Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch
Roots of Revival II
World Revival School of Ministry
3. Moses’ Tabernacle & David’s Tabernacle
4. The Order of David
5. The New Covenant
Every believer in Jesus knows about the Tabernacle of Moses, but few are aware of David’s Tabernacle. While Moses’ Tabernacle was still functioning (without the ark of the covenant), David set up a tent in Jerusalem, putting Levites in charge of worship that would never cease day and night. Then he brought back the ark of the covenant, representing God’s presence, and surrounded it with worship until his son Solomon would build a permanent place for God.
Not only did King David institute God-pleasing worship, writing many psalms and hymns to that end, being an example to all the following generations, but a day was promised when the Tabernacle of David would be restored and find its fulfillment. That day started with the birth of the church, and is finding its greater fulfillment even today.
The purpose of this paper is to study the Tabernacle of David and its significance for today’s church.
When the Old Testament speaks about the Tabernacle of David, it can have two different meanings. It either denotes David’s kingdom, his throne, or God’s throne, the ark of the covenant, and the Davidic order of worship. The diagram on the following page shows both tabernacles, which become one in the New Covenant church.
“CHRIST and THE CHURCH together constitute the Royal Priesthood, Kings and Priest, after the order of Melchisedek. This brings together that which pertained to David and the revelation on the Tabernacle of David as pertaining to his Kingdom (Kingship), and to his order of Priesthood (Priest) which he established in the Tent for the Ark in Zion. Zion is a King-Priest city, and it shadowed forth the Gospel dispensation. In this era, Jews and Gentiles come together as ONE, as King-Priests, into the Tabernacle of David and worship the Lord.” (Conner 1976:74)
We not only read about David’s tabernacle in the books of Samuel and Chronicles, but also Amos, Isaiah, and Stephen and James in the New Testament refer to it. We therefore have different Hebrew as well as Greek words that are translated “tabernacle”.
Three terms in the Old Testament are translated “tabernacle” (or “tent”): ohel, mishkan and sookkah. The word ohel has a secular as well as religious meaning, meaning “a dwelling place for either man or for God” (Conner 1976:11). One example for its use is 2.Samuel 6:17, where the “ohel of David” was “God’s house, God’s dwelling place, God’s home” (Conner 1976:12).
Mishkan is also used for natural and religious purposes, for men, animals or God. However, its “predominant use is of the Lord’s Tabernacle, especially that which Moses built” (Conner 1976:13).
There are several instances where both Hebrew words are used; one example is 2.Samuel 7:6, where God says: I have been moving about in a tent (ohel), even in a tabernacle (mishkan). “Thus the OHEL was the covering Tent over the MISH-KAN, or the wooden structure called ‘Tabernacle’” (ibidem).
The third word, sukkah, is a “temporary dwelling place, a booth or tabernacle, it is used for animals, for man, and for God’s dwelling place in the heavens” (Conner 1976:14). We know this word from the Feast of Tabernacles called Sukkot. Amos promised that the Tabernacle would be rebuilt: In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent (sukkah) (Amos 9:11).
In the New Testament James quotes Amos 9:11 in Acts 15:16: After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. The Greek word used for “tent” here is skene. All the forms for skene have to do with “the idea of dwelling place, either for God or man, either temporary or eternal, either earthly or heavenly”, therefore uniting all the Hebrew words.
3. Moses’ Tabernacle & David’s Tabernacle
In the wilderness the Lord had given Moses detailed instructions for the building of the Tabernacle and all its utensils, the priesthood and their service before Him, as He would have His presence dwell in the Holy of Holies, where the ark of the covenant would rest. Whenever the pillar of fire would move, all Israel, including the tabernacle would move.
When Israel settled in the Promised Land, the Tabernacle of Moses finally found a place to stay. It was erected at Gibeah and the sacrifices prescribed by the Law continued there.
In 1.Samuel we read about the capture of the ark of the covenant, which represented God’s presence Himself, as it was taken into battle presumptuously. The ark would never return to its place in the Tabernacle of Moses again. However, the priestly service and sacrifices continued unchanged.
King David, a worshiper after God’s heart, desired to bring the ark back to Israel, restoring God’s honor and presence to its rightful place. David’s residence was in Jerusalem and he wanted to make Jerusalem the “worship center of the world” (Gentile 1994:115), so he set up a tent in Jerusalem to bring the ark there, in preparation for the House he would build for Yahweh (but God would not let him do it, so his son Solomon did) to dwell in forever.
Conner (1976:108) shares the following insight:
“The Tabernacle was simply a Tent, pitched in Jerusalem, in Mt. Zion. It was there until the erection of the Temple of Solomon. It certainly could not be compared with the Tent or Tabernacle of Moses and its three places as far as structure was concerned. The very fact that David’s Tabernacle was simply a Tent attested to the truth that its construction was temporary and transitional. It was not the ultimate as a structure. That which was established in it was incorporated in the Temple order. Both the revelation of the Tabernacle of David and the Temple of Solomon had been given to King David”.
David loved God more than his own interests, and He honored that by giving him the blueprints for His house, and showing him His heart and desire for worship.
In 1.Chronicles we read about David bringing the ark to the new Tabernacle. The Levites had purified themselves in preparation. While sacrifices were not part of David’s Tabernacle, seven bullocks and seven rams were sacrificed to the Lord, as the ark was removed from Obed-Edom’s house. When the ark was brought into the Tabernacle, David offered burnt and peace offerings, both voluntary offerings, to dedicate the new resting place of God. It was the year 1050 B.C. and the ark would stay at this transitional place for 40 years, before moving into Solomon’s Temple.
While the priests at Gibeah continued to bring the daily animal sacrifices to God, the priests in Jerusalem worshiped with songs and instruments day and night. David’s Tabernacle did not have different courts, no Holy of Holies or veil to separate the priests from His presence. It was a great prophetic sign of the time to come.
The following diagram summarizes the differences between Moses’ and David’s Tabernacle:
4. The Order of David
Thanks to the many psalms of King David that we still have, we not only learn about the depths of his heart, but also about ways of worship that he instituted in the new Tabernacle. He wanted to surround the ark with “an atmosphere of constant worship and praise” (Gentile 1994:118). One might wonder why David did not return the ark to its previous place in Gibeah and institute the new order of worship there. Gentile explains that “two high priests had arisen. Zadok officiated at Gibeon, but Abiathar had faithfully served David as high priest and spiritual advisor during the years they both lived in the wilderness running from King Saul. Deposing either priest from his office would be difficult, so maintaining two centers retained both men equitably” (ibidem). David could have moved Moses’ Tabernacle to Jerusalem, but after hundreds of years the Gideonites would certainly not agree with such a move. In addition, it “would only perpetuate a system of worship that needed renewal and updating” (ibidem).
Jerusalem would be the new center of worship. David chose 4000 out of 38000 Levites to sing and play instruments before the Lord day and night (1.Chronicles 15). “He introduced musical instruments and psalm-singing in the daily, twenty-four-hour effort to surround the ark of God with the praises of Israel” (Gentile 1994:129).
“He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel: Asaph was the chief, Zechariah second, then Jeiel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God. That day David first committed to Asaph and his associates this psalm of thanks to the Lord … David left Asaph and his associates before the ark of the covenant of the Lord to minister there regularly, according to each day's requirements.” (1.Chronicles 16:4-7, 37)
David’s way of worship included every part of a person’s being – spirit, soul and body – and was done with all strength and might. The Psalms wonderful portray this “fervent adoration of God. Spontaneity, exuberance, excitement, youthfulness, and celebration – all accompanied by body actions – characterize Psalmic worship” (Gentile 1994:119). In the Psalms we see the following ways of worship (including an example each): speaking (34:1), singing (47:1), shouting (27:6), lifting hands (63:4), playing instruments (33,2-3), clapping hands (47:1), standing (134:1), bowing down (95:6) and dancing (149:3).
The following diagram contrasts the order of David’s Tabernacle with the one that had existed since Moses:
5. The New Covenant
In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be. (Amos 9:11)
After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things. (Acts 15:16-17)
In Acts 15 James quotes Amos’ prophecy, which was given in 787 B.C., “about 60 years before Hezekiah’s time, during a period of national apostasy and spiritual decline” (Conner 1976:147). God desired to reestablished David’s order of worship which had ceased. However, His purposes were far greater than Amos could have fathomed. David’s Tabernacle was a type of the church of Christ, who literally fulfilled the Tabernacle. The Word had come down and “tabernacled” among us (see John 1:14). Jews and Gentiles now had access to God in Christ – which was the point James wanted to make at the Council in Jerusalem.
“What Peter, Paul, and Barnabas had seen God do among the Gentiles under their ministry was exactly what God had said He would do. Namely, to build again the Tabernacle of David. What for? That the residue of men and all the Gentiles upon whom His Name is called might seek after the Lord. … The problem of what to do with the Gentiles is solved. They do not have to come under circumcision, or under the Law, that is, the Tabernacle of Moses. They come into the Tabernacle of David which has no Mosaic ritualism.” (Conner 1976:64)
The following diagram contrasts the Old Covenant with the New, as seen in Moses’ and David’s tabernacle:
In our day we see yet another fulfillment of the Davidic order: Houses of prayer and worship, where the Lord is being worshiped around the clock, are springing up all over the world. According to Mike Bickle (2000), the restoration of David’s Tabernacle includes the following components:
“A priestly dimension – focused on 24 hour a day worship and intercession that follows the Davidic order of worship. A prophetic dimension – focused on the release of the prophetic ministry in the church of Jesus Christ – Acts 2:17. A kingly dimension – focused on the apostolic ministry that accomplish the tasks of the kingdom with power fulfilling the Great Commision – evangelism, community and equipping.”
Bickle expects those three dimension to be restored before the end of the age, prayer ministries like his International House of Prayer, filling all the earth.
Jesus, the son of David, fulfilled the great vision David had – no more walls around the presence of God, thousands of priests worshiping Him day and night, in Spirit and truth, with singing and instruments, body, soul and spirit. Today we all have access to His presence through Jesus, being friends of God like David was, and even more. His Spirit now lives in us and enables us to worship and live His way.
David had made a radical move – building a new tabernacle in a new place, not returning the ark to its previous place, but instituting a new order which foreshadowed the coming of Messiah and His community of believers. He was a forerunner and visionary, preparing the way for his son Solomon to build a house for the Lord, where the blueprints for the new priestly order he had received from the Lord were put into practice easily, after 40 years of day-and-night worship in the Tabernacle of David.
May the Tabernacle of David be fully restored in our day, which His people praying and worshiping Him day and night until He comes.
Bickle, Mike, The Tabernacle of David, International House of Prayer: 2000, http://www.fotb.com/media/pdf/tabernacle_of_david.pdf
Conner, Kevin J., The Tabernacle of David, City Bible Publishing: Portland, OR 1976
Gentile, Ernest B., Worship God!, City Bible Publishing: Portland, OR 1994
Johnson, Bob, FAQ: A Short Catechism on the Tabernacle of David, ZionSong Ministries: 2000, http://www.tabernacle-of-david.com/catechism.html
Koester, Craig R., The Dwelling of God, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series, The Catholic Biblical Association of America: Washington, DC 1989