What is the tabernacle of David?
The word “tabernacle” is defined as “a tent sanctuary used by the Israelites during the Exodus; a temporary shelter, a tent; a house of worship” (Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary).
God was the first one to use this word in the Bible when He was speaking to Moses. Exodus 25:8,9 says, “And LET THEM MAKE ME A SANCTUARY; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show thee, AFTER THE PATTERN OF THE TABERNACLE, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” So God first calls the tabernacle a “sanctuary.” “Sanctuary” is defined as “a consecrated place; the most sacred part of a religious building” (Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary). So the Tabernacle was a holy place. A place consecrated to God.
This earthly Tabernacle was a “pattern” of the Tabernacle in heaven. Hebrews 8:1,2 says, “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of THE SANCTUARY, AND OF THE TRUE TABERNACLE, WHICH THE LORD PITCHED, AND NOT MAN.” Hebrews 9:24 says, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, WHICH ARE THE FIGURES OF THE TRUE; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:” So the whole Old Testament Tabernacle setup was patterned after the true sanctuary in heaven. It is a holy place — the place where God is worshipped, and the place of God’s presence.
The phrase “the tabernacle of David” is first seen in Isaiah 16:5, “And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.” This would be a reference to ruling in the throne of David. There are many references to David’s throne in the future. Isaiah 9:6,7 says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, UPON THE THRONE OF DAVID, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and TO ESTABLISH IT with judgment and with justice FROM HENCEFORTH EVEN FOR EVER. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
Amos 9:11 is the second occurrence of the phrase “the tabernacle of David.” “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.” Notice what it says here, “In that day will I RAISE UP the tabernacle of David THAT IS FALLEN…”
Remember that David was promised the kingdom as a young man. I Samuel 16:11-13 says, “And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.”
But King Saul began to be troubled after that. I Samuel 16:14-23 says, “But the spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him. Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep. And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul. And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight. And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.”
When a battle came along, David was sent home, while King Saul went to fight. But some of David’s brothers went to fight in the battle, and his father wanted to know how they were doing, so he sent David to see and bring him back the news. While David was there, a man by the name of Goliath just happened to show himself and defy the armies of Israel. I Samuel 17:4-29 says, “And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul. And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul. But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days. And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to thy brethren; And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge. Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle. For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren. And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid. And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel. And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him. And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”
So David ends up fighting with Goliath, and kills him. Is David honored by King Saul for this? No. It only serves to make King Saul jealous of David. I Samuel 18:6-9 says, “And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.”
David has to run for his life for some years. And even when King Saul is slain, part of Israel follows one of Saul’s sons. II Samuel 5:4,5 says, “David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.” So it was seven years and six months before David ruled over all Israel.
When David’s son Solomon took the throne, he reigned over all Israel. But when it came time for Solomon’s son to reign, the kingdom was divided again. I Kings 12:12-16 says, “So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day. And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him; And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat. So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.” So the throne of David is somewhat diminished, and totally taken away with the removal of Zedekiah in II Kings 25:6-10, “So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon. And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.”
The one to restore and take over the throne of David will be Jesus. Luke 1:26-33 says, “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and THE LORD GOD SHALL GIVE UNTO HIM THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; AND OF HIS KINGDOM THERE SHALL BE NO END.”
Acts 15:13-17 gives us the third use of the phrase “the tabernacle of David.” “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.” This passage is also talking about the restoration of the tabernacle of David, and says that it will cause people to seek after the Lord — not only the Jews, but also the Gentiles.
So “the tabernacle of David” refers to David’s throne, and to his seed. It stands for a righteous kingdom and a godly seed — a seed which points people to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 13:22,23 says, “… he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I HAVE FOUND DAVID THE SON OF JESSE, A MAN AFTER MINE OWN HEART, WHICH SHALL FULFIL ALL MY WILL. OF THIS MAN’S SEED HATH GOD ACCORDING TO HIS PROMISE RAISED UNTO ISRAEL A SAVIOUR, JESUS.”
The question for us is, “What kind of a tent are we pitching in this life?” A tent of righteousness, or a tent of wickedness? Remember where Lot pitched his tent? Genesis 13:12,13 says, “Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” Lot laid up his treasure upon earth, and he lost it all.
David laid up his treasure in heaven, and God blessed him. I Chronicles 29:1-3 says, “Furthermore David the king said unto all the congregation, Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great: for the palace is not for man, but for the LORD God. Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance. Moreover, BECAUSE I HAVE SET MY AFFECTION TO THE HOUSE OF MY GOD, I HAVE OF MINE OWN PROPER GOOD, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house.”
How are we investing in the Lord’s work? What will our seed do for Jesus’ sake? Are we leaving a godly tabernacle behind us, or ungodly trash?