A Short Catechism on the Tabernacle of David
by Bob Johnson
What is the Tabernacle of David?
The Tabernacle of David is the name given to the tent that King David set up on Mount Zion in Jerusalem to house the Ark of the Covenant. It was the center of a new order of joyful worship which stood in sharp contrast to the solemn worship of Moses' Tabernacle. Instead of the sacrifices of animals, the sacrifices offered at David's Tabernacle were the sacrifices of praise, joy and thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2,100:4, 141:2). The Tabernacle of David is a type of the worship of the Church. Jesus fulfilled the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant by His death on the cross (Hebrews 1:3, 7:27, 9:12, 9:24-28). The sacrifices of the Church, the New Covenant priesthood, are the sacrifices of praise, joy and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15, 1 Peter 2:9). In addition to the worship of the Church, the Tabernacle of David points to the proclamation and authority of Christ through His Church, thus foreshadowing the priestly, kingly and prophetic ministries of the Church (Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 19:10, Acts 2:17, 1 Corinthians 14:1,3-5, 24-25, 29, 39).
Wasn't the Ark of the Covenant housed in the Temple?
Not always. The Ark of the Covenant was originally housed in the Tabernacle of Moses (also called the Tabernacle of the Congregation). In the year 1050 B.C., David brought the Ark to Jerusalem and placed it in a tent, the Tabernacle of David (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13-16). The Ark stayed in David's Tabernacle for 40 years until it was moved into the Temple built and dedicated by David's son Solomon in 1010 B.C. (2 Chronicles 5-7).
What does the Tabernacle of David have to do with us today?
Plenty. The prophet Amos spoke of the Church - he said "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old." (Amos 9:11) This prophecy was interpreted by the leaders of the first century Church as being fulfilled in their day
"And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:13-18)
James quotes from Amos 9 to show that the salvation of the Gentiles is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and that they were living during the time of the restoration of the Tabernacle of David. The Apostles knew that the Church was the restored Tabernacle of David, the place where Christ is worshiped, speaks prophetically and exercises His authority. The result of the Church flowing in Davidic worship, prophecy and authority was a great harvest of souls
What is meant by Davidic Worship?
The phrase "Davidic worship" simply means worship in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David, that is, worship that is an act of the whole person, not just the intellect. The worship of David's Tabernacle included singing, instrumental music, standing, kneeling, bowing, upraised hands, clapping and dancing. Davidic worship fulfills the command of Jesus to"love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength" (Mark 12:30).
What are the Key Scriptures concerning the Tabernacle of David?
The establishment of Davd's Tabernacle is described in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13-16. From these passages we see that David prepared a place for the Ark (1 Chr. 15:1), the Levites sanctified themselves for their ministry (1 Chr. 15:14) which was to carry the Ark and minister to the Lord (1 Chr. 15:2). All Israel joined in the procession (1 Chr. 15:3) which was marked by by joyful instrumental and vocal music (1 Chr. 15:16-21 ) and dancing (2 Sam. 6:14, 1 Chr. 15:29). Despite all of this, the celebration was not without its detractors (2 Sam. 6:16, 1 Chr. 15:29).
The majority of the Psalms were originally sung as prophetic songs in David's Tabernacle. They account in detail the expressions of worship offered by the Israelites before the Ark of the Covenant. In addition, they describe the full range of human emotions revealed in the presence of God, from deepest despair to highest joy.
The righteous kings of Israel that followed David reestablished Davidic worship within the context of Temple worship. These revivals of Davidic worship paved the way for spiritual renewal and military victory. These times of revival and victory were under Solomon (2 Chr. 5-7) - 101 B.C., Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 20) - 896 B.C., Joash (2 Chr. 23-24) - 835 B.c., Hezekiah (2 Chr. 29-30) - 726 B.C., Josiah (2 Chr. 35) - 623 B.C., Ezra (Ezra 3:10-13) - 536 B.C. and Nehemiah (Neh. 12:28-47) - 446 B.C.
The Old Testament prophecies that specifically mention the Tabernacle of David are Isaiah 16:5 and Amos 9:11-12. There are numerous additional prophecies concerning the coming of Messiah and His kingdom that refer to Zion, the mountain of the Lord, the glory of the Lord and other images that are obvious references to the Tabernacle of David. See especially Isaiah 2:2-5, Isaiah 9:2-7, Isaiah 35, Isaiah 40:1-5, Isaiah 60:1-3, Isaiah 61, Isaiah 62, Jeremiah 33:10-22, Micah 4:1-2, and Haggai 2:6-7.
The New Testament contains many quotes by Jesus and the Apostles of passages from the Psalms and Prophets. Several of these quotes contain prophecies concerning the coming of Messiah to reign on David's throne. In speaking of the incarnation, John writes that Jesus tabernacled among us (John 1:14). The Church is referred to as the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16, Eph. 2:19-22). The Tabernacle of David is specifically mentioned in Acts 15:16-17 as being fulfilled by the Church. Scriptures referring to Davidic worship are not limited to the Old Testament. The New Testament tells us to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16), to sing in the spirit (1 Cor. 14:15), to lift holy hands in prayer (1 Tim. 2:8) and to offer to God the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15). The book of Revelation records scene after scene of heavenly worship that includes shouting (Rev. 19:1), "Hallelujahs" (Rev. 19:7), singing the new song (Rev. 5:9), and bowing (Rev. 4:10).
Is the restoration of the Tabernacle of David a sign that we are in the Last Days?
According to the Bible definition of the last days, yes. The Bible refers to the time of the Old Covenant as the former days and the time of Messiah, the New Covenant era, as the latter days. The First century Christians understood that they were living in the last days, the age of Messiah's kingdom. Jesus came to build His Church, to gather a people out of every nation to worship and serve Him. Jesus continues to build His Church, the restored Tabernacle of David, and we continue to live in the last days.
While it is true the the restoration of David's Tabernacle has received renewed emphasis during the second half of the 20th century, we must remember that there have been those throughout Church history who have embraced the principles of Davidic worship, proclaimed the word of the Lord and worked to advance His kingdom. God has always had a people who ministered as prophets, kings and priests.
Having said that, we are thankful that God has chosen to reemphasize this truth during our generation. We are indebted to the pioneers of the Restoration/Revival churches who prophetically proclaimed this message long before it became popular, long before there was a "worship movement." The seed that has been planted by a generation that has gone before us will bear much fruit in the 21st century.
Is this restoration something all Christians can participate in?
Absolutely! The restoration of David's Tabernacle is not the exclusive property of Charismatics, Pentecostals or Messianic Jews. It is for Anglican, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Nondenominational, Orthodox and Presbyterian churches. It is for Jews and Gentiles, Africans and Caucasians, Asians and Hispanics - Christians from every race. Davidic worship is not for only one culture or ethnic group - Jesus has redeemed us from "every tribe and language and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9) to be a kingdom of priests to serve Him and minister to Him in worship. Raising hands in worship is not a Charismatic style of worship, it is a Bible style of worship (Ps. 134:2). Spirit-filled worship is not a Pentecostal way of worship, it is a Christian way of worship (Eph. 5:18-20). The Father seeks worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). The restoration of the Tabernacle of David is a restoration of worship in spirit and truth.
How can I be a part of this Restoration?
On a personal level, you can study the scriptures relating to the Tabernacle of David and begin to practice the principles of Davidic worship in your own home. Add a time of praise and worship - ministry to the Lord - to your private devotional life of Bible reading, meditation and prayer. On a corporate level, be faithful to the weekly worship services of your own local church - attend regularly and come ready to do your part in offering the sacrifice of praise to Jesus. In addition to faithfulness to your local church, you can become involved in ecumenical, city-wide worship gatherings. More and more Christians are gathering for the express purpose of ministering to the Lord. Many churches and ministries are sponsoring such gatherings on Friday or Saturday nights. Some have even opened centers for continuous worship, 24 hours, seven days a week. Find out what opportunities are available in your city and be a part of the present day restoration of the Tabernacle of David!