Tabernacle of David

In the Book of Acts, we read the account of the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church. Having already been commissioned to preach the Gospel to all nations, they were commissioned to tarry in prayer until the Holy Spirit came to indwell them. The prayer meeting went on for weeks and culminated in a powerful release of the Spirit amongst the people. Preaching to both Jew and Gentile, the early church witnessed signs and wonders in their ministry. This was prophesied long ago, by the prophets of old. The most familiar one is found in Joel, chapter two, in which it was said that the Spirit would be poured out upon all flesh. Peter confirmed the fulfillment of this word. In chapter 15, James confirmed another Old Testament prophecy, from the Book of Amos: “After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins and I will set it up; so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord who does all these things.” He quotes this passage in the midst of a church council meeting, in reference to the visitation of the Spirit to the Gentiles. Interesting, that God will declare His intention to rebuild the ruins of David’s tabernacle, and set it up again; the purpose being, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord.

And so we might want to ask the question, “What about this prophecy and its fulfillment today. Those familiar with prophecy will acknowledge, that at times there is a final fulfillment, as in the culmination of a predicted event, while at times there is what I call a “staged fulfillment.” In other words, the word of the Lord evolves in stages, or layers. And so regarding the Amos prophecy, I’d like to pose the questions: “Was this tabernacle ever rebuilt, and if so, where is it? And, what about its’ relevance to the church today?”  Let us begin by taking a brief look at exactly what David’s tabernacle was in its time in history.

When I think of David, there are two primary things that come to mind. First, he was commended by God as “a man after His own heart.” Samuel pronounced this over him prior to anointing him as king. The Apostle Paul quotes these words in reference to David, as he was reviewing key points inIsrael’s prophetic history (Acts 13:22). A related verse is found in Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” A person, who is truly after God’s heart, will become a person of one thing. One’s inner compass will continually be redirected to investing time in seeking God. Thus, the Tabernacle of David can be associated with the environment of seeking God, of having a passion for Him. Thus the same Spirit that drew David into seeking the face of God, was now drawing the Gentiles.

And then secondly, I think of David as perhaps the greatest worship leader and forerunner of the worship movement, in the entire Bible. He was a worshipper in the secret place, with no one around him save for sheep. Isn’t that the most critical place for our worship to thrive in? God mentored him in the wilderness and at heaven’s set time, David was brought forth as a worship leader inIsrael.

The Tabernacle (tent) of David was set up, while the tent of Moses was still functioning. For approximately 40 years, they coexisted. While establishing his tent, David brought something new into the tent of Moses: music, worship of a new kind. Though we know God to be very musical at heart, He chose for some reason to not include that element in the tent of Moses. Perhaps the best explanation can be found in the principle of Galatians 3:24 – “The law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” The Tabernacle of Moses was a guardian of sorts, that would escort the priesthood into something greater – the Tabernacle of David. Let us look more closely at this new order of worship.

The account is interspersed throughout the Book of 1st Chronicles. It’s really a story of the overflow from one man’s heart. David, the man groomed by God while out in the fields, was called to initiate a new flow of worship amongst the people of God. A snapshot view of the structure, reveals the setting aside of 38,000 Levites (1 Chron.23: 1-5), of which 4,000 were musicians. Certain musicians stayed at the temple day and night (1 Chron.9:33). It also appears that those who were skilled in prophesying, singing the song of the Lord, were divided into 24 groups (1 Chron.25: 1, 7…). Notice the correlation in Revelation, chapter 4, where there are 24 thrones, 24 elders, in worship before God. I believe this is a picture of our present position in Christ, seated in heavenly places with Him. What David began, round the clock worship and prayer for nearly 40 years, continued on in the next temple.

Solomon employed the same pattern and order of worship. But then, as is prone to happen, we see ebbs and flows in this worship order.Israelwould stray, and then return, to the Lord. After Solomon, there was a period of decline before King Jehoshaphat came to power (896 B.C.)  He recognized the vital importance of worship. 2 Chronicles 20: 14-26 gives the account of the Spirit coming upon Jahaziel, a descendant of Asaph (one of David’s worship leaders), who prophesied to the king thatJudahwould have victory. Jehoshaphat sent out singers at the head of the army, who proclaimed the splendor of the holiness of God. While they sang, the Lord set ambushes against the enemy.

King Hezekiah is another example (726 B.C.). The Word tells us that he revived the ministry of the singers and musicians, which had again ceased to function. “He stationed the Levites in the temple of the Lord with cymbals, harps and lyres in the way prescribed by David…” (2 Chron.29: 25).

After enduring the wicked king Ammon, another godly king rose to Judah’s throne – Josiah (623 B.C.).  He cleansed the temple of evil and restored worship once again. He said to the Levites: “Prepare yourselves by families in your divisions, according to the directions written by David…the musicians, the descendants of Asaph, were in their places prescribed by David…” (2 Chron.35:4,15).

Years later, (536 B.C.) under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, God was once again restoring His people. Initially there were 200 singers that returned from Babylon(Ezra 2:65). When they laid the foundation of the new temple, the priests took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel (Ezra 10-11). Years later, another group of Levites came to Jerusalem “to give praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as prescribed by David the man of God.

Joel and Amos were anointed prophets of God, who spoke words that still had life on them 800 years later, as the Spirit was being poured out on the early church. And they still have life on them today! The Spirit is not done with pouring out on all flesh; nor is He done with rebuilding and restoring David’s fallen tent. It’s not about the structure per se; it’s about pursuing the Spirit of the Lord, that He might freely flow in our worship. Every fresh move of God carries a new order of worship; new songs and new melodies. The leaders of old were faithful, to that which was prescribed by David as God revealed it to him. May we receive God’s Word to us today, as He continues to restore a greater fullness to the Tabernacle of David, that His manifest Presence may cause all men to seek His face.