Shepherd Following the Sheep

Shepherd Following the Sheep

While writing The Davidic Covenant 7 – The Kingdom, the phrase “from following the sheep” used in NKJV & NASB versions in 2 Samuel 7:8 caught my attention. In some Bible versions, the word “tending” was used but the versions I use for Bible study use “following” and so my discussion will be based this. The sheep follows the shepherd, why is it the reverse here? I went on a side quest of finding out more if this phrase has any significant meaning while writing on the Davidic Covenant.

The Way of the Shepherd

One of the most interesting find in my search was the phrase “leading from behind”, a leadership concept in the marketplace that is rather revolutionary or even debatable. This leadership concept is derived from the how shepherd’s the lead the sheep from the rear. Thought this blog post is a great read about leading from behind after going through quite a number: https://saffold.com/blog/2016/12/15/leading-from-behind-the-shepherds-way/.

The shepherd’s usual practice is to walk behind their sheep to guide the sheep and to allow them to run ahead. So visually, the shepherd is following the sheep. This is completely different from my visual image of the shepherd with his staff walking ahead to lead the way. The sheep is allowed to run ahead! It might be easily misunderstood, at least for someone who grew up in an urban city, that the shepherd is skiving or not doing his job if the sheep is running ahead. Standing behind the sheep makes sense as the shepherd is able to immediately notice if any sheep goes off track, use his staff and hook it back. If he is walking in front, he will only notice any lost sheep after he stop and count, which might be too late.

My next question is how will the sheep know where to go if no one is leading in front. I was reminded of Jesus’ teaching in John.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” – John 10:27

The Nazareth Village where I visited when I was in Israel had some sheep and of course there was a shepherd who took care of them. The shepherd did a demonstration of calling out the sheep and the sheep responded immediately. The sheep did not cared about anyone of us who were making all sorts of noise to get attention from the sheep. I believe this is how the shepherd leads the sheep from behind – using his voice.

Yet when danger comes, the shepherd will move to the front to protect and fight off the enemy. This is the time when David will run to the front to face the bear or lion whom he defeated over and over. A good shepherd does not run away when danger comes. Instead he rises up to the occasion and get the sheep behind him, standing between enemy and the sheep.

God as a Shepherd

God showed David how He was the Shepherd to him in 2 Samuel 7:9 “I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you.” Such a beautiful image here that God is the lead Shepherd. God as a good shepherd who moves to the front to cut off David’s enemies, just like how David would do for his sheep. God speaks to David in the very methodology that he is so familiar with since a young boy. The abiding presence of God was His way of leading in an unassuming way, similar to a shepherd leading from behind.  Yet God never fails to show up when dangers come because He is near even though not always visible in the front.

Where is God?

Where is God?” is a very common question that both believers and non-believers ask. Based on the way of the shepherd, I will say God is behind, usually! We probably cannot see Him but He has full view of us. Sometimes we wonder if God is leading the way, waiting for Him to come to the front and lead the way as we expect from most leaders. Yet, His way is for us to hear His voice to guide and direct us to the pasture He wants us to move to. We can run along, skip and be free to move towards the destination when we hear His voice leading! On top of this, we have the full assurance that He will come between us and our enemies when danger comes.

So let us rest in our Shepherd’s leading and protection.

The Davidic Covenant 8 - The Conclusion

The Davidic Covenant 8 – The Conclusion

After breaking down the David Covent into seven parts, we take a step back out to look at the Covenant holistically and its significance. I will include the Bible quotation of the Davidic Covenant for reference below as we look at concluding The Davidic Covenant.

“Go and tell My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Would you build a house for Me to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the time that I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt, even to this day, but have moved about in a tent and in a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about with all the children of Israel, have I ever spoken a word to anyone from the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’ ” ’ Now therefore, thus shall you say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I took you from the sheepfold, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have cut off all your enemies from before you, and have made you a great name, like the name of the great men who are on the earth. 10 Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously, 11 since the time that I commanded judges to beover My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.” 1“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 15 But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” ’ ” – 2 Samuel 7:5-16 (NKJV)

David’s Heart

In Parts 1-4, the heart of David was the differentiating factor. It is clear that David is a man after God’s own heart as describe in 1 Sam 13:14 and Acts 13:22. David’s heart was tested through his walk and history with God, even in times of rest He remembered God. As I observed in Part 1, the Davidic Covenant was not a motivation or encouragement to David. It is a  progression of intimacy with God that both God and David converge in the “seed” promised in the covenant.

The Linchpin

Lynch-pin

It is established that the seed referred to in the Davidic Covenant refers to Jesus Christ. We see the coming together of the Kingdom of David and the Kingdom of God together in Part 7 through the seed, Jesus Christ as well.

We quoted some theologians in Part 1 and I will include them here again.

  • Ronald Youngblood’s understand is that 2 Samuel 7 is “the center and focus of . . . the Deuteronomic history itself.
  • Walter Brueggemann regards it as the “dramatic and theological center of the entire Samuel corpus” and as “the most crucial theological statement in the Old Testament.
  • Robert Gordon called this chapter the “ideological summit . . . in the Old Testament as a whole.

There is no question about the significance of the Davidic Covenant in the Old Testament. Through this simple study of the Davidic Covenant, I will like to propose that the Davidic Covenant’s importance goes beyond the Old Testament. Instead, it holds the Old Testament with the New, and all the covenants in the Old Testament with the New Covenant with Jesus Christ.

The image of a linchpin comes to mind when looking at the Davidic Covenant. A linchpin is “an important part of anything, the thing that holds it all together“. The Davidic Covenant gives meaning and depth to Jesus’ identity as the Son of David that are often times mentioned in the New Testament, even in Revelation. In the macro scheme of things, it is unthinkable that the God of this Universe will go through so much pain and details to salvage a creation that self-destructs. Yet He did and is still doing. We are living in this right now.

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 6 - The Mercies

The Davidic Covenant 6 – The Mercies

“If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” – 2 Samuel 7:14b-15 (NKJV)

Mercy Defined

We talk a lot more about grace than mercy now, at least in the communities I move in. I love the simple definition of mercy as not receiving the punishment one deserves and grace as receiving blessings that one does not deserve. Perhaps it is because we do not talk so much about sin, and thus less about mercy.

Mercy brings us from the status of being being condemned to forgiven, and grace brings us from forgiven to favoured.

Below is a simple visual of how I see mercy and grace. They come hand in hand. We cannot receive grace without mercy.

Mercy & Grace

Mercy on this Seed

The teachings and expositions I have read on the Sure Mercies of David have alluded to Jesus Christ through whom the mercy of God has been extended to us believers. This position is very important and critical to our salvation. I personally is so thankful for this mercy as without it I will be damned for eternity for my sins.

My question is why would Jesus need the sure mercy? Is not His position as the son of God and sinless absolve Him from judgement? If He does not need to be judged, then there is no need for mercy.

(I am aware that I am on a trajectory that might be a less traveled path and I am open to discussion. f anyone of you know of any established writers who bear similar position, please let me know too as I have reading and looking for another independent voice echoing perspective similar to this!)

As the son of God, yes He is sinless and of no need of judgement. Yet as son of David who as the king over all with an eternal kingdom, Jesus bears the responsibility over all His subjects. A good king and leader bears the burden of his people. Jesus took on the sin of the world, as the king of Israel. As I have established previously that the only way Israel has true and complete rest is when all the enemies are no more. This implied that this promised King is to be King over all.  So it is pertinent that Jesus took on all the sin of the world, which is expressed in the popular verse John 3:16.

I see the sure mercies of David at work here for Jesus, the son of David. King Saul was rejected because of his sin against God. The Davidic Covenant is very clear that this descendent of David will not have the same end as King Saul even if He sinned. In verse 14b, God is clear that this son of David will receive punishment from men, but mercy from God. It was a reverse of King Saul as he did not receive punishment from men but from God. Jesus was judged for the sin of the world on Him by the world, by men. Jesus took on one of the most cruel way of capital punishment through the cross meted out by men. The sure mercies of David was activated when God pardoned the sin of the world on Jesus in His resurrection. Yes, Jesus is the perfect sacrificial lamb, yet we know that the lamb in the Old Testament had to die to pay for the price of sin of mankind no matter how perfect it was. Jesus lived. Mercy was extended to this Lamb from death.

Lesson Learnt

I am amazed by the intricate details and trouble God went through to “plan” for the salvation of creation. My instinct when something I am working on went off tangent away from the end I had in mind, I will restart. God wanted to with the flood during Noah’s time. Yet His lovingkindness made Him relent to provide a rainbow covenant.

Sin can be taken rather frivolously in our time and age, even among the Christian community. Perhaps it is our temporal view of our lives, where the eternal effects of sin are not within our consideration. Yet our loving Father above saw all these and took the pains to work around the principles and laws in creation that was set to make a way for us ignorant “blur” creatures who know not what we are doing. He did not just provide a way to pardon our sins, but He also paves the way to blessedness.

I leave us with a quote from Spurgeon about the sure mercies of David.

“God dealt with Israel by way of mercy, and to make that mercy sure He took a man whom He had chosen, a man whom He loved, a man whom He intended to use, and He made with him a covenant that He would set him upon the throne, that by his personal influence he might bring down blessings upon all the people. These are “the sure mercies of David.”” – Spurgeon

 

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 5 - The Seed

The Davidic Covenant 5 – The Seed

When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men.” –  2 Samuel 7:12-14 (NKJV)

The seed of David is a descendent of David. The Davidic Covenant goes beyond the lifetime of King David himself. Yet, it is not descendants, but a particular descendent as it is singular in all mention of him.

I want to first establish that King Solomon is NOT the descendent referred to in this context based on the few conditions stated in this covenant.

  1. “Build a house for God’s name” – Solomon did build temple for God but it never carried God’s name. It was called the Temple of Solomon.
  2. “Establish the throne of his kingdom forever” – We know historically that after Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel was in a decline and eventually lost her sovereignty.
  3. “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son” – Solomon was known as the son of David, never as a son of God.

I will be his Father, and he shall be My son

This one line blew my mind. God adopts David’s son as His own. This is a singular individual adoption of a son of David. We as believers are children of God as a collective through Jesus Christ, i.e. a second degree adoption. The Davidic Covenant is a first degree direct adoption by God with David the father. This means that this son will be called both son of David and son of God. Based on this, we know the only person carrying this dual identity is Jesus Christ. Jesus’ genealogy traces back to David (Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38, Romans 1:3-4, Revelation 5:5 & 22:16).

Following this declaration, God went on to talk about chastening this son. God was clear that He will not give special concession to His son from earthly human discipline for trespasses. The son of God is not spared of the consequences of sin as the son of David, a man, no concession or exemption. It is hard to reconcile this as we know that Jesus was sinless on earth. The Son of God should not have sin on him. Yet as the son of David and as the king over all nations (as discussed in Part 4 on Rest), the responsibility of the sin of all his subjects in the kingdom is upon him. This is what great leaders do. Jesus did exactly this. He went on the cross for the sin of all in His Kingdom, suffering the “rod and blows of man”.

Throne of His Kingdom Forever

The only possible kingdom that will last forever, literally eternity, will be one of God. No earthly king could ever achieve this, even the greatest empires and kingdoms. This is impossible by human means and effort. Therefore God promised to establish this kingdom. God repeated “I will establish his kingdom” and “I will establish the throne of his kingdom” with the emphasis of His sovereignty in this matter.

House for God’s Name

God stated that this house will carry the name of God. This makes complete sense as the kingdom and throne will be established by God Himself. The Tabernacle of David was named after David, similarly the Temple of Solomon after Solomon. We know that historically, Temple of Solomon was destroyed 586 BCE when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem. The Ark of the Covenant was also lost. There was no physical house built for God since then till present. So what might this house be?

Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” – John 2:19-22 (NKJV)

Jesus talked about destroying the Temple and rebuilding it again in three days. Verse 22 interpreted it for us as Christ’s death and resurrection. John Piper’s exposition on this passage provided a second level of understanding that “this temple” that Jesus was referring to can also mean the physical temple that He was in at that time (https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/destroy-this-temple-and-in-three-days-i-will-raise-it-up). The Pharisees were on the road to destroying the temple when they hide their love for money behind religion. The temple is only truly a temple when the presence of God in the temple, otherwise it is an empty shell. Based on this definition of a temple, Jesus is the temple of God as He embodies 100% of God here on earth.

I love the word used in this covenant is house and not temple. House is God’s abiding place with relationship and intimacy. Whereas a temple is more ritualistic that is distant and formal. This covenant is a paradigm shift. The house of God is moved from place to person, represented by the shift from temple to house, which I see as from ritualistic to relational.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” – 1 Corinthian 3:16  (NKJV)

Based on the same rationale that the temple of God is where God presence is, followers of Jesus Christ who are filled with the Spirit of God are also temple of God. The temple of God has now been decentralised and scattered where geographical location is no longer a limitation. The “seed” has multiplied!

Jesus is the Seed

Conclusion of the matter is that Jesus is the seed or descendent referred to in the Davidic Covenant. As straight forward as this conclusion is to some, I appreciated the multi-levels and depth of this implication to my revelation of Jesus Christ’s purpose of birth, life, death, resurrection, and second coming.

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 4 - The Rest

The Davidic Covenant 4 – The Rest

I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, I will give you rest from all your enemies.” – 2 Sam 7:10-11a

The context of the Davidic Covenant was God’s response to David’s desire to build Him a house when Israel was in a place of prosperity and peace. It was a time of rest for David and Israel. It is a little baffling to promise rest at this point. From a human’s need point of view, the promise would have given more assurance and comfort before the battles fought for the land?

Was the rest King David enjoyed permanent? Historically, we know it was not. David’s absence from war when he decided to stay in Jerusalem led him to adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1). Even with the established Kingdom of David at that time, he still had to go out to war to maintain peace as the enemies were not at rest. When the enemy is still at work, there is no true rest. The kingdom reached its peak during King Solomon’s days, after which it was a slippery road of loss. Israel eventually lost its sovereignty as a nation and its land. Closer to our times, the Holocaust is a horror in history to the Jewish people that the world is still left wondering how it happened. The modern nation of Israel is also constantly at war with its neighbours now. The promise of rest from all enemies in the physical has not come to pass till today as the nation of Israel is still at war.

True Rest from all the Enemies

When can true rest from all the enemies be experienced?

One way of looking at true rest is when we are sure of victory. As strange as it may sound, a battle can be fought from a place of rest rather than from a place of fear or survival. The mime below shows the “restedness” of Daniel, Peter and Jesus despite their threatening circumstances. King David had this rest when he fought Goliath and all the other battles. If David already had this rest, what is the rest that God promised him in this covenant?

I believe the rest promised here is the literal rest from all enemies, both psychologically and physically. There are prophecies about Israel’s eternal sovereignty and complete victory over her enemies like Zechariah 14:3-9, which points to complete rest for Israel so this perspective aligns with other prophecies.

It is interesting that God changed from “they” and “them” in reference to Israel, to “you” in reference to David within this same verse and sentence. The rest given is to the whole of Israel. For a king, there is no guarantee of rest even when the nation is at rest as the king bears the responsibility of maintaining the rest. Therefore, God addressed David directly with “you”, promising him a complete rest where the king does not need to fight anymore. For this true rest to come, David and/or his descendents cannot be just the king of Israel but as king over all i.e. no more enemies. This promise is yet to be fulfilled till now.

The beauty of God’s covenant is that there is surety of the fulfilment of rest now in Jesus Christ, the Son of David. It is not a down payment as it is paid in full. Paid but not fully claimed might be more appropriate. Even though Jesus has not stepped into the full glory as King over all the nations, His victory on the cross and death gives all who believed in Him a guarantee of this promise to come.

This is another instant where “Now and Not Yet” co-exist Biblically.

Meanwhile, thought I will share this verse with you all that popped up while I was meditating on this topic… =)

2019-04-03 11.05.32.jpg
This is the Verse of the Day on 3 April 2019 in the Bible app while I was still meditating on “REST” while writing this. Says it all that Jesus is the answer for the REST.

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 2 – The History

The Lord came to Nathan in the same night as a response to the expressed desire of King David. This response is the Davidic Covenant. God starts off with a reminder of His history with Israel and David.

History with Israel

In the short 3 verses of 2 Sam 7:5-7, God made it clear about His view on a house on earth that was consistent.  God started with a rhetorical question, which in closer examination made David’s proposal sounded ridiculous in the grand schema of things. Let us compare the greatest splendour on earth to heaven, God’s dwelling. Of course, most of us have never seen heaven. Yet it is heaven because it is nothing like earth. A perfect place that cannot be found here on earth. This explains why God has never once commanded the Israelites to build Him a house. A dwelling on earth cannot match up to heaven.

God commanded the Israelites to build the Tabernacle of the Lord through Moses with detailed specifications. He moved from place to place with the Israelites in the Ark of the Covenant carried by the priests and rested in the Tabernacle. He even went into battles with the Israelites. Yet there was no demand of a temple or a permanent house. This is in great contrast to the other pagan gods in the region where the gods require extravagant temples. Just check out the structures left standing in Karnak of Egypt and we can see how grand those temples stood and the building were required of their worshippers. This love of God went beyond Himself to dwell among Israel in a tent, forgoing heaven. How can anyone forgo heaven? Only God who is completely secure in Himself.

It blows my mind to consider the God of heaven and earth would choose to confine Himself in the Ark of the Covenant in a tent to journey with Israel. How humbling can this be? He could have demanded a more extravagant set up and Israel will have to build it. Yet, no matter how extravagant, it still pales in comparison to His heavenly abode with angelic host giving Him full worship day and night, where everything is what it is meant to be. Here on earth, He had to deal with complains, grumblings and disobedience from the very people He was pouring out His love on. It is acceptable for the kings on earth to have extravagant setup, advance security, protocol and honour, even in our current times. For the God of Heaven, the Tabernacle of The Lord, together with His Laws, which also covered the well-being of the Israelites, should receive the honour that is due even though we have the New Testament.

The expectation of His love was not in physical return of a physical dwelling, but the heart of obedience. As deep as this Love runs, the expectation of return is one that runs deep, beyond the physical. The reincarnation of Christ in human form was an extension of this self-giving love that was exhibited right from the time with God in Old Testament. This is the heart of God that has never changed.

History with David (2 Sam 7:8-9a)

God reminded David of his humble beginnings as a young shepherd boy. I love the phrase “from following the sheep” used in NKJV & NASB versions in verse 8. In some other versions, the word “tending” was used but the richness of the role of a shepherd is lost. The phrase “leading from behind”, a leadership concept in the marketplace that is rather revolutionary or even debatable, is derived from the how shepherd’s the lead the sheep from the rear. Thought this blog post is a great read about leading from behind: https://saffold.com/blog/2016/12/15/leading-from-behind-the-shepherds-way/. Shepherd walks at the back of their sheep to help them navigate and allow the sheep to run ahead. Yet when danger comes, the shepherd will move to the front to protect. For someone who does not understand the workings of a shepherd, it will look as though the shepherd is following the sheep as he is at the back.

In a single sentence, God included both leadership of the sheep and the nation of Israel. It is no dispute that God moved David from insignificance to significance, from sheep to nation. Perhaps deeper than this, God is saying the principle of leading for both is the same. Moreover, the nation of Israel is often times alluded as sheep in the Bible. The nation of Israel needed protection and someone to fight for them at the forefront to secure a land that is safe for their dwelling. David fulfilled the role in the years of war as king of Judah, and then king over all Israel. Now that Israel is at rest, it is time for the shepherd to move to the rear to allow the sheep to roam and enjoy. The ability to know when to be at the back and in the front is crucial in leadership and also for the leader. As we read on in chapter 11, we realised David stayed in the rear when he was supposed to go out for battle, leading to adultery with and murder.

The training David received as a young man in the fields with his sheep was the exact transferable skills he needed as a king. This brings to mind how God orchestrated and planned every single detail in David’s life. I believe this is true for each one of us as well. God equips the called, even before the call.

God did not stop there. God showed David how He was the Shepherd to him in verse 9a, “I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you.” Such a beautiful image here that God is the lead Shepherd. The abiding presence of God was His way of leading in an unassuming way, working behind the scene. This brings a different perspective to understand John 20:27 where the sheep responds to the voice of the shepherd from behind, without the shepherd having to be right up in front. God never fails to show up when dangers come because He is near even though not always visible in the front. So let’s rest in our Shepherd’s leading and protection.

The Davidic Covenant Series:

The Davidic Covenant 1 - The Context

The Davidic Covenant 1 – The Context

As I study more about the Tabernacle of David, the Davidic Covenant is at the core. Instead of trying to define and discuss the Tabernacle of David, I want to start with the Davidic Covenant. Everything about the Tabernacle of David comes back to this covenant.

We are probably familiar with the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant. The Davidic Covenant is not taught or discussed very often in church, at least I haven’t heard of a sermon on this in the services I have been to, not including online since we search out topics we are interested in. I only delve into the Davidic Covenant a little more when I was trying to understand the Tabernacle of David. As I took time to study and mediate on the Davidic Covenant, I am deeply convicted that this covenant has deep significance to us as Christians today, almost as important as the New Covenant or even on par.

The Davidic Covenant is found in 2 Samuel 7:5-17.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found when I read some theologians on the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7.  There is an acknowledgement that the Davidic Covenant has a key role to play in the Old Testament. Below are a few quotes:

  • Ronald Youngblood’s understand is that 2 Samuel 7 is “the center and focus of . . . the Deuteronomic history itself.
  • Walter Brueggemann regards it as the “dramatic and theological center of the entire Samuel corpus” and as “the most crucial theological statement in the Old Testament.
  • Robert Gordon called this chapter the “ideological summit . . . in the Old Testament as a whole.

King David’s Stage of Life

After all the years of battles both personal and national, King David in 2 Sam 7:1 is described as “settled” and the LORD had given him “rest from his enemies”. Rest is a good place to be. It is a place of blessedness and shalom. Perhaps even being fulfilled, in the sense of fulfilling God’s purpose in his life.

King David’s cedar palace stood in stark contrast to the simple tent the Ark of God rests in. His love and respect for God led David to desire to build God a proper house, rather than a tent.

“Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”” – 2 Sam 7:3

When we examine the word that came to Nathan in the night after his conversation with King David, God’s focus is not in this house that David wanted to build as nothing was mentioned about this house except for 2 Sam 7:6-7. If we examine Nathan’s response, the key was “the Lord is with you“. Again, nothing about the house David wanted to build.

King David’s Heart

I believe it was David’s desire to honour God that led to the Davidic Covenant following. For many believers, we have instances of guilt in forgetting God when we are having a great time, especially in a place of rest and comfort. Yet for King David, in his greatest rest and comfort, he thought of God. David was willing to get up from his place of rest and comfort to work on building a house for God, as much as God did not need or desire it. God never once stopped David from doing it. In fact He allowed David to do it. God commanded that David will not be the one who built the temple but his son Solomon due to the blood shed in his life as a man of battle. David did all the preparation needed to build the temple in his lifetime.

Stage for the Davidic Covenant

I wondered why the David Covenant was given when David was enjoying success and rest.  Would it not be a greater encouragement and motivation to David if the David Covenant was made at the point when he was first anointed king as a forgotten little shepherd boy? Or perhaps when he got his victory over Goliath? There were so many instances that if I was the storyteller will insert the covenant to give a boost this young man in all the circumstances and situations he encountered. The key is this – David made it through without the Davidic Covenant. He made it through without any promise of “greater things”. His focus was on God and His purposes. This intimacy with God carried him through all the tumultous challenges that most of us probably will never experience. He did not need the covenant and promises to succeed. God was the greatest thing for David.

It will be presumptuous of me to speculate that if King David did not remember God and offer to build Him a house, the Davidic Covenant will not be given. Yet, the heart of David made it impossible for me to consider him forgetting God in his time of rest and comfort. I believe that it was because God was above anything in this world that the Davidic Covenant was made.

The Davidic Covenant was not given as an encouragement or motivation to David. It was not given as a reward for David’s heart for God since God was his reward. As I discuss the Davidic Covenant further, these points will be driven deeper. So come journey with me on this. Feel free to leave your thoughts below and I am happy to engage in discussion as I am still learning and seeking understanding.

P.S. I will try and post weekly on the Davidic Covenant until what I have learnt is shared here. I am convicted that this is something I need to discipline myself to work on and share for this season. =)

The Davidic Covenant Series:

Defining The Tabernacle of David – Word Study

Defining The Tabernacle of David – Word Study
Born and bred in an urban city, tent is not a common sight for me. Since the topic is about the Tabernacle of David, I feel the need to understand tabernacle better. I am no Hebrew and Greek scholar but the lexicon is usually a good starting point.

I will start from the New Testament since there is only one verse with the mention of Tabernacle of David. The Greek word for Tabernacle in Acts 15:16 is Skene (σκηνη, Strong’s Number: 4633). Skene is defined as a “tent, tabernacle (made of green boughs, or skins or other materials)”, and also “the movable temple of God after the pattern of which the temple at Jerusalem was built”. In Acts 7:43-44, skene was the Tabernacle of Moses. In Rev 13:6; 15:5 and 21:3, skene is used in the context of after the judgments. There is no difference in words used for the Tabernacle of Moses and Tabernacle of David.

The Old Testament Hebrew has more vocabulary for tabernacle than Greek and English.

The word ‘ohel (אהל, Strong’s Number: 0168) is frequently used for the Tabernacle of Moses in Exodus. ‘ohel means a nomad’s tent, a dwelling, home and habitation. Even though it is nomadic and mobile, it functions as a long-term dwelling, a home. The Tabernacle of Moses withstood 40 years of wilderness wandering and entered the Promised Land! It was definitely highly durable and permanent.

A different Hebrew word is used for Tabernacle of David in Amos 9:11, which is the key Old Testament verse. The Hebrew word for tabernacle in Amos 9:11 is Cukkah (יככה Strong’s No: 05521). Cukkah is a booth, “a rude or temporary shelter”. The Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths (Lev 23:33-43) uses the same Hebrew word, Cukkah. The people of Israel are commended to build temporary booths or tabernacles and live under the Cukkah during the seven days of the feast. The Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned in Zec 14, which wrote about The Day of the Lord, which is commonly interpreted as the final Judgment Day. The passage of Zec 14:16-21 prophesied that the Feast of Tabernacles will be celebrated after the Day of the Lord. Even though Cukkah is temporary in its physical nature, God has a long-term purpose for Cukkah.

Here lies the paradox. The extremely durable Tabernacle of Moses was not required after Jesus established the New Covenant but the rude temporary Cukkah of David has a purpose beyond its durability. Interestingly, ‘ohel is used in Isa 16:5 for the Tabernacle of David in the context of final judgment by the One, referring to the Messiah.

Physically, the Cukkah being a temporary tent requires restoration over time, especially for the Day of the Lord. Yet, is the restoration just the physical tent? Since it is meant to be temporary, restoration of the physical tent will be challenging and replacing it might be a better solution. If the restoration work is not only referring to the physical tent, what does it then refer to? We can only restore what we know. The definition of the Tabernacle of David that is to be restored is not found in a word study. So a Biblical study is needed to understand this.

A side note: The Tabernacle built by Moses was not called the Tabernacle of Moses in the Bible but the Tabernacle of the Lord. I will use the Tabernacle of Moses as most of us understand this phrase but thought I will point out that only the Tabernacle of David was named after the builder in the Bible.

Tabernacle of David – Introduction

Picture from www.forerunnerhop.com
Picture from www.forerunnerhop.com

The phrase “restoring the Tabernacle of David” is a hot topic in some circles of believers. I had a lot of questions even though I have heard it being taught many times by excellent teachers of the Word. Somehow I was not able to get a hold of it. After each time I hear about the teaching on the Tabernacle of David, I cannot help but feel that I am not able to see the picture, not even the silhouette. The emphasis on the Restoration of the Tabernacle of David for the End Times increases my need to see the bigger picture. The importance of the Tabernacle of David cannot be put aside or ignored; yet my understanding seemed illusive.

My first hurdle was the emphasis on this phrase seems outweighs its twice mention in the Old Testament, and one crossed reference in the New Testament.

“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)

 

““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;” – Amos 9:11 (NKJV)

 

“‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;” – Acts 15:16 (NKJV)

 

A list of other questions arose. What did we lose that we must restore? Does restoring the Tabernacle of David mean restoring worship? What direct implications do the restoration of the Tabernacle of David have to do with the coming back of Jesus Christ? There seems to be many dots that are left unconnected, with gaps in between. Many referred to the Tabernacle of David as 24/7 worship and intercession that never stops, modeled by the worship David installed in Zion. I have been involved in the Houses of Prayer movement as a musician and worship leader for many years. The hours and hours of uninterrupted worship in the presence of God are complete pleasure for me. As much as I enjoy ministering to the Lord with music in worship, I am not able to see the relationship in the emphasis on the restoration of the Tabernacle of David and the End Times even though I have heard and pondered the points that many teachers and preachers spoke of. As you can see, I am a kind of slow in catching up in my understanding but I participated regardless because worship is pleasing to God because He deserves it all!

I embarked on this study to find answers in the Bible over the years. It was not intensive full time study, but through readings and meditations of the Word over time that the Holy Spirit began to show me. I used very little references outside of the Bible to understand the Tabernacle of David. If the Tabernacle of David is crucial, especially in the End Times, God will not leave it unexplained in His Word, which is “the lamp to my feet and a light to my path” – Psalm 119:105. With the help of the Holy Spirit as the illuminator of God’s Word, I embarked on this journey to understand the Tabernacle of David.

I first put everything together my scattered study over several years in 2013 when I had to teach the Tabernacle of David in Hunan Bible Institute. It took about 16 class-hours. It was intense Bible study for the Bible school students. A Bible study even though it was a classroom setting because most of them had to re-read Bible passages that they are familiar with and dig into verses that they are not as familiar. Questions were asked as they plough through the Word together and we all learned as God taught us all during the lessons. I witnessed a renewal and exponential increase in their passion for the Word, worship and most importantly God. In preparation for the class, my thoughts were in point form and I elaborated verbally. I was receiving fresh revelations while I teach too! I am currently putting this teaching into proper writing, which is very different from verbal teaching. In a classroom context, the students asked questions to clarify and I could read their facial expressions and body language. The interaction also sharpened my clarity in this subject matter. In written form, my choice of words and explanation needs to be more concise so that it will not confuse. As I put various parts of the teachings into writing, I will post them in this blog. I do not know what will be the frequency and regularity of my posting but I will work on it whenever I can. Engage me in discussions about what I have written as I am still learning for I believe what I have is only a piece of the bigger picture.

The study of worship through the Tabernacle of Moses is a lot easier as there is a lot of detailed documentation of it in the Old Testament and heavily supported by archaeological findings. The worship instructed by Moses is very systematic and details are clearly recorded. It is like an instruction manual. Do this and God is pleased, which means all is fine. For David’s form of worship, there is no instruction of step one to ten. There is no stipulated protocol, except the short period of time in its expression in the Temple that Solomon built. In fact, it seems spontaneous and not bound by any law or rule. We learn about the worship in the Tabernacle of David from the Biblical narratives and the Psalms, which are completely different from the instructional law in the Tabernacle of Moses. The art of storytelling and understanding the heart of stories are increasingly less emphasized and practiced now, at least in Singapore where I live. Many of us get very impatient, especially with the older generation, when they reply our requests for help with stories. Often times if we stop and ponder, we will find the answers in the stories. If we look deeper, the stories reveal the root of the problem. The stories do not only give superficial solution but the wisdom to prevent the problem from recurring. The reply is more than the answer that we are looking for, if we are ready to receive it. Jesus spoke in parables, simple stories with moral and spiritual lessons, but not all understand the heart of these narratives. Principles and lessons can be drawn about the Tabernacle of David through the narratives and prayers. Yet, what is in the heart of the Tabernacle of David? It is God who declares, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Sam 16:7 (NASB). The heart of David is an important key, but the crucial key is to understand the heart of God in the Tabernacle of David.

Destiny of Orphans

For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the LORD will take me up. (‭Psalms‬ ‭27‬:‭10‬ NASB)

This Psalm by David reflects his innermost cries to the LORD with verse 4 of him desiring to be in the house of the LORD all the days of his life. 

Verse 10 caught my attention where often times quoted to illustrate us as adopted children of God. As I looked at David’s life from this aspect, the times his family were mentioned, they had very low regard of him. David’s family were never mentioned after his defeat of Goliath. Even when he became the king of Judah and later, of Israel, there was no mention of his parents and siblings joining him in his kingdom. As this verse suggests, they abandoned him. 

It is amazing how this boy without the guidance and protection of natural parents grew up to be upright and full of wisdom. God was His father. God brought him up, trained him and equipped him. Perhaps he may not be who he was if his parents were present and God would not have been able to have full liberty in executing the molding process. 

Family situations and attitudes towards a person might be formative, but their absence puts the child in the hand of God resulting in a totally different outcome.