God’s Dwelling Places—David’s Tabernacle
The Lord has chosen to manifest His presence in the earth. One level of this manifestation is in nature and another is the revelation of His nearness in our hearts. The most powerful, specific and intimate is the Manifest Presence of the Lord, His presence within the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). The Book of Psalms describes this level of worship. Every human emotion appropriate for worship is found in the Book of Psalms: joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, confusion and faith, stillness and action, solitude and community. When led by the Holy Spirit, God’s people can express these things in a necessary catharsis of soul and spirit and a requisite interaction of God’s family with God Himself. This type of congregational worship is revealed to us with the model of David’s Tabernacle. Moses’ Tabernacle shows us the broad pattern of worship and our individual privileges and responsibilities as Priests unto the Lord. David’s Tabernacle shows us the joy and significance of our ministry together as a Priesthood. Moses’ Tabernacle is about worship and the worshiper; David’s Tabernacle is about the worshiping community.
A Brief History
When King David brought up the Ark of Covenant, his motive was to restore the presence of the Lord to the center of the nation and the hearts of the people. This was a direct outworking of the heart of David—he was called the man who was after God’s heart. To me this has two meanings:
1) David’s heart was fashioned in the likeness of God’s heart and
2) David was a man who pursued the heart of God.
It is impossible to review the lives of David and Jesus and fail to see the similarities of each one’s heart: a shepherd’s heart, a humble heart, a heart shaped by the Word of God, a principled heart, a heart hungry for the presence of God the Father in prayer and a heart broken by sin. We also see the passionate heart of David as he actively pursued the presence of God just as Jesus did the presence of His Father.
A New Covenant
After a first, unsuccessful attempt when the King failed to consult the Word of God on how the Ark should be moved, David succeeded in bringing up the Ark to Jerusalem (II Samuel 6; I Chronicles 15,16). He did not place it back in the Tabernacle of Moses, but placed it in a tent on Mount Zion instead. His view was that God had abandoned the old tabernacle (Psalm 78:67-72). Gone were the restrictions of the old tabernacle (men only, Jews only in the Outer Court; priests only in Inner Court). The Tabernacle of David was a foretaste of NT worship—“Whosoever will may come!” (Mark 8:34,35). This is why the prophets foretold the restoration of David’s Tabernacle as a vital part of Messiah’s ministry.
Isaiah predicted this:
“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.” Isaiah 16:5 NKJV
Amos said this:
“On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” Says LORD who does this thing. Amos 9:11-12 NKJV
In Acts 15, at the first great church conference, the issue was the cultural make-up of the church. Was the church to be a Jewish sect or was it to be an international group open to all races and levels of society? James settled the dispute by quoting the prophet Amos (Acts 15:12-22). Because the Messiah would bring back the glory as the fallen Tabernacle of David was restored, the church of Jesus Christ was to be universal, not just local. The Old Covenant was with the nation of Israel; the New Covenant was to be available to all mankind.
The New Testament and the Psalms
Paul and James tell us to sing Psalms. When we do the instructions found there, the Psalms become New Testament instructions. Tabernacle of David worship is New Covenant worship (in Spirit and Truth) as it is described in the Psalms: with reason and with emotion, corporate as well as individual, joyful as well as repentant, musical as well as literary, with movement as well as with stillness, loud as well as silent, questioning as well as affirming, in crisis as well as in the daily routine, with instrumental music as well as with vocal music, carefully planned and spontaneous, and with the arts of man as well as with the Word of God.
Corporate Worship and Mt. Zion
Just as personal worship was established at Moses’ Tabernacle, corporate worship was established at David’s Tabernacle. Our corporate worship (David’s Tabernacle) must be underpinned by real and powerful personal worship (Moses’ Tabernacle). Today in every nation of the world, we need both. As the writer to the Hebrews said that when the NT church worships, we
…have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. Heb 12:22-24 NKJV
What an awesome privilege is ours to worship the Lord at the summit of Mount Zion, to join the songs of heaven with our earthly voices, to celebrate our King in His very throne room, and to spend time with Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant. Joyfully we ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in the Holy Place (Psalm 24).
As we lift up the ancient doors of praise, the King of Glory comes in!
Fire and Form 102
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
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