O Key of David

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

What's a Key of David? Well, the Key of David appears twice in the Bible. The first time is in Isaiah 22 where Eliakim os given the key of David (Isaiah 22:22). As a result, he will "open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open" (Isaiah 22:22). What was Eliakim opening and closing? Well, to see that we need to know who Eliakim was. Isaiah 22 tells us that he was to be the steward over the king's household. Now to us that might not sound all that important, but the same expression "over the household" was used in the Old Testament to speak of regents. So Eliakim wasn't just any old servant; he was the highest official in the royal household. Although the structure of the government of ancient Judah doesn't correspond entirely to our governmental structures today, if we were to make a modern comparison for Eliakim, it would be along the lines of Prime Minister.

So Eliakim had great power. And that power was what was symbolised by the Key of David. The House of David was the royal house of Judah, so whoever had the key of David had authority over the royal house. But not only authority, Isa. 22:22 also tells us that these keys were to do with opening and closing. Basically, the keys symbolised the power to admit people to the King's presence. If you wanted an audience with the King, you had to get through Eliakim.

Now what's that got to do with Jesus? (For, hopefully you've noticed by now that all these O Antiphons are to do with Jesus.) Well, the other passage of Scripture helps us to see that. Revelation 3:7 tells us:

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” (Revelation 3:7)

In the context, that's clearly Jesus.  So, like Eliakim, Jesus has the key. Jesus has the key that symbolizes authority over the royal household. And indeed that's true, and not only over the royal household of Israel, but over the royal household of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, for Jesus has "all authority ... in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18). And the One who has the keys is the One who grants access to the King. And that's what Jesus does, although He doesn't simply grant access. Rather He has come to make a way, and that He has done through His death on the Cross (Heb. 10:20). He doesn't just open a door — He is the door (John 10:7). Because Jesus is the One who has the key, that tells us that Jesus is the only One who can brings us to the Father. In Him we not only have access, but we are brought right in to the good presence of God our King.