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The Tabernacle Of David

Before there was a Tabernacle on earth, there was a Garden. God and man dwelt together there, walking side by side and talking face to face.

After many years, we had this account of Enoch walking with God for three hundred years. And he disappeared, for God took him (Gen 5:22-24).

Then, a man called Abraham appeared on the scene of mankind. He was in constant fellowship with God, and was called the Friend of God (2 Chr 20:7, Isa 41:8, James 2:23).

For Adam, Enoch and Abraham, there was no Tabernacle and yet God could still dwell and fellowship with them. No fanfare, no razzle-dazzle, no fancy preparations, decorations and ceremonies.

Much later, a young shepherd boy grew and became a man whom God loved greatly. His name was David. God Himself testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.' (Acts 13:22). David did everything God wanted him to do.

"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

"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 the LORD Who does this thing. Amos 9:11-12

And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: '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.' Acts 15:14-17

The word "Tabernacle" is more appropriately used as a verb than as a noun. It is God tabernacling with man, and man tabernacling with God. The beloved apostle John declared that the Word became flesh and "tabernacled" ("dwelt") among us (John 1:14).

In the Tabernacle of David, beyond all the holy and spiritual furniture, vessels, articles, offerings, sacrifices, praise and worship is the heart of a man whose one desire is to dwell in the house of the LORD not just all the days of his life (Psalm 27:4) but forever (Psalm 23:6).

Dwelling with God, fellowshipping with Him and being His friend. That's what God created us for! To have direct communication and sweet communion with Him.

The Tabernacle of David is more than just a Place, it is the Presence of a Person named God!

Three conditions distinguish the Tabernacle of David from the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon:

  • worshipping God in spirit and in truth
  • walking with God in meekness and righteousness
  • working with God in mercy and justice

"For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep" Acts 13:36

Let us take a look at the history of the Tabernacle of God and how it has changed throughout time:

Before the Tabernacle was constructed, the nation of Israel erected a temporary tent called the tent of meeting outside the camp (Ex 33:7-11). Anyone who wanted to inquire of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting.

Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent.

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young assistant Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

After Moses received the Ten Commandments in Mount Sinai, the Tabernacle was constructed on the first day of the first month of the second year, 14 days before the Passover (Exodus 40:17). The Exodus occurred at the very first Passover the year before.

The description of the actual building of the Tabernacle was recorded in Exodus 35 through 40. The skilled workers were enlisted as God had chosen and commanded. Following that listing of workers, the building of each item of the Tabernacle was then described in Exodus 36 to 39. The full record of the Tabernacle's construction was in Exodus 40. Everyone participated in building it. Some gave, some worked and many did both.

The Tabernacle was very central in the life of Israel as it is graphically portrayed in the Book of Numbers. When the Israelites pitched camp in the wilderness, the Tabernacle was to be placed in the centre, with the Levites camping next to it (Num. 1:53). Then the tribes were to be arrayed in specific order on the four sides of the Tabernacle (Numbers 2).

  • For most of the wandering years around Mount Sinai, the Tabernacle was at Kadesh as the Israelites spent all the time there (Deuteronomy 1:46).
  • Immediately after entering the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, the Tabernacle was located at Gilgal (Joshua 4:19), and the area of Shechem and Mount Ebal (Joshua 8:30-33).
  • The Tabernacle was then established firmly at Shiloh for many years (Joshua 18:1-10), continuing throughout all the periods of the Judges.

As the years passed, certain other structures were added to the Tabernacle while it remained at Shiloh. These included living quarters for the priests and Levites who served at the Tabernacle. By the end of the period of the judges, during the administration of Eli, at least some of the attendants lived on the premises. Young Samuel stayed in the Tabernacle (1 Sam. 3:3).

Because of their sins of the Israelites, God allowed them to be defeated at Shiloh. The Ark was there and then captured by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:3,11). It was at this point that the Ark of the Covenant and the original Tabernacle parted company for many months or perhaps permanently. When The Ark was recovered from the Philistines 7 months later (1 Samuel 6:1), it was taken to Abinadab's house in Kiriath Jearim (1 Samuel 7:1).

  • Although the Ark is again mentioned in the Tabernacle of the Lord when it was later relocated at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39), there is some doubt as to whether it was the original Tabernacle. The Bible does not state specifically what happened to it, and there are a number of possibilities, but in all likelihood, its ropes, wooden bars, and leather materials had simply worn out after so many hundred years of use, and the Levites respectfully retired it in some way.
  • Then King David desired to move the Ark to Jerusalem. But his first attempt was unsuccessful (2 Samuel 6:2-9).
  • The Ark temporarily stayed in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite (2 Samuel 6:10).
  • David's second attempt was successful. The Ark was placed inside the tent that David had pitched for it (2 Samuel 6:17). Even if the original Tabernacle had survived to Gibeon, it obviously hadn't made it to Jerusalem - otherwise, David would almost certainly have used it.

The physical aspects of this Tabernacle of David may not differ much from the Tabernacle of Moses. But the Tabernacle of David is more than just as a place of worship; it is a place to live and rest - the dwelling place of God and man. Remember by this time there were already living quarters in the Tabernacle. Remember young Samuel.

Later, the Ark was placed in the new Temple that was built by King Solomon.

What is the Tabernacle of David in today's terms?

In the New Testament, we are taught:

  • Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19)
  • Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. (Eph 2:19-22)
  • Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's Who sent Me. (John 14:23-24)

I personally believe the Tabernacle of David is the glorious Body of Christ including both Israel and the Church in one union with Christ; with each one of us, His living stones, having the Holy Spirit abiding (dwelling) in us and we abiding (dwelling) in Him; and as His priests, worshipping Him in spirit and in truth; and as His people, walking with God in meekness and righteousness; and as His princes (kings, working with God in mercy and justice.

It is going back to the Garden, we can again commune with God as friend with Friend.

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary