Vol. 30 New Series November, 1968 No. 6
THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID

This expression enters into the summing up address of James the Chairman of the Council at Jerusalem when Paul and Barnabas and others from Antioch appeared before the apostles and elders to declare their case for the Gentiles being exempted from the practice of the rite of circumcision (Acts 15.).
   "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

The Companion Bible devotes half a column of notes to the words used in these two verses. They are quoted by James after he had said, "And to this agree the words of the prophets." Note that he does not say that 'Thus are the words of the prophets fulfilled.' The C.B., under verse 15 says, 'Only one prophet is quoted (Amos 9:11, 12), but there are many similar predictions in Isaiah and others.' Let us turn to this one before examining any that may be similar in other places.
    "In that day I will 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: that they may
    possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are
    called by My name, saith the Lord that doeth this."

This is virtually the same, except in the name of 'Edom,' but the LXX. agrees with Acts, thus indicating to us that the A.V. and other translations from the Hebrew (or the modem Hebrew text) are wrong. As the letters of the two words Adam and Edom are the same in Hebrew, the pointing only being different and of comparatively modem use, James, speaking in the record of the Holy Spirit is giving us the correct word, anthrOpos.

As Peter, at Pentecost, altered the words of Joel, at the opening of his quotation from that prophet, so James has altered his quotation from 'In that day' (en tE hEmera ekeinE) to 'after this' (meta tauta), whereas Peter altered 'meta tauta' of the LXX. to 'en tais eskatais hemerais.' Peter gives a new revelation by the Holy Spirit, but James is making use of a passage to show that it had been prophesied that the Gentiles would be brought in to fellowship in the belief in and worship of God, the God of Israel, through Christ. Although Amos was drawing attention to the day of the Lord, James had no intention of doing so.

Other passages from the prophets to which attention is drawn in the margin in Acts are Isaiah 54:1-5, which mentions the 'tent' (OHEL—or tabernacle) of Israel and inheriting the Gentiles, and Hosea 3:5, which says:
    "Afterward (meta tauta in the LXX.) shall the children of
    Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their
    king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the 'latter
    days' (ACHARITH YAMIM)."
This passage, although referring to David, speaks of the beginning of the restoration to the land and their desires for a David to be their king, but makes no mention of the Gentiles. James may or may not have had these passages in mind. One cannot be dogmatic on the issue.

Jeremiah 30:3-9 throws light on the subject by directing our attention to the time of the restoration and the time of Jacob's trouble, which is NOT the same as the great tribulation in the day of the Lord.*

From all this it must be seen that one has to differentiate a great deal when one is examining the O.T. prophecies, or one gets things hopelessly mixed up, as the subject has been in the past. It is always better to keep things apart than to snatch at small likenesses in order to amalgamate two or more passages.

Before the consideration of the 'tabernacle of David' there is one other word that might legitimately, in the writer's opinion, be altered, which is the little conjunctive 'and' before 'all the Gentiles,' where it might be an explicative copula, 'to wit' or, simply, 'even,' otherwise 'the residue of men' are different from 'all the Gentiles.'

The Tabernacle of David—tEn skEnEn Daueid. The word 'skEnE' is a tent. This word is used by the LXX. to translate the three Hebrew words, OHEL, meaning a tent or referring to the tabernacle, which, in fact, was a tent. It also translates the words MISHKAM, a dwelling place, SUKKAH, a covering or booth and SIKKUTH, translated 'tabernacle' (of Moloch) in Amos 5:26. The general use of the word 'tabernacle' for, all these Hebrew words, in the A.V. is misleading and another cause of misunderstanding the Scriptures. skEnE, from which we have, our English word 'scene' comes from the use, in Grecian times, of a tent to cover the stage of an open air theatre, in order to protect the actors from the weather. When the play opened, the side of the large tent towards the auditorium was drawn aside exposing the spectacle inside the skEnE, the scene, in which the actors played their parts.

What, one may ask, is the meaning of the expression? The tabernacle in the wilderness was the tabernacle of the Lord, of God or My tabernacle, the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, and the tabernacle of the congregation, but never do we hear of it being referred to as the tabernacle of Moses, who, if anyone could claim the reference, he was in the position to do so. In the reign of Saul the tabernacle was set up at Nob, a short way outside Jerusalem, whence David received the shewbread from the priest Ahimelech for himself and his young men. Before this it had been at Gilgal and Shiloh, but the tent prepared: by David to receive the ark of the Lord or of the testimony, when. it was brought back from the house of Obed Edom was not the tabernacle proper, but a specially prepared tent. If the tabernacle of David is a literal expression, this tent is the only tabernacle he could have laid claim to. But this is reducing it to an absurdity and so the idea must be abandoned that the words are literal. They must therefore be figurative and descriptive of something that is real. There are two possibilities here, one is the idea of a scene or stage setting, in other words the state of affairs that had been established in the days of king David's reign, as he turned it over to his son and heir Solomon, that is, all the surrounding Nations being subject to him and paying tribute. The other is a reference to the Davidic covenant. The Greek and English Lexicon of the N.T. by Edward Robinson, D.D., says in connexion with these very passages in Acts and Amos—"metaphorically for the family or royal line of David" fallen into weekness and decay. As the prophets are of one mind in proclaiming to a greater or lesser degree the restoration of Israel under their Royal King it could be a combination of both these latter conditions. The Scriptures do prophesy their being some time governed by the risen David. (Jeremiah 30:9). As we have abandoned the thought that the tabernacle of David was either the tabernacle of the wilderness or the tent set up to hold the ark after its recovery from the Philistines, so too one cannot give support to what some say, that it refers to the temple built by Solomon, the reception of the revelation of the details of which and the collection of everything in preparation for its erection were the great part that David played. No, neither the tabernacle of the testimony nor the temple on Mount Moria were in view and, unless some more convincing solution can be forthcoming, we are left with the resuscitation of the kingship of David's line, which culminated in the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:31-33), by the actual resurrection of David himself to take over the reins of government of Israel, once again reunited (Jer. 30:9). Coinciding with this is the restoration of the power of the king of Israel in having the surrounding Nations in complete subjection to his rule; the jurisdiction over them being his, invested in him by his God, Jehovah Elohim, Whom we presently identify as the Lord Jesus Christ.

Those who are acquainted with the principle of 'right-division' of the Scriptures will be familiar with that principle put into operation by the Lord Himself in the Synagogue at 'Nazareth, when He closed the book and resumed His seat after reading as far as "the acceptable year of the Lord," stopping in the middle of the sentence. In the O.T. prophecy two eras, millenniums apart, were brought into juxtaposition. Jer. 30:3 undoubtedly refers to the restoration to the land of Deut. 30:1-6 and Ezek. 20:33-38. Jacob's trouble of verse 7, as has been shown corresponds to the cry that came out of Egypt by reason of their bondage, fulfilled in the wave of anti-semitism and overrunning of the land by Gog that anticipate that restoration, but the rule of "David their king, whom I will raise up unto them," will not take place until AFTER the coming of the Lord to the Mount of Olives. Then the Lord will be proclaimed King of kings and Lord of lords, when David will be the acknowledged king of Israel, in regency under the authority of, and on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, ruling in Zion, "for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

Whereas, after the restoration and the return of Israel to the land, Israel will be in the closest relationship that they have ever been to Jehovah Elohim and will worship the Lord, offering sacrifices and oblations under the Levitical priesthood, they will not as a Nation receive the proclamation of the gospel which is then made, the gospel of the circumcision. Some will receive it and form assemblies in various parts. But the Nation does not acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah and King until they look on Him whom they pierced. Then they will acknowledge Jesus is Jehovah and they will go forth to spread that knowledge to all the Nations of the world. Thus, and thus only will the tabernacle of David be restored and the Lord will be glorified therein.

J.G.H.S.

*(See the article on this subject in Vol. 27, New Series, No. 1, "Jacob's Trouble", in which article the word ACHARITH should be followed by the word YAMIM (days), except in Ezek. 38:8, where it is ACHARITH SHANAH (years).) Last updated 1.10.2005