
Again, because Jesus was not the genetic descendant of David, he could only be the “Root of Jesse” if his soul was a reincarnation of David who WAS a genetic descendant of Jesse. And genetic ancestry is critical in Judaism. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is also referred to as the “Root of David” (Revelation 5:5) which is also a Messianic title. Concerning the “shoot” and “Branch” rising from the “Root of Jesse,” as previously mentioned, the gospels and epistles use the metaphor of a “seed” for the soul (Matthew 13:24-30; 1 Peter 1:23). From the seed arises the “shoot” — the “resurrected” body — which we’ve already made the case is the reincarnated soul in a new body (a fetus). The prophet Jeremiah, whose ministry was active from 626 BC until 587 BC, like the prophet Isaiah, also prophesied of a future “Branch” — another Messianic reference to Jesus — whom God will one day “raise up” (reincarnate) as King to rule after the Jews are brought back to their homeland from all the nations:
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5)
Another connection between David and Jesus is their “Priesthood of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek was a king and priest appearing in the Book of Genesis whose name means “King of Righteousness” — a name echoing kingly and priestly functions. He is the first individual to be given the title of “priest” in the Hebrew Bible. The majority of Chazalic literature attributes the primary character of the following Psalm as King David who was a “righteous king” of Salem (Jerusalem) and, like Melchizedek, had certain priest-like responsibilities:
David as “priest of Melchizedek”: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You (David) are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'” (Psalm 110:4)
Jesus as “priest of Melchizedek”: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20)
As we will also see, there is also biblical evidence of Jesus, and therefore David, as having a past life as Melchizedek. Other Messianic titles shared between David and Jesus include “King of Israel,” “King of Righteous,” “Servant of the Lord,” and “Shepherd.” In Psalm 22, David also demonstrated his ability as a prophet when describing — in uncanny detail — the experience of Jesus on the cross:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?… (v.1) But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone despised by the people… (v.6) All who see me mock me; they hurl insults… (v.7) ‘He trusts in the Lord,’ they say, ‘let the Lord rescue him’… (v.8) From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God… (v.10) Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me… (v.12) I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint… (v.14) My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me… (v.14) My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth… (v.15) You lay me in the dust of death… (v.15) Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me… (v.16) They pierce my hands and my feet… (v.16) All my bones are on display… (v.17) People stare and gloat over me… (v.17) They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment… (v.18) For he (God) has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one… (v.24) He has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help (v.24) (Psalm 22:1-24)
- David Will Be Reincarnated in the Last Days
The prophet Hosea’s ministry was active just before the destruction of Israel in 722 BC — several hundred years after the death of King David. Hosea prophesied that “in the last days” Israel will be restored and King David himself will rule over them:
“For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their King. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.” (Hosea 3:4-5)
Note that Israel was established as a Jewish nation in 1948, and they are still awaiting their Messiah — as Christians are awaiting the return of Christ. The implication is that Jesus, as the reincarnation of David, will rule at that time.
The prophet Ezekiel (622-570 BC) prophesied incessantly for five years and acted out the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple several hundred years after the death of David. Like Hosea, Ezekiel prophesied the future return of the Jews to Israel and the reincarnation of David himself to rule them:
“I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land… I will place over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.” (Ezekiel 34:13, 23-24)
In Part 6 of this article, in Ezekiel’s “vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones” in Chapter 37, Ezekiel described the entire nation of Israel reincarnating in the last days and King David himself reincarnating to rule over them:
“I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.” (Ezekiel 37:22-24)
The prophet Jeremiah was a contemporary of Ezekiel whose prophetic ministry was active from 626 BC until after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 587 BC. During that time, Babylon conquered Jerusalem and began taking Jews as captives to Babylon. Jeremiah prophesied that the Jews would be scattered from their homeland and persecuted; but God would protect them from total destruction and one day return to their homeland. He also prophesied a day when Israel will no longer be enslaved by foreigners and God would “raise up” King David himself to rule over them:
“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess… In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.'” (Jeremiah 30:1-3; 8-9)
Notice also Jeremiah 30:9 says that King David himself will be “raised up” (reincarnated) sometime after Israel is restored. As previously mentioned, “raised up” is a reference to reincarnation. Notice also that even if we assume a corpse resurrection interpretation, Jeremiah says it will be King David himself who will be “raised up.” From this information, we can conclude that the so-called “Second Coming” of Jesus will actually be the “Third Coming” of King David assuming Jesus and King David were the same soul. See also Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Jeremiah 33:15-16 for more support.
The prophet Zechariah began his ministry in the second year of Darius, king of Persia (520 BC), about sixteen years after the beginning of the Jews returning to Israel from their Babylonian exile and hundreds of years after the death of David. Jeremiah prophesied of a future time when all the nations of the world will be against Jerusalem causing God to destroy all Israel’s enemies and establish the House of David (the Davidic line of kingship):.
“I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves… On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zechariah 12:2-3;8-10)
The “Angel of the Lord” (in Hebrew “Messenger of Yahweh”) is an entity appearing 65 times in the Old Testament on behalf of God (Yahweh). In some instances it is made clear that the reference is to an appearance of Yahweh himself rather than a separate entity acting on his behalf. The Angel of the Lord is identified by the early Church Fathers, such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian, as the pre-incarnate Christ whose appearance is recorded in the Old Testament. Zechariah’s prophecy reveals it will be a reincarnation of the “house of David” (David himself) — the Angel of the Lord (Jesus), the one who was pierced, who will save Israel in the latter days.
- More Evidence of David as a Past Life of Jesus
The following biblical comparisons show David and Jesus as having the same identity. Both are “the most exalted king of the Earth”:
David as the most exalted king of the Earth: “I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand shall be established; also My arm shall strengthen him…. He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ And I will appoint him to be My firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the Earth.” (Psalm 89:20, 26-27)
Jesus as the most exalted king of the Earth: “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” (Revelation 19:16)
Both David and Jesus are “the Holy One”, the Messiah:
David as the “Holy One”: “For our shield belongs to the Lord, and our king to the Holy One of Israel. Then You spoke in a vision to your Holy One, and said: ‘I have given help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him”. (Psalm 89:18-20)
Jesus as the “Holy One”: “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.'” (John 6:68-69) (See also Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34)
David said God would not leave his soul in Sheol, nor allow God’s “Holy One” to see corruption: “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. for you will not leave my (David’s) soul in Sheol, nor will You allow your Holy One (Messiah) to see corruption.” (Psalm 16:8-10)
The above Psalm of David corresponds with the Acts of the Apostles where Peter revealed Jesus to be a past life of David during his sermon at Pentecost when he explained how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of David concerning how God would not leave David’s soul, as Jesus, in Sheol:
“For David says concerning him (Jesus): ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will you allow your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that his (Jesus’) soul was not left in Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” (Acts 2:25-31)
In the above verse, Peter equated David mentioning his soul would not be allowed to be left in Hades (Sheol) with Jesus’ soul not allowed to be left in Hades.
In the next verse, James (the brother of Jesus) quotes an end time prophecy in Amos 9:9-12 concerning David’s fallen “tent” being restored as a metaphor for the resurrection of Jesus’ “body” which implies David and Jesus were the same soul:
“The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. When they finished, James spoke up. ‘Brothers,’ he said, ‘listen to me. Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’ — things known from long ago. It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:12-19)
In the Bible, the word “tent” is used as a metaphor for the physical body, such as in the New Testament, by both the apostles Paul and Peter for example:
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)
“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.” (2 Peter 1:12-13)