Lesson Seven - The Tabernacle of David

"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..." Acts 15:16-17 (KJV) (see Amos 9:11-12).

Speaking to the gathering of the early church in Jerusalem, James said that the fact that the Gentiles were coming to the Lord was a result of the restoration of what David's tabernacle represented - the grace of God and a way open into the very Holiest of All (see Hebrews 6:19; 8:1-2).

The tabernacle of David was a tent, just like the tabernacle of Moses, erected to serve as a place of worship. But while the tabernacle of Moses remained at Gibeon, with all the articles of furniture (except the Ark of the Covenant itself), the tabernacle of David was on Mount Zion. It had none of the other furniture - only the Ark. And unlike Moses' tabernacle, it did not have three compartments - the Outer Court, the Holy Place and the Holiest of All (where the Ark was supposed to be placed). It had only one compartment, the Holiest of All! Yet people flowed in and out of David's tabernacle around the clock to worship before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:1-23; 1 Chronicles 13:1-14; 15:1-16:43).

The setting up of David's Tabernacle, and the events which led to it, are highly significant for us - for, as James indicates in Acts 15:16-17, it pre-pictures the experience of the Church. Just as David's Tabernacle contained the Ark of the Covenant in open access to all Israel, so the Church, through Christ, has open access to the presence of God, and is, in fact, the Tabernacle containing the glory of God (2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:20-22).

Historical Background

The Ark of the Covenant had been removed from the Tabernacle of Moses many years previously. When Israel was losing in a battle with the Philistines, they had brought the Ark from the Tabernacle into their midst, believing, superstitiously, that its presence would give them victory. However, they were miserably defeated and the Ark was taken captive into Philistine territory and put into the temple of Dagon. The Philistines, however, soon sent it back into the land of Israel because of the judgments that began to come upon them. It ended up in a house in the border town of Kiriath Jearim, and remained there for 20 years, until David became king of all Israel. Read the full account in 1 Samuel chapters 4 to 7.

David's Great Desire

"David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, 'If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our brothers throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul'" 1 Chronicles 13:1-3.

What was the Ark?

For Israel, the Ark was the presence of God in their midst! To them, it represented:

The Throne of God

"...the ark of God the Lord, who is enthroned between the cherubim..." 1 Chronicles 13:6.

It meant that God was enthroned in their midst, ruling and reigning over the affairs of their lives.

The Name of God

"...the ark that is called by the Name" 1 Chronicles 13:6.

When Moses had asked to know the Name of the Lord (Exodus 3:13), God had answered:

"...I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you...This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation'" Exodus 3:14-15.

That Name "I AM" (Yahweh), sacred to Israel, represented all that God is! In the Ark, all His power, His authority, His righteous character, was in their midst!

The Glory of God

"Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the place of atonement..." Hebrews 9:5 (see also Exodus 25:10-22).

The fullness of God's glory was revealed in the Ark. It was a "shadow" of the God's Throne in Heaven (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1), where the "cherubim of the Glory" cover the Throne, and the seraphim constantly call out to one another "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory"! (read Ezekiel 28:11-14; Isaiah 6:1-4).

To Israel, the Ark meant:

Three Items in Ark

"Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had...the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's rod that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant" Hebrews 9:3-4.

Three things were inside the Ark. Each depicted aspects of the Lord's nature:

David's Tabernacle

In understanding all that the Ark meant to Israel, we understand, too, David's great desire to bring it back to the midst of his people.

1st Attempt - the Wrong Way

Read 2 Samuel 6:1-11; 1 Chronicles 13. David's first attempt to bring back the Ark was a failure. His plan was obviously to return it to Moses' Tabernacle on Mt Gibeon as he had not prepared anywhere else for it. He followed the same method as the Philistines when they sent it back to Israel and put it on a new cart, drawn by oxen. When Uzzah puts his hand on the Ark to steady it when the oxen stumble, he is struck dead. David is angry (literally - "his nose is out of joint"). The Ark is left in the house of a man called Obed-Edom and remains there for three months, bringing great blessing to all his household.

The 2nd Attempt - the Right Way

This time David finds out from the Lord the right way to bring the Ark back. Each truth also applies to the Church:

All Israel, in unity, brought the Ark back with great rejoicing and David, laying aside his kingly robes and in the linen clothes of a priest, "danced before the Lord with all his might" (2 Samuel 6:14).

The tabernacle of David was marked by:

God is rebuilding again the Tabernacle of David - "that the remnant of men may seek the Lord"!


Copyright © 1995 Paul, Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these studies are from the New International Version of the Bible, © New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.

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