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Restoring the Tabernacle of David worship in the Church


Redcliffe City Church worship service at the beach Credit: Leonard J Matthews/Flickr/Creative Commons

Redcliffe City Church worship service at the beach Credit: Leonard J Matthews/Flickr/Creative Commons

I have written articles in the past about the Tabernacle that David set up in Jerusalem to house the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 16:17).

This tabernacle or tent existed for less than 40 years and was taken down shortly after the Ark of the covenant was transferred from David’s tabernacle to Solomon’s temple.

31 Now these are those whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord, after the ark rested there. 32 They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem; and they [a]served in their office according to their order. (1 Chronicles 6: 31-32 NASV)

It needs to be pointed out that God did not want David or his son to build a temple, God preferred to stay in the Tabernacle of David.

But because of its brief existence, it seems that David’s Tabernacle played a minor role in Israel’s religious life.

But that isn’t true.

The Book of Psalms, one of the most prominent books in the Bible, was dedicated almost exclusively to the Tabernacle of David where it’s mentioned several times:

Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill? (Psalm 15:1 NKJV)

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. (Psalm 27:6 NKJV)

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God. (Psalm 43:3-4 NKJV)

In Judah God is known;
His name is great in Israel.
2 In Salem also is His tabernacle,
And His dwelling place in Zion. (Psalm 76:1-2 NKJV)

Almost all of Psalms, written by a variety of composers including King David, were songs and proclamations for worship in the Tabernacle of David. We could call Psalms the Tabernacle of David hymn book.

Though the Tabernacle of David was eventually dismantled after it was replaced by King Solomon’s temple, the prophets began to utter prophecies about a future when God would rebuild the Tabernacle of David.

Amos prophesied that when God restored the Tabernacle of David, it would be used to usher the gentiles into the Kingdom of God:

“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;
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom,[c]
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,”
Says the Lord who does this thing. (Amos 9:11-12 NKJV)

And the prophet Isaiah stated that one day the Messiah would rule from the Tabernacle of David:

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)

Both these promises were fulfilled in the Church. After the Holy Spirit fell upon the gentiles, James quotes the passage in Amos at the council held in Jerusalem to explain that the Church needed to embrace the gentiles as equals in what was largely a Jewish church (Acts 15:13-19).

And as Jesus was lifted up and now rules the world as head of the church (Ephesians 1:20-22), we see Isaiah’s prophecy being fulfilled as well.

God’s promised restoration of the Tabernacle of David was being fulfilled in the Church.

The Tabernacle of David was unique compared to its predecessor the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon that followed. Similar to the other two, David’s tent housed  the Ark of the Covenant, Israel’s most important piece of furniture, on which the presence of God rested (2 Chronicles 1:4).

However, it differed in one important respect.  In both the Tabernacle of Moses and Solomon’s Temple, the Ark of the Covenant was hidden in a secure area called the Holy of Holies, that could only be accessed by the High Priest. There were even restrictions on who could visit these two facilities. Gentiles, women and even Jewish men all had their special areas. People who were illegitimate were not allowed to visit at all.

However, this all changed with the Tabernacle of David. Everyone, Jew, gentile, women and illegitimate, had full access to the Ark of the Covenant and the presence of God. This meant even King David who was illegitimate could come before God’s presence (2 Samuel 7:18).

Though the Tabernacle of Moses no longer contained the Ark of the Covenant, it continued to function with the priests offering sacrifices (2 Chronicles 1:1-4).  Other than animal sacrifices during the inaugural service for the Tabernacle of David (2 Samuel 6:17), no more animal sacrifices took place at David’s tent.

Instead it became home to a new form of sacrifice, where people offered sacrifices of praise (Psalm 27:6; Hebrews 13:15), joy (Psalm 27:6), thanksgiving (Psalm 50:23) and a contrite spirit (Psalm 51:17).

And this sacrifice of praise was expressed in a variety forms of worship referenced throughout the Psalms:

Singing

Though singing was previously part of worship in the Tabernacle of Moses, it took on a new dimension in the Tabernacle of David as all people were able to express their praise before the Ark of the Covenant (Psalm 150:1).

In 1 Chronicles 15:16-24, David set up choirs that would worship God day and night every day.

A new creative flow came out of this with God bringing forth new songs created by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

Sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth. (Psalm 96:1 NASV)

With the Tabernacle of David being fulfilled in the birthing of the church, singing was a big part of  its sacrifices of praise. Paul exhorts us to sing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).

Psalms involved the singing of scripture, but what is the difference between hymns and spiritual songs? I believe that “spiritual songs” are songs that God gives all believers not just those with creative ability. No matter how tone-deaf you are God wants you to sing your own creatively-inspired songs to the Lord.

Clapping

Another form of worship that appears in the Psalms is clapping. While we clap today in rhythm with the music, in the Tabernacle of David clapping was an expression of joy of  triumph over the enemy:

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!  (Psalm 47:1 NKJV).

This is no more true than the New Testament church where because of Christ’s death and resurrection, He has triumphed over Satan (1 John 3:8).

But there was one more reason to clap. In the Old Testament, people clapped when proclaiming a king:

12 And he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the Testimony; they made him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!” (2 Kings 11:12 NASV)

With Jesus proclaimed the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15) clapping should take on the form of applause as we honor Christ.

Dancing before the Lord

Dancing was listed as an expression of worship in connection with David’s tabernacle:

Let them praise His name with the dance;
Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. (Psalm 149:3 NKJ)

Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! (Psalm 150:4 NKJ)

Through the very act of dancing, we can praise God. And through the Old Testament, we see dancing mentioned several times as a form of victory celebration over the enemy. The women, led by Miriam danced after Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20-21). The women also danced as they celebrated David’s victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:6).

David danced when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to be installed in the tent David had set up in Jerusalem. It was an expression of joy and celebration (2 Samuel 6:14-16).

And if you think dancing as worship is limited to just women, we read that after David’s men recaptured their families taken captive by the Philistines they celebrated with dance (1 Samuel 30:16).

Musical instruments

Musical instruments will also play an active role in worship and it is not that they will be accompanying singers, the playing of musical instruments is also an act of worship:

Praise Him with Trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing. (Psalm 150:1 NKJ).

And in this verse we see the three basic forms of instruments, wind, string and percussion that will manifest itself in different forms today from guitars to drums.

In fact, musical instruments as worship were not only required by King David, but also commanded by God through the prophet Nathan and Gad the seer:

25 And he stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for thus was the commandment of the Lord by His prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded them to offer the burnt offering on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord also began, with the trumpets and with the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 So all the assembly worshiped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. (2 Chronicles 29:25-28 NASV)

Not only will musical instruments be a form of worship, they will also be used to accompany singing that will enhance the worship with voice.

As we move into the New Testament we see the church singing in Psalms in worship (Ephesians 5:19). The Greek word translated singing, psallo, means literally to “sing with accompaniment of mechanical musical instruments.”  Some lexicons go as far to translate the word “to pluck a bow string.”

Lifting hands in worship/bowing down

Raising hands (Psalm 63:4; Psalm 134:2) and bowing (Psalm 95:6) are mentioned several times as an expression of worship in the Psalms.

It is a way of honoring God and acknowledging His supremacy. The Psalmist also compares raising of hands to the evening offering performed in the Tabernacle of Moses:

Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice (Psalm 141:2 NKJ)

Both these expressions of worship are ways of humbling ourselves before the Lord.

Shouting

In a Psalm written by Kind David, he writes that shouting before God was another way of worshiping God in the Tabernacle of David:

And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices [a]with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. (Psalm 27:6 NASV)

David writes that shouting was a way of lifting his head above his enemy.

But the verse suggests that David had not yet achieved the victory he was seeking, but he was thanking God for the victory that was yet to come.

David’s choir director writes:

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
(Psalm 47:1 NKJ)

Banners

Banners were also used as a form of worship in the Tabernacle of David:

We will sing for joy over your victory,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. (Psalm 20:5 NASV)

You have given a banner to those who fear You,
That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah (Psalm 60:4 NKV)

And the Song of Solomon speaks of an army filled with men and women waving banners (Song of Solomon 6:4) and the enemies of God will be terrified when they see the banners waving in the wind (Isaiah 31:9).

Banners were instruments of war and were so important that it is also one of the names of God — Jehovah Nissi, Lord of the Banner:

15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, [a]The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, “Because [b]the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:15-16 NKJ)

With the church being the prophetic fulfillment of the restoration of the Tabernacle of David, these are the expressions of worship that God wants to see in our assemblies.

More in the Tabernacle of David series:

 

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